Nakamura lives up to reputation, wins Tata Steel Chess

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Kolkata, Nov 11 (IANS) World No.2 Hikaru Nakamura of the United States stamped his class on Sunday by winning the Tata Steel Chess India 2018 rapid tournament with six points as reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand lost to local challenger Surya Shekhar Ganguly, here on Sunday.

Star attraction Anand finished seventh with eight draws and a shock defeat in the last round as India’s No 2 and World No. 20 Pentala Harikrishna finished second with World No.7 Levon Aronian of Armenia, who was the overnight joint leader with Nakamura, finishing third.

Nakamura, courtesy the win, will take home the trophy and the winner’s cheque of $10,000.

“I played online with B Adhiban of India and it gave me a lot of confidence,” Nakmura said later.

Highly-rated 14-year old Nihal Sarin, finishing ninth, impressed one and all by putting his idol Anand under a lot of pressure in round eight, the second of the day, and also won a pawn.

But, experience proved to be decisive in the end as Vishy managed to wriggle his way out of his difficulties to get his 8th consecutive draw of the event.

In the last round, Anand played his longtime second and Kolkata based GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly where Surya opted for the solid Caro-Kann defence against Vishy’s King pawn opening.

But, the game took an aggressive turn when Surya went for the initiative and started to risk and advance his own pawns against Anand’s kingside.

The game was fairly in the balance before, two consecutive mistakes on the 26th and 27th move by Anand gave Surya a huge initiative.

Surya sacrificed his Bishop with Bxg3 on the 31st move destroying Vishy’s King’s cover.

The attack and the initiative was too strong and Vishy stretched out his hand in resignation on the 37th move.

Anand did not win a single game in the entire event while making eight straight draws and losing the last one to end up with 4 points out of 9 games.”I attacked Anand all out as I was strategically busted,” Surya revealed afterwards.

“So there was no other option. During the game, I did not have any such thoughts, it was very special that I was playing Anand for the first time which is also a bit weird because we have been working for so many years. But we never played a tournament game. So I was enjoying the moment and the entire game,” he added.

The first round of day three was a peaceful affair as we saw four draws and only one result.

Russian GM Sergey Karjakin defeated Harirkrishna with the white pieces in an Anti-Berlin opening.

Anand drew with the overnight joint leader very quickly for his seventh straight draw of the event also with the white pieces.

Nihal put some pressure on Ganguly and their game was the last one to end as they played a fighting draw after 67 moves.

Aronian tried his best with the white pieces but rising star GM Vidit Gujrathi held the draw rather comfortably.

The penultimate round saw a total of three decisive games out of a possible five. This result also caused a huge shake-up in the standings as Aronian lost his lead for the first time in the tournament.

Harikrishna outwitted Aronian in the infamous Berlin defence as his long but continuous pressure paid off as he won in a marathon 95 moves.

The game between two friends, Azeri GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin didn’t end peacefully though.

Shakh, playing the white side of the Nimzo Indian defence, played splendidly to finish Sergey off once he was presented the opportunity in a Rook and Bishop vs Rook and Knight (Also known as the Bobby Fischer Endgame) + 4 pawns apiece endgame and proved yet again why the Bishop is stronger than the Knight.

Sole leader Nakamura equalized fairly quickly with the Black pieces against Karjakin in the notorious Berlin Defence. The game ended in a draw after only 17 moves, thus ensuring Hikaru at least a playoff if not sole first.

Aronian was the only player within striking range to join Hikaru atop the standings.

Aronian played the white side of the Ragozin defence (an opening known for its sharp and complicated middlegame positions).

Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, who played Black and is known for his aggressive style was the perfect suited opponent for this match up.

Aronian always had a tiny advantage but with many of the pieces traded, the game fizzled out to a draw, which ensured Nakamura’s victory.

Harikrishna managed to outwit Gujrathi with the Black pieces of the Catalan defence.

Vidit’s 15th move was a mistake as it gave him doubled pawns on the file and then Hari managed to outplay Vidit as his King’s shelter was blown open.

In the last game to finish, Wesley So proved too strong for Sarin with the white pieces of the English Opening in the symmetrical variation.

Nihal had to part with his queen on the 24th move after which it was just a matter of technique for the American Grandmaster.

Results (round nine):

Viswanathan Anand (4) lost to Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2.5); Wesley So (USA, 5) beat Nihal Sarin (3); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 6); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5.5) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 5); Vidit Gujarati (4) lost to Pentala Harikrishna (5.5).

Final rankings:

1 Hikaru Nakamura (US; 6 points); 2 Pentala Harikrishna (5.5); 3 Levon Aronian (Arm; 5.5); 4 Wesley So (USA; 5); 5 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 5); 6 Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5); 7 Viswanathan Anand (4); 8 Vidit Gujarati (4); 9 Nihal Sarin (3); 10 Surya Sekhar Ganguly (2.5).

–IANS

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