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The Madras Tiger is still swift and agile!

by Sagar Shah - 02/08/2019

Vishy Anand was absolutely in his element on the final day of the Paris Grand Chess Tour 2019. He played sublime chess, won four games against strong opponents, won the blitz tournament and finished second in blitz + rapid combined. For the 49-year-old Vishy, this was a tremendous performance as he edged out many of his speed specialist rivals like Grischuk, Nakamura, Nepomniactchi and others. In this report we pay special attention to seven of Anand's wins in blitz and try to understand what helped Vishy perform at this very high level. Anand also gained 60 Elo points, which takes his blitz rating to 2790. He is now 11th in the world rankings. A detailed report from Paris along with some excellent pictures by Lennart Ootes.

Vishy Anand's majestic comeback on the last day of Paris Grand Chess Tour blitz

A Tiger is a fierce animal. Once it spots its prey it makes sure that it goes after it and kills it. It's not for no reason that Vishy Anand is called the Madras Tiger. The five-time World Champion in his younger days was swift, spotted his moves in a jiffy and killed his opponents without the slightest of hesitation. As time went by Vishy's stamina for the hunt began to reduce, his claws started to lose their sharpness, his speed was noticeably slower. However, there was one thing that had improved. His understanding of his opponents was much better. His ability to read any situation and find a solution had made him a relevant top player even at the age of 49 years. And the Tiger refuses to stop roaring even now. At the Paris Grand Chess Tour Vishy showed some high class chess to become the joint winner of the blitz event and finish second overall in the rapid + blitz combined.

Anand was the most consistent player of the tournament as he scored 10 points in rapid and 10.5 in blitz

On the last day of the blitz Anand played some phenomenal bit of chess and beat three blitz experts - Nakamura, Grichuk and Nepomniactchi. I went over the games in quite some depth and tried to understand why Anand played so well. Here are some of the points which I saw as a pattern in Anand's games:


1. Vishy gave great importance to time and was always ahead on clock as compared to his rivals.

2. Anand was not experimenting with his openings. He played the main lines and he made sure that he played the openings in which he was the most comfortable.

3. If you look at all the games that Vishy won, he was always centralizing his pieces. Moves like ...Re8 or ...Rad8 often seemed without a point, but when the smoke would clear, it was those rooks who would come to the party and finish off the games.


With this knowledge, let's have a look at Anand's wins in blitz:


Anand vs Duda, Round 1

Duda's last move ...Qb7 took his queen away from the scene of action. Vishy was swift and sacrificed on g6 with Rxg6. After ...fxg6 Qxg6 White already had a very strong attack. The knight could come to e4, the rook could go from e3 to g3 and the bishop could always sacrifice itself on h6. Overall, the finish of the game by Anand wasn't very accurate, but taking on g6 was the right decision.

Anand vs Caruana, round 5

Vishy moved his knight to e2 in this structure and then was able to place it on the most ideal square - d4. He then played c3, and transferred his bishop from c2 to b3. All in all this game showed the excellent handling of the Sicilian Classical structure from white's point of view. It must be said that although Anand had ways to finish off the game faster, his advantage never really was in doubt. It was a high quality blitz game.

Anish Giri vs Anand, round 8

To beat Anish Giri in the way Anand did was not at all easy. Vishy played excellent chess and the position above shows the perfect coordination that he was able to maintain throughout the game. All the pieces were centralized and Black managed to win without any hiccups.

Anand vs Grischuk, round 13

A move like g3 requires a lot of faith on your understanding of the position. It's true that this move stops Nf4, but at the same time it also weakens the f3 knight and with the f-file open for Black, this could lead to a dangerous attack. But Anand has played such positions before and his understanding helps him to take a decision that g3 is a fine move here.

Grischuk had to jump on f4 with his knight at the right moment. In this case, he was a little too late. Vishy managed to play the strong move Rg1! and now White was in control. ..Nf4 was no longer possible and the g5 pawn was pretty weak. Anand managed to finish off this game in flawless fashion.

Vishy was just too strong for Alexander Grischuk | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Caruana vs Anand, Round 14

Anand was under some pressure in the game, but he kept his cool and in this position, he got his chance to win the game. Vishy doesn't miss. He pushed his pawn to e4 and after Nxe4 he took it with his rook Rxe4 Rxe4 Rxc6 and Black was simply a piece up!

Anand vs Nakamura, round 15

This position is objectively drawn, but Black has to be more careful than White. It is also a good position to show why the bishop is usually stronger than knights in a position where pawns are on both sides of the board.

A rook pawn is knight's worst enemy! Anand's a-pawn won the day!

Nepomniachtchi vs Anand, round 18

When Anand played his knight to d6, he had a clear threat in mind. It was to play the knight to b5 and attack the bishop on d4 and the pawn on c3. White could have just played Rf3 and then to Nb5 he can move the bishop. Instead Nepo went g4 in the above position when after hxg4 hxg4 Nb5! was a very strong move and White landed in a very bad rook endgame.

The rook moved to d5 and Black is in complete control. White's pawns are just too weak and Anand managed to win with ease!

A strong finishing game for Anand that helped him to reach the second spot in the event! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019
Check out all the blitz games won by Anand analyzed in the video above!

I offer a draw | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

I also offer a draw! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Ok let's agree to a draw! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

The French numero uno is walking towards the tournament hall | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

MVL with the winner's trophy! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

All the participant of the tournament captured in a single frame | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

And that's how the players unwind in between the games | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

The tournament was organized excellently and the big screens ensured that the guests could follow the games effectively | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

The interest in the audience!

A tournament like the Grand Chess Tour coming to your city is sure to boost the interest levels among the chess community. Have a look at some of the pictures that show how this event made a positive impact.

Why isn't Fabi moving his pawn forward?  | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

I think the White king isn't going to survive this! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Learning from the best! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

A rook on the seventh is the strongest! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Why did I play that move? | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Yes, Fabi, why did you play it? | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Do chess players also have a secret hand gesture when they are about to go on an attack?! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Looks like it! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Now that's a not very happy Alexander Grischuk! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

Look at that stare by Nepo! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

On the rest day there was an event held where the players teamed up with the sponsors | Photo: Lennart Ootes/ Grand Chess Tour 2019

The Grand Chess Tour standings after three events

Related news:
Vishy Anand is not going to give this one up easily!

@ 29/07/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)

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