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Anand beats Nepomniachtchi to jump to joint lead

Friday, August 11, 2017

St Louis (USA): Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia in the seventh round to jump to the joint top position in the Sinquefield Cup, a part of the Grand Chess tour here.

The second straight victory with white pieces took Anand to 4.5 points from seven rounds and with just two rounds remaining in the super tournament, the Indian ace now shares the lead with overnight leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Levon Aronian of Armenia. It was a customary Sicilian Najdorf by Nepomniachtchi and Anand went for a popular system he has been employing recently.

The middle game gave a slight advantage to Anand but it proved to be optical as the game progressed. After the trading of queens, the position simplified further to a rook and minor piece endgame.

"I was not thinking of an advantage at this point," Anand said after the game.

The position equal poised but suddenly Nepomniachtchi had a major lapse in concentration as he gave a pawn and then followed it up with another erroneous move.

"He just seemed to fall apart," said Anand as Nepomniachtchi, visibly angry with himself, left the hall after the game that lasted 40 moves.

After a first round victory, Aronian had faded a little. But after the lone rest day the Armenian has now scored two victories on the trot and looks in the best of forms.

On the receiving end was Hikaru Nakamura of United States who was outdone amidst complexities.

Other games ended in draws. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Russian Sergey Karjakin shared points.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway remained within striking distance of the three leaders following an easy draw against Peter Svidler of Russia.

With four points in his bag, Carlsen has an important final round lined up against Aronian.

Fabiano Caruana had no troubles in holding compatriot American Wesley So.

Interestingly, the tournament is dominated by non- Russians and non-US players.

The top four Anand, Vachier, Aronian and Carlsen are the only four players to have a plus score in the tournament while the remaining six, are either from Russia or the host federation.

Results after Round 7: Vishwanathan Anand (IND, 4.5) beat Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS, 2.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA, 4.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (RUS, 3.5); Peter Svidler (RUS, 3) drew with Magnus Carlsen (NOR, 4); Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2.5) lost to Levon Aronian (ARM, 4.5); Wesley So (USA, 2.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (USA, 3.5)

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