Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: Viswanathan Anand, hampered by fatigue, finishes disappointing joint 8th

Viswanathan Anand scored two draws and suffered a defeat from his three games on the last day of the Rapid section at Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz, while Garry Kasparov scored a win and two losses, with both the world champions finishing in a tie for the last place. Levon Aronian emerged as the best scorer at the end a thrilling last round when all the five games ended decisively, underscoring the triumph of the competitive format of the event.

 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: Viswanathan Anand, hampered by fatigue, finishes disappointing joint 8th

Viswanathan Anand struggling with his form. Austin Fuller

The Blitz part of the event start from Thursday with points system reverting back to the regular format with a win being given one point, a draw with a half, and nil for a loss. Unlike the Rapid event, all the players play each other twice in Blitz, which means that an equal number of points can be scored in the rest of the tournament. The Grand Prix points of the Grand Chess Tour will be calculated on the combined points scored both in the Rapid and Blitz sections, which means that the tournament is very much alive going into its last two days.

Anand’s day was almost forgettable, as he started off with two draws against the Quang Liam Le and Fabiano Caruana, before losing an one-sided game to World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin in the ninth and final round of the Rapid event. Looking at Anand’s games, it was easy to decipher the fatigue behind the moves, coming after a long nine games of the Sinquefield Cup which has obviously taken its toll on the Indian ace.

In a sedate day when Anand could find it difficult to pose any difficulties for his opponents, his games against the Vietnamese Grandmaster Le set the pace of the day. An extremely complicated rook endgame saw Anand seemingly create winning chances with a passed pawn and an apparent advantage. But Le’s protected passer and Anand’s inactive king meant the game never went into the danger mark for Le. Against Caruana in the 8th round, Anand almost never really obtained an advantage against the Petroff and the game ended in a draw in 30 moves after cautious manoeuvring by both the sides.

The last game was a difficult one for Anand, as he was mild pressure in the middlegame from the black side of a Guioco Piano. Perhaps in eagerness to get free from defending the position all along, he tried to initiate complications but it proved to be costly. In the quest to attack the opponent’s pawns, he allowed Karjakin to develop a mating attack on the black king, which ended in a painful resignation in 37 moves faced with resignation.

Kasparov continued to entertain the spectators, both at the tournament hall and online. Interest for the event soared as the Kasparov’s eagerness to play for a win at all costs resulted in dramatic games but at the same time equal amount of chances for his opponents too to beat him. The very first game of the day against Czech Grandmaster David Navara was a heartbreak of a game both for Kasparov and the eager spectators at the Chess Club and Scholastic Centre of Saint Louis.

Playing in the gambit style with white pieces reminiscent of his peak years, Kasparov played with tremendous energy and created a winning position by the 25th move. But he has found handling the clock an issue throughout this event, and this crucial practical factor proved to be his undoing as he squandered many winning chances and finally blundered his way to a loss in 50 moves. An exasperated Kasparov threw his hands up in disgust and stormed out of the hall.

He did score a win against Le in the 8th round but that was a lucky win, as Le just placed a rook on an unfortunate square where it could be captured by Kasparov’s bishop. In the final round, he was outplayed by Caruana in a long grinding game.

The final day truly belonged to Aronian, as he defeated Karjakin and Dominguez Perez while holding Nakamura for a draw. However, with the Blitz leg of the event still to go, he can expect stiff challenge from the young trio of Nakamura, Caruana and Nepomniachtchi.

Results: (7th Round)

Le Drew with Anand
Kasparov Lost to Navara
Caruana Drew with Nepomniachtchi
Nakamura Drew with Dominguez Perez
Karjakin Lost to Aronian

Results: (8th Round)

Anand Drew with Caruana
Kasparov Beat Le
Nepomniachtchi Drew with Karjakin
Aronian Drew with Nakamura
Navara Lost to Dominguez Perez

Results: (9th Round)

Karjakin Beat Anand
Caruana Beat Kasparov
Nakamura Beat Nepomniachtchi
Dominguez Perez Lost to Aronian
Le Lost to Navara

Points position after 9 rounds of Rapid event: (2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss)

1. Aronian - 12 points (out of a maximum 18)
2 - 3. Caruana and Nakamura - 11 each
4. Nepomniachtchi - 10
5. Dominguez Perez - 9
6 - 7. Le and Karjakin - 8 each
8 - 10. Anand, Kasparov and Navara - 7 each

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 23:16:20 IST