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    Entries in Viswanathan Anand (157)

    Wednesday
    Jun062018

    Norway Chess, Round 7: Three Leaders With Two Rounds to Go

    Coming into the round Magnus Carlsen had more points than anyone else - 3.5 - but this was in part a function of his having played one more game than Wesley So. Carlsen had 3.5/6, So 3/5, and no one else had better than an even score. Carlsen had the bye in round 7 and So drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, leaving both Carlsen and So with 3.5/6.

    The other three games featured players with a chance to catch up and join the tie for first. If Fabiano Caruana had beaten Hikaru Nakamura, or vice-versa, he'd have had 3.5/6, while the winner of Sergey Karjakin's game with Levon Aronian - had there been one - also would have reached +1. (Karjakin would have had 3.5/6, Aronian 4/7.) That left the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Viswanathan Anand. MVL was at -1 and couldn't have caught up, but Anand could have, and did: he too has 3.5/6.

    With two rounds to go, here are the pairings for round 8:

    • Nakamura (3/6) - Karjakin (3/6)
    • Anand (3.5/6) - Caruana (3/6)
    • So (3.5/6) - Vachier-Lagrave (2/6)
    • Carlsen (3.5/6) - Mamedyarov (3/7)
    • Aronian (3.5/7) - bye

    The round 7 games, with some comments to MVL-Anand, are here.

    Thursday
    Mar082018

    Anand, Karjakin Win Tal Memorial Rapid and Blitz Events

    If Magnus Carlsen isn't going to play in the Tal Memorial, then who better to win than his previous opponents in the 2013, 2014, and 2016 World Championship matches? Viswanathan Anand won the rapid event, losing only one game, to world #2 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov while defeating Daniil Dubov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hikaru Nakamura, and Alexander Grischuk to win the event by a full point with 6/9 and an impressive 2884 TPR. Mamedyarov, Sergei Karjakin, and Nakamura finished with five points apiece. Recall that Anand won the World Rapid Championship this past December, so even though he won't be in the Candidates he's still a force to be reckoned with, even at the age of 48.

    In the blitz it was Karjakin's turn to shine. The field was a bit bigger, with four additional players brought in, and Karjakin won with a very impressive score of 10/13. Vladimir Kramnik (who tied for 4th-6th) beat him in round 2, but otherwise it was Karjakin doing the damage. He defeated Nakamura (who took second), Nepomniachtchi (3rd), Vladislav Artemiev (=4th), Alexander Grischuk (=4th), Dubov (=7th), Peter Svidler (=9th), Alexander Morozevich (=11th), and Boris Gelfand (14th). Karjakin was the World Blitz Champion in 2016 and the runner-up last year, so his 2950 TPR confirmed his place at the top.

    It was interesting to see four players participating here with the Candidates just a few days away, but perhaps Karjakin, Kramnik, Grischuk, and Mamedyarov felt they needed the warmup. It will be interesting to follow their progress early on in Berlin, to see if they seem either better warmed up than their rivals or perhaps a bit tired instead.

    More here

    Friday
    Jan262018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 11: The Leaders All Draw; Anand Closes to Within Half a Point

    It wasn't an especially good day for the top four. The three leaders all drew - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Magnus Carlsen against each other, and Anish Giri somewhat shakily against Fabiano Caruana. Vladimir Kramnik started the day half a point behind, but was thoroughly outplayed by Sergey Karjakin (who thereby caught up with him) to fall another half a point back.

    This let Viswanathan Anand come closer; his convincing win over Hou Yifan brought him within half a point of the leading troika, and Wesley So's win over Gawain Jones put him into a tie with Kramnik and Karjakin. (The other two games were short draws: Adhiban-Wei Yi and Matlakov-Svidler.) (The games, with my notes to the first four games mentioned above, are here.)

    Two rounds remain, and first place is still up in the air. Here's what we have to look forward to on Saturday, in round 12:

    • Hou Yifan (2) - Wei Yi (4.5)
    • Giri (7.5) - Adhiban (3.5)
    • Kramnik (6.5) - Caruana (4.5)
    • Svidler (5) - Karjakin (6.5)
    • Carlsen (7.5) - Matlakov (4.5)
    • Jones (4) - Mamedyarov (7.5)
    • Anand (7) - So (6.5)

    All three leaders have pairings that look very promising on paper, while the pairings for those in the chase pack look considerably less congenial. We shall see!

    Wednesday
    Jan242018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 10: Dog Bites Man (Giri Draws, Everyone Else Wins)

    That's not strictly true; rather, it's that all the players in contention won (except for Wesley So, who was playing another contender).

    Anish Giri entered the round half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, and a point and a half ahead of So and Viswanathan Anand. Giri had the white pieces, but was unable to achieve anything against Sergey Karjakin, and the game finished in a speedy draw. Everyone else (except for So) took advantage.

    Let's start with the big dog: Carlsen, against So. Despite playing with White he got nothing out of the opening and was maybe a little worse. But So, one of his regular patrons, played too submissively (18...Nd4 was a move repeatedly noted by Carlsen as an example of this unfortunate tendency), and Carlsen escaped to a better ending a pawn up with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. That should have been a draw, but So didn't play it as well as he could have. Still, Carlsen decided to transform it into another ending - which again should have been drawn with best play, but where best play wasn't at all easy to achieve. Carlsen gave up his bishop for a couple more pawns, and So was unable to solve the problems of that new ending. It wasn't a masterpiece by Carlsen, but it was a great illustration of why he's the #1 player: his mental strength and his ability to keep posing new problems, hour after hour, and to take advantage when even the strongest opponents slip, far exceed his competitors' abilities in those respects.

    Case in point: Kramnik vs. Maxim Matlakov. Kramnik won and posed lots of interesting problems for Matlakov, but time after time Kramnik would meet his opponent's error with one of his own. Kramnik is an all-time great, and he's not doing badly here, either, but his current form isn't going to win the Candidates, never mind a world championship match against Carlsen. For his sake, hopefully it's just a matter of rust, and he'll be fully ready in March.

    Kramnik is half a point behind the leading triumvirate, so let's return to the leading triumvirate. We haven't mentioned Mamedyarov's game yet, a 21-move bludgeoning of Peter Svidler. Svidler had White and played the unusual 6.Bf4 in the Ragozin. That wasn't a problem by itself; in fact, Svidler defeated Giri with it in 2015. But after 6...Ne4 his 7th move was a strange novelty that probably wasn't prepared beforehand. (What he meant to do, or what he was getting mixed up, isn't clear.) After this Black had the initiative, but it wasn't out of control until 11.Bg2(?). After this Black was better, and after 15.Qb3? (I suspect Svidler would add the second question mark) 15...Na5 followed by ...Nc4 the game was just over. Mamedyarov played well, but Svidler was unrecognizable.

    Finally, Gawain Jones's tournament is starting to crumble a bit. After losing a won position against Carlsen in round 8 and failing to convert a won position against Hou Yifan in round 9 (though he was also lost at one point against her as well), he ran into some excellent preparation against Anand in this round, round 10. I'm not sure if Jones really was prepared for Anand's idea, but if he was he mixed something up and was lost almost right away. Anand won convincingly with the black pieces, and although he's a point behind the leaders he's playing well and will have two white games of the remaining three.

    Tomorrow (Thursday) is the second and last rest day of the event (they played in Groningen today; it's back to Wijk for the remaining games). Today's games, with my notes to all the aforementioned games but the very long adventure story that was Carlsen-So, are here. (The other two games were Wei Yi-Caruana, which was a short draw; and Hou Yifan-Adhiban, which was a very long draw.) And here are the pairings for round 11, on Friday, featuring above all a clash between two of the leaders, Mamedyarov vs. Carlsen:

    • Anand (6) - Hou Yifan (2)
    • So (5.5) - Jones (4)
    • Mamedyarov (7) - Carlsen (7)
    • Matlakov (4) - Svidler (4.5)
    • Karjakin (5.5) - Kramnik (6.5)
    • Caruana (4) - Giri (7)
    • Adhiban (3) - Wei Yi (4)

    Thursday
    Jan182018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 3: Wins for Anand and Jones

    The round 3 games are here, with notes to three of the games: Anand's spectacular win over Caruana, Jones's upset victory over Adhiban, and Kramnik's shaky draw with Hou Yifan.

    Saturday
    Jan132018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 1: Anand, Kramnik, and Giri Win

    For Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, the stories were similar: they played very well against strong but somewhat lower-rated opponents (Maxim Matlakov and Wei Yi, respectively), had some hiccups once they achieved a serious advantage, but eventually managed to convert anyway. Anish Giri's win over Hou Yifan was a bit different: they kept trading pieces all the way down to a king and pawn ending, and although the position was (and had long been) equal, Hou needed to make one precise move to hold the draw. Somewhat short of time, she failed to do so, and Giri joined the winner's circle in the last game of the day.

    The other games, including the marquee matchup between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, finished peacefully. Peter Svidler had some chances against Baskaran Adhiban but let them slip. Wesley So was surprised in the opening by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and chose a safe reply that allowed his opponent to equalize without any difficulty. Finally, Gawain Jones played a chicken line in the opening against Sergey Karjakin, with White offering a draw by repetition on move 12. Was this nervousness, fear, or a psychological trick? Karjakin declined the repetition, and Jones later obtained an edge, though only briefly, and the game was drawn before the first time control.

    In the Challengers event Korobov, Gordievsky, and Jorden Van Foreest all won, the latter defeating...Lucas Van Foreest. So much for brotherly love!

    The Masters (top section) games, plus Gordievsky's game and the battle of the siblings, are all here with my generally brief comments.

    Round 2 Pairings (Masters section only):

    • Hou Yifan (0) - Mamedyarov (.5)
    • Matlakov (0) - So (.5)
    • Karjakin (.5) - Anand (1)
    • Caruana (.5) - Jones (.5)
    • Adhiban (.5) - Carlsen (.5)
    • Wei Yi (0) - Svidler (.5)
    • Giri (1) - Kramnik (1)

    Thursday
    Dec282017

    Anand Wins the 2017 World Rapid Championship

    Well done, Viswanathan Anand! His success was a bit surprising, in that he took short draws in four of the five games. But it all worked out: he won the right game, got into a playoff, and emerged victorious.

    Along the way there were many challenges. First and foremost, there's the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, who quickly earned board 1 rather than receiving it as an endowed chair. He won in round 11, and then faced then-leader Vladimir Fedoseev. The game seemed headed for a draw for a very long time, but Carlsen worked his endgame magic and amazingly found himself in clear first. He was still in clear first after a draw in round 13, but after drawing in round 14 he entered the last round tied for first with Anand.

    Carlsen's last-round opponent was Alexander Grischuk, who started the day with three straight wins. That put him in a big tie for second when facing Anand in round 14, but Anand won a very good game to put an end to Grischuk's chances for first place. But Grischuk bounced back with an excellent win - with Black - against Carlsen to knock the latter out of first and off the medal stand. The most surprising aspect of Carlsen's performance is that he was absolutely brutal on his opponents when playing Black: an undefeated 6-1 score. But with White his performance was absymal (by his standards): 4-4, including three losses.

    What about Fedoseev? He started the day in first by half a point, but after a draw and the loss to Carlsen he was half a point behind. He drew in rounds 13 and 14, and bounced back into a tie for first by beating fellow Russian youngster Vladislav Artemiev in the final round to tie Anand for first.

    But wait, there's more: Ian Nepomniachtchi. Nepo started the day a point and a half behind Fedoseev, but won in round 11 (against Yuriy Kuzubov), drew Anand in round 12, beat Aleksandr Rakhmanov in round 13, drew Peter Svidler in round 14, and beat Wang Hao in round 15. The result was that he joined the three-way tie for first at 10.5/15.

    Svidler could have joined them with a win over Boris Savchenko, but he lost that game. Bu Xiangzhi could have made it to 10.5 instead of Anand if he had beaten him, but despite having the white pieces he was content to draw in just 11 moves. Surprising, but overall he had a great tournament - don't forget that he defeated Carlsen in round 1.

    The tie for first was settled like this: the players with the best tiebreak scores would play a two-game blitz match (3'+2"), with an Armageddon game if necessary. Not surprisingly, given Nepomniachtchi's comeback on the last day, he had the worst tiebreakers and received the bronze medal. So it was Anand-Fedoseev, and the former world champion won convincingly in the first game. In the second game, Anand was better throughout and often winning (despite an impressively tricky idea by Fedoseev midway through the game) but allowed Fedoseev a draw in the end. (The arbiter misunderstood both the position and Fedoseev's handshake offer and marked it as 0-1, but the correct result is up on the official site.) Thus Anand won the playoff and the title. (I don't know if Carlsen was given the gold medal on Norwegian TV, but for the rest of the world Anand was the victor.)

    Here are the final standings for the top three score groups:

    • 1-3. Anand, Fedoseev, Nepomniachtchi 10.5
    • 4-9. Bu, Carlsen, Grischuk, Savchenko, Mamedov, Guseinov 10
    • 10-18. Svidler, Wang Hao, Yu Yangyi, Artemiev, V. Onischuk, Ding Liren, Harikrishna, Grigoriants, Zhao Jun 9.5

    A selection of games from the final day, here.

    Finally, while I didn't bother to cover it, the concurrent women's world rapid championship was won by Ju Wenjun with an impressive 11.5/15, half a point clear of her countrywoman Lei Tingjie. Elisabeth Paehtz was the surprise bronze medalist, clear third another half a point behind.

    The blitz tournament starts tomorrow, and the only thing we can count on is that Magnus Carlsen will be on board 1. (I wonder if that will continue even after Fabiano Caruana or Wesley So defeats him in next year's classical world championship.)

    Sunday
    Oct012017

    Isle of Man, Final Round: Carlsen Draws Quickly to Clinch Clear First; Nakamura, Anand Tie for Second

    As at least one chess blogger suggested yesterday, a draw between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura was very likely, and it would quite possibly be a short draw. Sure enough, it took just 18 moves and less than half an hour for them to repeat moves and call it a tournament. Carlsen thus clinched clear first with 7.5/9, while Nakamura guaranteed himself at worst part of a four-way tie for second.

    Viswanathan Anand joined the tie by beating Hou Yifan with surprising ease. It's not so surprising that Anand would beat Hou, especially with the white pieces, but it is surprising given the insipid line he chose against her Petroff. He was able to build from a tiny initiative, and after a brief flurry of complications won a pawn, which he converted in a queen and rook ending.

    The other players who could have caught Nakamura drew their games. This was not so surprising in the all-2700 clash between Richard Rapport and S.G. Vidit, but it was much more surprising that Pavel Eljanov couldn't defeat the hitherto little-known and much lower-rated Indian GM S.D. Swapnil. He was close for a while, but couldn't put him away. So all four players finished with 6.5 points, and were caught by five others, including Vladimir Kramnik, Fabiano Caruana, Mickey Adams, Emil Sutovsky, and Alexei Shirov.

    It was a good comeback for Kramnik, who repaired some of the damage done earlier in the tournament, but still lost 8.4 rating points overall. On the other hand, it was a great event for his surprise conquerer, James Tarjan, who demonstrated his fine eye for cheapos once again in defeating Alexandra Kosteniuk today. He finished with 5.5 points, gained 30 rating points, and had an excellent TPR of 2671 - which was 11 points higher than Kramnik's.

    The top TPR of the tournament belonged to Carlsen, of course, who achieved an outstanding 2903 TPR. (Caruana and Nakamura were tied for second, with 2831 TPRs, and Anand was next at 2806. Then Swapnil and Aleks Lenderman finished with 2768 TPRs - big congrats to both of them.) Carlsen added 11.4 points to his rating, and what was recently a tenuous gap between him and his closest pursuers has expanded again, and he is 36.4 points ahead of world #2 Levon Aronian.

    The full results are here, and a final selection of games from this tournament is here.

    Thursday
    Sep072017

    The 2017 World Cup, Round 2, Day 1: Mostly Business As Usual

    There were a lot of draws (many of them short) and not many upsets, but one of the two was a major upset. Le Quang Liem lost to Santosh Vidit in a relatively minor upset - the bigger surprise was that Le lost with White. But the second loss was huge: Viswanathan Anand lost to Anton Kovalyov - also with White. It's not just the rating gap, though it was significant - 142 points. It's that it was Anand, who is on the verge of his earliest ever exit from a World Cup or FIDE k.o. World Championship, and if he does not win the rematch it will be the first time he hasn't made it to at least the Candidates stage since the titles were reunified in 2007.

    The loss itself was rather strange: Anand was in good shape, pressing from the start, but he decided on a piece sac that left him with an initiative that at best might given him enough play for a draw, if things went well. As it was he was always worse, and Kovalyov was eventually able to reel in the full point.

    Since there weren't too many wins out of the 32 games, it's easy to list them all: Magnus Carlsen defeated Aleksey Dreev (with Black), Vladimir Kramnik beat Anton Demchenko (with White), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave defeated Boris Grachev (with White), David Navara won against Ivan Cheparinov (with White), Vladimir Fedoseev defeated Ernesto Inarkiev (also with White), and that's it (adding the two upsets discussed above).

    The Americans - So, Caruana, Nakamura, Onischuk, Sevian, and Lenderman - all drew their games.

    Here, with brief comments, are the games Anand-Kovalyov and Hou Yifan-Levon Aronian.

    Sunday
    Aug202017

    A Great Compliment by Kasparov on Anand

    Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand were rivals in the 90s and early 00s, and in those days, during his playing career, Kasparov always seemed stingy with compliments. And when he would offer a compliment, there was generally a "yes, but" attached to it. So it was refreshing to read the following in Kasparov's new book, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins (p. 124):

    I always felt that I had the advantage in calculation over anyone except the Indian star Viswanathan Anand, who was justly famous for his speedy tactical play.

    High praise!