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Vishy finishes second in Zurich Blitz

by Sagar Shah - 13/02/2016

Returning from a poor performance at the Gibraltar Masters, all that Anand needed was a boost in confidence before the main event of Zurich Chess Challenge which begins on the 13th of February. The Blitz tournament did exactly that. Anand scored 3.0/5 and essayed convincing victories over Anish Giri and the eventual winner Hikaru Nakamura. He, thus, finished second and will have three whites in the main event which begins from today at 7.30 p.m IST.


From 12 to 15 February 2016 we will see Vishy Anand in action in Zurich for the fifth edition of the Zurich Chess Challenge at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville. What we will witness is a new time control of 40 minutes per game with additional 10 seconds for each move. It will be a Round Robin event with five rounds. On the 12th we had the Opening Blitz tournament to determine which three players will have three whites out of the five games. 


After a dismal performance at the Gibraltar Chess Festival where he lost 21 Elo points, Vishy Anand was back in business with wins over Anish Giri and the eventual winner Hikaru Nakamura. Nakamura got off to a flier winning his first three games and was the champion with a round to spare. But Anand scored a morale victory by beating the American in the final round. Let's have a look at how the blitz event went for the Indian ace.

Round 1

The first round against Alexei Shirov was a solid draw in the Najdorf. Anand got in the e5 break and after exf4 secured the e5 square for his knight. Nothing drastic happened as the players agreed to a draw in 29 moves.

[Event "5th Zurich Opening Blitz"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2016.02.12"]
[Round "1.3"]
[White "Shirov, Alexei"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2684"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2016.02.12"]
[EventType "blitz"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4 h6 8. Bg2
Be7 9. f4 Nc6 10. Be3 Nd7 11. O-O O-O 12. Nce2 Nxd4 13. Qxd4 b5 14. Ng3 e5 15.
Qd2 exf4 16. Bxf4 Ne5 17. Nf5 Bxf5 18. exf5 Rc8 19. Rad1 Nc4 20. Qc1 Bf6 21. b3
Ne5 22. Qd2 Qb6+ 23. Be3 Qc7 24. Qxd6 Qxc2 25. Qd2 Qc7 26. Qd6 Qa5 27. Qd2 Qc7
28. Qd6 Qa5 29. Qd2 Qc7 1/2-1/2




Round 2

Playing from the black side of a Rossolimo Sicilian, Anand played the interesting move e6 and quickly got in the d5 break. Giri went wrong in the middlegame when he played his king to f3. After that Anand won the game wwith a nice co-ordinated attack with his queen and rook.

[Event "5th Zurich Opening Blitz"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2016.02.12"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Giri, Anish"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B52"]
[WhiteElo "2798"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "66"]
[EventDate "2016.02.12"]
[EventType "blitz"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 g6 7. d4 cxd4 8.
Nxd4 Nc6 9. f3 Bg7 10. Be3 O-O 11. O-O e6 $5 12. Rc1 Rfd8 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Rf2
d5 15. Rd2 Qe8 16. e5 Nd7 17. f4 Nb6 18. b3 dxc4 19. Ne4 Nd5 20. Qf3 Nxe3 21.
Qxe3 cxb3 22. axb3 Rd5 23. Rdc2 a5 24. Rxc6 Rd1+ 25. Kf2 Rxc1 26. Qxc1 Qd8 27.
Nd6 Bf8 28. g3 a4 29. bxa4 Rxa4 30. Qc2 $6 (30. Kg2 $1 Qa5 31. Kh3 $1 {and
with the king tucked in h3 White should be doing ok.}) 30... Qa5 $1 31. Kf3 $2
{Losing on the spot.} Qd5+ $1 32. Ne4 Ra2 $1 {suddenly there is no good place
for the queen. She has to keep an eye on too many squares: d3, d1 and the rook
on c6.} 33. Qc1 (33. Ke3 Rxc2 34. Nf6+ Kg7 35. Nxd5 Rxc6 {doesn't work either.}
) 33... Qd3+ {White will soon be mated.} 0-1



Round 3

A suprising loss to Levon Aronian. Surprising because Anand was white and chose the super solid variation of 5.Re1 in the Berlin. In a complex middlegame the Indian went for a highly interesting piece sacrifice which he didn't follow up correctly. Aronian defended well and took home the full point. GM Alejandro Ramirez annotates the critical point:

[Event "5th Zurich Opening Blitz"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2016.02.12"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Anand, V."]
[Black "Aronian, L."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2784"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2016.02.12"]
[EventType "blitz"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nf5 8.
Nf3 O-O 9. d4 d5 10. g3 Re8 11. Nc3 Be6 12. Ne2 Bd6 13. c3 f6 14. Bf4 g5 15.
Bxd6 Nxd6 16. Nc1 Qd7 17. Bg2 Ne7 18. Nd3 b6 19. h4 h6 20. hxg5 hxg5 21. Nxg5
$5 fxg5 22. Ne5 Qd8 23. Qh5 Nef5 $1 {White has compensation, but I don't think
it is sufficient for an advantage. He simply lacks pieces to attack with.} 24.
Ng4 $6 (24. Qg6+ Ng7 25. Re2 $11 {the pressure is still mounting and Black has
to find some way of not losing too much material:} Nf7 $1 26. Rae1 Nh8 27. Qh6
Nf7 {with a computeresque perpetual.}) 24... Ng7 25. Qh3 {This is a clear sign
that the attack has failed.} Bxg4 $6 26. Qxg4 $2 (26. Bxd5+ $1 $15) 26... Rxe1+
27. Rxe1 c6 28. f4 Nf7 {Now its smooth sailing for Aronian's extra knight.} 29.
c4 dxc4 30. fxg5 Qxg5 31. Qxg5 Nxg5 32. Bxc6 Rd8 33. Re5 Nf7 34. Re7 Rxd4 35.
Rxa7 Nf5 36. Kf2 Ne5 0-1


Round 4

Reliving Bonn 2008! (Picture by David Llada)

A duel between two ex-World Champions is always interesting. Kramnik employed the Torre System with an early Bg5 and the game was soon in uncharted waters. Kramnik slowly and steadily increased his pressure when it became too much for Anand to handle. He voluntarily sacrificed an exchange which was surely completely wrong. Kramnik had a rook against the bishop in the endgame and should have won. But he couldn't find a way. sacrificed his rook for the bishop and in the end it led to a drawn pawn ending. A typical blitz game!

[Event "5th Zurich Opening Blitz"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2016.02.12"]
[Round "4.2"]
[White "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D03"]
[WhiteElo "2801"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2016.02.12"]
[EventType "blitz"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bg5 Ne4 4. Bh4 Bf5 5. e3 c6 6. Nbd2 Nd7 7. Bd3 Qb6 8.
O-O e6 9. Bxe4 dxe4 10. Nc4 Qa6 11. Nfd2 b5 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Be7 14. Bxe7
Kxe7 15. Nb3 Rhd8 16. Qe1 Qb6 17. Qb4+ Ke8 18. Rfd1 a5 19. Qc3 Rd5 20. Rxd5
cxd5 21. a3 Kf8 22. h3 Kg8 23. Nc5 h5 24. Qd4 Rc8 25. b4 a4 26. c3 Qc7 27. Rf1
Bg6 28. f3 exf3 29. Rxf3 Qe7 30. Kh2 Rc7 31. Qf4 Rc8 32. Rg3 Rc7 33. Qg5 Qe8
34. Rf3 Qc8 35. g4 (35. Nxe6 $1 fxe6 (35... Qxe6 36. Qd8+) 36. Qxg6) 35... hxg4
36. hxg4 Rxc5 $2 37. bxc5 Qxc5 38. Qd8+ Qf8 39. Qxf8+ Kxf8 $16 {White should
win this.} 40. Kg3 Be4 41. Rf2 g5 42. Rh2 Bd3 43. Rh5 Bg6 44. Rxg5 Kg7 45. Kh4
f6 46. Rxg6+ $2 (46. exf6+ Kxf6 47. e4 $1 Bxe4 (47... dxe4 48. Rxb5 $18) 48.
Rg8 $18) 46... Kxg6 47. exf6 e5 48. g5 d4 49. exd4 exd4 50. cxd4 b4 51. d5 bxa3
52. d6 a2 53. d7 a1=Q 54. d8=Q 1/2-1/2


Round 5

This was perhaps the most important game for Anand's confidence (Picture by David Llada)
Nakamura had already won the tournament with a round to spare. But beating Hikaru, one of the best blitz players in the world, is never easy. Anand simply developed his pieces on good squares, took away as much space as he could and finally broke through. Once again, let's follow the brief analysis of GM Alejandro Ramirez:
[Event "5th Zurich Opening Blitz"]
[Site "Zurich SUI"]
[Date "2016.02.12"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Anand, V."]
[Black "Nakamura, Hi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B04"]
[WhiteElo "2784"]
[BlackElo "2787"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2016.02.12"]
[EventType "blitz"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 c6 5. Be2 dxe5 6. Nxe5 Nd7 7. Nf3 g6 8. O-O
Bg7 9. c4 Nc7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. Bf4 Ne6 12. Be3 Nf6 13. h3 Qc7 14. Qd2 Rd8 15.
Rad1 b6 16. Rfe1 Bb7 17. Qc1 Nh5 18. Bf1 Rac8 19. b4 Qb8 20. c5 a5 21. bxa5
bxc5 22. dxc5 Qa7 23. Bc4 Nc7 24. Rxd8+ $1 Rxd8 25. Rd1 $1 {Black simply has
no good way of dealing with the threat on his rook!} Re8 (25... Rxd1+ 26. Qxd1
Bxc3 27. Qd8+ Kg7 28. Qxc7 {and Black's position is completely collapsing.
Both Qxe7 and a6 are huge threats.}) 26. Ng5 e6 27. Rd7 Qxa5 28. Nce4 Bc8 29.
Rxf7 h6 30. Rxg7+ Kxg7 31. Nf3 {White's position is simply overwhelming.} Nd5
32. Bxh6+ Kh7 33. Nd6 Re7 34. Bf8 Rg7 35. Bxg7 Kxg7 36. Bxd5 1-0
Win this win Anand ended on 3.0/5 and second in the blitz event. He will have three whites out of the five games in the main Rapid tournament.
The first round begins at 7.30 p.m IST on 13th of February. Be sure to catch the action live.

Opening Blitz Standings


Friday February 12 6 p.m. Opening Ceremony, concert, Blitz
Saturday February 13 3 pm first round, 6 pm second round
Sunday February 14 3 pm third round, 6 pm. fourth round
Monday February 15 3 pm. fifth round, 6 pm. blitz, closing

The round will begin at 7.30 p.m and 10.30 p.m IST


Round 1 - Sat, February 13th, 3:00 pm

White Black
Alexei Shirov - Vladimir Kramnik
Hikaru Nakamura - Anish Giri
Viswanathan Anand - Levon Aronian

Round 2 - Sat, February 13th, 6:00 pm

White Black
Vladimir Kramnik - Levon Aronian
Anish Giri - Viswanathan Anand
Alexei Shirov - Hikaru Nakamura

Round 3 - Sun, February 14th, 3:00 pm

White Black
Hikaru Nakamura - Vladimir Kramnik
Viswanathan Anand - Alexei Shirov
Levon Aronian - Anish Giri

Round 4 - Sun, February 14th, 6:00 pm

White Black
Vladimir Kramnik - Anish Giri
Alexei Shirov - Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura - Viswanathan Anand

Round 5 - Mon, February 15th, 3:00 pm

White Black
Viswanathan Anand - Vladimir Kramnik
Levon Aronian - Hikaru Nakamura
Anish Giri - Alexei Shirov

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