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Tata Steel Chess 07: Anand suffers his first defeat to long time rival Vladimir Kramnik

by Aditya Pai - 21/01/2018

The seventh round of Tata Steel Chess featured a matchup between the two veterans of the event, Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik. Anand seemed to have mixed up something and looked uncomfortable in the opening. Making the most of this, Big Vlad strategically outplayed the newly crowned world rapid champion to make it into the three-way tie for second on the leaderboard. For Adhiban Baskaran, his King's Indian with the black pieces wasn't enough to win against Maxim Matlakov and had so settle splitting the point. In the Challengers, Vidit was held to his third consecutive draw by IM Lucas van Foreest while Harika lost in an equal endgame against GM Matthias Bluebaum. An illustrated report on round 7.


After seven rounds at the Tata Steel Masters, Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has put himself in a dominating position, one point ahead of his nearest rival. In his seventh round game, he managed to bring down a generally well prepared Wei Yi in an Open Catalan to register his third consecutive win in the tournament. Vishy Anand, who was co-leading the tournament until the conclusion of round six, was strategically outplayed by his long-time rival and friend, Vladimir Kramnik in an Italian opening. With this loss, Anand has slipped down a spot on the leaderboard and is now on joint third.

Anand was visibly unhappy with the opening during the game | Photo: Alina L’ami

Anand seemed to be having an off day from the very start of the game. As Kramnik explained after the game, the newly crowned world rapid champion missed some subtleties in the opening that gave Kramnik the upper hand in the position. Vishy tried expanding on the queenside but given that he had also placed his king on that wing made his position all the more difficult to defend. Kramnik simply placed his king on the queenside and came up with some neat manoeuvres with his queen and bishop while placing his rooks on the open files that led towards the white king. As play progressed, Anand’s weaknesses all around the board began to tell and by move 36, Kramnik was ready with his pieces to penetrate into the white camp and spell doom. Anand resigned at this point, interestingly, with equal material on the board!


Talking about the game in the post-game interview, Kramnik said, “I don’t know what to say about this game. I wouldn’t say that I did something exceptional. It just went so right for me from the beginning. I didn’t expect to win with black in such a smooth fashion”.

Mamedyarov had a small surprise for Wei Yi in the opening as the GM from Azerbaijan went for the Open Catalan, an opening he doesn’t play very often. Wei Yi, too, did not shy away from having a complicated game and offered a pawn very early in the game. In the opinion of the computers, the position was still equal after this. However, as Mamedyarov pointed out after the game, black has to play very accurately.


By the 20th move, Mamedyarov already had a clear edge. He quickly exchanged queens and a pair of rooks and began rolling his queen rook pawn down the board. The Chinese GM was unable to find the best moves at crucial points and went down within just 10 moves, on move 30.

Adhiban Baskaran essayed another enterprising opening in round 7. With the black pieces against Maxim Matlakov, the Chennai lad answered his opponent’s queen’s pawn opening with the King’s Indian Defence. Matlakov chose the solid fianchetto variation and got an advantage in the middle game after sacrificing an exchange. Adhiban gave back the exchange in time to neutralize white’s pressure. He was still a pawn down, though.


Players soon reached an endgame where white had a bishop and knight against Black's two bishops. When an opportunity arose, Adhiban gave up his dark-squared bishop for Matlakov’s knight, going into a pure bishops-of-opposite-colour endgame wherein the players agreed to a draw on the 53rd move.

Results of Round 7

1.Carlsen, Magnus1-0Hou, Yifan
2.Jones, Gawain C B½-½Svidler, Peter
3.Anand, Viswanathan0-1Kramnik, Vladimir
4.So, Wesley½-½Giri, Anish
5.Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar1-0Wei, Yi
6.Matlakov, Maxim½-½Adhiban, B.
7.Karjakin, Sergey1-0Caruana, Fabiano

Rank after round 7


The Challengers’ group had a rather peaceful round on Saturday evening. Only two out of the seven games of the round ended decisively. Vidit Gujrathi was held to a draw for the third time in a row, this time by the lowest rated player in the field, IM Lucas van Foreest. With the white pieces, Vidit opened with the Flohr-Mikenas system of the English opening.

Vidit Gujrathi taking a look at Anand's game | Photo: Alina L'ami

Equalising comfortably out of the opening, the Dutch teenager hardly gave Vidit any chance to fight for an advantage. A lot of exchanges soon followed and on the 36th turn, the players agreed to a draw in an endgame with equal pawns and bishops of opposite colour.

Harika Dronavalli messed up in an equal endgame against Matthias Bluebaum | Photo: Alina L'ami

The only Indian lady in the fray, Harika Dronavalli, suffered her second defeat of the tournament at the hands of the German grandmaster, Matthias Bluebaum. Harika had no problems out of the opening. The middle game and a large part of the endgame, too, went smoothly for the Andhra girl. It was time to seal things off in a rook and knight versus rook and knight endgame with equal pawns when Harika began to crack and make inaccuracies. Bluebaum soon got great activity with his rook and won all of White's kingside pawns. By move 58, Harika decided to throw in the towel.

Results of Round 7

1.Van Foreest, Jorden½-½Bok, Benjamin
2.Tari, Aryan1-0Girya, Olga
3.Krasenkow, Michal½-½Korobov, Anton
4.Amin, Bassem½-½Xiong, Jeffery
5.Harika, Dronavalli0-1Bluebaum, Matthias
6.L'Ami, Erwin½-½Gordievsky, Dmitry
7.Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi½-½Van Foreest, Lucas

Rank after round 7

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 ChessBase India. He loves all things German and is learning the language. He has also written scripts for experimental films.

Previous reports on Tata Steel Chess

Tata Steel Chess 01: Anand off to a flying start

Tata Steel Chess 02: Adhiban crumbles against Magnus

Tata Steel Chess 03: Anand leads the Masters, Vidit the challengers!

Tata Steel Chess 04: Adhiban holds Anand to a draw!

Tata Steel Chess 05: Wei Yi's prep forces Anand to settle for a draw

Tata Steel Chess 06: Shakh beats Adhiban to take pole position

Coverage on Firstpost

Tata Steel Chess Round 1: Viswanathan Anand off the mark with a win; other Indian participants held to draws

Tata Steel Chess Round 2: Anish Giri takes sole lead; Viswanathan Anand in joint 2nd after draw

Tata Steel Masters Chess: Viswanathan Anand crushes Fabiano Caruana’s opening novelty to join Anish Giri in the lead

Tata Steel Chess Round 4: Adhiban Baskaran ekes out draw against Viswanathan Anand; Vidit Gujrathi beats Harika Dronavalli

Tata Steel Chess Round 5: 'Embarrassed' Viswanathan Anand draws with Wei Yi; Vidit Gujrathi slips to joint 2nd

Tata Steel Chess Round 6: Viswanathan Anand's draw against Anish Giri puts Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in sole lead

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