I don't see a way to embed any of the videos here, so I'll send you straight to the source instead. I've only watched Viswanathan Anand's "master class" so far, and liked seeing him discuss his amazing game with Evgeny Bareev from Wijk aan Zee in 2004. There's a spectacular variation that could have arisen had Bareev played 27...Qf4, and I was rather pleased with myself to have worked it out with a computer shortly after the game was played. When I learned a few hours later that Anand had seen the variation (or at least most of it) over the board, well, that was jaw-dropping. If you don't already know about this game and the variation in question, do check out that video.
Entries in Gibraltar 2016 (6)
My fantasy of a 13-way tie for first in Gibraltar didn't come to pass, as Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won their games against David Anton and Sebastien Maze, respectively, to finish tied for first with 8/10. The result was a playoff, and after four consecutive draws (of which Nakamura had winning positions in two of them, albeit very briefly in the second) it came down to an Armageddon game. Nakamura won the coin toss and took black, and when he neutralized Vachier-Lagrave's pressure (that was convincingly achieved with 35...Kg7) the latter was forced into some serious risks. Nakamura was up to the challenge, and soon he was up the exchange while MVL was forced to trade queens or lose a knight. He chose a third option - resigning - and Nakamura won the event for the second straight year and the third time overall. (He first won in 2008.)
Tied for third through eighth places with 7.5 points were, in tiebreak order, Etienne Bacrot, S. P. Sethuraman, Pentala Harikrishna, Gawain Jones, Li Chao, and Emil Sutovsky. The women's prize went to Anna Muzychuk with 7 points, which was a fine score for just about anyone. (By comparison, Viswanathan Anand and Nigel Short wound up with 6.5 points, and Anand had to win his last two games to achieve that. Admittedly, his tournament was a disaster, but there were 2700+ players who, like Muzychuk, scored 7/10 and had perfectly respectable performances.)
Congratulations to the winners and condolences to the losers. I was going to engage in some speculation about what Anand's performance here might mean for the Candidates' tournament next month (the short answer: I'm inclined to think it doesn't mean much), but since he'll be in action about a week from now in Zurich we should look towards that event, which will feature three other candidates as well - Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, and Anish Giri. They will be joined by Vladimir Kramnik and Alexei Shirov in a "slow rapid" (G/40' + 10") and blitz competition from February 13-15.
The Zurich organizer, Oleg Skortsov, is hoping that this time control (or something close to it) will become the new classical time control. Speaking for myself, I would like to see more tournaments with rapid time limits, but I don't want to see slower time controls go extinct, either. It isn't a pleasure playing back-to-back six hours games in Swiss system events, but the value of depth shouldn't be scorned. It too has a place in our chess world. But what say you? Please answer both as a chess fan (what do you like watching when you're watching top grandmasters in action?) and as a chess player.
The last round of Gibraltar 2016 should be a fine mess. Eight players are tied for first with 7/9, and in the unlikely but not impossible event that their games all finish in a draw nine players half a point behind are fighting for the chance to catch them. (Who wants to see a 13-way tie for first, and the ensuing playoff? I know I do.)
Here are the top pairings for the last round:
- Hikaru Nakamura (7) - David Anton Guijarro (7)
- Sebastien Maze (7) - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (7)
- Pentala Harikrishna (7) - Li Chao (7)
- Etienne Bacrot (7) - S. P. Sethuraman (7)
- Yu Yangyi (6.5) - Gawain Jones (6.5)
- Dmitry Jakovenko (6.5) - Gujrathi Vidit (6.5)
- Nils Grandelius (6.5) - Markus Ragger (6.5)
- Emil Sutovsky (6.5) - Axel Bachmann (6.5)
- M. R. Lilith Babu (6.5) - Richard Rapport (6)
Who? Right, David Anton Guijarro. He's a strong young Spanish GM, but it's still semi-shocking that the 24th seed, rated 2639, is leading a field with 10 players rated 2700 and up, including Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Viswanathan Anand. Anton has 6 out of 7, good for a half point lead over 15 players with 5.5, including 2700+ players Vachier-Lagrave, Pentala Harikrishna, Yu Yangyi, and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Nakamura is another half a point back, while Anand has just four points, having given up two draws and two losses - including one of each to IMs. Thus far his tournament has been a disaster; hopefully it won't bruise his confidence too much before the Candidates' tournament in March.
Round 9 pairings here.
The Tradewise Gibraltar Masters started today, laden with 2700s including Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Viswanathan Anand. If my eyes don't deceive me no favorite on the top 60 boards lost, but quite a few of the favorites - considerable favorites, at that - were nicked for draws, including Anand (with White against one Szidonia Lazarne Vajda) and Yu Yangyi (with Black against Alexandre Vuilleumier). There's no need for their fans to panic, however: it's a ten-round tournament, and even Magnus Carlsen was nicked for a first round draw in Qatar last month before tying for first (with Yu Yangyi!) and defeating him in a playoff.
This Swiss-system event, like the Qatar Masters, is getting stronger every year. The 2016 edition of the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters includes 10 players rated 2700 and above, including Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Viswanathan Anand! It may not be as prestigious as Wijk aan Zee, but the weather is a lot better.