Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand gave a fine endgame lesson to young Alireza Firouzja, jumping to joint sixth position at the end of the 11th round of Tata Steel Masters at Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands.

With his second victory, Anand clawed his way back to a fifty percent score and will now hope to end the tournament on a high. At just 16 years, Firouzja is less than one-third of Anand’s age, and the Indian ace showed that the Iranian still has a lot to learn.

Anand started with the Nimzo Indian and faced the Samisch set up by the Iranian.

The middle game was double-edged but Anand made most of it. Converting to a rook and opposite coloured Bishops endgame, Anand capitalised on his better pieces to tie down white’s forces and in the end, forcibly won a pawn.

For Firouzja, this was the third straight loss in the tournament after a brilliant start that saw him on the leaderboard around the halfway mark.

“I was not very optimistic before the round,” Anand said after the game, adding, “I felt that after the rest day he will get back in some sort of control, but he is very dangerous and aggressive.”

With two rounds to go, Fabiano Caruana of the United States made a decisive stride forward for his maiden title here, crushing Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus to reach a very impressive eight points. The American now enjoys a full point lead over world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

Wesley So of the United States is in sole third spot on 6.5 points, a half-point clear of fourth-placed Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland and Jorden Van Foreest of Holland.

In the Challenger’s section, Grandmaster David Anton Gujjaro of Spain also moved ahead of the field, defeating Anton Smirnov of Australia.

India’s Surya Shekhar Ganguly is in joint fourth spot on 6.5 points while Nihal Sarin is joint seventh on 5.5.

Results Masters round 11: Nikita Vitiugov (Rus, 4) drew with Daniil Dubov (Rus, 5.5); Alireza Firouzja (Fid, 5.5) lost to V Anand (Ind, 5.5); Vladislav Kovalev (Blr, 3) lost to Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 8); Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Pol, 6) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 7); Vladislav Artemiev (Rus, 5.5) beat Jorden Van Foreest (Ned, 6); Wesley So (Usa, 6.5) drew with Jeffery Xiong (Usa, 5); , Anish Giri (Ned, 5.5) drew with Yu Yangyi (Chn, 4).

Challengers: Vincent Keymer (Ger, 5.5) drew with Rauf Mamedov (Aze, 5.5); Nihal Sarin (Ind, 5.5) drew with Erwin L’Ami (Ned, 7); Nils Grandelius (Swe, 6) drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly (Ind, 6.5); Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 6.5) drew with Jan Smeets (Ned, 5.5); Anton Smirnov (Aus, 4) lost to David Anton Guijarro (Esp, 8); Max Warmerdam (2.5) drew with Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz, 2.5); Lucas Van Foreest (Ned, 5) lost to Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb, 7).

Top-seed Ponkratov wins Chennai Open chess title

Top-seed Russian Grand Master Pavel Pankratov justified his billing to clinch the title in the 12th Chennai Open international GM chess tournament 2020 here on Saturday.

Pankratov finished with eight points from 10 rounds and won the title on the basis of a superior tie-break score.

At first, the tournament saw an eight-way tie for the top spot.

Grand Masters Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara (Peru), Sergei Yudin (Russia), Aleksej Aleksandrov (Belarus), Ivan Rozum (Russia), Stanislav Bogdanovich (Ukraine), Kirill Stupak (Belarus) and V Vishnu Prasanna apart from Pankratov were tied for the top spot with eight points.

International Master norms were achieved by Chennai schoolboy G B Harshavardhan, Jimmy Jubin, V Pranav and S Rohit Krishna while K Priyanka made a WIM Norm.

Pankratov received the Sakthi Group Dr. N Mahalingam Trophy and a cash award of Rs 3 lakh.

Peru GM Martinez Alcantara finished the first runner-up and took home Rs 2 lakh.

Final placings: 1-8. Pavel Ponkratov, 2. Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara, Sergei Yudin (Russia), Aleksej Aleksandrov (Belarus), Ivan Rozum (Russia), Stanislav Bogdanovich (Ukraine), Kirill Stupak (Belarus), Vishnu Prasanna (Ind) 8 points, 9-15.

NR Visakh, Jimmy Jubin, Rohith Krishna, Mitrabha Guha (all India), Alexei Fedorov (Belarus), Valeriy Neverov (Ukraine), P Karthikeyan (India) 7.5.

Important results: Round 10: Rozum Ivan 8 drew with Pavel Ponkratov 8, Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara (Peru) 8 beat M R Venkatesh (7), Muhammad Khusenkhojaev (Tajikistan) 7 lost to Aleksej Aleksandrov 8, Vishnu Prasanna (8) beat Aleksey Goganov (Russia) 7, Stanislav Bogdanovich (Ukraine) 8 beat Maxim Lugovskoy (Russia) 7.

Sergei Yudin (Russia) 8 beat AL Muthaiah (7), Alexei Fedorov (Belarus) 7.5 beat Ameir Moheb (Egy) 6.5, Ravichandran Siddharth (6.5) lost to N R Visakh (7.5), Sidhant Mohapatra (7) drew with Camilo Rios Cristhian (Colombia) 7, V Saravanan (6.5) lost to Valeriy Neverov (Ukraine) 7.5.