Zagreb, July 1:
Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand’s hunt for his first victory continued as he played out a draw against American Wesley So in the fourth round of Grand Chess Tour here.
After losing the first round match rather unexpectedly against Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, this was Anand’s third draw on the trot and the Indian ace seems to have recovered.
Especially, the game against Wesley So indicated that Anand was at the top of his game.
Playing the black side of an unorthodox English opening, the players were soon on uncharted territory and Anand livened things up by pushing his king knight pawn in the early middle game stage.
The computer suggested Anand to be slightly better but the position fizzled out pretty quickly. Wesley forced the draw vide repetition after 32 moves.
The fourth round was the first time in the tournament that all the games ended in draws. However, it was not devoid of action as world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway lit up the proceedings against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.
It was a game that any player would be proud to be a part of as both sides pushed for checkmate with Carlsen playing white. The Grunfeld defense led to a wild position very early in the middle game and Carlsen’s king was stuck in the middle of the board for quite some time.
Calling it an “epic battle” in the end, the Norwegian had to find his way not only towards defense but also to keep creating threats against Mamedyarov’s king. The game ended in a draw after 59 moves when the last pawn left the board.
In other games of the day, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France signed peace with Anish Giri of Holland, Armenian Levon Aronian split the point with Fabiano Caruana of United States while another American, Hikaru Nakamura drew with Ding Liren of China.
The quickest game to end was between the Russian duo of Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin.
With seven rounds still remaining in the 12-player round-robin tournament, Nepomniachtchi remains a full point ahead of the field on 3.5 points. Carlsen and Wesley So follow the Russian on 2.5 points each.
Karjakin shares the fourth spot on two points along with Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian and Caruana while Anand is now joint seventh with Nakamura, Ding Liren, Giri and Mamedyarov on 1.5 points.
The Grand Chess tour is a series played over eight events this year with two Classical and six rapid and blitz tourneys. One of the events also comes to India in November. The total prize pool for the classical event here is USD 325000 with USD 90000 reserved for the winner.
Results Round 4: Wesley So (Usa, 2.5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 1.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2.5) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 1.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 2) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 1.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 2) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 2); Ding Liren (Chn, 1.5) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1.5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 3.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2).