Peter Svidler had almost spoilt Magnus Carlsen’s party in London at the Candidates Tournament. In the final round, the World No. 13 from Russia had beaten the Norwegian genius, who had to rely on his superior tie-breaker score to finish ahead of Vladimir Kramnik and book his ticket to Chennai.
Svidler was third in what Viswanathan Anand described as the best Candidates Tournament in history, just half-a-point behind Carlsen and Kramnik. He has just been named by FIDE as the eighth player of the next year’s Candidates Tournament to be held at Khanty-Mansisysk, Russia; he is the organisers’ nominee.
Svidler, the 2011 World Cup champion, is not your usual Russian Grandmaster though. He is a huge cricket fan and has played chess online under the nickname of Tendulkar. He loves cricket so much that he once agreed to play a small tournament in Gibraltar only because the organiser of the tournament promised him some cricket at the nets.
He happily sacrifices sleep in order to watch the Ashes live. He is capable of analysing cricket, which he has been following for well over a decade after being introduced to it by English GM Nigel Short.
As for the chess World championship, Svidler, a record seven-time Russian national champion, believes Anand’s strong opening preparations could be crucial. “A lot will depend on how smoothly the openings would work for Anand as there is only one ‘Opening Master’ in this match,” he said in a recent interview. “If such an opening balance is maintained, then the match will be interesting and approximately equal. If Magnus has worked precisely on that part and if he manages to catch Anand in the opening as White, I would say it would be hard for the Indian.”
He said from a purely playing point of view Magnus was stronger and had more energy. “Nonetheless, Anand is certainly experienced in not only playing the matches but in preparing for them too,” he pointed out. “I guess it won’t be easy to fight against his opening preparation. And then anything is possible. It should be interesting.”
Svidler would be following Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell to cricket too, even as Anand takes on Carslen.