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    Entries in Viswanathan Anand (166)

    Sunday
    Nov132016

    Champions Showdown, Day 3: Anand, Topalov Lead After the Classical Stage

    The double round robin portion of the Champions Showdown concluded in St. Louis on Saturday, and the stage finished with Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov tied for first. Anand led after day two and drew both games today. Against Topalov in round 5 (the first game of the day) Anand had a chance to press late in the game, but for the most part his games were balanced and the draws were justified. That left him at +1, and the question was whether he would be caught - or passed - by Topalov or Hikaru Nakamura.

    In round 5, Nakamura defeated Fabiano Caruana, and thereby joined Anand at +1. Nakamura's novelty was met by a logical plan, the only problem was that Caruana was a tempo shy of successfully implementing it. 18.Qb3 was a good move, winning a pawn, and Nakamura confidently converted his advantage.

    With a draw against Topalov in round 6 he'd tie Anand for first in the stage, and a win would put him in clear first. Instead, Topalov won a very good game, thereby concluding the classical portion tied for first.

    Sunday they play rapid chess; meanwhile, the games are here, with my notes.

    Friday
    Nov112016

    Champions Showdown, Day 2: Anand Leads

    Veselin Topalov led after day 1 of the Champion's Showdown, while Hikaru Nakamura was the moral victor of the first day after saving a difficult position in one game and a(n almost) dead lost one in the second. The played in round 3, and Nakamura got a free point when Topalov either forgot theory in a well-known position or had an inspiration that was really a hallucination. Whatever the explanation, the game was over in just 14 moves.

    That let Nakamura leapfrog Topalov into first, and if Viswanathan Anand had beaten Fabiano Caruana they would have shared the lead after first classical round robin. Anand played very well the first part of the game and achieved a winning advantage, but his hasty 30.f5 followed by another inaccuracy a couple of moves later let the American escape.

    In round 4 Nakamura started with a good position for a change, against Anand, and this time it was his opponent who made the comeback in the second half. Anand got his first win, Nakamura his first loss, and now Anand was the leader. Had Topalov won his game against Caruana they would have been tied for first, but although Topalov had a winning advantage at more than one point Caruana escaped with a draw.

    The classical portion of the event ends tomorrow. The current standings are: Anand 2.5, Nakamura & Topalov 2, Caruana 1.5.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Champions Showdown, Starting Now!

    It's Veselin Topalov vs. Fabiano Caruana and Viswanathan Anand vs. Hikaru Nakamura, starting now in St. Louis. As mentioned a few days ago, this is a three-part tournament: two classical round robins, followed by a double round robin in rapid, concluding in a quadruple round robin in blitz.

    Official site here.

    Friday
    Nov042016

    2016 Champions Showdown in St. Louis

    There is that little match in New York coming up, it's true, but in St. Louis there will be a very strong and entertaining event overlapping for part of the world championship match. The 2016 Champions Showdown in St. Louis runs from November 10-14, a three-stage tournament featuring Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, and Veselin Topalov. The first three days are for a classical round robin, day four will feature a double round robin with a rapid time control, and the last day will be a quadruple round robin in blitz.

    It'll be a great few weeks for chess fans - especially in the United States. (Apologies to European readers and others who will stay awake to crazy hours of the morning following all the action.)

    Saturday
    Oct012016

    Tal Memorial, Round 5: Anand the Day's Only Winner; Giri Continues to Lead

    Anish Giri entered the round in first with 3.5 points, half a point ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi. They played in round 5, with Giri getting the white pieces. Nepomniachtchi sacrificed a pawn early on for activity, and while Giri managed to keep the pawn and neutralize his opponent's counterplay, the cost of doing so was a drawn rook ending. At least it was drawn with correct play, and "Nepo" achieved that standard.

    In fact all but one of the day's games were drawn. Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik had a somewhat similar game, except that Kramnik had to suffer more before reaching the rook ending and required a higher degree of accuracy to hold it. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had White against Peter Svidler, but was a bit worse in the early middlegame. By reaching an opposite-colored bishop ending, he was able to avoid any serious trouble - though he too had to save the game a pawn in arrears. Finally, Li Chao and Evgeny Tomashevsky drew as well, and without either player suffering a material deficit.

    The one winner was Viswanathan Anand, who bounced back from yesterday's loss to Kramnik to beat poor Boris Gelfand, who has lost four games in a row. Opposite-colored bishop endings are more drawish than most other endings, but that's primarily when there are only the bishops. In this game both players had both rooks as well, and Anand showed that the ending wasn't drawish at all. To avoid the sure loss that would result from passive defense Gelfand came up with the dynamic double pawn sac 33...Rd8 followed by 36...e3, but Anand's counter-sac with 37.Bxe3 resulted in a prospectless ending for Gelfand. Anand had a rook and four pawns (three connected queenside passers, plus an f-pawn) against Gelfand's rook and bishop. With best play, maybe Gelfand could have held it (emphasis on "maybe"), but with his king cut off on the kingside his chances of saving the game were slim indeed. If there was a way to do it, he didn't find it, and Anand won comfortably.

    Here are the pairings for round 6 on Sunday (Monday is the next rest day):

    • Kramnik (2.5) - Gelfand (.5)
    • Tomashevsky (1.5) - Anand (3)
    • Svidler (2) - Li Chao (3)
    • Nepomniachtchi (3.5) - Mamedyarov (2.5)
    • Aronian (2.5) - Giri (4)

    Wednesday
    Sep282016

    Tal Memorial, Round 2: Anand, Giri Win

    There's now a three-way tie for first after two rounds of the Tal Memorial. Three games were drawn - two post-haste (Svidler-Nepomniachtchi and Tomashevsky-Aronian) while the third (Kramnik-Li Chao) always seemed headed for the draw that was eventually achieved.

    The other two games were impressive achievements by the victors. Anish Giri defeated Boris Gelfand with the black pieces in good style. Giri's active play in the center involved a pawn sac, and it would seem that he did a better job of evaluating the sharp position that resulted than did his opponent. 28...g5 was a nice move, and Giri finished the game with an impressive attack, helped along by Gelfand's plausible error on move 34 in time trouble.

    Viswanathan Anand also won with an impressive attack, but in an endgame. Mamedyarov went for an interesting piece sac in a Closed Ruy, and while his compensation may have been enough it required accurate play to remain that way. His decision to trade queens on move 29 surprised Anand, and the computer doesn't like it either: Black's compensation rested as much on his attacking chances as on the pawns he had for the piece, and once the queens came off it was White who took over the initiative. The final sequence, beginning with, say, 47.Rb6, was very nice. Mamedyarov wasn't too far away from escaping with a draw, but some clever tactics combining various possible knight forks with threats against Black's king secured the win for the former world champion.

    Here are the pairings for round 3, with player scores in parentheses:

    • Nepomniachtchi (1.5) - Kramnik (1)
    • Aronian (1) - Svidler (1)
    • Giri (1.5) - Tomashevsky (.5)
    • Mamedyarov (.5) - Gelfand (.5)
    • Li Chao (1) - Anand (1.5)

    Thursday
    Sep222016

    Anand: 40 is the new 50 (Update: Title Fixed!)

    Here. On a personal note, I hope not!

    Sunday
    Aug142016

    This Week's World Chess Column: When Chess Was in the Olympics

    Many of us are watching the Olympics, and this year's Chess Olympiad starts September 1. But did you know that chess was once in the "real" Olympics? Read more about it here.

    Tuesday
    Jun142016

    Anand Wins Leon Rapid

    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.

    Tuesday
    Mar222016

    Candidates Update: Anand, Karjakin Lead After 9 Rounds; Five Rounds Remain

    A real report will have to wait, but some scattershot comments are in order at the moment.

    1. The fallout from the Aronian - Nakamura touch-move game has been significant, with both players coming in for criticism. The source in Nakamura's case is obvious: for the rules violation. (He has had another problem that indirectly resulted from the first. Understandably upset about the game, he avoided the post-game press conference, and as a result will be docked 10% of his prize fund. Ouch.) As for Aronian, he has received a couple of criticisms. The first was from Nakamura, who said in an interview that Aronian had "made it personal" (or words to that effect) in the immediate aftermath of the situation. I have no idea what was said, but perhaps some lip reader can suss out the details from the video. The second criticism concerned Aronian's claim in the post-game press conference that he was winning. Emil Sutovsky (on Facebook) was particularly exercised about this, and while I think he's right on the substance - Aronian wasn't winning or even close to winning; if anything, it's a near-elementary draw - his reaction was severely overblown.

    2. Anyone in the mood for Anand-Carlsen III? There were five matches between Karpov and Kasparov, back in the day, and all five had a great deal of excitement. (There were also three Botvinnik-Smyslov World Championship matches and - sort of - three World Championship matches between Karpov and Korchnoi.) Granted, the first A-C match was terrible, and the second one was better but still disappointing. But maybe the third time is the charm? If nothing else, it will mean that Anand will have automatic qualification to at least one more Candidates cycle, and I'm sure all his rivals are excited about that. Frankly, whatever one's feelings about Anand and seeing him play in his 25th consecutive world championship match (just kidding, it will "only" be his sixth if he makes it back), it's still an incredible accomplishment.

    3. Will Giri (or Svidler) win a game in this event? They have had some enormous advantages, but somehow, something keeps happening to thwart them before the finish line.

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