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Sinquefield Cup 2017 Round 5: Vishy Anand calculates brilliantly to beat Caruana

by Saravanan Venkatachalam - 08/08/2017

It was a day when Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen showcased some brilliant calculating skills and self belief in order to win their games against Caruana and So respectively. We say self belief because when your opponent makes a move which you have thought was impossible, it is natural to doubt your calculation. But great players go beyond that doubt and play the move in case they find no holes in their calculation. Anand did just that, and so did Carlsen to score the only victories of the day. Blow by blow analysis of both the games.

Pictures by Grand Chess Tour 


Viswanathan Anand displayed brilliant imagination and flawless calculation in outplaying the American Fabiano Caruana in a delightful mating attacking in the 5th round of the Sinquefield Cup held at Saint Louis, US. This first victory for Anand in the tournament propelled him to a tie for 2-3 places along with World Champion Magnus Carlsen on 3 points from 5 rounds, behind the tournament leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on 3.5 points.

Anand deviated from his favoured 1.e4 in the opening and chose the English 

Anand started off with a surprise in the opening when he employed the English Opening against Caruana, which he has employed only sporadically in his career. Slightly hesitant play in the early middlegame saw him concede near equality to Caruana after 18 moves. However, in his enthusiasm to complicate the position, Caruana started a misadventure on the 19th move, which Anand had dismissed as impossible, but was delighted to find the opponent doing it anyway.

Caruana had equalized the game, but embarked on a faulty line to cede the advantage to the Indian GM

The positional laws governing play in the middlegame of chess often look simple and logical, but it takes courage to understand the risks and still go beyond them and create complications and chaos, if one can possess necessary tactical intuition and gumption for risk-taking. It is the trademark of tactical geniuses in the history of the game, who were able to create such complications ignoring strict positional laws. However, even in cases where the created complications are unsound in nature, it requires very steady nerves and crystal-clear calculating ability to defend against such attacks and repulse them, defensive abilities which are again not for the faint-hearted.


The Sunday encounter against Caruana was one such encounter where Anand showed nerves of steel and deep calculation in calling his opponent’s bluff. He accepted Caruana’s pawn sacrifice on the 21st move, and went even bolder and accepted the second pawn on the next move, only to find Caruana’s rook land on the crucial 7th rank, threatening Anand’s queen and also checkmate in one move at the same time.

Caruana's ...Bg4 started the tactical melee. Anand went ahead boldly and took the knight on c6 and then captured the e5 pawn with fxe5

When a brilliant calculator like Caruana makes a move like ...f6, you need tremendous self-belief to go ahead and take that pawn.

The rook came in on e2 and attacked not only the queen but also the h2 pawn with a mate. Anand was, of course, ready for this and played f7+. After Kf8, he was the one who went on the offensive with...

...Bxg7+!! Caruana had to take that bishop and now the queen popped out to c3 with a check. Black had two options. Block on e5 with the queen or with the rook. Caruana chose ...Re5

...Qe5 would have been much more tenacious (check notes in the game below) Fabiano went for Re5. It's now your turn to find out what Anand had planned. 

Qd4!! came like a bolt from the blue for Fabiano Caruana. The queen not only attacks the rook, but also vacates the c5 square for the rook! Caruana played ...Qg5 and Anand went ahead with...

...Rc5! It was game over for Caruana who took the queen on d4 and allowed Anand to make another queen on the board.

Anand getting another queen on the board as he promotes his f-pawn
Fabi calls it a day. A brilliant win for Vishy Anand!
Great sportsmanship shown by Caruana as he not only analyzed the game after it was over, but also attended the post game interview with Maurice Ashley.
Vishy was naturally in great spirits!


[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.05"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A29"]
[WhiteElo "2783"]
[BlackElo "2807"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Bc5 7. O-O O-O 8.
d3 Bb6 9. Bd2 Bg4 10. Rc1 Nxc3 11. Bxc3 Re8 12. b4 Qd6 13. Nd2 Qh6 14. Nc4 Qh5
15. Rc2 Rad8 {Black has a fine position here. Anand thought for a long time on
how he could wriggle out of the pressure without making positional concessions.
Not finding any way out, he took the bishop on b6 and played f3. While it
looks ugly, it also means that White doesn't have to many things to worry
about.} 16. Nxb6 (16. Re1 {is what Anand wanted to play.} Re6 17. b5 Bxf2+ $1 {
This move casts a doubt on White's entire play.} (17... Rh6 18. h4 g5 19. bxc6
gxh4 20. Bxe5 $18 {White wins as he gets the bishop to protect all the squares
around his king.}) 18. Kxf2 Qxh2 {And even though White king can run to the
queenside it all looks really bad.} 19. Rg1 Rf6+ 20. Ke3 Qh6+ $1 $19 {Game
over.}) 16... cxb6 17. f3 {Anand wasn't too happy to make this move, but with
this he no longer has to worry about the pressure on the e2 pawn.} Be6 18. Qd2
b5 (18... Nd4 19. Bxd4 exd4 $15 {would have been the best way for Caruana to
play.}) 19. f4 Bg4 $2 {[%cal Ge6g4] This is the start of Anand's combination.
He had seen many times that Bg4 was not possible, but still Fabiano had played
it. Rather than doubting himself, Anand went ahead with what he had calculated.
} 20. Bxc6 $1 bxc6 21. fxe5 {So White is a pawn up. What did Black under his
sleeve? Well Fabiano once again surprised Anand with the move that the latter
had thought was impossible.} f6 $2 {[%cal Gf7f6] This is a clear mistake, but
when you have said A (Bg4), you must say B.} 22. exf6 $1 Rxe2 {[%cal Ge8e2] It
looks like mate, just that it isn't.} 23. f7+ Kf8 {[%cal Gc3g7]} 24. Bxg7+ Kxg7
25. Qc3+ Re5 {[%cal Ge2e5] Fabi went ahead with this move as he had not seen
Anand's next move.} (25... Qe5 {was the best defense for Black.} 26. Rxe2 Qxc3
27. Re8 Qd4+ (27... Qxb4 $2 28. Rxd8 $18) 28. Rf2 $1 Qxb4 29. f8=Q+ (29. Rxd8
Qe1+ 30. Rf1 (30. Kg2 $2 Bh3+ $1 31. Kxh3 Qxf2 $19) 30... Qe3+ $11) 29... Qxf8
30. Rfxf8 Rxd3 31. Rg8+ Kf7 32. Ref8+ (32. Rd8 Bd7 $1 {This is the move that
Caruana had missed and the reason why he didn't play this variation.}) 32...
Ke7 33. Ra8 h5 34. Rxa7+ Ke6 $16 {And according to Anand, he was not even sure
if he was winning here. The technical task is just too huge, said Vishy. If
the bishop gets to d5, Black would not even be worse. Objectively speaking
White is better here, but the win is not so clear.}) 26. Qd4 $3 {[%cal Gc3d4]
A brilliant move. As Anand said, this is easy to miss. It changes nothing as
the rook on e5 is still pinned. The main idea is to vacate the c5 square for
the rook.} (26. h3 {was what Fabiano had calculated} Bd1 {was the American
player's idea. It's atleast a mess was what Fabi thought.} (26... Bxh3 27. Rh2
{White is winning here.})) 26... Qg5 27. Rc5 $1 {[%cal Gc2c5]} Rxd4 {Fabiano
allows White to queen. By now he had realized that it was all over.} (27...
Qe3+ 28. Qxe3 Rxe3 29. Rg5+ Kh6 30. Rg8 $18) 28. f8=Q+ Kg6 29. Qf7+ {A great
win by Anand which will surely make it to his best games collection in the
future.} 1-0


World Champion Magnus Carlsen came back very strongly from Saturday’s defeat to play a flawless game in the black side of a Scotch Opening and defeat another of the world elites, American Wesley So. Coming back immediately after tasting a defeat has always been one of Carlsen’s strong points, and the ability thus stood him in good stead in the 5th round.

Magnus Carlsen came back from a loss against MVL in the fourth round and beat Wesley So with the black pieces
Magnus played his rook to b8 in order to attack the pawn on b2
Instead of defending the pawn with b3 and gaining a fine position, Wesley played the inaccurate Bf4, which was a big error
Carlsen thought for a long time about why Wesley had given up the pawn. Finally he came to the conclusion that he couldn't live like this with self-doubt! He took the pawn on b2 and asked Wesley to show his cards.
A lot of exchanges took place on the d6 square and the knight on d7 seemed to be in trouble. But Carlsen had seen a move ahead. Can you find Black's move?
Yes, Qe2!! that's the move! Getting out of the pin and attacking the f2 pawn. Once Carlsen made this move, the entire position turned 180 degrees! It was Black who was calling the shots and went on to win the game.
[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.05"]
[Round "5"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C45"]
[WhiteElo "2810"]
[BlackElo "2822"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 {The Scotch gambit came as a surprise for the World
Champion.} exd4 4. Nxd4 Bb4+ 5. c3 Be7 $5 {I just decided that I must play
something over the board and I went for Be7 is how Magnus explains his
decision.} 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d6 (7... Nf6 8. e5 Nd5 9. O-O $16) 8. O-O Nf6 9.
Re1 O-O 10. Nd2 Re8 11. Nf3 {White has played the opening well and can claim a
small edge.} Nd7 (11... Bg4 $5 {Finising development could have been a good
way to continue.}) 12. Bf4 Nc5 (12... Rb8 {seems better than what Magnus chose.
}) 13. Bc2 Bg4 14. h3 Bh5 15. Be3 Nd7 16. Ba4 {White already has a very
tangible advantage.} c5 (16... Ne5 17. g4 $18) 17. g4 Bg6 18. e5 (18. Bc6 Rb8
19. Qa4 Nb6 20. Qxa7 $14) 18... Rb8 19. Bf4 $2 {This was the critical mistake
of the game. An inexplicable error by Wesley. Carlsen calculated again and
again to check what he had missed. But it turned out that he had missed
nothing. And boldly took the pawn on b2.} (19. b3 $14 {And Black is the only
one suffering here.}) 19... Rxb2 $1 20. exd6 Bxd6 21. Rxe8+ Qxe8 22. Bxd6 cxd6
23. Qxd6 {And after a forced sequence of moves we have reached this position
where Black's knight on d7 is in trouble. Is it all over for Magnus. Of course
not!} Qe2 $1 {This is the move that Carlsen had seen in advance. Getting out
of the pin and threatening the f2 pawn.} 24. Qg3 (24. Rf1 Qxf3 25. Qxd7 h5 $17)
24... Nf8 25. Re1 Rb1 26. Rxb1 Bxb1 27. Bc6 Bxa2 {Black has won a pawn and is
clearly pushing.} 28. Qd6 Qc4 29. Ne5 Qxc3 {Losing the second pawn. Perhaps it
was a tad early to resign, but Wesley was pretty disgusted with his position.
In just a matter of few moves he had allowed a better position to turn into a
lost one.} 0-1


Thus, Anand and Carlsen are placed in a tie for the 2-3 places with 3 points, behind the leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who maintained his top position with 3.5 points after drawing with Levon Aronian.

Crosstable after round five:

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About the Author:

Saravanan Venkatachalam is an International Master and has been an active chess player in the Indian circuit, and has been consistently writing on chess since late 1980s. He turned complete chess professional in 2012, actively playing and being a second and a trainer to a handful of Indian players. He reports on chess tournaments, occasionally being a correspondent to national newspapers and news channels. Apart from chess, he is also interested in Tamil and English literature, music and photography.

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The Sinquefield Cup and Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz is being extensively by Venkatachalam Saravanan. 




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