Anand’s 17-move stunner in India’s 2-2 draw against Russia

India, seeded five, is sharing the fifth spot with sixth seed Rest of the World. Top seed China added two more victories to almost ensure a place in the Superfinal on May 10.

Viswanathan Anand, after four well-played draws, brought down Russia No. 1 Ian Nepomniachtchi in just 17 moves and then had USA’s Hikaru Nakamura on the run in their drawn encounter.   -  K.V.S. Giri

Viswanathan Anand’s dominating performances stood out as India drew with Russia 2-2 before losing to USA 1.5-2.5 on the third day of the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup on Friday.

Top seed and leader China added two more victories to almost ensure a place in the Superfinal on May 10. The second finalist is likely to be either Europe or USA. India, seeded five, is sharing the fifth spot with sixth seed Rest of the World.

Anand, after four well-played draws, brought down Russia No. 1 Ian Nepomniachtchi in just 17 moves and then had USA’s Hikaru Nakamura on the run in their drawn encounter.

Nepomniachtchi, who has often troubled Anand, was at his wits end when the maestro chose to sacrifice a bishop and pushed one of the kingside-pawns to the sixth rank. The Russian resigned while staring at the impending checkmate of his castled king.

With B. Adhiban and D. Harika drawing on the lower boards, all eyes were on P. Harikrishna who was holding the position against Vladislav Artemiev. But an apparent mouse-slip saw Hari blunder his rook and resign immediately. This result denied India a possible win and ended at the tie at 2-2.

Later, much like their encounter in the first round, Anand looked better off against Nakamura, who once again summoned all his defensive skills to force a draw. Vidit Gujrathi did well to hold Fabiano Caruana and K. Humpy could not help dropping half a point to Irina Krush. Meanwhile, Adhiban’s gamble of sacrificing a queenside pawn against Wesley So backfired. After a number of mistakes committed by both players, So won and took USA to victory.

The results:

Sixth round: USA bt India 2.5-1.5 (Hikaru Nakamura drew with Viswanathan Anand; Fabiano Caruana drew with Vidit Gujrathi; Wesley So bt B. Adhiban; Irina Krush drew with K. Humpy); China bt Rest of the World 3.5-0.5; Europe bt Russia 2.5-1.5.

Fifth round: India drew with Russia 2-2 (Viswanathan Anand bt Ian Nepomniachtchi; P. Harikrishna lost to Vladislav Artemiev; B.Adhiban drew with Sergey Karjakin; D. Harika drew with Olya Girya);  China bt USA 1.5-1.5; Europe bt Rest of the World 2.5-1.5.

Standings (after six rounds): 1. China (11 match-points), 2. Europe (9), 3. USA (7), 4. Russia (5), 5-6. India and Rest of the World (2 each).

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