By Sagar Shah, ChessBase India
The fifth round encounter between Viswanathan Anand and Hikaru Nakamura ended in a draw at the Candidates Chess Championships 2016, currently in progress at the Central Telegraph building in Moscow. Anand, with white pieces, seemed like pushing for a small edge but it was hardly anything substantial and the game duly ended in a draw in 28 moves.
“My third anti-Berlin in a row!", smiled Anand. "I was trying to play against his doubled e-pawns. Sometimes if White manages to consolidate his structure, it can be a long game and black has to suffer a bit. I got my knight to e3, and he weakened his structure with d5-d4, but it didn’t seem enough.” This was Anand's explanation of the drawn result against his American opponent. Back from a loss in Wednesday's game against Russia's Sergey Karjakin, this game was extremely important for Vishy Anand. Players from the Soviet Union in the yesteryears would often advice to play it safe and make a draw after a loss as your mind is too emotional and cannot think straight. A draw often helps you to settle down and start thinking objectively for the next games.
Hikaru Nakamura, born in Hirakata, Japan, in 1987, is considered to be one of the best blitz (short time control) players of the game and has an extremely quick tactical eye. He shifted to the US when he was two years old and has been a resident since. Anand, with his experience and the advantage of white pieces was a favourite today. However, Nakamura had won the last two classical encounters against Anand, which gave him a psychological edge. It was duel which everyone looked forward to with great anticipation.
As has been the case in this tournament, Anand opened the game with his king pawn and pushed it to 1.e4. Nakamura didn’t take any chances and chose the solid Berlin Defence. By now everyone is aware about the strengths of this opening. Black gets an extremely solid position and the onus is on white to prove if he can show an opening advantage. “I was happy that Anand allowed me to play this line as it usually gives Black a solid game,” was Nakamura’s statement after the game.
The Indian Super GM unleashed a novelty in the game with 10.a4, but it was hardly earth-shattering. Nakamura kept making natural moves and the game ended in a draw after two hours of play.
As Nakamura is rated higher than Anand, this win gave Vishy 0.4 Elo points. This meant that Anand once again regained his India number one position in live rating list. As far as the Candidates tournament standings are concerned Anand has a fifty per cent score of 2.5/5 with one win, one loss and three draws. Sergey Karjakin is still in the lead with 3.5/5 after he drew Veselin Topalov today. Levon Aronian is on 3.0/5 as he drew Fabiano Caruana. Anish Giri and Peter Svidler made a draw against each other. Caruana, Giri, Svidler and Anand are all on 2.5/5.
In the sixth round Anand faces Peter Svidler. Peter has looked extremely well prepared in this event and it will be challenge for Anand to find something against him with the white pieces.