When decisive games in the rapid leg of the Tata Steel chess were at a premium, on Friday, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov declared, “If I played three draws (out of three) it was not normal. It's normal when I lose and win. Like every time, it’s normal.”

After all, the Azerbaijani had won, lost and won, in that order, during his three outings. In the process, he lost to fellow co-leader, P. Hari Krishna.

Even after the game, he was quick to point out to Hari how the Indian missed a better continuation. As Hari revealed later, “After the opening, I think, I could have played something better that was later mentioned by Shakhriyar. But I missed it. I think it was probably equal, but he missed a nice trick. I was short of time (on the clock) so I had to be careful because he is always tricky and it’s not easy. But it was smooth after I won a pawn.”


Thereafter, it was the turn of Nihal Sarin, the youngest and the lowest-rated player in the fray, to receive high praise, but in absentia.

REPORT: P. Hari Krishna in joint lead

Levon Aronian, looking back at his victory in a complex game against Sarin, said, “I think, I had a very good position and then I created trouble for myself. I had a feeling I had to settle for a draw somehow. Then Nihal was down on time and he panicked. He wanted to make a draw and that’s something which comes from inexperience. If you try to draw a game, you end up losing it. He is a very promising player and it’s not just my opinion but everybody who played him thinks so.”

Before long, Anand was admiring the 14-year-old.

“I have not had a chance to follow Nihal very closely today. But the general consensus seems to be that he is very talented and that was my impression earlier. I have seen his games and he is quite talented,” reiterated the five-time World champion.