Anand is still rapid king

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

11th Tal Memorial
Moscow, Russia
March 2-4, 2018

Final Standings

1. Viswanathan Anand IND 2776, 6.0/9

2-4. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2809, Sergey Karjakin RUS 2763, Hikaru Nakamura USA 2787, 5.0/9

5-6. Boris Gelfand ISR 2695, Alexander Grischuk RUS 2767, 4.5/9

7-8. Daniil Dubov RUS 2701, Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2800, 4.0/9

9-10. Peter Svidler RUS 2760, Iam Nepomniachtchi RUS 2751, 3.5/9

Average Rating 2761 Category 21

Time Control: 25 minutes play to finish with 10 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.

The “Tiger of Madras” is still out on the prowl! After winning the World Rapid Championship in Riyadh last December 2017 Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand emphatically confirmed his worthiness by winning the Tal Memorial Rapid title.

Since the year 2000 Vishy had been involved in one way or the other with the world classical chess championship. He lost his title in 2013 to Magnus Carlsen and then again in their 2014 rematch.

Anand did not qualify for this year’s candidates’ tournament and so for the first time since the turn of the century he is out of the cycle. Some people wrote him off already but he proved his high class by impressive performances in the Rapid circuit. Take a look at this combinative finish in the last round.

Anand, Viswanathan (2805) — Grischuk, Alexander (2792) [B31]
11th Tal Memorial Moscow (8.4), 04.03.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

Anand had 5 Whites and 4 Blacks in this tournament. With White he stuck to 1.e4. Mamedyarov replied with the French, Kramnik and Nakamura responded the classical way with 1…e5 after which we had the Italian Game, while Dubov and Grischuk essayed the Sicilian Defense. Anand responded with the Sicilian Rossolimo both times and won both games.

3…g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6

In round 1 Dubov responded with 4…bxc6 in a recent chessbase theoretical by GM Leonid Kritz he explains that “on the move Black has two basic ways of playing. Both are connected with the development of the black knight. The more active continuation, which leads to dynamic play, is 6…Nf6. The second possibility is based on the idea of setting up a fortress-like position. This is achieved by bringing the knight via h6 to f7. To do this, Black plays 6…Nh6 and then in whatever order 0–0, f6, Nf6. The resulting position may be very stable, but it is also very passive.”

Going passive and waiting for a mistake might work against some players, but Anand goes on to prove that such an approach is like waving a red flag before his eyes. 5.0–0 Bg7 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 0–0 8.h3 f5 9.e5 Nf7 10.d3 a5 11.Bf4 e6 12.Qd2 h6 13.h4 Re8 14.c4 d6 15.Nc3 Ra7 16.Na4 g5 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.Nxg5 Nxe5 19.Bxe5 dxe5 20.Nf3 Bf6 21.Nxe5 Rh7 22.Qf4 Bg5 23.Qg3 Rg7 24.Qf3 Qd6 25.Re2 Bf6 26.Rae1 Rg5 27.Qe3 f4 28.Qxf4 Rf8 29.Re3 Rf7 30.Rg3 Rxg3 31.Qxg3+ Rg7 32.Qe3 Rg5 33.Nf3 Rf5 34.Nc3 Bd4 35.Ne4 1–0 (35) Anand,V (2776)-Dubov,D (2701) Moscow RUS 2018.

5.d3 Bg7 6.h3 Nf6 7.Nc3 0–0 8.Be3

White can go for either kingside or queenside castling. I guess this is a case of what mood you are in.

8…b6 9.Qd2

Telegraphing his intention to castle queenside.


Black has a lot of possible counters here. One that I like is to bring his knight to d4 via Nf6–e8–f7–e6–d4.


Nothing is accomplished by 10.Nxe5 after 10…Nxe4 11.Nxf7 Nxd2 12.Nxd8 Nf3+! 13.gxf3 Rxd8 White’s shattered kingside pawns give Black ample compensation for his pawn minus.

10…Qd6 11.0–0–0 a5 12.g4

White will follow this up with Nc3–e2–g3.

12…a4 13.Kb1 Be6 14.Ne2 b5 15.Ng3 Rfd8

Black will be playing …Bh8 next so White immediately exchanges bishops.

16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Qg5 Nd7 18.Nf5+ Bxf5 19.gxf5

White’s attack is faster than Black’s but still th ere is nothing decisive yet.

19…a3 20.b3 h6 21.Qg3 Kh7 22.Rhg1 Qf6 23.h4!

Giving up a pawn for the attack. If Black doesn’t accept it then White will continue 24.fxg6+ fxg6 25.h5 followed by Qh3, Nf3–h4–f5 with the attack nevertheless but this time with no material investment.

23…gxf5 24.Qh3 f4 25.Rg5!? Qe6

Of course not 25…hxg5?? 26.hxg5+

26.Rf5 Rg8? <D>

The decisive blunder! After the game the two players discussed 26…Kh8 and it seems that White’s attack is stymied by this move. After 27.Qg4 Nf6 28.Qg1 Rg8³ it seems White’s attack is at an end.

Position after 26…Rg8

27.Ng5+! hxg5 28.Rxf7+!

I have seen the video of the game and after Anand executed this move Grischuk was obviously surprised and taken aback.

28…Qxf7 29.hxg5+ Kg7 30.Qh6# 1–0

A lot of players tune their openings to the time controls. For example I play a lot of bullet (1-minute games) chess and have amassed a very big positive score with this:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Ng5 Nh6

[5…Ne5 Most players respond 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 and we have a bad version of the same line for Black — his knight on g8 is much better positioned on c6]

6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5

If this was a regular tournament game then we can say that White is over-extended. His queen is positioned where the Black forces can harass it and he has not yet castled. I have a great score with the line (remember, this is in bullet chess) because oftentimes I get to castle kingside and then push the f-pawn forward, making the Black King’s life really miserable. However, I would not dare play it in a game with normal time controls since with a little bit of care Black undoubtedly can get a big advantage.

In the following game Nakamura, a very fast player, tries out a move which I don’t think he would have considered in a normal game. Dubov refuted it over the board.

Dubov, Daniil (2663) — Nakamura, Hikaru (2820) [A18]
11th Tal Memorial Moscow (2.3), 02.03.2018

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5

This system was championed by Salo Flohr and Vladas Mikenas in the first half of the 20th century and bears their name.

4…d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.d4 e5 8.Nf3

Accepting the pawn-sacrifice gives Black lead in development: 8.Qe2 Be7! 9.dxe5 Qg6 10.Qe3 Nc6 11.Ne2 Bg4 12.f3 (12.Nd4 Bf5!?) 12…Be6 13.Nf4 Qf5 14.Nxe6 Qxe6 Black has compensation for the pawn minus but nothing more. In Stohl,I (2560)-Li Wenliang (2425) Beijing 1996 the game was agreed drawn right here.

8…Nc6 9.Be2

The main response here is 9.Bg5 Let me show you a Wesley So game. 9…Qg6 10.d5 Nb8 11.h4 h6 12.Be3 Nd7 13.h5 Qd6 14.Bd3 (I’d say White is already in difficulties here. For example where will his king go?) 14…Be7 15.Nd2 Nf6 16.f3 0–0 17.Ne4 Nxe4 18.fxe4 Qa3! 19.Qb3 Qa5 20.Be2 Bc5 21.Bd2 f5! 22.Rf1 fxe4 23.Rxf8+ Kxf8 24.0–0–0 Kg8 25.Rf1 Bd7 26.Kb1 Qb6 27.Ka1 Rf8 Wesley is a healthy pawn up and nailed down the victory on the 69th move. Nepomniachtchi,I (2730)-So,W (2744) Bergamo 2014 CBM 162 0–1 69.

9…exd4 10.Bg5 Qg6 11.0–0 dxc3

Most people would have played Be7 and castled here. I believe Nakamura would not have played this risky move in a game with longer time controls. He probably went over this line with a chess engine which recommended (try it!) 11…dxc3 12.Bd3 Qd6 13.Re1+ Be7 with an equal game and made a mental note to test it in his next blitz game. If he had more time to study the position he would surely have seen Dubov’s stunning reply.

12.Bd3 Qd6 13.Re1+ Be7 14.c5!

Giving up a third pawn.

14…Qxc5 15.Bxe7 Nxe7 16.Re5

Gaining this tempo to possibly double on the e-file is worth the pawn!

16…Qd6 17.Bb5+ Kf8

Not 17…Bd7 18.Bxd7+ Qxd7 19.Qxd7+ Kxd7 20.Rd1+ Ke8 21.Rde1.

18.Qe2 f6 19.Rd1 fxe5 20.Nxe5 Bf5

Black has to give up his queen.

If 20…Qf6 21.Rd8#;

Or 20…Nd5 21.Rxd5 Qxd5 22.Ng6+ Kf7 (22…hxg6 23.Qe8#) 23.Bc4.

21.Rxd6 cxd6 22.Nd7+ Kf7 23.Qc4+ Be6 24.Qf4+ Nf5 25.g4 Rad8 26.gxf5 Bxd7 27.Bc4+ d5 28.Bxd5+ Kf6 29.Qd6+ Kxf5 30.Bc4 Rhe8 31.Bd3+ Kg5 32.h4+! Kh5

[32…Kxh4 33.Qg3+ Kh5 34.f4!]

33.Qg3 Bg4 34.f3 Rd4 35.Kf2 c2 36.Bxc2 Rf8 1–0

Nakamura resigns before Dubov can play 37.Qe5+

Mr. Rey Gamboa, a former top executive of Shell and one of the great Philippine chess patrons, many years ago saw the potential of chess at the faster time controls. This was the inspiration behind the Shell Active Chess Championship. He knew then that the “long game” will soon be replaced by the faster variety. I believe we will see this trend continue in the coming years.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.