Tal Memorial Day 2: Anand beats Nakamura to join Mamedyarov in tournament lead
Day two of the Tal Memorial brought some great news for Indian fans. Viswanathan Anand, who was half-a-point behind the tournament leader, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, was able to catch up for the first place after beating Hikaru Nakamura in the sixth round. In his first two games of the day, Anand was only able to draw. In fact, Anand had to walk on tightropes against Svidler in the fourth round to split the point while in round 5, while the sixth round draw against Kramnik was a mere 16 move affair. Mamedyarov, on the other hand, was held to a draw in all the three games he played yesterday. Six rounds down, the two players share the tournament lead with 4.0/6
Day 2: Anand takes joint lead!
Three more rounds of rapid games were played on day two of the Tal Memorial Rapids. But unlike day one, the second day was rather peaceful and featured only three decisive games. However, despite the low number of decisive games, there was an important change on top of the leaderboard. Scoring one win and three draws out of his three games, reigning World Rapid Champion, GM Viswanathan Anand joined Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the tournament lead.
After his loss in the final round of the first day, Anand began with back to back draws in the first two rounds of day two against Peter Svidler and Vladimir Kramnik. Svidler got a nice position in his game against Anand from the white side of a Queen’s Gambit Declined in round four. After an early queen trade, players reached an endgame within the first 20 moves. Svidler had an edge because of his active rooks in this endgame. In order to keep his pieces active, Anand gave up a pawn and began defending a pure rook endgame which arose after the trade of knights on move 27. Svidler did have a decent edge in the position but Anand managed to wriggle out with a draw in the course of the next fifteen moves.
With a loss and a tough draw in the last two rounds, Anand decided to take things slow in his fifth round game against Vladimir Kramnik. Anand went for complete equality right out of the opening. Within 16 moves of play, queens were exchanged and both players had an almost symmetrical pawn structure. Peace was signed at this point.
Vishy had the white pieces once again and yet again, he chose the Italian Opening to kick off with. Once again, queens were traded early in the game but this time, Anand had a little something to bit on in the position. Right out of the opening, Anand was able to win a pawn. On the other hand, Nakamura was also able to inflict several exchanges and enter an endgame with bishops of opposite colour. Anand still had the advantage but a slip on the 35th move almost let Nakamura slip out with a draw. Unfortunately for Nakamura, that was not to be. He also missed the most critical detail on the very next move and blundered a full point away.
Talking to IM Sagar Shah, Anand agreed that it was special to win against Nakamura given how tough an opponent he has been. However, he also added that since there is hardly any time between the rounds, it is difficult to reflect too much on the games.
The lowest rated player in the fray, Daniil Dubov, played decently well on the first day to score 50%. After his loss to Anand the young Russian GM did well to beat Nakamura in round two and hold Karjakin to a draw in the third round. However, the second day of the event was quite a dismal one for him. The day began decently for him; he held Grischuk to a draw in round four. But after this, it all went south as he lost two back to back games to Gelfand and Kramnik in the subsequent rounds.
Boris Gelfand, who is otherwise known to play in classical style, went for the off-beat Trompowsky Attack with the white pieces in his game against Daniil Dubov in round 4. Quite early in the game, Gelfand gave up his bishop for Dubov’s knight and tried to create imbalance in the position. Dubov, in response, tried to get in a pawn break in the centre but found his pawn caught in a pin. In an attempt to break free from the bind, he gave up a pawn but this only hastened the end. Dubov lost a second pawn soon and by the 40th move, not only was Dubov a full pawn down but his king was also about to be caught in a mating net.
With the black pieces against Vladimir Kramnik, Dubov got an almost symmetrical position out of a Gruenfeld Defence. Although Dubov was a tempo down in the position, it didn't look like a disaster. Of course, Kramnik was exerting pressure but the game was far from lost. However, Dubov seemed to have lost the thread of the position and went down suprisingly fast after making back to back errors. By the 23rd move, Kramnik was an exchange up and just five moves later, Dubov resigned. It was later found out that Dubov was suffering from a flu and that affected his play terribly.
Tournament leader, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew all of his games on day 2. Due to this, Vishy Anand, after his win against Nakamura his final game of the day, was able to catch up and jointly lead the tournament. On the third and final day, Anand will be playing against Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand in the last three rounds.
About the Author
Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining the ChessBase India team.