Viswanathan Anand signs off with another draw; finishes fifth
Bilbao (Spain): World champion Viswanathan Anand could not fetch a win till the very end as he settled for a draw with Russian Sergey Karjakin in the 10th and final round of fifth Final Chess Masters to finish a lowly fifth here.
Having lost to Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the penultimate round after a spate of draws, Anand could not break through the defenses of Karjakin and settled for his ninth draw in 10 games apart from the lone defeat.
After a full bloodied penultimate round that produced three decisive games, the atmosphere was a lot calmer in the playing hall as all the games ended in draws.
While Carlsen held his own against Levon Aronian of Armenia, who played white, Italian co-leader Fabiano Caruana signed peace very quickly with Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain.
World number one Carlsen won the event blanking Caruana 2-0 in the blitz tiebreak games that ensued after a tie between the two.
After the final round, Caruana and Carlsen had tied for the top spot with 17 points apiece in the soccer-like scoring system in place here that gave three points for a win and one for a draw.
With Carlsen first in the tiebreaker, Caruana finished second and Aronian had to be content with third place with 11 points in all.
Karjakin ended ahead of Anand on 10 points while the Indian was a point behind for his fifth-place finish. Not much was expected from Vallejo Pons, but the Spaniard showed enough character and but for a couple of missed chances, could have made a difference in the final standings.
For Anand, the tournament turned out to be a forgettable one where the world champion could not win even a single game.
Though it might be irrelevant due to lack of form, the Indian ace would be certainly looking to set the records straight in the next super tournament that he plays in London come December.
Playing white against Karjakin, Anand went for a highly uncompromising variation, an indication that the world champion was ready for complexities despite being down and out in the event. Karjakin, however, did not feel much pressure and got away easily with exchanges at regular intervals.
Anand reached a heavy piece endgame with equal pawns and the draw was a just result after 45 moves.
Carlsen played the black side of a queen pawn opening against Aronian who intended to push for an advantage.
However, after routine exchanges in the middle game, the Armenian could not improve his position further and settled for a draw. In the other game, Caruana and Vallejo Pons played out a draw in the opening itself, repeating moves out of a Ruy Lopez Zaitsev.
This brought the finale to a blitz play-off wherein Carlsen showed why he is world number one for some time now. Playing black in the first game with just four minutes to both players with a three second increment, the Norwegian went for the Berlin defense.
Caruana, at first, could not prove an advantage and later fell back on time to land in serious troubles. Carlsen knocked down a couple of pawns to register an easy victory.
In the return game, Caruana had to win as black but a blunder early in the opening saw the Italian collapse to a 17-move loss.
Results final round: V Anand (Ind, 9) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 10); Levon Aronian (Arm, 11) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 17); Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp, 6) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 17). Play-off: Magnus Carlsen beat Fabiano Caruana 2-0.