Zagreb (Croatia): Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will have a tough field to contest in his 2019 debut of the Grand Chess tour that starts here.
Anand will need to find his rhythm in the Classical format as this is going to be a long event with 12 players and 11 rounds. This will be the first Classical event under the grand Chess tour that has grown phenomenally this year with as many as eight events. The first edition was a rapid and blitz at Cote De Ivory that Anand chose to skip and now the ‘Madras Tiger’ is back seeking to make his presence felt.
Anand, 49, is by far the oldest player on the circuit and still remains an enigma to the much younger generation of players who find it difficult to compete against the legend. The sharpness might be waning a little in the faster time control against the best in business but Anand had put those doubts aside by winning the world rapid championship last year.
Here, its purely Classical stuff and Anand is likely to be in better control of the proceedings. The preceding event to this was the Altibox Norway Chess where Anand struggled in the Armageddon games, but in Classical, his score was one loss and eight draws. World champion Magnus Carlsen has been dominating opposition of late and has won his last six super tournaments this year.
Carlsen starts as a huge favourite for the title but this one might be tricky with 11 rounds thrown in, which has not been the case in any super event in the last many years. The annual Tata Steel tournament at Wijk Aan Zee in Holland is the only event that comprises 13 rounds among 14 players, but a 12-player tournament had ceased to exist.
Apart from Anand, there are Levon Aronian of Armenia, Maxime-Vachier-Lagrave of France, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, Ding Liren of China, Anish Giri of Holland, Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, American trio of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin of Russia all wanting to have a go at the title. The event’s total prize money is USD 325000.