By Sagar Shah, ChessBase India
After almost 30 years of being India No.1 on the FIDE rating lists, Viswanathan Anand finally slid to the second spot on Tuesday. Vishy lost the fourth-round game at the Candidates Championship to Russian upstart Sergey Karjakin which resulted in Pentala Harikrishna topping the Indian chart on the FIDE live rating list.
The lists are updated after every game and hence are very dynamic. It means that if Anand wins against Nakamura in the fifth round of the Candidates on Wednesday night, he can regain his No.1 spot. However, Harikrishna’s overtaking Anand, regardless of the time frame, is important because this is the first time in 30 years that someone other than Anand has been at the top of Indian chess.
The cat and mouse race between Anand and Harikrishna had been going on for quite some time and reached its climax on 21 February, 2016 when Anand and Harikrishna faced off in Bundesliga.
That game ended in a draw.
Things started to look good for Anand as he won the first round of the Candidates meet this year by beating Veselin Topalov which brought him 5.3 Elo points. Draws against Aronian and Caruana gave him an additional 0.7 points. The gap between the two had widened to 9.3. However, when Anand lost to Karjakin, he shed five points and slid below Harikrishna on the live ratings list.
But wait, isn’t 9.3-5 = 4.3 Elo points in the favour of Anand? Shouldn’t Anand still be ahead of Harikrishna?
Well, Hari was also busy playing in the Bundesliga and scored wins over Alexander Donchenko (+2.7) and Pavel Tregubov (+2.6) to forge ahead. The difference is only 0.3 because of the round up difference of 0.7 points that occurred at the end of February. This is how things stand on 16 March, 2016:
Kameswaran Venkatachalam, who has been Anand’s trainer and has accompanied with him on many events when he was young, said: “According to records (Anand’s profile, album etc.) Anand shot up to 2405 at the close of the 23rd National-A, Bombay, 1986 and with 2405 he went ahead of all his compatriots.”
This means that Anand reigned over the Indian number one spot for almost 30 years! From 1986 to 2016!