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    Entries in Viswanathan Anand (161)

    Sunday
    Jan202019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 8: Carlsen, Anand Win and Lead

    The logjam at the top has broken up a bit, and now it's the current world champion and his predecessor who head the tournament table in the 2019 edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament with +3 scores. Magnus Carlsen crushed Richard Rapport, obtaining a large positional advantage with he transformed into a powerful kingside attack; while Viswanathan Anand took advantage of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's blundering not just one but two simple tactics involving the d5 square.

    Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi were part of the first-place tie entering the round, but paired with each other they drew speedily, in just 17 moves. Anish Giri was the last member of the pentumvirate(?), but he was never getting more than a draw as Black against Santosh Vidit Gujrathi. Teimour Radjabov trailed the leaders by half a point entering the round, but he too took the round off, also drawing in 17 moves (with Black) against bottom seed and co-cellar dweller (with Vladimir Kramnik, but not any more!) Jorden Van Foreest.

    So today's draws were all pretty lame, but this was compensated by the presence of four decisive games. Two have already been mentioned, and the other two were Vladimir Fedoseev's win over Sam Shankland and Jan-Krzysztof Duda's victory over Kramnik, who no longer weighs the same as a duck but is sinking like a stone. (Ask your parents.)

    The games are here (with some comments). Tomorrow is a rest day, and on Tuesday they'll contest round 9, with the following pairings:

    • Shankland (3.5) - Carlsen (5.5)
    • Radjabov (4.5) - Fedoseev (3.5)
    • Giri (5) - Van Foreest (2.5)
    • Nepomniachtchi (5) - Vidit (4)
    • Kramnik (2) - Ding (5)
    • Mamedyarov (3) - Duda (4)
    • Rapport (3) - Anand (5.5)

    It looks like a round that could have lots of decisive games - let's hope so.

    Sunday
    Jan202019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 7: Five Leaders

    It's getting bunchy at the top of the 2019 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, as Viswanthan Anand's win over a plummeting Vladimir Kramnik made him the fifth player in the event with a +2 score as the tournament passed the halfway point. Anand was doing fine with Black, with a roughly equal position where he had an extra pawn and Kramnik had the bishop pair. Had Kramnik played 36.c4, insuring that he could regain the sacrificed pawn at will, he'd have enjoyed a small edge with slight winning chances and almost no risk. Perhaps Kramnik felt he was maintaining more position the way he played it, but that proved all to the good for Anand. He kept his extra pawn, got active, and went on to win in the second time control.

    That put him into a tie for first with Magnus Carlsen (who had to suffer a bit with black against Vladimir Fedoseev), Anish Giri (white in a short, sharp draw with Ding Liren), Ding Liren (see the previous clause), and Ian Nepomniachtchi (who had Jan-Krzysztof Duda on the ropes but couldn't put him away). As for Kramnik, he's tied for last place with Jorden Van Foreest, who lost a knight ending to Sam Shankland. That brought Shankland back to 50%, and was his first win after failing to convert winning positions in rounds 1 and 2.

    Teimour Radjabov is only half a point behind the leaders after clubbing Santosh Vidit into a brutal submission. Vidit was already in trouble in the opening after a promising piece sac by Radjabov, and while the game went 36 moves it wouldn't have been out of place for Vidit to resign on move 20.

    Finally, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Richard Rapport drew their game at the time control. Mamedyarov had a meaningful advantage through much of the middlegame, but it slipped away as the time control neared.

    No analysis today, I'm afraid, but the games can be replayed here. Here are the pairings for round 8:

    • Carlsen (4.5) - Rapport (3)
    • Anand (4.5) - Mamedyarov (3)
    • Duda (3) - Kramnik (2)
    • Ding (4.5) - Nepomniachtchi (4.5)
    • Vidit (3.5) - Giri (4.5)
    • Van Foreest (2) - Radjabov (4)
    • Fedoseev (2.5) - Shankland (3.5)

    Saturday
    Jan122019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 1: Two Wins, Two Missed Wins

    The first round of the 2019 Tata Steel tournament ("Wijk aan Zee") was a good one: there was plenty of fight, and the oddest statistic is that the two shortest games in the round were the wins. Viswanathan Anand crushed bottom seed Jorden Van Foreest, and while that might be expected on account of the players' ratings Ian Nepomniachtchi's win over Anish Giri was an upset - all the more so since Nepo, like Anand, had Black.

    Two other games should have finished with a winner: Teimour Radjabov was crushing Vladimir Kramnik, but a big error on the last move of the time control let the former champion escape. Reigning U.S. champion Sam Shankland did great to outplay second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but his reluctance to play Kd5 at some point allowed Mamedyarov to escape.

    The marquee matchup between Ding Liren and Magnus Carlsen did not disappoint: after four and a half moves the players were out of book, and a very imbalanced game resulted. Ding had an advantage at one point, but it was very difficult to prove and the lively draw that resulted was a logical result.

    Vladimir Fedoseev had some advantage against Richard Rapport, but his clever 28.Bf5 let Rapport escape. Finally, Santosh Vidit had to suffer in a long game against Jan-Krzysztof Duda, but he defended well to draw.

    The games, with my comments, are here. These are the round 2 pairings:

    • Carlsen (.5) - Nepomniachtchi (1)
    • Kramnik (.5) - Giri (0)
    • Mamedyarov (.5) - Radjabov (.5)
    • Rapport (.5) - Shankland (.5)
    • Anand (1) - Fedoseev (.5)
    • Duda (.5) - Van Foreest (0)
    • Ding Liren (.5) - Vidit (.5)

    Wednesday
    Nov142018

    Tata Steel Masters: Nakamura Wins the Rapid; Loses the Blitz to Anand in a Playoff

    Since today is a rest day for the World Championship match, and since two of the major events running alongside the match have just finished, it's a good day to do some catching up. Let's begin with the Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz tournament - or rather, tournaments, as the results were not combined.

    When we last looked (or rather, reported) the Rapid tournament was 2/3 over and Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian shared the lead with 4.5/6, a point ahead of Pentala Harikrishna. In round 7 the co-leaders each drew their game while Harikrishna lost, but in round 8 Nakamura's draw was enough to give him the lead when Harikrishna defeated Aronian in a very long (95-move) game. Harikrishna won again in round 9, but it left him half a point back when Nakamura's draw his final game. Had Aronian defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov he'd have caught back up to Nakamura, but he only managed a draw and a tie for second place. It was of course an excellent result for Nakamura, and a funny one: he drew all his games on the first day, won all three games the second day, and then closed with three more draws.

    Final Rapid Standings:

    1. Nakamura 6/9
    2-3. Harikrishna, Aronian 5.5
    4-5. So, Mamedyarov 5
    6. Karjakin 4.5
    7-8. Anand, Vidit 4
    9. Sarin 3
    10. Ganguly 2.5

    After a rest day, it was time for the blitz, a double round-robin featuring the same cast of characters but with one exception: Nihal Sarin went out, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa came in. Nakamura continued his excellent form, finishing the first day (= the first round-robin) with an undefeated 6.5/9. Wesley So generally doesn't do well in super-elite blitz events, but after a slow start of 1.5/4 he finished on fire to wind up with 6. Levon Aronian had 5.5, and Viswanathan Anand had 5.

    In round 10 Anand caught So by defeating him, but he didn't gain ground on Nakamura or Aronian, both of whom won their games. Aronian won again in round 11, and so did Anand, while So drew and Nakamura lost to Harikrishna. Nakamura and Aronian were tied at 7.5, Anand had 7, and So trailed with 6.5. In round 12 Nakamura drew with Aronian, Anand drew with Sergey Karjakin, and So beat Praggnanandhaa, bunching all four players to within half a point of each other (Nakamura and Aronian with 8, Anand and So with 7.5).

    In round 13 Nakamura drew with So, while Anand and Aronian both won. Anand thus caught up with Nakamura, and from here until the end of the tournament they matched each other result for result. So trailed them by half a point, and for the moment Aronian led them by half a point.

    Nakamura and Anand both won in round 14 while Aronian drew, producing a three-way tie for first, while So's loss to Harikrishna took him out of the running, as he trailed the troika by a point and a half. From here on out we'll just track the top three.

    In round 15 Anand and Nakamura won again while Aronian drew (with So), putting Aronian half a point behind, but he immediately got it back when Anand and Nakamura drew with each other in round 16 while Aronian beat Mamedyarov. Two rounds to go, and three leaders.

    Aronian slipped half a point behind again when he drew with Karjakin in round 17, while Anand and Nakamura defeated Harikrishna and Vidit, respectively. In the last round Nakamura came very close to defeating Praggnanandhaa but couldn't quite do it, while as White Aronian failed to beat Anand. Aronian thus came in third, and Anand and Nakamura went to a blitz (3'+2") playoff.

    In the first game, Anand was generally the one pressing, and he managed to handle the chaos of the players living off the increments better than Nakamura, winning a tough rook endgame. In game two Nakamura was pressing, but Anand defended very well for a long time to save the point.

    For Anand the victory was especially sweet, as the event was held in Kolkota, in his native India. His joy was evident in the post-match interview with Tania Sachdev, and I commend that interview (and the tiebreaks, even if you don't want to watch the whole stream of the last day) to your viewing pleasure.

    Final Blitz Standings:

    1. Anand 12.5/18 (and 1.5-0.5 over Nakamura in the playoff)
    2. Nakamura 12.5
    3. Aronian 12
    4. So 10
    5-7. Harikrishna, Vidit, Mamedyarov 8
    8. Karjakin 7.5
    9. Ganguly 6
    10. Praggnanandhaa 5.5

    Some games caught my eye, of which I present a small selection.

    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)