Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand failed to utilise most of his opportunities in the final game as he finished joint sixth while current World Champion Magnus Carlsen stamped his authority in the rapid chess to win by a huge margin in the Tata Steel Rapid and Blitz chess tournament on Sunday.
Day three of the India leg of the Grand Chess Tour witnessed the highly-awaited round seven clash between Carlsen and Anand, who were facing off on Indian soil for the first time since their World Championship match in Chennai in 2013.
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Carlsen playing white started with the Queen’s pawn opening as Anand replied with the Nimzo-Indian defence which then transposed into the Ragozin opening. Anand went for the initiative and revealed his intentions. He sacrificed an exchange and then the game entered murkier waters. Carlsen himself said: “I was scared about this position. I tried to calculate everything but in such a messy position, it is easy to miss something and suddenly you’re lost.”
Anand’s 19th move with Rook to e8 was a blunder that allowed Carlsen to grab the initiative. While the Indian superstar tried his best to complicate matter, Carlsen was careful not allowing Anand to wrest the advantage.
Making use of Anand’s exposed king Carlsen cashed in on another victory as the Grand Chess Tour Commentators described as the“Best Game of the Tournament”.
Meanhwhile, tail-ender Ian Nepomniachtchi smashed through the defences of Indian wildcard, Vidit Gujrathi in the Scotch opening the only other decisive result of the round.
Another Indian wildcard, Harikrishna Pentala lost against Anish Giri. Harikrishna was two pawns down and in a hopeless position but through pure grit and fighting spirit managed to save the game. This is now officially the longest game of the event lasting a mammoth 100 moves.
The Magnus Carlsen train finally was stopped by Indian star Harikrishna Pentala. The contest began with Carlsen playing aggressively. The Slovakian maneuvered his pieces beautifully to enter a winning Rook and pawn endgame. Harikrishna, who looked down and out, hung on with only seconds on his clock.
However, it all changed after that as Carlsen who had played a flawless game until now made a false move with the natural looking Rook to f3 on the 53rd move. Harikrishna managed to slowly claw back his way and activated his rook. His counter play became too strong but still Carlsen still had great chances to win. Carlsen’s final blunder came on move 63 and after that, Harikrishna held the draw in a Houdini like escape.
Elsewhere, Ding Liren tried to put pressure on Dutch star Anish Giri but the latter held with ease. While, Nepomniachtchi vs Aronian was quite a shocker as the players suddenly shook hands and agreed to a draw only after 13 moves.
Even before the last round began, Magnus Carlsen was already the champion of the rapid section even without making a move. In this round Carlsen beat Ding to secure his sixth win of the event.
Viswanathan Anand played his compatriot and long-time India number 2, Harikrishna Pentala. Anand started out with the King’s pawn opening and Harikrishna responded with the Sicilian Taimanov defence. He blundered on the 13th move with Bishop to b7 allowing Anand to check him thereby losing his right to castle.
Meanwhile, Nakamura drew Nepomniachtchi to confirm his second place. Anish Giri and Wesley So also drew in a side line of the Catalan. Both the players looked well prepared and played a game that will have importance on this theoretical line.