High on confidence after a fine win over Fabiano Caruana of United States in the previous round, former world champion Viswanathan Anand will be looking to continue the momentum when he takes on Russia’s Sergey Karjakin in the sixth round of the Sinquefield Cup.
Anand, on three points out of a possible five, is currently sharing the second spot with world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, while the leader is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France on 3.5 points.
With four rounds still to go in the USD 300000 prize money tournament, Levon Aronian of Armenia, Caruana and Karjakin share the fourth spot with 2.5 points each in their kitty while the remaining four participants, US duo of Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura, and Russians Ian Nepomniachtchi and Peter Svidler share the seventh spot on two points each.
While it may look like anyone’s tournament as of now, Anand has a real chance of winning a super tournament after a considerable gap.
After the game against Karjakin when he plays with black pieces, the Indian ace has back-to-back white games lined up against Nepomniachtchi and Vachier-Lagrave and this is where even one strike might just prove crucial.
Meanwhile, Vachier-Lagrave has passed the sternest test with full marks when he defeated Carlsen earlier in the tournament and the Frenchman has to now navigate carefully to keep his half point lead intact.
After the loss against Vachier in the fourth round, Carlsen scored a thumping victory over Wesley So to announce his comeback in the event.
The world number one for over six years now and world champion since 2013, Carlsen has not won a single super tournament in the last one year. The king is under pressure to perform and this could be the platform.
Among other participants in the fray, Levon Aronian started off brilliantly but has not been able to keep up the momentum while Nakamura and Wesley So have not been in the form that was expected from them.
In the sixth round, Carlsen will take on Nakamura, always considered a mouth-watering contest for the chess buffs.
Vachier has to tackle a wounded Caruana and one can expect fair number of crackers in that game too.
Overall the Sinquefield cup looks poised for a close finish.
Pairings round 6: Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2.5) vs V Anand (Ind, 3); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3) vs Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 2); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 2.5) vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 3.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 2.5) vs Wesley So (Usa, 2); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 2) vs Peter Svidler (Rus, 2).