We are now into the third round of the 2017 World Cup. India's biggest hopes Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna have been eliminated. However, two young guns – Vidit Gujrathi and SP Sethuraman – are keeping the Indian flag flying high.
In fact, Vidit could have made a very strong first game result by beating Ding Liren. But, he was not able to keep his nerves in the winning position and the game ended in a draw. Sethuraman played a solid game against Anish Giri and now has the white pieces to press in the second game.
Vidit has a very interesting style of playing chess. He makes all the logical moves. Take for example his first game against Ding Liren. If you go through it, you will realize that there was absolutely no move that even a player much below his Elo could not have made. But the difficulty lies in making all of those moves together. He made one strong move after another and before you even knew it, he had a completely winning position against the Chinese number one.
Seeing Vidit play this way, one gets the feeling that he can really match his wits against the best in the world. However, the one thing that is lacking is the ability to finish off your opponent. And this has been seen in ample measure in many of Vidit's previous games and also the one against Ding Liren on Saturday. After building up a fantastic position, he couldn't execute the final blow and the game ended in a draw.
Just look at the knight on d5 and the bishop on g7 and the queen on f5. All so very beautifully placed. And now look at the king on g1, who is shuddering in the corner with fear. I am sure that Vidit understood that he was close to winning in this position. And sometimes, it's the awareness of this, that makes you feel nervous. The right idea would have been to reroute the bishop to d6 with ...Be5.
With three pieces looking at White's king, there would be no way he could survive in the long run. However, Vidit got nervous and wanted to exchange the last active White piece. He played ...Rdb8 which seemed logical but failed tactically after Rxb8 Rxb8 Bh3. This was the move that Vidit had missed. If he takes the bishop, the knight on d5 hangs. And that helped the Chinese player save himself from this mess that he was in. It was case of being so near yet so far.
When players miss such a winning position, it all comes down to a question of mental toughness. In the second game, Vidit will have the white pieces. His opponent Ding Liren is a fighter. Can Vidit forget what happened in game one and begin afresh? We will have to wait and see
Meanwhile, Sethuraman stuck to his classical 1...e5 in reply to Anish's 1.e4. The thing about this opening is that no matter how hard White tries, he cannot really come up with an earth-shattering novelty. Anish found a new idea with Bb2, but Sethuraman never really was in danger and the game ended in a draw. Nothing substantial happened in the game, but this is an important result for India as Sethuraman, who has the white pieces in game two, can now try and push his opponent off the board.
Sethuraman is confident with the white pieces against Anish Giri.
In another big news at the event, top seed and world champion Magnus Carlsen was beaten by his Chinese opponent Bu Xiangzhi with the black pieces. Now, he has the tough task of winning his game with black against a solid Chinese player. If he doesn’t manage to do that, he will be knocked out of the tournament.
Earlier, Carlsen was in favour for the World Championship title to be decided on the basis of a knockout tournament. This suggestion was never implemented by the world chess body FIDE. Hence, this world cup was some sort of a test for Carlsen’s claim. If he gets knocked out, I am sure he won’t be as excited about having the World Championship in a knockout format.
Here's Anish talking about his game and Carlsen’s defeat to Bu Xiangzhi.
Updated Date: Sep 10, 2017 16:33:28 IST