Anand plays draw with Nakamura, slips to joint 3rd

Sao Paulo: World Champion Viswanathan Anand played his second straight draw as he signed peace with top American Hikaru Nakamura in a complex second round game to slip to joint third in the fourth Bilbao Final Masters.

After a first round draw with Magnus Carlsen of Norway as white, Anand kept his position intact with black pieces against Nakamura even as the latter had some visions of getting an advantage in the middle game.

The result pushed the Indian to joint third spot as Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk shot ahead of him defeating lowest ranked Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain.

The other game of the day was an intense positional battle between Carlsen and Levon Aronian of Armenia, ending a draw.

With eight rounds still remaining in the category-22 super tournament being played on a double round-robin basis, Ivanchuk now shares the lead with Aronian on four points while Anand, Carlsen and Nakamura stand joint third on two points each.

Vallejo Pons is yet to open his account in the soccer-like scoring system that gives three points for a win and one for a draw.

Anand is known never to shy away from complexities and against Nakamura it was yet again evident. The American opened with the Queen pawn and faced the Semi-Slav defense which later shaped in to a Moscow variation which is known for its wild nature.

Not disappointing the chess buffs, Nakamura stood his ground by attacking the black queenside right from the word `go` after a routine pawn sacrifice to facilitate better platform for his pieces.

Anand was firmly in control right through even as he had to find some deft manouvres and even had to sacrifice a piece to stay in the game. As it happened after the piece sacrifice, Anand`s two commanding passed pawns ensured enough counter play. In the end Nakamura had to dispense with his extra material and force perpetual checks. The game lasted 38 moves.

Vassily Ivanchuk showed why is a feared opponent in an English opening game with white pieces. Vallejo Pons came under pressure in the middle game once the center got opened and his pawn weakness had a telling effect. Ivanchuk conducted the game in masterly fashion and in the end trapped Vallejo’s queen in just 37 moves.

The longest game of the day was played by Carlsen and Aronian in a closed Ruy Lopez where the former played white. Carlsen got a semblance of an advantage in the endgame with his better placed rooks but Aronian came up with a pawn sacrifice to secure his share of piece-play. The game boiled down to a pure rook and pawns ending in which the Armenian did not have many problems in neutralizing the balance. The peace was signed in 56 moves.

Results Round 2: Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2) drew with V Anand (Ind, 2); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm, 4); Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 4) beat Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp, 0).


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