(Image source from: TheIndianExpress)
Indian chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand stepped it up grand style to win the inaugural Tata Steel Chess India Blitz Tournament overcoming overnight Japanese-American Chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura in the play-off in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Placed fourth after the first leg on Tuesday, five-time world champion Anand had a dream run on the final day to secure six wins and three draws in the nine rounds to draw level with Nakamura to force a play-off.
Related content: Hikaru Nakamura Wins Tata Steel Chess India Rapid
In the two-round playoff, which was quicker than blitz in a reduced time format of a three-minute game, Anand, 48, won with white pieces, before drawing with black to seal the issue 1.5-0.5.
"I wanted to show the audience what is that I do in some other parts of the world all the time and it was nice to be able to do it here," said Anand, who played in Kolkata for the first time after the third Goodricke Open in 1992.
"It was just the most magical day for me… Here, I did not have any problem with motivation. It genuinely meant a lot to me to do well here," Anand added.
The legend was also playing his first competition in India after being deposed in the 2013 World Championship by Magnus Carlsen at his hometown.
"It's long been a dream of mine. And we have ticked the other boxes, we have good opens, we have strong players. But the one thing that was lacking was frequent visits by the top players in the world. Now we have that. So it meant a lot to me to be able to play here in India and especially here in Kolkata," Anand who played his first GM tournament here in 1986 said.
In the blitz category, the five-time World Champion of classical chess had last won a bronze medal at in December 2017 at Riyadh World Championship in, the same meet where he had also won the rapid title.
The American of Japanese descent had a forgettable outing on the final leg where he managed to win four and drew four and experienced a defeat to Pentala Harikrishna in the 11th round.
In the last round, India's youngest Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa did an immense favor to Anand when he held Nakamura in the final round.
Playing with whites against the 13-year-old Nakamura was on the edge of winning but the wildcard contestant Praggnanandhaa perhaps displayed the best defensive game of his life to manage a remarkable draw that forced a playoff against Anand.
In the play-off, Anand, who is world ranked 11 in blitz, was at his best winning the first in an Italian game.
In the beginning, Namamura took some risks, however, Anand displayed a solid game with a one-up pawn. They had a rook and pawn endgame where Anand sealed the issue with a brilliant display.
Down 0-1, Nakamura in the second game played with a long-term master plan in the second game thinking Anand would break down attempting to defend.
But Anand was at his aggressive best and went in for an all-out attack to put Nakamura in the backfoot.
Eventually, the game was forced in opposite square bishop endgame where Nakamura was forced to admit a draw and hand the championship to Anand.
Nakamura gave Anand the ideal acclaim when he said there is no reason why the 48-year-old should stop playing.
"To me what Vishy has done… I am almost certain I won't be playing chess at that age. So it's really remarkable and I think especially if you compare (him) against Gary (Kasparov) for example. Gary kind of came out of retirement to play in St Lucia.
"And I think Vishy did better than he did. It just shows what a truly amazing chess player he is," Nakamura said.