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Anand finishes third at Zurich Chess Challenge 2017

by Niklesh Jain - 20 April 2017

The Zurich Chess Challenge 2017 was held in the memory of the great Viktor Korchnoi. The players indulged in semi classical (45 mins+30sec per side) and blitz chess to arrive at the final winner. Hikaru Nakamura took the pole position, while Ian Nepomniachtchi continued his string of consistent performances by finishing second. India's Vishy Anand after a dismal start managed to steady his boat and finished a respectable third. We have a detailed report with emphasis on a new opening idea found by Boris Gelfand that was quite well met by Vishy.

(Images by Georg Krandolfer and Rustam Kalimullin)

Zurich Chess Challenge - Anand finishes 3rd

The art of making comebacks is something that can be learnt from Vishy Anand. Even at the age of 48 years, and fighting against opponents half his age, he always manages to finish in the top half. The Zurich Chess Challenge consisted of the new classical (45 mins +30 secs) and blitz format. Anand played some consistent chess and finished third in the overall rankings.

With 13.5 points Anand finished third at the Zurich Chess Challenge

Nakamura scored 15 points and finished first
Combined rankings

The new classical rankings


Blitz ranking

[Event "Zurich Korchnoi CC 2017"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2017.04.16"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A30"]
[WhiteElo "2793"]
[BlackElo "2786"]
[Annotator "Sagar,Shah"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2017.04.13"]

1. c4 c5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. e3 e6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Nc3
Ne7 9. Nge2 Nbc6 10. O-O O-O {Complete symmetry!} 11. Be3 Be6 12. Nf4 Nf5 13.
Ncxd5 Bxd5 (13... Nfxd4 {was also possible.} 14. b4 $1 $14) 14. Nxd5 Ncxd4 15.
Bd2 Re8 16. Kh1 Re6 17. Rc1 Rd6 $1 18. Nc3 Ne2 19. Qxe2 Rxd2 {Black is already
better, but White goes into damage control mode.} 20. Qb5 Nd6 21. Qb3 Qb6 22.
Ne4 Nxe4 23. Bxe4 Bxb2 24. Qxb6 axb6 25. Rcd1 Rad8 26. Bf3 Ba3 27. Rfe1 Rxd1
28. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 29. Bxd1 b5 30. Kg2 Bc5 {A very nice game by Anand.} 1/2-1/2

Ian Nepomniactchi fared well finishing second in the classical section and third in the blitz. He scored a combined 14 points and took the second place

Peter Svidler scored 12 points and finished fourth in combined standings. Anand scored a fine win against him in the classical section (45 mins + 30 secs)
[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"]
[Site "Zurich"]
[Date "2017.04.16"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B80"]
[WhiteElo "2786"]
[BlackElo "2747"]
[Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Qe2 {'Vishy:
I kind of decided to try something new'} a6 8. O-O-O Qc7 9. g4 b5 10. g5 Nd7
11. h4 Bb7 12. a3 {With the queen on d2, White always has Nce2 against b4, so
this would probably not be necessary. But now this is a necessary prophylaxis.
However, this is usually done after Black plays Bb7 as he isn't fast with Rb8,
b4 now.} (12. Rh3 b4 13. Na4 Nxd4 14. Bxd4 e5) 12... Rc8 13. Bh3 b4 14. axb4
Nxb4 15. Nxe6 (15. Bxe6 fxe6 16. Nxe6 {wouldn't work because of} Qa5 17. Kb1
Rxc3 18. bxc3 Qa2+ 19. Kc1 Nc6 $17) 15... fxe6 16. Bxe6 {[#] The bishop on e6
is an amazing multipurpose piece. Apart from holding Black's king in the
center, it also ensures that the White king never gets mated on a2.} Qa5 17.
Kb1 (17. Bd4 {doesn't work due to} Qa1+ 18. Kd2 Qxb2 $19) 17... Rxc3 18. bxc3
Nc6 (18... d5 {doesn't work due to the brilliant} 19. Bxd7+ Kxd7 20. Qc4 $3 {
[#]} Ke6 21. cxb4 $18) 19. Rh3 Be7 20. Bd4 Nc5 21. Bxc5 (21. Bxg7 Nxe6 22. Qh5+
(22. Bxh8 {runs into} Nf4) 22... Kd8 23. Bxh8 Nf4 24. Qf3 Nxh3 25. Qxh3 Ne5
$132) 21... Qxc5 22. f4 {White has so much space and his pieces are dominating
Black's. Black is enormous pressure.} Kd8 23. Qe3 Qxe3 24. Rxe3 h6 25. c4 {
In the post game, Vishy said that this was what Svidler had missed.} hxg5 (
25... Kc7 26. c5 dxc5 27. Rd7+ Kb8 28. Rb3 $18) 26. hxg5 Rf8 $2 (26... Bc8 $142
$1 {was necessary. It is only logical to exchange off the monster that was
causing Black so much grief.} 27. Bd5 (27. Bxc8 Kxc8 {And White has lost his
main asset.}) (27. Bf5 Rh4 28. Rf3 Kc7 $11) 27... Nb4 28. Rg1 Bd7 29. f5 Ba4
$132) 27. f5 Ne5 28. Rg1 {the pressure tells.} d5 $2 {Black's position just
collapses now.} 29. Rb3 (29. cxd5 Bc5 30. Rb3 Bxg1 31. Rxb7 {also wins!}) 29...
Kc7 30. cxd5 Rh8 31. f6 Bf8 32. d6+ 1-0

Kramnik was fourth with 11 points
Gelfand scored 9 points and finished sixth. In his game with Anand he employed an exciting new idea
Most of the games in this position had continued with White taking on d4, but Gelfand played Bf4 which was suggested by Rainer Knaak in his article explaining the Let's Check function. Expect a separate article on this. Suffice it to say that Boris Gelfand must have made use of the Let's check feature and found this new and interesting idea.
[Event "Zurich Korchnoi CC 2017"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2017.04.15"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Gelfand, Boris"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A37"]
[WhiteElo "2724"]
[BlackElo "2786"]
[Annotator "Sagar,Shah"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2017.04.13"]

1. c4 c5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. d4 Nxd4 7. Bf4 $5 {
This move is very interesting. In fact it was first suggested by Rainer Knaak
in his article on Let's Check. The main move was to take on d4 and then
continue with Nb5, but Rainer suggested that Let's check comes up with Bf4.
And now Boris has picked up this move! The objective evaluation is around
equal, but Black needs to know what he is doing.} Ne7 (7... e5 $5 {This was
the crazy line that I had analyzed!} 8. Nxe5 g5 9. e3 Ne6 (9... gxf4 10. exd4
cxd4 11. Qe2 $14) 10. Nxf7 Bxc3+ (10... Kxf7 11. Qh5+ Ke7 (11... Kf8 12. Bd6+)
12. Nd5+ $18) 11. bxc3 Kxf7 12. Bd6 $44 {And White has excellent compensation
for the piece.}) 8. Nxd4 cxd4 9. Nb5 e5 10. Nd6+ Kf8 11. Bd2 (11. Qb3 $5 Nf5 (
11... exf4 $2 12. c5 $18) 12. Nxf5 gxf5 13. Bd2 $13) 11... Qb6 12. Nxc8 Rxc8 {
Black has already solved his opening problems.} 13. Qb3 f5 14. Bxb7 Rc7 15. Bg2
e4 16. O-O Kf7 17. Rfc1 Rhc8 18. Bf4 Qxb3 19. axb3 Rb7 $15 20. Bd6 Ke6 (20...
Rxb3 21. Rxa7 Ke6 $17) 21. c5 Rxb3 22. Rxa7 Nc6 23. Ra2 Be5 24. Bxe5 Kxe5 {
Black has everything going his way. Excellent pieces and an active king!} 25.
f3 d3 26. exd3 Nb4 27. d4+ Kxd4 28. Ra7 d5 $1 29. fxe4 fxe4 30. Rd1+ Rd3 31.
Rda1 Rxc5 32. Bf1 Rd2 33. Rxh7 Nd3 34. b4 Rcc2 35. b5 Ne5 36. Ra4+ Kc5 {
A great fight!} 0-1

A great learning experience for the young Grigory Oparin

It was good to see Yannick Pelletier back in action. Scoring four points and finishing last is not so great, but he can be forgiven as the field was excruciatingly strong!

The tournament was held in the memory of the great Viktor Korchnoi!

Musical performances at the closing ceremony

After all the confusion related to his resignation, this was the first time that Kirsan Illyumzhinov was seen in public

While these two veterans might still be discussing opening novelties...

...these two are definitely discussing politics!

Lovers of the game!


The elephants at the Zurich zoo

Maybe such views will tempt you to visit Zurich and be a part of the Zurich Chess Challenge 2018! We hope you enjoyed the report! 

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