Advice For Vishy

With Vishwanathan Anand having qualified for a rematch for the World Championship, not many people think he has much of a chance. I am one of few who disagree, but I think he needs to do things very differently this time round.

First of all let’s think about what happened last time. He went straight into Magnus Carlsen’s strength of endgame play and beat his head against the Berlin Defence to the Spanish (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6). He looked tired and worried throughout, perhaps partly because he was playing in front of a home crowd as the defending champion. The pressure was on.

This time he’s going in as the challenger and the underdog. That means the pressure should be off him and firmly on Carlsen. Carlsen also seems confident, very confident in fact. And that makes him vulnerable…

So how can Anand win? Well the biggest factor may be that Carlsen is weak in the opening. Since he became World Champion a lot of people have started to believe that this doesn’t matter. But it does, even if it might have been overrated in the past.

To exploit this Anand needs to shift the emphasis of the struggle to this part of the game, choosing the sharpest lines and avoiding premature simplification (just to be 100% clear that means avoiding the Berlin endgames). If his seconds still think they need to win Berlin endgames he could do with a different team. They may be nice guys to eat dinner with but that won’t help him win. He needs to keep some ideas men in the back room (possibly in a different town), players like Igor Zaitsev or Yasha Murei, but younger versions. And then he needs someone who’s good at linking lots of computers together so they generate MASSIVE computing power. Then you get the ideas men to feed their concepts into the supercomputer and see how bad they are. Even if they’re bad this kind of prep could be deeply disturbing to Carlsen. He’ll find himself frequently conceding the advantage in order to ‘avoid preparation’, and this could be just the kind of edge that Anand needs.

Short matches should, in theory, be better for the underdog and the older player, but in any case Vishy should be practicing his yoga. Maybe he should also look at stepping things up a level so that he can control his nerves whilst having his brain fire on all cylinders. If he doesn’t have a really good yoga teacher he should get one. As with tai chi and qigong teachers, they’re really not expensive.

What about the venue? Well if Norway offers to host the match then Vishy should ACCEPT. Plus he might think of getting a log cabin there to train in, this Rocky IV vid shows the way:

So Vishy, that’s how to do it. And if you succeed using my suggestions you know where to send the cheque!

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in Southport in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.