Tata Steel Chess: Carlsen marches on; Anand suffers another blow

Magnus Carlsen beat Vishwanathan Anand in the seventh round and currently leads the tournament with 15 points.

Relentless and resolute, Magnus Carlsen marches on.

Following his monumental streak of six wins and three draws in the nine-round rapid leg of the Tata Steel chess tournament, the rest of the contenders in the year’s strongest field of the Grand Chess Tour are left to look for lesser honours.

Before the title gets decided after 18 rounds of blitz over the next two days, Carlsen equalled his Tour record of 15 out of 18 points, set in Abidjan, in Ivory Coast in May.

An obviously happy Carlsen made no secret of his delight when reminded of his feat. “In Abidjan, I had good results in rapid and I was considerably less happy with my play in blitz. This time, I’ll try to keep it up and there is no reason why I cannot keep up the same level in blitz.”

Carlsen started the day by coming out stronger against Viswanathan Anand in their first clash in India following the 2013 World title match. Like in the game against Anand, he warded off early pressure and gained a winning position against P. Hari Krishna but the Indian was lucky to get away with a draw.

In the final round, Carlsen outthought second seed Ding Liren, the man who ended the World No. 1 player’s streak of 10 wins in tie-break games since 2007 by winning the decisive blitz games to claim the Sinquefield Cup.

Coming to what was described by Russian Grandmaster Peter Svidler as the “Game of the Tournament,” Anand started ambitiously, sacrificed a pawn, followed by a rook for a bishop, in succession but could not find the right continuation.

Carlsen, who arrived for the game one minute 47 seconds after the scheduled starting time, faced an aggressive Anand in the Queen’s Gambit Declined game. Before long, Anand concentrated on attacking from the queenside. Carlsen, after accepting the bargain offered by Anand, was in a spot of bother.

However, Anand chose not to push a kingside pawn and that allowed Carlsen to get some space of his king. Thereafter, Carlsen kept improving his position and got Anand tangled in a checkmating net by the 39th move when the crowd favourite resigned.

A dejected Anand then drew with Vidit. In the final round, he could not stop Hari from performing yet another ‘Houdini’s Act’, something the latter did against Anish Giri and Carlsen during the day.


The results:

Ninth round: Viswanathan Anand drew with P. Hari Krishna; Magnus Carlsen (Nor) bt Ding Liren (Chn); Anish Giri (Ned) drew with Wesley So (USA); Hikaru Nakamura (USA) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus); Levon Aronian (Arm) bt Vidit Gujrathi.

Eighth round: Vidit drew with Anand; Hari drew with Carlsen; So lost to Nakamura; Liren drew with Giri; Nepomniachtchi drew with Aronian.

Seventh round: Carlsen bt Anand; Giri drew with Hari; Nepomniachtchi bt Vidit; Aronian drew with So; Nakamura drew with Liren.

Points (Win - 2; Draw - 1; Loss - 0)

1. Carlsen (15 points), 2. Nakamura (11), 3-5. Giri, Aronian, So (9 each), 6-8. Liren, Anand, Hari (8 each), 9. Vidit (7), 10. Nepomniachtchi (6).
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