Viswanathan Anand, the reigning world rapid champion, made a strong start in the 2018 World Rapid and Blitz Championship in St Petersburg by winning two games and drawing three games to finish with 3.5 points on the first day of the tournament. Along with Anand, Pentala Harikrishna was the other Indian chess player to make an impact as he also finished with 3.5 points. However, there was disaster for Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, as he lost two games but he recovered to finish with three points. However, Carlsen’s two losses could hurt him immensely when it comes to the tie-break situation in the tournament.
Anand began the rapid leg in grand style by defeating Israel’s Tal Baron and drawing with Russian player Mikhail Demidov. The five-time world champion registered his second win by defeating Evgeny Levin but after that, he drew the remaining games to stay in contention for the next set of rounds which begin on Thursday. Carlsen, though, started off the tournament in disastrous fashion as he lost to Ukraine’s Adam Tukhaev as he struggled for time. In his next round, he was in for another major surprise as he lost to 16-year-old Uzbekistan chess player Shamsiddin Vokhidov. However, Carlsen bounced back in grand style with three consecutive wins to stay in contention but the two losses would hurt the world champion, who defeated Levon Aronian in the tie-breakers to retain the title.
Anand remained unbeaten through the tournament and came back strongly to bag the top position on a tie-break after a three-way tie with Russians Vladimir Fedoseev and Ian Nepomniachtchi at 10.5 points from a possible 15 during the 2017 World Rapid and Blitz Championship which was held in Riyadh. The Chennai ace defeated Fedoseev 2-0 in a two-game tie-break to win the trophy. In the same tournament, he had defeated Carlsen to set the base for his title surge.
The year 2018 has been mixed for Anand, who struggled in several tournaments but emerged as the blitz champion during the Tata Steel Memorial Rapid and Blitz tournament which was held in Kolkata. In addition, he had also won the Tal Memorial. A win for Anand in 2018 in either the blitz or the rapid tournament will only cement his legendary status and keep critics at bay for another year.