Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand will not be able to challenge Magnus Carlsen in the World Championships after the Indian crashed out in the second round of the Chess World Cup 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Anand lost his first game and drew the second against Canadian Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov to bow out of the tournament on Thursday.
After 31 moves, a draw was agreed upon and it means that Anand’s chances of having a shot at the World Championship are over. The finalists of the Chess World Cup get direct entry into the Candidates tournament the winner of which has the right to challenge world champion Magnus Carlsen.
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Anand, who had lost with white pieces in the first game to the 25-year-old Grandmaster, was determined to win this crucial match and take it to tie-breakers. Both sacrificed their queens early but Kovalyov’s strong bishop and knight defence made it hard for Anand to create pressure. In the first game against Kovyalov, Anand had gone for a similar exchange of queens but he was under pressure from an extra piece and in the end, he crumbled to squander the advantage.
This was Anand’s first Chess World Cup in 15 years. He had won the 2000 and 2002 editions held in Shenyang and Hyderabad respectively.
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Heading into the Chess World Cup in Tbilisi, Anand had a strong showing in the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, having finished joint-second behind French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Although he struggled in the St Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament where he finished ninth, Anand’s exit from the Chess World Cup will raise more questions on his future.