Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand settled for a joint eighth place finish in the blitz phase of the Altibox Norway chess tournament that had put him against reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen in the first round of the classical format.
While the blitz results are in no way detrimental to normal tournament as the scores are not counted, it does affect the number of white games that a player can get. Anand after a rather forgettable performance will get four white games while the top five finishers in blitz will get five whites against four black games in the 10-player round-robin tournament.For the records the blitz tournament was won impressively by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France scoring 7.5 points out of a possible nine.
Levon Aronian of Armenia finished tied second with Carlsen on six points while Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was fourth on five, a half point ahead of Ding Liren of China. Wesley So of United States tied for the sixth spot with Yu Yangyi of China and the last three places were taken by Fabiano Caruana of United States, Anand and Alexander Grischuk of Russia respectively. Anand drew six and lost the remaining three matches.
The Classical event this year has a new flavour which is likely to be hugely welcomed by the chess world. The players will play with two hours each on the clock with just 10 seconds of increment coming only after move 40. In the event of a draw, the players will take a short break and come back for the Armageddon game with same colours. To have a decisive result in each match in each round, the organisers have put 10 minutes for white and seven for black with black getting the full point in the event of another draw.
The Armageddon will also have increment of three seconds, albeit only after 60 moves are played.For Anand, the year so far has been mixed in classical format. After starting well and ending on joint third place in the Tata Steel tournament, Anand finished joint fourth in Shamkir and joint fifth in Grenke Chess Classic.
Given the unpredictable nature of the tournament, five blacks might in fact be handy for Anand due to the “draw odds” rule in the Armageddon games. The exciting format, tried for the first time in a super-event is likely to throw up some wild games in the Classical games as well.
Carlsen, starts as the favourite once again looking for his sixth tournament victory in the year. The Norwegian has so far won Tata Steel, Shamkir, Grand Chess tour, Grenke and Lindores Abbey in the current year. In fact the blitz tournament to decide the colours was the first event of the year that Carlsen played and did not win.