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Anand leads in Leuven after five rounds

by Sagar Shah - 18/06/2016

Fresh from his exploits in Leon, Vishy Anand took very little time to get adjusted to the Belgian weather. He came out all guns blazing in the first five rounds of the Your Next Move GCT. After the first day he leads the event with 7.0/10. A spectacular combination against MVL, tenacious defence against Caruana and common sense chess against Topalov were the highlights of the day. We have pictures, videos and in-depth analysis.

Pictures by Grand Chess Tour

The second leg of the 2016 Grand Chess Tour began in Leuven, Belgium on June 17, after a four-day break from the Paris event. The field was even stronger as the five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand replaced the Parisian wildcard, Laurent Fressinet. After 5 rounds of play, Anand emerges as the leader proving that even as the oldest player in the event, he is still one of the best rapid players in the world.

The opening ceremony video by Grand Chess Tour Official
The unique simul where each player had to make five moves before letting the other take over
What a beautiful place for the spectators to sit and enjoy the event
The venue is the historic Town Hall in Leuven
Without further ado, let's get to the chess! Day one witnessed five rapid games with the time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment. Quite a test of stamina at this level. A win gets you two points and one for the draw.
After five rounds, Vishy had three draws and two wins and was leading the charts with seven points

Round 1

Anand started the tournament with a scintillating bit of calculations against MVL. The most interesting position was reached after 24 moves.

It's Black to play and White has just plonked his knight to f5. Anand made the most natural move 24...Ne4, but he had to be 100% sure about the consequences of the move 25. Bh6!? Although this move gives Black the advantage it is not at all easy to see how to continue. The g7 pawn is falling and it requires a player of Anand's calibre to find the move 25...Qc7!! taking aim at the weakened b8-h2 diagonal.

To find a move like Qc7 in a rapid game is not at all easy
[Event "GCT Rapid YourNextMove"]
[Site "Leuven BEL"]
[Date "2016.06.17"]
[Round "1.3"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2789"]
[BlackElo "2770"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventType "rapid"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O (6. Bxc6 bxc6 7. Nxe5
d5 $44) 6... d6 7. Nbd2 (7. h3 {had become quite popular during the Candidates
2016.}) 7... Ne7 8. d4 {With the knight protecting the pawn on e4, this pawn
on d4 has to be taken or else e5 falls.} exd4 9. cxd4 Bb6 10. Re1 Bg4 11. h3
Bh5 12. Qb3 d5 13. e5 Nd7 14. Qd1 Re8 15. g4 Bg6 16. Nf1 c6 17. Bd3 f6 18. exf6
Nxf6 19. Ng3 Bxd3 20. Qxd3 Ng6 21. Rxe8+ Qxe8 22. Bg5 Qf7 23. Re1 Rf8 24. Nf5
Ne4 $1 {This is the most natural move. Why then the exclamation? The
exclamation is for allowing Bh6 and seeing that the move is not as strong as
it looks.} 25. Bh6 $5 {If you say A you must say B.} Qc7 $3 {Seriously, this
move is not at all easy to see in limited time. On the surface it doesn't do
much. But if you dig deeper you see that gxh6 is a threat and so is Rxf5
followed by picking up the bishop. Also Nxf2 followed by the queen coming in
is possible. All in all Queen to c7 is a beautiful move.} 26. Nxg7 (26. Qb3 $1
{is the best move but is not so easy for humans to find.} Nxf2 (26... gxh6 27.
Rxe4 $14) 27. Kxf2 gxh6 28. Nxh6+ Kh8 29. Nf5 $14 {White is able to retain a
small edge.}) (26. Bxg7 {is easily refuted.} Rxf5 27. gxf5 Nf4 $1 $19 {And now
the bishop on g7 is lost with a mate quickly coming up.} (27... Qxg7 $2 28.
fxg6 Qxg6+ 29. Kh2 $1 $16 (29. Kf1 $2 Ng3+ $19))) 26... Nxf2 $1 {A strong
sacrifice. The gift has to be accepted because the queen is threatening to
enter g3.} (26... Nf4 27. Bxf4 Qxf4 28. Nf5 $16) 27. Kxf2 Qh2+ 28. Ke3 {
And now the queen on h2 is attacked. Hence something should be done about it.}
Qg2 $1 {A quiet move that not only threatens the f3 knight but also the deadly
move Ne5!} (28... Rxf3+ {is possible but after} 29. Kxf3 Qxh3+ 30. Ke2 Qxh6 31.
Nf5 $16 {Things are not so clear.}) 29. Qe2 (29. Nf5 Re8+ $1 $19) (29. Rf1 Ne5
$1 30. Nxe5 Rxf1 $19 {and the black king will not survive for long.}) 29...
Rxf3+ $1 30. Qxf3 Bxd4+ $1 31. Kxd4 Qxf3 {The queen is lost and the rest is
just mopping up.} 32. Nf5 Qf2+ 33. Re3 Qxb2+ 34. Kc5 Qb6+ 35. Kd6 Qd8+ 36. Kc5
d4 {A classic by Vishy.} 0-1
Anand's win against MVL will go down in the history books as one of the very nice combinations played, as it involved a mixture of both Defence and Attack.

Round 2

This was a rather uneventful draw with the white pieces against Levon Aronian. Anand couldn't find any advantage and the players quickly split a point each.

[Event "GCT Rapid YourNextMove"]
[Site "Leuven BEL"]
[Date "2016.06.17"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2770"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[PlyCount "96"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventType "rapid"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 {Everytime a white player
plays this move I feel that the game will end in a draw!} Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7.
Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3 Ne8 10. Nd5 Bd6 11. Re1 c6 12. Ne3 Be7 13. c4 Nc7
14. d4 d5 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. Nxd5 cxd5 17. Bf4 Be6 18. Qb3 Bf6 19. Be5 Bxe5 20.
Rxe5 Qb6 21. Qxb6 axb6 22. Re3 Rfc8 23. Rb3 Rc6 24. Bb5 Rc7 25. Rb4 Kf8 26. Bd3
Rc6 27. Kf1 Ke7 28. Ke1 Bd7 29. Kd2 Rf6 30. f3 Kd8 31. a3 Re6 32. h4 h6 33. Rc1
Rc8 34. Rxc8+ Kxc8 35. Rb3 Kc7 36. Rc3+ Rc6 37. Rxc6+ bxc6 38. Kc3 c5 39. b3 g5
40. g3 Kd6 41. f4 f6 42. a4 c4 43. Bc2 cxb3 44. Kxb3 gxf4 45. gxf4 Bc8 46. Bd3
Bd7 47. Bc2 Bc8 48. Bd3 Bd7 1/2-1/2


Round 3

The surprise of the round was Vishy Anand blundering a piece on move 8! The spectators and the commentators were even more shocked when Caruana failed to convert the rare gift top players receive, and only drew the game. When asked about the confidence and the speed of play he demonstrated after the blunder, Anand joked that it is easier to calculate after losing pieces.
Caruana was all smiles before the game began. Surely he didn't feel the same way after the game ended
Anand's last move was 9...Bg4. Do you see why it was such a huge blunder?
[Event "GCT Rapid YourNextMove"]
[Site "Leuven BEL"]
[Date "2016.06.17"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A09"]
[WhiteElo "2804"]
[BlackElo "2770"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "113"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventType "rapid"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 d4 3. b4 {The knight controls the e5 square and the b4 pawn
controls c5. White wants to surround the d4 pawn with Bb2 and win it.} f6 {
The e5 pawn is coming to the rescue!} 4. e3 e5 5. c5 {Protecting the b4 pawn
and opening up the g8-a2 diagonal for the queen and the bishop.} a5 6. Qa4+ Bd7
7. b5 Bxc5 {Black has won a pawn and his position looks pretty good, but White
has some excellent compensation on the light squares.} 8. Bc4 Bg4 $4 {It is
not everyday that you see Vishy blundering a piece on the ninth move.} (8...
Ne7 {Looks like the most natural move.} 9. exd4 exd4 10. Bb2 Bg4 11. Nxd4 Nd7 {
And the knight goes to b6 with an unclear position.}) 9. Bxg8 $1 Nd7 {The only
thing that we can learn from Vishy is how to recover after such a blunder and
not let it affect the game.} (9... Rxg8 10. Qc4 $18 {With a double attack on
g8 and c4.}) 10. Qb3 Qe7 11. Bc4 a4 12. Qc2 O-O-O 13. O-O (13. Qxa4 Kb8 $16)
13... Bxf3 14. gxf3 Nb6 15. d3 f5 16. e4 f4 {The position is shut down and it
is not so easy to win immediately but sooner or later White should manage to
breakthrough using his extra piece.} 17. Kh1 Rd6 18. Rg1 Rh6 19. Nd2 Rf8 20.
Nf1 Kb8 21. Bd2 Rh3 22. Be6 Rxf3 23. Kg2 Re3 $5 {What resourceful play by
Anand!} 24. Bg4 (24. fxe3 dxe3 25. Bg4 exd2 26. Nxd2 h5 $16 {is quite messy.})
24... f3+ 25. Kh1 Re2 26. Rg3 Rxf2 27. Kg1 Rg2+ 28. Rxg2 fxg2 29. Ng3 g6 30.
Kxg2 h5 31. Be2 Bb4 32. Rf1 Bxd2 33. Qxd2 Rxf1 34. Nxf1 Qc5 {White's main
problem is that his minor pieces have no real good outposts to sit on.} 35. Qb2
a3 36. Qb3 Qc1 37. Bd1 Nc8 38. Qc2 Qa1 39. Qd2 Nd6 40. b6 cxb6 41. Bb3 Qb2 42.
Kh3 Nb5 43. Kh4 Nc3 44. Kg5 Qb1 45. Ng3 Qg1 46. Kxg6 h4 47. Qg5 hxg3 48. hxg3
Qe3 49. Qxe5+ Ka7 50. Bc4 b5 51. Qc5+ Ka6 52. Qxa3+ Kb6 53. Qd6+ Ka7 54. Qc5+
Ka6 55. Qd6+ Ka7 56. Qc5+ Ka6 57. Qd6+ {While losing a piece on the ninth move
is nothing to proud of, the way he fought back was quite commendable.} 1/2-1/2

This tweet by Srinath aptly describes what Anand did so well in the game

Round 4

I liked the game against Hikaru because of the very smooth and clear way in which Anand equalized the game with the black pieces and steered it to a draw. He had absolutely no difficulties against the winner of the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour. However, it must be said that prior to this round Nakamura had lost all his three games!
Nakamura opened his scoreboard at the event with a draw against Vishy Anand
[Event "GCT Rapid YourNextMove"]
[Site "Leuven BEL"]
[Date "2016.06.17"]
[Round "4.3"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2770"]
[BlackElo "2787"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventType "rapid"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Ba4
d5 9. Qe2 b5 10. Bb3 d4 11. Bc2 Bb6 12. cxd4 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Bxd4 14. Nb3 Bb6 15.
Be3 Qd6 16. Bxb6 Qxb6 17. Qe3 Be6 18. h3 Nd7 19. Rfc1 c5 20. Bd1 Rec8 21. Bg4
Bxg4 22. hxg4 c4 23. Qxb6 Nxb6 24. dxc4 Rxc4 25. Nd2 Rd4 26. Rc2 f6 27. Kf1
Rad8 28. Ke2 Nc4 29. Nxc4 bxc4 30. f3 Kf7 31. Rac1 Kg6 32. Ke1 Rb8 33. Kf2 h5
34. gxh5+ Kxh5 35. Kg3 a5 36. Re2 Kg6 37. Rc3 Kf7 38. b3 cxb3 39. axb3 Rdb4

Round 5

The most important thing to learn from this game is how Anand gives importance to the core basic principles of chess like development and center control. In his games you can always find the pieces on right squares defending and attacking points. The game against Topalov was no exception. But simple means he was able to outplay the Bulgarian and trap his rook in the centre of the board.

A picturesque final position. Topalov resigned realizing that the rook on c4 cannot be released.
[Event "GCT Rapid YourNextMove"]
[Site "Leuven BEL"]
[Date "2016.06.17"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Topalov, Veselin"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A20"]
[WhiteElo "2761"]
[BlackElo "2770"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventType "rapid"]

1. c4 e5 2. d3 Bb4+ 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 Nc6 5. a3 Bxd2+ 6. Bxd2 d5 7. cxd5 Qxd5
{White has the bishop pair but Black has smooth development and no real
problems out of the opening.} 8. e4 (8. g3 {looks much more normal} e4 9. dxe4
Qxe4 10. Bg2 O-O 11. O-O Rd8 {The position should be slightly favourable for
White.}) 8... Qd6 9. h3 {Preventing Bg4 in order to control the d4 square.} O-O
10. Rc1 a5 11. Be2 Be6 12. Be3 Rfd8 {This is a reversed Sicilian position.
White should be around equal but nothing more than that.} 13. O-O a4 14. Qc2
Bb3 (14... Ra5 $5) 15. Qc3 Ne8 {The knight defends the c7 pawn and prepares
Nd4.} 16. Nd2 Be6 17. Rfd1 (17. Nc4 Bxc4 18. dxc4 Nd4 $11) 17... Ra6 18. Bc5
Nd4 $1 19. Bxd4 exd4 20. Qc5 Rb6 21. Qc2 $6 {A little bit too overambitious.} (
21. Qxd6 Nxd6 22. Rxc7 Rxb2 $11) 21... Ra8 22. Rf1 Rb5 23. Nc4 Qc5 24. Qd1 Nd6
25. Nd2 Qb6 {The b2 pawn is lost now.} 26. Bg4 Ba2 $1 {Keeping the bishop
alive.} (26... Bxg4 27. hxg4 (27. Qxg4 Rxb2 $17) 27... Rxb2 28. e5 $1 $16 {
Followed by Nc4} Qa5 29. exd6 Rxd2 30. dxc7 $18) 27. Re1 Rxb2 28. e5 Nb5 29.
Nc4 Bxc4 30. Rxc4 Nc3 31. Qf3 Re8 $17 {Black is a pawn up and clearly better.}
32. Qf4 c5 33. e6 fxe6 34. Kh2 Qc6 $1 {The rook on c4 is almost trapped.} 35.
Bf3 Qc8 36. Qd6 b6 37. Bg4 Qb8 $1 38. Bxe6+ Kh8 39. Qxb8 Rxb8 40. f4 Re8 41.
Re5 g6 42. Bd7 Rxe5 43. fxe5 Kg7 (43... Kg7 44. Bxa4 Re2 {The rook on c4 will
never see the daylight.}) 0-1

Fresh from his exploits in Leon, Vishy shows that he is not a man to mess with. He leads the tournament with a score of 7.0/10
Day two would be very exciting as the Indian champion will take on Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik and Wesley So. The live action begins at 5.30 p.m. IST and you can catch all the action live over here.

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