Five-time chess champion Viswanathan Anand will return to the FIDE World Cup after a 15 year hiatus with the target of a berth at the 2018 Candidates tournament. The 47-year old will captain a 7-member Indian delegation at the 128-player knockout stages. Only the finalists will be chosen to play in the Candidates tournaments.
Whoever wins the Candidates tournament will be eligible to challenge for the World Chess Championship against the Champion. Anand has won the World Cup twice in China and once in Hyderabad in 2000 and 2002 respectively. Since he won the World Championship in 2007, there wasn’t any need for him to play in the tournament again. He has a tough draw ahead of him starting off with Malaysia’s Yeoh Li Tian, Grand Master Varuzhan Akobian, England No 1 Michael Adams and Hikaru Nakamura.
India Grand Master Pentala Harikrishna, who will also be participating, believes that the World Cup is going to be a tough ask for anyone because the competition is very fierce. “All the top ranked players from around the world will be participating this year around and I know it is going to be tough,” the 31-year-old, who hails from Guntur, said. “As this is a knockout event I would ideally want to take it one match at a time,” he added.
World Number 1 Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and defending champion Sergey Karjakin and other players of that calibre are also expected to be playing and their presence will only add more spice to the competition and raise the stakes to much loftier heights.