Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand on Friday crashed through the defences of Jeffery Xiong of United States to score his first victory in the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament that moved to the iconic Eindhoven Soccer Stadium for a day.
The change of venue as part of the ‘chess-on-tour’ turned out to be a good omen for Anand who had been struggling thus far with one loss and three draws. The Indian was relentless in the round four match as he came up with some highly creative chess.
It was a French Defense Winawer varation wherein none of the players castled throughout the game. Anand launched a king side attack pretty early with his white pieces and enjoyed spatial advantage in the middle game.
Xiong defended tenaciously but in the end Anand found a crucial central breakthrough after which the resulting rook and pawns endgame was a walk in the park.
Anand moved to joint sixth spot with 2.5 points on a day that saw Firouzja Alireza scoring a sensational victory over super-solid Anish Giri of Holland.
The Iranian, who is playing under Fide flag currently, joined overnight leader Wesley So of United States in lead on 3.5 points and these two enjoy a half point lead over nearest rivals Vladislav Artemiev of Russia, Fabiano Caruana of United States and Jorden Van Foreest of Holland.
Anand is next in standings now along with world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland, Dubov Daniil of Russia and Xiong on 2.5 points each.
Anish Giri slipped to 11th spot along with Nikita Vituigov of Russia on two points, Yu Yangyi of China is in 13th spot on 1.5 points and Kovalev stands last with just one point in his bag. Eight rounds still remain in the marathon event among 14 players.
Firouzja dented Anish Giri’s pawn structure in the middle game arising out of a Queen’s gambit declined. Even though he had his chances, Firouzja was never really winning till the 40th move when Giri suddenly blundered and found himself in a lost endgame.
The form of Magnus Carlsen remained a concern even though he played his 112th game without a loss. Daniil Dubov has worked with Carlsen many times and he did not let much happen to his position against the world champion.
In the Challengers section, Surya Shekhar Ganguly played out a draw with David Anton Gujjaro of Spain to stay in joint lead on 3.5 points out of a possible five but the other Indian, Nihal Sarin suffered a defeat at the hands of Lucas Van Foreest of Holland to remain on 2.5 points.
Masters round four results: Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2.5) drew with Daniil Dubov (Rus, 2.5); Vladislav Artemiev (Rus, 3) drew with Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Pol, 2.5); Viswanathan Anand (Ind, 2.5) beat Jeffery Xiong (Usa, 2.5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 3) drew with Jorden van Foreest (Ned, 3); Yu Yangyi (Chn, 1.5) drew with Nikita Vituigov (Rus, 2); Firouza Alireza (Fid, 3.5) beat Anish Giri (Ned, 2); (Blr, 1) drew with Wesley So (Usa, 3.5).
Challengers: Jan Smeets (Ned, 3) beat Rauf Mamedov (Aze, 2.5); Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 3.5) beat Anton Smirnov (Aus, 1.5); Erwin L’Ami (Ned, 3.5) beat Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz, 1.5); David Anton Guijarro (Esp, 3) drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly (Ind, 3.5); Vincent Keymer (Ger, 1.5) lost to Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb, 2.5); Nihal Sarin (Ind, 2.5) lost to Lucas Van Foreest (Ned, 3); Nils Grandelius (Swe, 2.5) beat Max Warmerdam (Ned, 1).