Anand held by Frenchman Maxime, Nakamura maintains lead

Wijk Aan Zee: World Champion Viswanathan Anand playing with black pieces had a drawn game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, after the 11th round of the 73rd Tata Steel Chess tournament, now in progress here.

His main contemporary Hikaru Nakamura of United States surged ahead with a sparkling victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia. Anand inched closer to regaining the top slot in world ranking but only just a bit as Magnus Calrsen of Norway defeated Russian Vladimir Kramnik to stake his claim for the top spot yet again with a sparkling victory.

With just two rounds to come in the categry-20 super tournament, Nakamura is now firmly ahead with 8 points in his kitty and the Indian ace is now a half point behind. Levon Aronian of Armenia is still in reckoning for the top slot with 7 points in his kitty while Carlsen and Kramnik stand joint fourth on 6.5 points apiece.

In the remaining two rounds, Anand meets Anish Giri of Holland and Nepomniachtchi and he can look up to a positive score. Nakamura has his task cut out for his first super-event victory as he has Kramnik and Wang Hao as opponents in the last two rounds.

Anand did not have much troubles but he could not quite get the complications he was hoping for against Vachier.

Playing white the French GM went for a relative less-played setup in the Sicilian Najdorf and when Anand countered significantly, went in to his shell to get a balanced end-game which was drawn without much ado.

The Indian left the hall soon after the game but Vachier hung on. The Frenchman said he “was extremely satisfied” with his draw against the World Champion.

“I decided to go for this line in order to avoid the well-trodden path. I played a good game, managing to keep the balance more or less until the end. It was a complicated and interesting game and the draw was the logical outcome in the end.”

Nakamura’s game was the pick of the day against Nepomniachtchi. It was a Caro Kann defence wherein the American had to find some correct moves.

“I’m happy with the result,” Nakamua said. “I played very well today, but there’s two rounds left and I’m not quite there yet. I play (Russia’s Vladimir) Kramnik on Saturday and he is a former world champion and all that. But I’m not concerned: I’m on form and I’ll have white.”

Indian GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly suffered another defeat in the ‘B’ group at the hands of Luke McShane of England and remained on four points while in the ‘C’ group WGM Tania Sachdev spoiled a winning endgame to sign peace with Roeland Pruijssers of Holland.

It’s a four-way tie at the top in ‘B’ group while Daniele Vocaturo of Italy seems on course to for the title in the ‘C’ group with a 1.5 points lead over nearest rivals.