By Sagar Shah, ChessBase India
Moscow: It was a job well done by Vishy Anand at the seventh round of the World Chess Candidates Championships 2016 as he drew Anish Giri, with the black pieces in 31 moves. Anand consolidated his scintillating victory in sixth round with this solid draw.
Born in 1994, Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri is the youngest participant in this event. Born to a Nepalese father and a Russian mother, Anish spent the first eight years of his childhood in Russia. The next six were spent in Japan. Ever since he became a Grandmaster at the age of 14 years and 7 months, he has been staying in the Netherlands. Giri is famed for his meticulous opening preparation and showcases the highest level of objectivity while playing his games. That is the reason why majority of his games end in draws at such elite events.
Anand’s game began with the same four moves in the opening as those against Levon Aronian. But then Anish Giri deviated with 5.Qc2 in the hope of surprising Vishy. However, he was in for a counter-surprise as Anand had studied the resulting position in great depth at home and came up with a completely novel plan.
The onus was on Anish, whether he wanted to risk entering the most critical line of play or just play it safe, exchange the pieces and make a quick draw. The Dutch GM chose the latter. His explanation was simple, “I don’t mind to fight this position with Vishy, which in itself is a big challenge. But to fight Vishy + a strong machine is not part of my plan!” The witty 22-year-old was referring to Anand’s home preparation which had been done with the help of a chess engine.
After the game Anand said, “I tried this new idea with 11…Re8, and things can get highly unpleasant if you potter around. Given the fact that my last black game against him was quite unsuccessful, I was happy today.”
In the other results of the day, the leaders Levon Aronian and Sergey Karjakin drew their game. Peter Svidler couldn’t break through the defences of Fabiano Caruana. In the only decisive game Hikaru Nakamura scored his first win of the tournament against Veselin Topalov. With 4.0/7 Anand is now in the joint second position. This is how the standings look after seven rounds:
- Sergey Karjakin 4.5/7
- Levon Aronian 4.5/7
- Viswanathan Anand 4.0/7
- Anish Giri 3.5/7
- Fabiano Caruana 3.5/7
- Peter Svidler 3.0/7
- Hikaru Nakamura 3.0/7
- Veselin Topalov 2.0/7
The crucial second cycle of the tournament begins later today (Sunday, 5.30 IST). The same players who played each other in the first round will face-off in the eighth round but with colours reversed. For example: Anand was white against Topalov in the first round. He will now have the black pieces in the eighth. At this point we can say that the Indian champion’s chances of winning the tournament are very much alive. Beating the tail-ender Veselin Topalov would be the perfect start to the second half of the event.