By Sagar Shah, ChessBase India
Moscow: Vishy Anand made an effortless draw against Veselin Topalov, with the black pieces in the eighth round of the World Chess Candidates 2016. With this draw Anand maintains his third position in the tournament with a score of 4.5/8, half a point behind the leaders Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian.
“I did not expect you to play this same opening again!” These were the words that Veselin Topalov said in the press-conference after the game. So what exactly is this opening that Anand has employed against Anish Giri and Veselin Topalov in back-to-back rounds and made two easy draws.
First of all Black began in a well-known Queen’s Gambit Declined style by putting his pawns on e6 and d5 and knight on f6. He then deployed his other knight on d7 before committing the dark squared bishop. The bishop then moved to b4 changing the entire essence of the opening from the Queen’s Gambit Declined to a Nimzo Indian or a Ragozin. Without getting into too many technicalities, the conclusion is: This system has no real name as it has not been played at the highest level by top players. Anand is the first one who has put in a lot of effort to develop these ideas from scratch. And that is the reason why his opponents are unable to find a suitable antidote against it.
The five-time World Champion has worked on it for months and his in-depth preparation cannot be refuted by Topalov in just one day. Hence, Vishy was confident enough to play it for the third time in this tournament.
Veselin Topalov, who is having a miserable tournament, played hesitantly in the opening and Anand equalized with ease. On move number 20 Topalov made a serious mistake of playing his knight to f4. With this move he not only spoilt his pawn structure but also accepted a joyless task of defending an inferior endgame. Vishy tried his best to breakthrough his opponent’s defences. But Topalov held on. The Bulgarian didn’t do anything crazy and after 51 moves Vishy transposed the game into a drawn pawn endgame.
Anand and Topalov have a rivalry that goes back many years in time. Vishy defeat the Bulgarian grandmaster to maintain his World Championship title in the year 2010. (photo by Amruta Mokal)
In the other results of the day, Anish Giri and Levon Aronian played out a sedate draw, Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin had a topsy turvy battle which also ended in a draw. In the all-American battle Fabiano Caruana managed to get the better of Hikaru Nakamura. This is how the standings look after eight rounds:
1. Sergey Karjakin: 5.0/8
2. Levon Aronian: 5.0/8
3. Viswanathan Anand: 4.5/8
4. Fabiano Caruana: 4.5/8
5. Anish Giri: 4.0/8
6. Peter Svidler: 3.5/8
7. Hikaru Nakamura: 3.0/8
8. Veselin Topalov: 2.5/8
On 21st of March, in the ninth round, Anand will face one of the leaders Levon Aronian with the white pieces. If Vishy manages to beat Levon he would be able to move ahead of him on the standings table. The game begins at 5.30 p.m. IST and can be followed live here.