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Vishy Anand on 2.0/3 at the Sinquefield Cup

by ChessBase India - 08/08/2016

One of the strongest tournaments of 2016 has begun - the Sinquefield Cup in the United States. After three rounds India's Vishy Anand leads the table along with three other players. With some highly exciting games and new ideas on show, this promises to be a superb event. We have pictures, analysis and important information from Saint Louis.

Pictures by Lennart Ootes (LO), Spectrum Studios (SS)


It is the summer of sports – but Rio is not the only international competition gaining attention in August. The world’s top chess players are headed to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL), located in the U.S. Chess Capital, Aug. 5-16, to compete for a total prize fund of $300,000 in the pinnacle of chess tournaments held on U.S. soil – the Sinquefield Cup.

India's Vishy Anand has got off to a great start scoring 2.0/3. He drew his two white games against Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. However, the most interesting game was surely the one against Maxime Vachier Lagrave. The Indian ace employed the 

Round one: Anand vs Caruana

1.e4! is how Vishy Anand begins the Sinquefield Cup (LO)
The US champion delivered the first surprise in the game as he chose the French defense with the black pieces. Trying to avoid any kind of preparation, Anand chose the quieter and less challenging exchange variation. In the confession box, Caruana admitted that he did not expect Anand’s choice but still felt comfortable in his position. The game was quite balanced and ended with a queen sacrifice that forced a perpetual.

4.exd5 was a pretty sedate choice by Vishy

Caruana had a pretty dominating position with his knight on e4 and bishop on f5. But he couldn't cash in on the advantage.
[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2016.08.05"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Anand, V."]
[Black "Caruana, F."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C15"]
[WhiteElo "2770"]
[BlackElo "2807"]
[PlyCount "89"]
[EventDate "2016.08.04"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. Nge2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8.
Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 Re8 10. f3 Nbd7 11. Qd2 Nf8 12. Rae1 Bd7 13. a3 Be7 14. Bf2 Ng6
15. Bg3 Nh5 16. Bxg6 fxg6 17. Be5 Bh4 18. Rd1 Bg5 19. f4 Be7 20. h3 Be6 21. Kh2
Nf6 22. Nc1 h5 23. Nd3 Bf5 24. Ne2 Ne4 25. Qe3 h4 26. Rc1 Rc8 27. c3 Qb6 28. b4
Bf6 29. Nc5 Nxc5 30. bxc5 Qb2 31. Ng1 b6 32. Nf3 bxc5 33. dxc5 Be4 34. Rce1 Re7
35. Bxf6 gxf6 36. Nxh4 Rce8 37. Qg3 Rg7 38. Ra1 g5 39. fxg5 Rxg5 40. Qf2 Qxc3
41. Qxf6 Qg3+ 42. Kg1 Qxg2+ 43. Nxg2 Rxg2+ 44. Kh1 Rf2+ 45. Kg1 1/2-1/2


Round two: Vachier Lagrave vs Anand

All eyes were on this game right from the beginning. Anand surprised his opponent by playing the Caro-Kann but as he himself avoided any theoretical discussion, the Frenchman also opted out for a sideline. Things were very complicated and strange early on, resulting in a position that was hard to explain by following simple chess principles. In the confessional booth Vachier-Lagrave shared with the audience that he didn’t expect so much excitement but was happy with his position. Just like Ding Liren, the Frenchman tried to win a pawn by tactical means which was a blunder. Unfortunately for him, the blunder cost him the game thus ending his long streak of no losses. In the postgame interview Anand shared his concern about his position as he was simply trying to survive with each move. This put the five-time world champion tied for first with 1.5/2.

White has just taken on d5 with Bxd5. How would you respond as Black?

31...e3! and Anand won a piece!
[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2016.08.06"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2819"]
[BlackElo "2770"]
[Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"]
[PlyCount "92"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
1. e4 {(4s)} c6 {(7s) Anand plays the Caro-Kann which might have come as a
surprise to MVL. Anand had previously opted for the Berlin for a long time. It
seems that Vishy in an 'experimental' mood in Sinquefield.} 2. Nf3 {(125s) MVL
goes for something less forced and theoretical.} d5 {(10s)} 3. Nc3 {(3s) An
interesting choice against Anand's Caro-Kann.} Nf6 {(15s)} 4. e5 {(13s)} Ne4 {
(8s) This is the idea behind Anand's previous move.} (4... Nfd7 5. e6 $5 fxe6
6. d4 {Looks very promising for White}) 5. Ne2 $5 {(383s) again after a
somewhat long thought, Maxim goes for the most principled continuation. White
tries to quarantine Black's active knight in the middle of board.} Qb6 {
(33s) Almost forced.} 6. d4 {(7s)} e6 {(10s)} 7. Nfg1 {(70s) Nimzowitsch would
have been delighted if he could see this game! White is planning to capture
the knight with f3.} f6 {(13s)} (7... h6 8. h4 {does not solve anything.}) 8.
f3 {(8s)} Ng5 {(13s)} 9. exf6 {(8s)} gxf6 {(7s)} 10. f4 {(8s)} Ne4 {(15s)
Anand deviates from a recent game between Grischuk and Ding Liren.} (10... Nf7
11. Nf3 Be7 12. c4 dxc4 13. Nc3 Nd6 14. b3 cxb3 15. axb3 O-O 16. Bd3 Rf7 17.
O-O $44 {1/2-1/2 (31) Grischuk,A (2747)-Ding,L (2778) Wenzhou 2016}) 11. Ng3 {
(24s)} Bd7 {(250s) This seemingly awkward move is approved of by engines.
Vishy builds a shelter for his king in order to bring it to the queen side via
d8 and c7.} 12. Nxe4 {(625s)} dxe4 {(23s)} 13. c3 {(6s)} Na6 $6 {(548s) This
move seems a bit passive and it posed some troubles for Anand in this game. c5
Looks like a natural reaction in this position.} (13... c5 14. d5 exd5 15. Qh5+
Kd8 16. Qxd5 Qc6 17. Qf7 Qe6 {and Black seems fine to me.} 18. Qh5 Kc7 19. b3
Nc6 20. Bc4 Qe8 {with very good play for Black.}) 14. Qh5+ {(360s)} Kd8 {(50s)}
15. Bc4 {(28s)} Kc7 {(1116s)} (15... Nc7 {runs into} 16. Qf7 Be7 17. f5 $3 {
(#) This is a brilliant positional sacrifice. White controls every important
square on the board after this move.} (17. Qg7 Re8 18. f5 Qa5 19. Ne2 Qxf5 20.
Ng3 Qg6 $11) 17... exf5 18. Ne2 Ne8 19. Nf4 Nd6 20. Qg7 Re8 21. Be2 {with a
very inconvenient position for Black.}) 16. a4 {(462s)} c5 {(90s)} 17. Ne2 {
(27s)} Rd8 {(306s) Anand prepares an artificial castle.} 18. Be3 {(536s)} f5 {
(393s) While the computer does not like this move, I must side with the human
here as I think it a very good decision as it cuts White's queen off from the
queenside.} 19. O-O {(209 s)} Kb8 {(346s) The engines believe that White is
much better after either Qh4 or Rfd1. However, I find this assessment somewhat
irrelevant when a game with such a degree of complication is under way. From a
practical point of view, White has the upper hand but Black is not that tied
down.} 20. Qf7 $6 Nc7 {(452s)} 21. a5 {(312s)} Qc6 {(10s)} 22. Qf6 {(11s)} Bd6
{(7s) These moves are more or less forced.} 23. dxc5 {(18s)} Bxc5 {(247s)} 24.
Nd4 {(42s)} Qd6 {(81s)} 25. b4 {(213s)} Qe7 {(246s)} 26. Qh6 {( 1161s) Vishy
spent a lot of time here assessing Qf8, nevertheless he correctly overruled
this because after Qh4 White will transfer his queen to f2 which would have
put a lot of pressure on Anand's king.} Bd6 {(1414s)} 27. Rad1 {(68s)} Rhf8 {
(49s)} 28. Bf2 {(73s)} Rf6 {(35s)} 29. Qh4 {(123s)} Nd5 {(282s)} (29... Ba4 {
is what the AI suggests.} 30. Rd2 Rg8 {with equal chances.}) 30. Nxe6 $4 {
(409s) MVL blunders in a day of blunders! he could have exhchange the knight
and d5 and tried to black on dark squares.} (30. Bxd5 exd5 31. Qh3 $1 Qg7 (
31... Bxf4 32. Bh4) 32. Qe3 (32. Bh4 Rh6) 32... Rg6 33. g3 a6 (33... h5 34.
Nxf5) 34. Nc2 {with very unpleasant play for Black.}) 30... Bxe6 {(70s)} 31.
Bxd5 {(11s)} e3 $1 {(63s) Anand finds the trick quite fast. Bishop on e3 will
be en prise. As a result, Anand wins a piece and the game.} 32. Bxe3 {(16s)}
Bxd5 {(9s)} 33. Bxa7+ {(5s)} Kxa7 {(124s)} 34. Qf2+ {(726s)} Bc5 $1 {(32s)
Final finesse! From here on, Anand converts his advantage comfortably. I
highly recommend carefully examining the rest of the game since you can learn
a lot from Anand's technique!} 35. Qxc5+ {(5s)} Qxc5+ {(12s)} 36. bxc5 {(1s)}
Rd7 {(35s)} 37. Rfe1 {(69s)} h6 {(87s)} 38. Kf2 {(147s)} Kb8 {(144s)} 39. c4 {
(166s)} Bc6 {(21s)} 40. Rxd7 {(0s)} Bxd7 {(0s)} 41. Rb1 {(31s)} Ra6 {(485s)}
42. Rb6 {(32s)} Rxa5 {(177s)} 43. Rxh6 {(22s)} Rxc5 {(6s)} 44. h4 {(39s)} Rxc4
{(7s)} 45. g3 {(7s)} Kc7 {(83s)} 46. h5 {(19s)} b5 {(85s) Today MVL handled
the opening very well but he fell for a trap in what was a very promising
position. Anand's opening choice was very risky but it also represents good
news for Vishy's fans since he seems willing to play out of his comfort zone.}


Beating the world number two is never easy! (LO)
Maxime's unbeaten run of 67 games finally came to an end

Round three: Anand vs Nakamura

Nothing outstanding happened in the third round. Anand played the relatively unknown 8.Nd5 in the Najdorf. He has already tried it twice against MVL and Topalov in blitz games. Today, however, he could find no advantage and the game ended in a pretty quick draw.

Only five games have been played in this line of the Najdorf and Anand has already tried it thrice!
[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2016.08.07"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Anand, V."]
[Black "Nakamura, Hi"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2770"]
[BlackElo "2791"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "2016.08.04"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 8. Nd5
Nxd5 (8... Nxe4 9. Be3 $44) 9. Qxd5 Nc6 10. Qd1 Be6 11. Nc3 Ne7 12. Bd3 d5 13.
exd5 Nxd5 14. O-O Nb4 15. Qe2 Qc7 16. f4 Bc5+ 17. Kh1 Nxd3 18. cxd3 Bd4 19. f5
Bd7 20. f6 g6 21. Nd5 Qd6 22. Ne7 Rd8 23. a4 Bc6 24. Be3 Bxe3 25. Nxc6 bxc6 26.
Qxe3 Qd4 27. Rae1 Qxe3 28. Rxe3 O-O 29. Rxe5 Rxd3 30. Rc5 1/2-1/2

Vishy Anand has all the reasons to smile with his start at the Sinquefield Cup 2016 (SS)

Anand is in join lead with 2.0/3 with So, Aronian and Topalov