A year ago in Mexico, Sopiko Guramishvili made chess moves that were Carlsenesque. Well, she was just moving the pieces for Magnus Carlsen, who was playing blindfolded against Judit Polgar at the UNAM chess festival.
Sopiko is now looking forward to watching Carlsen take on Viswanathan Anand in the World title match at the Hyatt Regency here. She is the top seed at the International Woman Grandmaster tournament that kicked off at the Nehru Stadium on Wednesday.
“The Anand-Carlsen match is one of the main reasons I am playing this tournament,” she said. “I think it will be a great match. Yes, Carlsen is very strong, but we shouldn’t forget Anand’s huge experience in playing World title matches.”
Karina Ambartsumova of Russia too feels it would be a close match. “Contrary to what many experts say, it certainly won’t be easy for Carlsen,” she said. “I think the chances are 50-50.”
Ljilja Drljevic of Serbia is a big Carlsen fan, but she too doesn’t think it will be easy for him.
“It will be a great match and I am happy that I will be able to watch it,” she said, sounding particularly cheerful for someone who has lost her complete luggage while reaching Chennai.
“I have been to India before and the purpose of this visit is purely the World title match.”
Ljilja may be cheering for Carlsen, but there will be no lack of supporters for Anand from among the WGMs. The Indians are here in large numbers, led by reigning National champion Mary Ann Gomes. “I want Anand to win,” she said. “And I know he can.”
Her fellow-Kolkatan Nisha Mohota too is excited about the match. “I am here to witness history,” she said. “I expect amazing chess.”
Soumya Swaminathan, a former World junior champion, said Anand would be even more motivated because he is playing at home.
“We all will be cheering for Anand,” she said. “It is great we are hosting a match of such magnitude.”