Coming Soon: Anand Vs Carlsen?
By R Srinivasa Raghavan | Published: 25th March 2014 03:05 AM |
Positive approach has been the key element in Viswanathan Anand’s impressive show in the 2014 Candidates Tournament in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. The former world champion has looked assured and extended his lead to one point going into the third rest day on Monday.
The Indian’s chances of becoming the Challenger to world champion Magnus Carlsen has brightened with top seed Levon Aronian and second seed Vladimir Kramnik suffering setbacks in the ninth round. Aronian occupies second spot, followed by Kramnik, Sergei Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov sharing joint third spot.
Anand jumped to (+3) with an emphatic victory over Veselin Topalov on Sunday. Incidentally (+3) was enough for Carlsen to win last year’s Candidates in London. Anand has looked the best player in the tournament so far.
Gone was the uncertainty and nervousness, which has plagued him for some time culminating in his loss to Carlsen in the World Championship match. He looks like a different player in the Candidates, making his moves confidently, not taking any hasty decisions, and going for opponent’s throat when the position demands it. Anand is the only player who has not been put under any pressure in the nine games he has played.
The rounds seven to nine saw Anand strengthening his position at the top with two draws and one win. The Indian comfortably seized the edge against Peter Svidler in the seventh round but the Russian defended well to force a draw. Aronian’s idea of unsettling Anand in the opening in one of the crucial games of the tournament didn’t work as the fourth seed sacrificed a pawn to make an easy draw in the eighth round.
Topalov, who had been having an ordinary tournament, was positionally outplayed by Anand in the Sicilian after he made a risky pawn move. Anand skilfully exploited the Bulgarian’s weaknesses to bring home the point.
Anand will look to improve his position further, when he faces Mamedyarov in the 10th round on Tuesday with the white pieces. India No 2 Pentala Harikrishna tweeted: “Fine victory by Anand against Topalov! 1 point lead with five rounds to go. Anand vs Carlsen coming soon.”
Aronian, who was in joint lead with Anand for two rounds, requires a big spurt in the last five rounds to have a chance of upstaging the Indian. The Armenian’s loss to Mamedyarov in a complicated game might hurt him if Anand continues to perform in the same vein.
Kramnik’s task of winning the tournament looks even more difficult after he committed a howler against Karjakin in the opening and slid to 50per cent.
Karjakin, who has been touted as Russia’s biggest hope, has come back into the reckoning with wins over Svidler and Kramnik in the last two rounds. His endgame technique was excellent against Svidler.
Mamedyarov could have been chasing Anand but for his loss to Kramnik in a winning position. The Azeri’s enterprising play has earned the appreciation of one and all. Dmitry Andreikin, who is the lowest-rated player in the tournament, showed he is no pushover and has come into his own. The way he tucked his king to safety from e1 to a1 against Topalov showed his resourcefulness and helped him win his first game.