Viswanathan Anand outplays Vachier-Lagrave; jumps to joint 2nd spot
Stavanger: Former world champion Viswanathan Anand scored a thumping victory over French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to jump to joint second spot after the end of the sixth round of Norway Chess tournament, which is a part of the Grand Chess tour.
Anand took his tally to 4 points out of a possible six following a crushing victory and the Indian ace seems to be getting better as the tournament is progressing.
Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria strengthened his lead at the top with another victory at the expense of Alexander Grischuk of Russia. The Bulgarian took his overall tally to 5.5 points with his fifth win in the strongest tournament of the year.
The other games of the sixth round ended in draws. Anish Giri of Holland played a long theoretical line yet again and drew with Levon Aronian of Armenia, Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway signed peace with Fabiano Caruana of Italy while World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway could not get past the solid defences of Hikaru Nakamura of United States.
With three rounds still to come, Nakamura and Anand share the second spot on four points each while Anish Giri is alone in fourth spot fourth on 3.5 points. The trio of Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian and Caruana are on joint 5th on 2.5 points while Carlsen shares the eighth spot on two points each and Hammer is currently last with 1.5 points in his kitty.
Anand stole the day's honours with a brilliant game. It was a Bishop sacrifice out of a Sicilian Najdorf that caught everyone's attention in the middle game.
Interestingly, a similar sacrifice in the exact same variation had occurred in a recent top game between David Navara and Grischuk. And, as it turned out, both players were aware of that.
"We both remembered Navara-Grischuk, but I couldn't remember the details," said Anand.
"I couldn't make it work at first. I was surprised that he allowed it. It was a safe sacrifice, because I always had at least a draw."
There followed some amazing tactics, but in every single line White was winning."This is positional chess in the Sicilian!" joked Anand in the post-game chat.
Vachier-Lagrave agreed he missed the crucial point."I completely missed Bishop sacrifice," said MVL."I thought I was defending [against this threat] and suddenly I wasn't defending at all. I felt during the game I should be OK," he added.
Soon after Anand's game, Topalov defeated Grischuk. Ten years ago Topalov won the FIDE world championship tournament with 10/14, scoring 6.5/7 in the first half, this event is serving as a perfect reminder to all of that superlative performance.
In a Nimzo-Indian that quickly looked a bit like a Benoni, Grischuk basically blundered a piece as early as move 16. "I am a bit surprised," said Topalov.
"I don't think I'm playing that good but it's good enough to see that mistake."The tournament leader remained modest about his score: "Sometimes it happens that you're getting all the luck in one tournament. I think that's happening here now."