Former world champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw as black against Hikaru Nakamura of United States and remained in joint third position after the end of the fifth round of Norway Chess 2015, a part of the Grand Chess Tour.
Following a victory against world champion Magnus Carlsen in the previous round and a much deserving rest day thereafter, Anand had his task cut out against Nakamura. The American had a small advantage but it remained just that as Anand played the defensive part to perfection.
Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria again got lucky as local hero Jon Ludvig Hammer blundered in a dead-drawn endgame to hand another point to the Bulgarian in a platter. It may be recalled that in the first round, Carlsen had lost to Bulgarian in a completely winning position as he was not aware of the rules related to time control here.
With his fourth win in the tournament, Topalov moved to 4.5 points out of a possible five and stands clear second in live world rankings behind Carlsen. Nakamura is now a full point behind the leader while Anand and Anish Giri of Holland are on three points apiece from their five games.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played out a draw with Giri to reach 2.5 points for a sole fifth spot while Armenian Levon Aronian scalped for soon-to-be-American Fabiano Caruana of Italy to be on two points and in a tie for sixth place.
The biggest news of the day however was Carlsen striking form as the Norwegian finally got going in his typical style and crushed Russian Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk. Carlsen’s first victory helped him reach 1.5 points from his five games.
The Nimzo Indian defense by Anand met the classical Capablanca variation wherein Nakamura got a symbolic advantage. “It’s a pleasant position for White to play, but it’s nothing massive either,” said Anand when asked how he felt.
Anand’s knight manoeuvres were so perfect even Nakamura could not help praising his opponent calling one manoeuvre a “knight fianchetto”, “You can see how my knights are defending each other nicely and are also restricting White’s rook,” said Anand on the moment when Nakamura was trying to press for more.
As the game was played on International Yoga day the question was popped and Anand said he practiced Yoga as well. “My aunt is a yoga teacher. Recently I started to do it quite a lot again. When I’m at home, almost daily. There are a few poses and stretches that I find to be healthy.”
Topalov won when the victory was almost looking impossible. Hammer calculated well to reach a piece-down but a perfectly-drawn endgame but a typical case of chess-blindness happened and the Norwegian played the wrong move when he could eliminate Topalov’s last remaining pawn.
Carlsen got rolling much to the relief for his fans. The World champion got a nagging edge in the middle game and a brilliant pawn sacrifice resulted in a difficult endgame for Grischuk. Carlsen increased the advantage as the game progressed and Grischuk had no answers.