Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand of India defeated former world championship challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel in the fifth round to make a strong comeback in the 10th Tal Memorial chess championship in Moscow on Sunday.
Following a painful loss after a gap of almost eight years against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the previous round, Anand was expected to take things easy. Instead the Indian ace turned the tables around and outclassed Gelfand in all departments of the game.
Anish Giri of Holland remained in sole lead after settling for a draw with Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia on a day that provided just one decisive game in the 10-player round robin tournament.
Russia’s Peter Svidler stood better but Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan was always on guard while Chinese Li Chao and Russian Evgeny Tomashevsky were involved in an ‘attack and defense’ duel before deciding that making progress was impossible.
Kramnik and Levon Aronian of Armenia also played a keenly contested game that ended peacefully.
With four rounds remaining, Giri on four points out of a possible five is a half point ahead of nearest contender Nepomniachtchi. Anand and Li Chao share the third spot on three points apiece while Aronian, Kramnik and Mamedyarov stand joint fifth on 2.5 points apiece.
Svidler on two is a half point ahead of Tomashevsky and Gelfand is a distant last with just a half point from his five games.
Anand took his chances and got rewarded against an out-of-form Gelfand.
The Rossolimo was Anand’s choice in the opening with white pieces and the Indian confessed in the post-game chat that he had not been following this opening much lately.
“This particular line is all the rage now. To be honest, I had not been following the Rossolimo much but I noticed that (Ernesto) Inarkiev played this against Gelfand. I was amazed that this had been bubbling underneath and it is hot now,” said Anand.
As it happened, Anand’s new idea came to fore on move 15 when he deviated from Gelfand’s earlier game and the idea proved too good in the ensuing complications. Gelfand did not have a clue as Anand forcibly got in to a better rook and opposite coloured Bishops endgame wherein a piece sacrifice gobbled all black pawns.
Getting four pawns in bargain, there was no looking back and it was all over in 58 moves.
Results after Round 5: Vishwanathan Anand (IND, 3) beat Boris Gelfand (ISR, 0.5); Li Chao (CHN, 3) drew with Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS, 1.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2.5) drew with Peter Svidler (RUS, 2); Anish Giri (NED, 4) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS, 3.5); Levon Aronian (ARM, 2.5) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (RUS, 2.5).