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Anand moves to the quarter finals of the Corsica Masters

by Sagar Shah - 28/10/2016

The Corsica Masters 2016, is taking place in the island of Corsica, south of mainland France, from the 27th to the 30th of October 2016. It's a sixteen player knockout event, with a time control of 15 minutes + 3 second increment. Vishy Anand is the second seed and he has some tough competition in the form of Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Teimour Radjabov. Anand won the pre-quarter finals with 2-0 destruction of IM Koen Leenhouts. In the quarters he will face Tigran Gharamian. We have the full report, pictures, analysis and an interesting video which teaches you that in a game of chess you must never lose your focus!

Corsica is witnessing a high class tournament on their island as big names like Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vishy Anand, Teimour Radjabov and Hou Yifan are fighting it out to take the title of the Corsican Masters.

Corsica is an island situated south of Mainland France

The Corsican Masters is a 16 player knock-out event. Each match consists of two games of 15 minutes + 3 seconds rapid. If they end in a draw, there would be a blitz playoff. One of the very interesting rules of the events is that you cannot offer a draw to your opponent. Many of you must be aware of the Sofia rules. In fact this rule of no draw offer was first implemented in Corsica nearly 20 years ago by Leo Battesti. Veselin Topalov and his manager Silvio Danailov came to Corsica in 2004 and were fascinated by this rule. They decided to apply it to the super tournament MTel Sofia Masters in 2005. This is why it is widely known as the Sofia rule, but in fact it would not be inappropriate to call it the Corsica rule.

Maxime Vachier Lagrave is the top seed of the event 

It's always good to see Vishy in action
Teimour Radjabov is back on the chess board after quite some time

The reigning Women's World Champion is also one of the invited guests

These four world class players are joined by 12 qualifiers from the Corsican Open which took place before the knock out event
Vishy Anand, being the second seed, faced a relatively easy opponent in the first round: IM Koen Leenhouts (2499). With the white pieces Anand had some difficulties in gaining an advantage, as he clearly looked rusty. Even when the opponent presented him with an easy opportunity to win a piece, Vishy missed it.
Leenhouts has just played his queen to b4. How does White win a piece?
Nb5! was the finishing shot, and not at all difficult for Anand to see. But he played b3 and after further ups and downs he scored the full point.
[Event "20th Corsican Circuit 2016-KO"]
[Site "Bastia"]
[Date "2016.10.27"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Leenhouts, Koen"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B48"]
[WhiteElo "2776"]
[BlackElo "2492"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "73"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventType "k.o."]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "900+3"]

1. e4 {[%emt 0:00:00]} c5 {[%emt 0:00:00]} 2. Nf3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} e6 {[%emt 0:
00:04]} 3. d4 {[%emt 0:00:03]} cxd4 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 4. Nxd4 {[%emt 0:00:02]}
Nc6 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 5. Nc3 {[%emt 0:00:08]} Qc7 {[%emt 0:00:10]} 6. Be3 {
[%emt 0:00:06]} a6 {[%emt 0:00:04] Leenhouts goes for the Taimanov Variation
of the Sicilian.} 7. Qf3 $5 {[%emt 0:00:06] The move Qf3 is becoming quite
popular recently. The idea is to put the queen on g3 and prepare 0-0-0.} d6 {
[%emt 0:00:13]} 8. Nxc6 {[%emt 0:00:08]} bxc6 {[%emt 0:00:27]} 9. O-O-O {
[%emt 0:00:06]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:56]} 10. Qg3 {[%emt 0:00:58]} Nh5 {[%emt 0:01:
35]} 11. Qh4 {[%emt 0:00:56]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:36]} 12. g4 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Be7
{[%emt 0:00:42]} 13. g5 {[%emt 0:00:24]} Nd7 {[%emt 0:00:20]} 14. f4 {[%emt 0:
01:15]} Rb8 {[%emt 0:00:36] It's an interesting position as White has expanded
on the kingisde and Black has counterplay down the b-file. But b3 will block
out Black's attack, while White's offensive is not so easy to prepare against.}
15. Qg3 {[%emt 0:02:37]} d5 {[%emt 0:02:35]} 16. f5 $6 {[%emt 0:01:00]} (16.
Kb1 {was safer}) 16... Bd6 $1 {[%emt 0:00:42] Keeping the queens on is a
better idea for Black.} (16... Qxg3 17. hxg3 {is better for White.}) 17. Qh3 {
[%emt 0:01:52]} Ne5 {[%emt 0:01:08]} 18. f6 {[%emt 0:00:13]} g6 {[%emt 0:00:42]
} (18... gxf6 19. gxf6 Ng6 {The computer thinks this is better for Black. But
in a rapid game with the king in the center, it doesn't look a very secure
position.}) 19. Qg2 {[%emt 0:00:26]} Qa5 {[%emt 0:00:39]} 20. Bd2 {[%emt 0:00:
45]} Qb4 $2 {[%emt 0:00:19] A serious error by Koen...} 21. b3 $2 {[%emt 0:00:
05] ...which goes unpunished.} (21. Nb5 $1 {just wins a piece.} Qc5 22. b4 $18)
21... Qa3+ {[%emt 0:00:05]} 22. Kb1 {[%emt 0:00:02]} d4 {[%emt 0:00:55]} 23. h4
{[%emt 0:00:26]} (23. Bc1 Qb4 24. Ne2 $14) 23... dxc3 {[%emt 0:00:32]} 24. Bxc3
{[%emt 0:00:01] A great practical decision. Black is put under pressure. True
he is a piece up, but it is extremely difficult to find the right moves.} O-O
$2 {[%emt 0:02:00] This is like jumping into the fire.} (24... Qc5 $15) 25. Qg3
{[%emt 0:00:24]} (25. h5 {straight away was also possible.}) 25... Nc4 {
[%emt 0:00:21]} 26. e5 {[%emt 0:00:06]} Bxe5 {[%emt 0:00:21]} 27. Bxe5 {
[%emt 0:00:02]} Nxe5 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 28. Qxe5 {[%emt 0:00:01] White has a
material equality and a very strong attack with h5. This is all over.} Bb7 {
[%emt 0:00:03]} 29. h5 {[%emt 0:00:11]} c5 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 30. hxg6 {[%emt 0:
00:25]} Bxh1 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 31. Qh2 {[%emt 0:00:19]} fxg6 {[%emt 0:00:02]}
32. Rd7 {[%emt 0:00:07] Sharp play by Anand. Not so difficult for him to
calculate though.} h5 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 33. Rg7+ {[%emt 0:00:22]} Kh8 {[%emt 0:
00:01]} 34. Qxh1 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Rbd8 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 35. Be2 {[%emt 0:00:04]
} Qa5 {[%emt 0:00:07]} 36. Bxh5 {[%emt 0:00:09]} gxh5 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 37.
Qxh5# {[%emt 0:00:02]} 1-0

Anand executing the winning Bxh5!

Koen Leenhouts allowed his king to be mated
In game two Anand showed some excellent chess and won the game without any hiccups. There is one particular theme that you can definitely learn from this game and will be extremely helpful.
Koen Leenhouts has just played e4. What should Anand do? 
Of course, he should just play d5-d4!, keep the position closed and make the bishops on g2 and f4 look silly. A simple enough idea. But this can be used in many different scenarios.
I remember one particular incident where Swapnil Dhopade was playing with the white pieces against R.R. Laxman at the 2013 National Challengers. Swapnil had just played the move e2-e4 capturing the centre. He looked pretty confident.
White has just played e2-e4. Laxman came up with a nice idea for Black. Can you find it? 
I am sure you were able to find 11...Nxe5! 12.dxe5 d4! after which Black has absolutely no difficulties because the bishop on g2 is closed.
This is not what Swapnil had expected when he went for the move 11.e4. He played it safe and made a draw in a few moves.
Anand's d5-d4 was followed up with energetic play and very soon he was completely dominating the board. Have a look at this nice effort.
[Event "20th Corsican Circuit 2016-KO"]
[Site "Bastia"]
[Date "2016.10.27"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "Leenhouts, Koen"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E08"]
[WhiteElo "2492"]
[BlackElo "2776"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventType "k.o."]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "900+3"]

1. d4 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:00]} 2. c4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} e6 {[%emt 0:
00:01]} 3. g3 {[%emt 0:00:11]} d5 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 4. Nf3 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Bb4+
{[%emt 0:00:03]} 5. Bd2 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Be7 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 6. Bg2 {[%emt 0:
00:05]} O-O {[%emt 0:00:03]} 7. O-O {[%emt 0:00:03]} Nbd7 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 8.
Qc2 {[%emt 0:00:18]} c6 {[%emt 0:00:09] The closed Catalan is a fine opening
to play when you would like to have a fighting game of chess.} 9. Bf4 {[%emt 0:
00:16]} b6 {[%emt 0:00:26]} 10. cxd5 {[%emt 0:00:32]} cxd5 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 11.
Ne5 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Nxe5 {[%emt 0:00:09]} 12. dxe5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Nd7 {
[%emt 0:00:15]} 13. e4 {[%emt 0:00:23][%cal Ge2e4] It looks as if Black is in
trouble as White looks to open the position. But Black has the typical Catalan
move here.} d4 $1 {[%emt 0:00:14] Even if the pawn on d4 is lost, this is the
best move because the bishop on g2 and f4 are now closed and passive.} 14. Rd1
{[%emt 0:00:25]} g5 $1 {[%emt 0:00:11] Anand knows these ideas quite well.} 15.
Bc1 {[%emt 0:01:46]} Nxe5 {[%emt 0:00:12]} 16. b3 {[%emt 0:01:40]} (16. f4 d3
17. Qd2 Bc5+ 18. Kh1 Ng4 $19 {is almost game over.}) 16... Ba6 {[%emt 0:00:19]}
17. Bb2 {[%emt 0:01:17]} Rc8 {[%emt 0:00:21]} 18. Qd2 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Nd3 {
[%emt 0:00:05]} 19. Ba3 {[%emt 0:00:11]} Qc7 {[%emt 0:01:34]} 20. Qe2 {[%emt 0:
02:57]} Nb4 {[%emt 0:00:49]} 21. Qh5 {[%emt 0:00:33]} Nc2 {[%emt 0:00:54]} 22.
Rc1 {[%emt 0:00:30]} d3 {[%emt 0:00:42]} 23. Bb2 {[%emt 0:00:28]} Qd7 {[%emt 0:
00:29]} 24. Nd2 {[%emt 0:00:37]} Nxa1 {[%emt 0:00:14]} 25. Rxa1 {[%emt 0:00:03]
} Rc2 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 26. Nf3 {[%emt 0:00:05]} f6 {[%emt 0:00:26]} 27. Bd4 {
[%emt 0:01:06]} d2 {[%emt 0:00:08] A very smooth win for Vishy, who moves to
the next round.} 0-1

It is clear from the above game that whatever rustiness Vishy had is now gone. And this is important as he faces a much more formidable opponent in the quarter finals. He is up against Armenian Tigran Gharamian, who has been Aronian's second for quite some time now.

If things go as per plan, Vishy will play against Radjabov in the semis and then Vachier Lagrave in the finals
Chess is a game that requires intense concentration. One lapse in focus and the game is lost. This is what happened to Deac Bogdan-Daniel. Do not miss the end of the video given below.

If you are unable to view the video above, click over here.

The quarter finals will begin at 2 p.m. Local time in Corsica i.e 5.30 p.m IST. You can catch the games live here:

Live Games begin at 5.30 p.m. IST

Official tournament website