By Sagar Shah, ChessBase India
Moscow: Chess is a battle between two minds which fight it out over 64 squares with 32 pieces. Right? Absolutely true if you were reading this in the 1990s. But ever since computer engines have started playing better than humans, nothing has remained the same. Players and their coaches and seconds (helpers) work for hours on these machines perfecting the opening variations and ideas, before trying it in an over-the-board encounter. The amount of pre-game preparation has increased considerably and can often decide the outcome of the game. In the tenth round of the World Chess Candidates 2016, Vishy Anand was caught in a well-cooked opening variation by Fabiano Caruana and lost the game in just 33 moves.
In the past Fabiano Caruana has always opened his game with either 1.e4 or 1.d4. But today he opted for the English Opening, pushing his c-pawn two squares forward. What was the reason for that? Just the night before the game, Caruana and his second Rustam Kasimdzhanov found a new idea in this very Opening. They analyzed it in depth and looked at it with the computer engine and came to the conclusion that this was something worth trying in the game. It must have definitely made a difference that Kasimdzhanov had worked as Anand’s second a few years ago. With his experience of knowing Vishy’s playing style in great detail he could have possibly guessed the route Anand would choose during the game. Anand on the other hand, completely unaware, walked right into the opening prepared for him.
When Caruana made the first new move of the game 12.Qc2, Anand sank into deep thought. As Caruana explained in his post-game interview: “The thing with Vishy is that it is very difficult to find a weak spot in his opening repertoire. So when we found the idea with 12.Qc2 I thought we should give it a go. I didn’t expect to get it over the board. I was quite lucky today!”
Fabiano Caruana with this victory moved ahead of Anand and joins Sergey Karjakin in the lead with 6.0/10. Anand on the other hand is in the third position with 5.5/10. The tournament is still wide open for the Indian ace, and the next round is going to be extremely crucial. This is because Anand takes on Sergey Karjakin with the white pieces.
If Anand manages to win this game he could well be back in the lead or joint-lead, considering Topalov is able to beat or hold Caruana. In the other results of the day Anish Giri drew his game against Sergey Karjakin. This was the Dutch GM’s tenth consecutive draw in the tournament! Peter Svidler split the point against Hikaru Nakamura and the same was the result of the game between Levon Aronian and Veselin Topalov. This is how the standings look like:
- Fabiano Caruana 6.0/9
- Sergey Karjakin 6.0/9
- Viswanathan Anand 5.5/9
- Levon Aronian 5.5/9
- Anish Giri 5.0/9
- Peter Svidler 4.5/9
- Hikaru Nakamura 4.0/9
- Veselin Topalov 3.5/9
In his World Championship Match against Boris Gelfand in 2012, both Anand and Gelfand made six draws in the first six rounds. After that Boris won the seventh game. In such a high pressure situation Anand struck back with a win in the eighth round to level the scores! If there is someone in Indian chess who can fight back from this defeat, it is Vishy Anand.
Catch all the action live at 5.30 p.m. IST on 24th of March for the eleventh round of this tournament over here.