World Candidates 2014-14: Anand wins… naysayers silenced

2014 World Championship Candidates
March 11th-April 1st, 2014 (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia)
Round #14
12.1 Mamedyarov
12.2 Topalov
12.3 Aronian
12.4 Anand

Viswanathan Anand

The final round was a formality. The only uncertainty was whether Veselin Topalov would get out of the cellar and the order of standings. Sergey Karjakin ground down Levon Aronian to finish with (by this tournament’s standards) a healthy +1 score. Only Karjakin and victor Viswanathan Anand finished with plus scores while Dmitri Andreikin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Levon Kramnik and Aronian finished on 50%, Peter Svidler on -1 and Topalov on -2.

After his victory-clinching 13th round, Anand reflected on a scenario that occurred after the London Classic. He had asked Kramnik to join him for dinner in an attempt to assuage The Russian’s feelings after losing a tough game against Hikaru Nakamura, the eventual winner. A bit of serendipity occurred when it was Kramnik who was consoling Anand and urging him to play in the Candidates. Anand’s chess results had been abysmal and his defense match against Carlsen was a disaster. Anand credited Kramnik with encouraging him to play in the Candidates. Here is Kramnik’s account:

Vladimir Kramnik played a role
in Anand’s success.

Kramnik: “…I advised him (Vishy) to participate …” “…he has all chances to win the match against Carlsen”. “We really spoke about it in London and Vishy was unsure by that time. I advised him to participate because I really thought he had a chance and I just told him so. The fact is that we are from the same generation of players and we are on friendly terms, so I don’t feel like competing, although he beat me in the World Title match. I am really happy for him. As to me I just didn’t deserve it. If not him, someone else would win, so I don’t regret I advised him to play. I am also happy Vishy could overcome the crises of the recent years of his career – he wasn’t winning competitions, so everyone just buried him. Also I think he has all chances to win the match against Carlsen. I had similar crises, so I know what was happening inside him.”

Kramnik is referring to a stretch of bad results which was exacerbated by various ailments including his medical condition, ankylosing spondylitis. Of course, Kramnik lost his title in 2007 after Anand won the world championship tournament to unify the title. Since then Anand has been a stabilizing force in the chess world.

This victory will set the stage for a momentous rematch.
FIDE’s Kirsan Ilyumzhinov could not be happier.
Photos by

During his reign there were no controversies since the ill-fated “toiletgate” debacle between Kramnik and Veselin Topalov in 2006. A conflict that still results in no pre-game shaking of hands. Alas, Anand has too much class for such behavior.

Of course, there was the Anand-Topalov match played in Bulgaria where Anand was delayed (due to a volcano) and not given the requested three-day postponement of the match to arrive and rest. He simply would not be drawn into a hostile environment, arrived on Topalov’s home turf and won. The Indian legend has helped to shape a vibrant chess community in India and helped to inspire millions… especially in developing nations.

Last fall, Anand finally lost the crown to a surging Carlsen in his hometown of Chennai. After his loss, even Anand’s supporters may have felt skeptical about his chances in the Candidates, but the tiger showed up in Khanty-Mansiysk. The tiger will now be doing the chasing as opposed to being chased. Anand has a chance to make history ala Muhammad Ali… without the trash-talking.

Official Site:
Drum Coverage:

Video Commentary by GM Daniel King


Viswanathan Anand, 8.5/14 (+3 -0 =11), Sergey Karjakin, 7.5/14 (+3 -2 =9), Vladimir Kramnik, 7/14 (+3 -3 =8), Dmitri Andreikin 7/14 (+2 -2 =10), Shakriyar Mamedyarov, 7/14 (+3 -3 =8), Peter Svidler, 6.5/14 (+3 -4 =7), Levon Aronian, 6.5/14 (+3 -4 =7), Veselin Topalov, 6/14 (+2 -4 =8),


  1. I just turned 40 this year…perhaps there’s hope for me yet. 🙂

    Anand led wire-to-wire. Fantastic performance. He really looked like the mid-2000s Anand to me – solid openings, outstanding positional evaluation, rock-solid calculation, and quick practical decisions.

    What surprised me was the train wrecks happening elsewhere in the standings. Only one other plus score? Yeesh. Topalov said that only Anand and Andreikin could be satisfied with their play. I think that’s about right (though Karjakin could be added to that group, especially with the +3 second half he had).

    1. Yep… they beat up each other.

      I think Topalov is right to an extent, but it was a hard-fought tournament. I was disappointed in Aronian though. His meltdowns are alarming. Not sure if Karjakin is a future world champion, but he showed some resilience in the end.

  2. The Vishyous tiger of madras is prowling. Some people are wondering if aronian is a clutch player yet or if he’s the type of player that isn’t the same when you raise the stakes.

  3. Hi Daaim, which of the top 10 GMs are the most approachable and most likeable players. I noticed that most of these guys are very aloof but from a distance it seems that Aronian is the most friendly one of them.
    Carlsen seems like he doesnt like small talk. I saw Kasparov here is SA last year and I must say that he is a very unfriendly individual. He doesn’t even look around when he walks, just straight ahead of him like a show horse with blinkers on.

    1. Anand and Aronian are the ones I have met and observed. I have interviewed Aronian twice and interacted with him a few times. He always reaches out and ask how The Chess Drum is going. Very friendly. Anand is just an all-around pleasant fellow. I have not formally met Kramnik, but he appears to be fairly friendly. I know Nakamura on a personal basis, but he needs to get to know you to feel comfortable. A great guy, but lacks tact and diplomacy sometimes. It makes him who he is… a fighter. Caruana is a nice young man and down-to-earth. Just a bit shy sometimes.

      I don’t see the top 10 interact with amateurs too much. Anand does a lot of this in India. Nakamura does more of this than people imagine.

      1. Hi Daaim, thanks for responding. It would be nice if these guys interacted with their fans more often. I don’t expect them to be best friends but be more approachable.
        The reason why they are so famous in the chess world is because of us following their chess careers. I noticed Kasparov just ignoring a 6 year old boy who wanted his autograph. Imagine the impact that could have had on the little boy if Kasparov gave him is autograph.
        But there is nothing that you an I can do to change them, they are either approachable or not.

  4. I must say I was a naysayer, however, even with his “comeback” I still dont think Anand has what it takes to regain the title, it’s not impossible, but unlikely given the current factors surrounding both players, Carlsen is just stronger I think, that’s my humble opinion. We will never underestimate a tiger though, we’ll just rise the hammer, when the time is right 🙂

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