Tata Steel Chess: Surya Shekhar Ganguly stuns winless Viswanathan Anand

Hikaru Nakamura claims rapid title with six points.

The expressions say it all: Champion Hikaru Nakamura poses for the photographers after winning the rapid title in the Tata Steel Chess tournament. P. Hari Krishna (right) is happy to finish joint runner-up with Levon Aronian (left), seen holding his head after a poor day on Sunday. Photo: Rakesh Rao

Sunday proved an off-day for Levon Aronian and that made things easier for the hard-working Hikaru Nakamura. The top seed justified the expectations to claim the rapid title of the USD 40,000 Tata Steel chess tournament here.

The brightest spot for the host was provided by P. Hari Krishna, who signed off with a victory over Vidit Gujrati and tied for the second spot with Aronian. Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov shared the fourth spot.

Hari beats Aronian

The penultimate round — which started with Nakamura and Aronian sharing the lead — ended when Hari inflicted a 95-move defeat on the Armenian. As a result, Nakamura enjoyed a half-point lead going into final round.

Read: Viswanathan and the aspiring new generation

Playing black, Nakamura drew in just 17 moves with Karjakin to move a point ahead of the field. This left Aronian, playing white against an uncompromising Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, needing a win to force a playoff with Nakamura for the title. A fierce battle followed but Aronian could only manage a draw and left Nakamura a worthy champion.

But on this day, the two overnight leaders could not win. Nakamura drew all three games while Aronian drew two and lost one.

All-out attack

Like Aronian, it was also a forgettable day for Viswanthan Anand. The World rapid champion found himself in a spot of bother against young Nihal Sarin before peace was signed. But in the final round, Surya Shekhar Ganguly pulled off a stunning triumph to keep Anand winless after eight straight draws and a defeat.

“I attacked Anand all out as I was strategically busted. So there was no other option. It was very special that I was playing Anand for the first time which is also a bit weird because we have been working together for so many years. But we never played a tournament game. So I was enjoying the moment and the entire game,” said a smiling Ganguly, whose five defeats ensured his last-place finish.

Nihal Sarin’s awe-inspiring show continued. He held Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Anand, without ever looking in trouble. Though he lost to So in the final game, the soft-spoken Sarin was clearly the show-stopper this week.

The results
  • Ninth round: Sergey Karjakin (Rus) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (USA); Levon Aronian (Arm) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze); Vidit Gujrati lost to P. Hari Krishna; Viswanathan Anand lost to Surya Shekhar Ganguly; Wesley So bt Nihal Sarin.
  • Eighth round: Nakamura drew with So; Hari bt Aronian; Sarin drew with Anand; Mamedyarov bt Karjakin; Ganguly lost to Vidit.
  • Seventh round: Anand drew with Nakamura; Aronian drew with Vidit; Karjakin bt Hari; So drew with Mamedyarov; Sarin drew with Ganguly.
  • Final standings: 1. Nakamura (6), 2-3. Aronian, Hari (5.5 each), 4-5. So, Mamedyarov (5 each), 6. Karjakin (4.5), 7-8. Anand, Vidit (4 each), 9. Nihal (3), 10. Ganguly (2.5).

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