Tata Steel chess: Nakamura joins Aronian in lead

Hari, Anand were involved in drawn games while Nihal Sarin held Mamedyarov.

The three news-makers of the day: 14-year-old sensation Nihal Sarin is flanked by two leaders, Hikaru Nakamura (left) and Levon Aronian, during the players' media interaction after six rounds of rapid games in the Tata Steel chess tournament in Kolkata.   -  Chessbase India/Amruta Mokal

Things couldn’t have gone any better for the all-conquering Hikaru Nakamura on a day when an adventurous Levon Aronian flirted with danger but escaped unscathed.

Taking contrasting routes, the duo moved to the top at 4.5 points after six rounds of rapid games in the $40,000 Tata Steel chess tournament here.

Saturday provided very little cheer for India. Vidit Gujrathi was the lone bright spot when he overpowered Sergey Karjakin in the sixth round with clinical precision.

P. Hari Krishna (3.5 points) and Viswanathan Anand (3) drew all their games, including the one where they faced off in the fifth round, to hold the third and joint-fourth positions, respectively.

Anand, who seemed better off against joint overnight leader Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, remained the only player with all draws so far.

Growing respect

Nihal Sarin, 14, reinforced his growing respect among the elite by holding Hari and Mamedyarov before losing to Nakamura in a match that featured the highest and the lowest rated players of the competition.

However, home favourite Surya Shekhar Ganguly lost all three games as his streak of successive defeats stretched to four.

The top seeded Nakamura benefited from Mamedyarov’s reluctance to accept a draw and eventually prevailed. He then added to the woes of Ganguly before trumping Sarin, rated over 700 rating points below.

Not many are aware that Sarin had upstaged Nakamura in their online clash in the blitz format last year.

“Today, I got absolutely nothing out of the opening against Sarin. In an equal position, he could not hold the position for long. As you get stronger, you learn to maintain the position against higher rated players. This comes with experience,” said Nakamura, a known admirer of the youngster.

Eventful day

Aronian, too, had an eventful day. He started off by scoring over Wesley So in 42 moves. In fact, on the 27th move, he could have trapped So’s queen with a rook-move but overlooked it.

In the next round, Aronian and Karjakin blitzed the first 24 moves in added increment time before parity returned to the proceedings in this Ruy Lopez Berlin game which ended in a 64-move draw.

“Actually, I had played the same line against Anish Giri and got into trouble. Today, I made some better moves and still got into trouble,” revealed Aronian before adding, “I need to think about this line before I come back tomorrow.”

He then lured Ganguly to his doom in their Guico Piano game. “I tried to create some imbalance in the position just to press Surya on the clock. I think I managed to get him excited. At the very last moment, he could still make a draw, but I think he thought it’s a good moment to have his first win and he lost his way.”

The results: Sixth round: Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 4.5) bt Nihal Sarin (2); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (1) lost to Levon Aronian (Arm, 4.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3) drew with Viswanathan Anand (3); P. Hari Krishna (3.5) drew with Wesley So (USA, 3); Vidit Gujrati (2.5) bt Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 3).

Fifth round: Anand drew with Hari; So bt Vidit; Nakamura bt Ganguly; Sarin drew with Mamedyarov; Karjakin drew with Aronian.

Fourth round: Vidit drew with Anand; Hari drew with Sarin; Mamedyarov lost to Nakamura; Ganguly lost to Karjakin; Aronian bt So.