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Anand and Topalov January 29, 2006

Posted by dorigo in chess.
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The 2006 edition of the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, in the Netherlands, finished today with two clear winners (see http://www.coruschess.com/). Corus has been one of the most prestigious chess events for many years now. This time, among the 14 participants figured the bulgarian Veselin Topalov (number 2 in the rating list of January 2006, and current World Champion), and Viswanathan Anand (#3), together with 12 more players among the very elite of the chess world. Veselin and Vishy took first place with 9 points out of 13 after a hot last round, when Topalov was forced to a draw by the ungarian prodige Peter Leko, and Anand won in perfect style a difficult endgame with the israeli Boris Gelfand.

Many years ago I used to follow these tournaments very closely, and a couple times I traveled to the Antwerp (1989) and Brussels (1988) to interview the players and take pictures. I could do this as a reporter thanks to Antonio Rosino, a Fide chess master and a great friend, who credited me as working for the now out of print magazine “Contromossa”, which he directed.

I did publish on “Scacco!”, another italian magazines, the pictures I took in those two occasions. Many made the cover, actually. And I wrote an interview with GM Ulf Andersson. I also interviewed the young Anand back in 1988, when he had just won the junior World Championship and had not yet blossomed. He was following the SWIFT tournament in Brussels as an observer.

Anand was -and as far as I know has remained- a very easygoing person. I remember talking to him on the lounge of a luxury hotel in Brussels (was it the Sheraton ? I forgot that), and offering him a chess puzzle he did not solve!

The problem was indeed a puzzle more than one of those ordinary 2- or 3-movers that grandmasters usually solve at a glance. It had to do with retrograde analysis: to determine the position of the white king, one had to understand how that position had been achieved.

Retrograde analysis is not chess in the pure sense. It is logic in one of its purest form, and the chain of deductions one has to make in order to find the solution of puzzles is at times mindboggling. In a future post I’ll show an example of my own concoction, but for the time being interested readers are addressed to the following excellent site:

http://www.janko.at/Retros/

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