By Sagar Shah, ChessBase India
Moscow: ‘Play for a win with white, and equalize with black’, this was the way old school Soviets used to play the game of chess. But then came the modern crop led by Garry Kasparov who hardly cared about the colour of their pieces. All that they ever did was play uncompromising chess, be it black or white. This strategy was always double-edged as playing for a win with black entails more chances of losing the game. However, the returns were also great.
Viswanathan Anand has very clearly come to the Candidates 2016 with this modern school of thought. He isn’t just satisfied with a draw when he has the black pieces and has tried to play with great ambition. The result has been a clear disaster. Out of the six games with black, Anand played out three draws and suffered three losses. One of the defeats came against Hikaru Nakamura Friday in the 12th round of the tournament.
Nakamura began the game with 1.c4. Anand replied with the most combative approach 1…e5. The American of Japanese origin had come excellently prepared for the game and played with great speed and accuracy. By now it should have been clear to Anand that he had to take on not only Nakamura but also his computer engines as well as his team of seconds.
But Vishy played the most aggressive line with 10…g5. It turned out that Nakamura had done his homework quite thoroughly and without too many difficulties achieved an opening advantage. The American’s conversion was extremely precise and there was absolutely nothing that the Indian champion could do about it. It was clear that Anand’s theoretical experiment had failed and white won the game without too many difficulties in just 26 moves.
While Vishy is playing simply sublime chess with the white pieces, his performance with black has been quite bad. In spite of his crucial losses in rounds 10 and 12 to Caruana and Nakamua, Anand is currently on 6.5/12, only half-a-point behind leaders Fabiano Caruana and Sergey Karjakin.
This is how the standings look after 12 games:
Sergey Karjakin 7.0/12
Fabiano Caruana 7.0/12
Viswanathan Anand 6.5/12
Peter Svidler 6.0/12
Levon Aronian 6.0/12
Anish Giri 6.0/12
Hikaru Nakamura 5.5/12
Veselin Topalov 4.0/12
Saturday is the final rest day in Moscow. On Sunday, Anand will face Anish Giri with the white pieces. This is definitely the most critical game of the entire tournament for the Indian ace. If Vishy wins, he might well join the leaders once again. However, a draw or a loss might just make it impossible for him to win the Candidates and challenge Carlsen for the World Championship Match to be held in New York later this year.
The five-time World Champion has shown on numerous occasions in this tournament that he can stage a fightback, score a win and join the leaders like he did against Aronian and Karjakin in rounds 9 and 11, respectively. All that we can hope is for him to do it once again in the 13th round!
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