The 29th City of Leon Master Chess tournament was a small event - a four-player knockout event in rapid chess - but with Viswanathan Anand and Wei Yi in the field it merits a mention.
In the first best-of-four semi-final Anand seemed well on the way to an easy win over the lower-rated David Anton Guijarro, achieving a clean draw with Black in game 1 and winning a nice (though not perfect) win with White in game 2. Things were going well for Anand in game 3 as well, up until he played 27...Ne4. The move wasn't that bad, but it started him on the path to trouble. The e-pawn was slightly weak, and soon his pieces lost coordination as they worked to achieve compensation for the (soon lost) e-pawn, and then further errors followed. The former world champion bounced back well, though, and as in game 2 he dominated the game, even if his technique wasn't always perfect.
In the second semi, Wei Yi was a significant favorite against Jaime Santo Latasa, and like Anand managed to win with a 2.5-1.5 score. Games 1 and 3 saw Santos play a secondary main line with White against the Karpov Variation of the Nimzo-Indian. In game 1 Wei Yi misplayed it slightly and was worse for a while before outplaying his opponent and coming close to a win. In game 3 Wei Yi got the theory right and it was a wasted white game for the underdog. With White in game 2, Wei Yi obtained an advantage and won, while in the final game he was happy to repeat moves in a position where he could have played for more if he needed to.
Anand won the final by winning game 1 with White and drawing the rest. His win came on the white side of a slow Giuoco, outplaying his opponent almost from start to finish. There was a serious slip on move 32, when Anand should have played 32.e5, with a decisive advantage. Instead, he played 32.Ra8? Qxa8 33.Qxd6 Qxa2 34.Nxe4?!, when his advantage was almost completely gone. Fortunately for him, Wei Yi erred several moves later with 37...Qg5; instead 37...Qf2 or 37...Qb2 would have maintained equal chances.
In game 2 Anand was fine until he wasted a couple of tempi with 21...Be7-f6 followed by the opposite move on the next turn. Had Wei Yi played 23.b4 he'd have been clearly better. After 23.Rc2?! a5! Anand's position was okay, and after a few more anxious moments he managed to hold.
Anand looked shaky in round 3 as well. This time his opponent was better prepared in another Giuoco, and he pressed almost from start to finish. Again though, Wei Yi missed some opportunities, and the ex-champ escaped with a draw.
The shakiness was not present in round 4. Anand was never in trouble, and this time it was Wei Yi who had to work for the draw, despite having the white pieces.
Hopefully this was a good warm-up for Anand, who will play in Belgium next week against all the players from the Paris Rapid & Blitz except for Laurent Fressinet.