In what turned out to be a bitter-sweet year for Indian chess, five-time winner Viswanathan Anand lost his bid to regain his title in the Sochi World Championship but Indian men’s team clinched a historic bronze at 41st Olympiad.
After losing his World Championship crown at Chennai in 2013, this year saw Anand earn the right to challenge world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway again by winning the Candidates tournament at Khanty Mansiysk, Russia in March.
His grand comeback in the Candidates — which has one of the strongest fields as eight of the world’s elite compete — reignited hopes of Anand clinching the World Championship title once more, and although the 45-year-old Indian took the fight to the Norwegian, it ended with a heart-break.
It was the 11th game, which put paid to Anand’s hopes after he resigned on the 45 move to hand over a 6.5-4.5 victory to Carlsen. The Indian could win only the third game, while his younger rival registered victories in the second, sixth and 11th games.
However, besides the Sochi World Championship, it was a good year for Anand as he clinched the Bilbao Final Masters in September, before ending the season on a high with a victory at the London Chess Classic.
Among other results, Anand won a bronze in world rapid chess, before finishing joint fifth in World Blitz, which was won by Carlsen at Dubai in June.
Apart from Anand, the young Indian brigade brought some cheers to the country’s chess fraternity with the Indian men’s team comprising S P Sethuraman, Parimarjan Negi and Krishnan Sasikiran, earning India its first ever medal in 41st Chess Olympiad, winning the bronze at Tromso.
Sasikiran, who played a stellar role in the team championship, also clinched an individual silver, while Padmini Rout bagged an individual gold in the women’s event at Tromso in August.
The Under-16 Indian team, which consisted of Murali Karthikeyan, Aravindh Chithambaram, Kumaran Balaji and Diptayan Ghosh, also bagged the gold medal in the World Youth Chess Olympiad at Gyor in Hungary, finishing ahead of Russia and Iran.