St. Louis Rapid and Blitz C’ship: Lacklustre day for Anand

Viswanathan Anand endures defeats in the first and third rounds; four share lead.

Viswanathan Anand makes a move in one of his matches on the first day of the tournament.   -  Lennart Ootes (Grand Chess Tour via Flickr)

Viswanathan Anand had a poor opening day even as Garry Kasparov hogged all the limelight in drawing all three games in the USD 150,000 St. Louis Rapid and Blitz chess tournament here on Monday.

The three-round day saw Anand lose the first round with white pieces to U.S.A.’s Hikaru Nakamura and third to Armenia’s Levon Aronian. In the second, he drew with Cuba’s Leinier Dominguez Perez and eventually ended the day as tied-ninth with David Navara.

Four players – Aronian, Vietnam’s Le Quang Liem, USA’s Fabiano Caruana and Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi – shared the lead with two points. Against Nakamura, Anand was trying to catch up from the initial stages and eventually resigned in 46 moves. In the second round, Anand was slightly better until the 21st move but could manage only a draw in 43 moves.

Blunder

Returning to play with white pieces, Anand ran into Aronian, who lost the earlier round. After attaining a winning position after Aronian’s 22nd move, Anand straightaway blundered away the advantage by capturing a central pawn with a knight, instead of a bishop. Thereafter, Aronian rode his luck and galloped away with an important victory in 39 moves.

In the sixth round on Tuesday, Anand plays white against Kasparov. Obviously under the spotlight for returning to play a rated game after 12 years, Kasparov was clearly better against Sergey Karjakin in the opening game but his rustiness showed as he did not adopt a more dynamic line of play and let the young Russian draw parity.

In the second round, Kasparov was staring at defeat until Nakamura misplayed the position and let his famed rival escape with a draw. In the day’s final round, Kasparov and Perez were involved in rapid exchange of pieces in a game that ended in a tame draw.

The results

Third round: Viswanathan Anand lost to Levon Aronian (Arm); Garry Kasparov (Rus) drew with Leinier Dominguez Perez (Cub); Le Quang Liem (Vie) bt Hikaru Nakamura (USA); Fabiano Caruana (U.S.A.) bt Sergey Karjakin (Rus); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) drew with David Navara (Cze).

Second round: Perez drew with Anand; Nakamura drew with Kasparov; Aronian lost to Nepomniachtchi; Karjakin bt Liem; Navara lost to Caruana.

First round: Anand lost to Nakamura; Kasparov drew with Karjakin; Liem bt Caruana; Aronian bt Navara; Nepomniachtchi drew with Perez.

Standings (after three rounds): 1-4. Liem, Aronian, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi (2 each); 5-8. Nakamura, Karjakin, Kasparov and Perez (1.5 each), 9-10. Anand and Navara (0.5 each).

Tuesday’s Pairings (Round 4): Nepomniachtchi-Anand; Aronian-Kasparov; Perez-Liem; Nakamura-Caruana; Navara-Karjakin; (Round 5): Anand-Navara; Kasparov-Nepomniachtchi; Liem-Aronian; Caruana-Perez; Karjakin-Nakamura; (Round 6): Anand-Kasparov; Navara-Nakamura; Perez-Karjakin; Aronian-Caruana; Nepomniachtchi-Liem.