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Anand scores 3.5/9 in London

by Sagar Shah - 17/12/2015

Vishy Anand had a pretty disappointing seventh edition of the London Chess Classic. He scored 3.5/9 finishing ninth amongst ten players. In this report we analyze his eighth and ninth round games against Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri respectively. But Anand fans don't you despair - there's some good news: Vishy has qualified to be a part of the Grand Chess Tour 2016!

Vishy Anand had quite a forgettable event at the 7th London Chess Classic 2015. Vishy, who was the defending champion and quite well placed in the Grand Chess Tour Standings (sixth place with 12 points before London), was only able to score 3.5/9. With this performance he finished ninth out of ten players. The ex-World Champion's win against Veselin Topalov in the sixth round augured well for the Indian fans. However, he lost to Alexander Grischuk in the seventh and was thus thrown out from the race for the top prizes.


Let's have a look at Vishy's eighth round game against Fabiano Caruana which, inspite of not having any significant competitive value, was a game of extremely high quality chess.

The best part about elite players is that no matter how their tournament is going, they always try to play their next game to the best of their abilities
[Event "7th London Classic 2015"]
[Site "London ENG"]
[Date "2015.12.12"]
[Round "8.5"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E06"]
[WhiteElo "2787"]
[BlackElo "2803"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "118"]
[EventDate "2015.12.04"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. d4 Nf6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qa4 a6 8. Qxc4
b5 9. Qc2 Bb7 10. Bd2 Bd6 11. Ng5 $5 {The main idea of this move is to get in
e4.} (11. Re1 {is the main move here.}) 11... Bxg2 12. Kxg2 Nbd7 13. e4 e5 14.
dxe5 Nxe5 15. f4 Nc4 {Until this point we have been following some games top
level game. Most notably Eljanov-Carlsen and Ponomariov-Karjakin. Both games
continued with 16.b3 but Caruana had a new idea up his sleeve.} 16. Bc1 $1 $146
(16. e5 $6 h6 $1 17. Nf3 Ng4 $1 18. Re1 Bc5 $15) (16. b3 Nxd2 17. Nxd2 h6 18.
Ngf3 Bb4 {Black has a perfectly fine position.}) 16... h6 17. Nf3 Ng4 {A huge
fork is threatened on e3.} 18. Re1 Bc5 19. Nc3 {Caruana was still very much in
his preparation. Now Anand could have won an exchange with Ne3+ but decided
against it.} Qd6 (19... Nge3+ 20. Bxe3 Nxe3+ 21. Rxe3 Bxe3 22. Nd5 Bb6 23. Ne5
$44 {The knights in the centre should not be underestimated. White has
sufficient compensation for the exchange. What is very useful to learn from
this example is the fact that Caruana does not always follow the best moves of
the computer when preparing specific lines. He goes for ideas and then
computer more often than not changes its evaluation.}) 20. Nd1 Rad8 21. h3 Qxd1
22. Qxd1 Rxd1 23. Rxd1 Nge3+ 24. Bxe3 Nxe3+ 25. Kh2 Nxd1 26. Rxd1 {White has
the slightly more pleasant endgame but nothing disastrous has occurred for
Black. With accurate play he can still hold.} Re8 27. e5 f6 28. Rd5 Bf8 29. Kg2
c5 30. Kf2 fxe5 31. Nxe5 {White's forces are centralised and the king is
coming into the game. Black has to be quick to get his counterplay rolling
with the queenside majority.} c4 32. Ke3 Bb4 33. Ke4 (33. Kd4 Be1 34. g4 Bg3
35. Ke4 g5 $1 $15) 33... Be1 34. g4 c3 35. bxc3 Bxc3 36. h4 {By systematic
play Caruana is increasing the pressure on Vishy.} b4 37. h5 a5 $1 {Anand
knows that he cannot just sit around doing nothing. He tries his best to
create a passer even at the cost of giving up a pawn.} 38. Rxa5 b3 39. Ra7 b2
40. Rb7 Ra8 41. Kd3 Bxe5 42. fxe5 Rxa2 43. Ke4 Ra1 {It is unclear what symbol
this move should be given. It can be given a dubious mark as Black could have
drawn even without giving up that pawn. But it is also an exclamatory move
because Anand assessed the pawn down endgame accurately.} (43... Kf8 44. Kf5
Ke8 45. Kg6 (45. e6 Ra5+ 46. Kg6 Rg5+ 47. Kh7 Rxg4 48. Rxb2 $11) 45... Ra6+ $1
46. Kxg7 $2 (46. Kh7 Ra4 47. Rxb2 Rxg4 $11) 46... Ra7 $1 $17) 44. Rxb2 Kf7 45.
Rb7+ Ke6 46. Rb6+ Kf7 47. Rb7+ Ke6 48. Rxg7 Ra4+ $1 49. Kf3 Kxe5 50. Re7+ (50.
Rg6 Ra3+ 51. Kf2 Kf4 $11) 50... Kf6 51. Rh7 Kg5 52. Rg7+ Kh4 53. Rg6 Rb4 54.
Rxh6 Rb3+ 55. Kf4 Rb4+ 56. Ke5 Kxg4 57. Rh8 Rb5+ 58. Ke4 Rxh5 59. Rxh5 Kxh5 {
A high class game in all respects.} 1/2-1/2
Particularly instructive were two moments from this game:
How many of us could resist the temptation of winning the exchanging with Nge3+ in favour of playing a netural move like Qd6. This showed a very high understanding of the game.
Having faith in your endgame abilities by giving up the b2 pawn and knowing for sure that the rook ending with 2 vs 3 with a passed 'e' pawn for the opponent is a draw
Caruana's opening novelty left Anand in quite a bit of tension
Post-game analysis: That was a really good game of chess!

Round nine

In the ninh round, Anand faced one of the leaders of the tournament Anish Giri. Although he did not have chances to finish in the top three, the Indian grandmaster had a chance to decide the winner of the tournament. The game was nothing particularly special as both the players followed Anand's previous encounter in the Berlin against Magnus Carlsen. It was the first game to end in the round.
"Thank God we are out of this tie break mess!" Nakamura on 3.5/8 and Vishy on 3.0/8 had no chance of making it to the tiebreaks
[Event "7th London Classic 2015"]
[Site "London ENG"]
[Date "2015.12.13"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Giri, Anish"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2803"]
[BlackElo "2778"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "66"]
[EventDate "2015.12.03"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {What do you choose in an all important game that could decide
the outcome of not only the tournament but also the Grand Chess Tour? Of
course, The Berlin!} 9. Nc3 Ke8 10. h3 h5 11. Bf4 Be7 12. Rad1 Be6 13. Ng5 Rh6
14. g3 {Anand has already played this position thrice with the black pieces
and Giri has been in white's shoes once. But it is the first time the players
are playing with the opposite colours. (Giri tried this same opening against
MVL in an earlier round of the tournament with black pieces.)} Bxg5 (14... Bc4
{was played by Anish against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in this tournament.}) 15.
Bxg5 Rg6 16. h4 f6 17. exf6 gxf6 18. Bf4 Nxh4 19. f3 Rd8 20. Kf2 Rxd1 21. Nxd1
Nf5 {All of these moves and the next few are very well known and hence do not
require much comments. There is nothing new under the sun.} 22. Rh1 Bxa2 23.
Rxh5 Be6 24. g4 Nd6 25. Rh7 Nf7 26. Ne3 {The players have been following the
game Carlsen Anand from the 2014 World Championship match! In the game Anand
played Kd8. Anish now comes up with an improvement but it is still not a
novelty.} b6 {This had been played by Bogdan Belyakov albeit only in a blitz
game.} (26... Rg8 27. Bxc7 Rh8 28. Rxh8+ Nxh8 29. f4 $1 $14 {And with f5
coming up White has the microscopic plus.}) 27. Ng2 $146 (27. Rh1 {was played
by Motylev in that blitz game.}) (27. b3 $5 {is an improvement suggested by
Giri in the press conference but I would say it is one of those moves which
doesn't really change the character of the position.}) 27... Rg8 28. Bxc7 Rh8
29. Rxh8+ (29. Rg7 Kf8 (29... Ng5 30. Bf4 Nh3+ 31. Kg3 Nxf4 32. Nxf4 Bf7 $11)
30. Rg6 Rh6 $2 (30... Ke7 $11) 31. Bd6+ $1 Ke8 32. Rg8+ Kd7 33. Bf4 $14) 29...
Nxh8 30. Ne3 Nf7 31. Bg3 (31. f4 Kd7 32. Bb8 Kc8 33. f5 Bxf5 34. Bxa7 Bxc2 $11
(34... Bxg4 35. Nxg4 Kb7 36. Bxb6 Kxb6 37. Nxf6 $11)) 31... Nh6 32. Bf4 Nf7 33.
Bg3 Nh6 1/2-1/2
One of the most candid pictures of Vishy Anand ever captured
In the post game conference commentator Nigel Davies said, “We are looking at scenarios when the main games could end at something like 9 p.m. and then we would have the tiebreaks. We could be in for a long night, maybe until 3 a.m., and then if someone was to find a flaw in the tiebreak system, I cannot imagine what would happen!” To which Anand exclaimed, “That’s my dream scenario! It would be nice to wake up in the morning and read about it!”
That's when everyone started laughing and Amruta Mokal was ready with her camera to capture this perfect moment.
London Chess Classic 2015 final standings:
The Grand Chess Tour standings:
The tournament was a crazy ride that went on until midnight on Sunday, the 13th of December. After tiebreaks, rapid games and even Armageddon it was Magnus Carlsen who emerged victorious.
Tournament Director of London Chess Classic Malcolm Pein presents both the Grand Chess Tour as well as London Chess Classic trophy to Magnus Carlsen. He went back home richer by US $1,50,000.
For more details check out the article covering the entire action that took place on Sunday.
Good news for the Indian fans is that Vishy Anand has made it to the Grand Chess Tour 2016.
All the pictures in this report by Amruta Mokal