With just two spots up for grabs, Viswanathan Anand on Wednesday said he is confident of sealing his berth in the 2019 Grand Chess Tour Finals to be held in London from November 30 to December 10.
Anand, who finished a disappointing tied third in the Sinquefield Cup last month, needs 13 points from the remaining two legs in Bucharest (November 6-10) and Kolkata to seal a spot in the GCT Finals, which carries a prize purse of US$ 350,000.
“Definitely it is (securing a place in GCT Finals) gettable, but it is still very unpredictable. (Levon) Aronian, me and (Wesley), we all have the same tournaments left. So all of us are fighting for the same 13 points,” said the five-time former world champion.
“On top of that, there are other guys, who in the event of a crumble, can get close enough. So, I think 6-7 players are fighting for the last two spots. Hopefully, it will go well for me,” he added. The ‘City of Joy’ has been a happy hunting ground for Anand. From playing his first GM tournament there in 1986 to winning the Tata Steel Blitz title last year, Kolkata holds a special place in the chess wizard’s heart.
“My performance in the Blitz tournament (last year) was great and that made it extra special. The fans in Kolkata are really passionate,” he said. The venue for this year’s Tata Steel Rapid and Blitz event is the prestigious National Library, which will host a chess tournament for the first time.
“I think the atmosphere there would be electric. The venue sounds amazing. I’m looking forward to see the final arrangement there. I’m sure they will do a good job. And, obviously I hope to do well,” remarked Anand. The competition in Kolkata will see Anand face world champion Magnus Carlsen for the first time in India since his 2013 World Championship defeat here.
“I have played him (Carlsen) many times in between. I don’t think that matters too much either because there would be other players as well. Then, I was playing him exclusively. Now there will be 10 participants,” said Anand about his upcoming duel with the Norwegian.
Anand won one match and drew 10 at the classical leg of the GCT in the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis. The Indian failed to convert some positional advantages there, especially against GM Ding Liren. But Anand now wants to shift his focus to the Grand Swiss (October 8 to 22) in the Isle of Man, where the winner will qualify for the 2020 Candidates tournament.