Nakamura Beats Anand In Armageddon, Wins Zurich Chess Challenge (VIDEO!)
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GM Hikaru Nakamura emerged as the winner of the 2015 Zurich Chess Challenge after beating GM Viswanathan Anand in an all-decisive Armageddon game (see video below!).
Nakamura had caught Anand in first place, scoring one point better in the five rounds of rapid on Thursday. Somewhere in the middle, the organizers decided that a blitz playoff would decide matters in case of a tie, which was later limited to just one game — won by Nakamura.
Five rounds of rapid chess were scheduled for Thursday. The players would play with reversed colors compared to the classical games. The time control was 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.
Nakamura immediately started the day with a win. He had beaten Caruana in the classical game, and he did it again in the rapid. In a complicated middlegame from an English Opening, Caruana decided to sacrifice an exchange but failed to get enough compensation.
At some point, Black looked close to having a positional draw, but Nakamura found the winning idea of putting the rook on e4 and the queen on h4.
Aronian, the winner of the blitz tournament on Friday evening, had a good start as well. He outplayed Karjakin as Black in a King's Indian Attack — also played by Kramnik against Anand in the same round, which ended in a draw.
It was exactly the same exchange sac (Ra8 for Bg2) that gave Black much more play in this game. Still, the game should have ended in a draw, but one mistake and Black was suddenly winning, as Aronian showed with some very tricky play.
Nakamura had come half a point closer in the standings. Anand then suffered a terrible opening tragedy in round two. Against Aronian he mixed up something in the Meran and was in trouble as early as move 15. A pawn grab on e4 then proved to be too dangerous.
This meant that Nakamura could have taken over the lead from Anand, but this didn't happen. Despite reaching a promising middlegame position, the American GM got himself intro trouble and then blundered in a difficult position.
A small tragedy was seen in the game Caruana-Karjakin, where Black was doing very well the whole game but then blundered as well, in a winning position:
In the third round things went Anand's way even more. The Indian won his game easily, while Nakamura drew with Karjakin.
Caruana's Pirc Defense didn't look great; White got everything he wanted and quickly won a piece. It was one of Caruana's worst games in recent years.
Meanwhile Kramnik wasn't doing well in an ending, from a Ragozin, against Aronian. The Armenian avoided a move repetition and rightly so: 10 moves later he was winning.
However, he chose the wrong plan and allowed Kramnik to come back in to the game. Aronian then even lost in what was one of the most dramatic games of the day.
Still a point behind Anand, Nakamura really had to try and win their mutual game in round four — and he managed. His English Opening wasn't a great success, but at some point he started to outplay his opponent, who then also blundered.
Anand and Nakamura were now sharing the lead, and Kramnik could also join them! Wouldn't that be something: half of the field sharing first place with one round to go? But it didn't happen. Kramnik missed a beautiful win, then erred again and even lost:
And so Anand and Nakamura went into the final round tied for first place with 8.5 points, while Aronian and Kramnik were out of contention with 6.5.
Before the start of the final round it was announced that, contrary to what the regulations stated, there would be a blitz playoff if the two leaders would finish on equal points. That was good news for Nakamura, whose Sonneborn-Berger score — originally the first tiebreak rule — was worse than Anand's.
In that final round the two players did draw their game, and so the tournament was going to be decided in a playoff.
A change of the rules during a tournament is never a great idea, but on the other hand, a playoff made sense. However, one can imagine that someone like Garry Kasparov would have protested in such a situation — after all Anand had won the tournament on tiebreak according to the original regulations.
2015 Zurich Chess Challenge: Rapid | Results
|Round 1||19 February||13:00 CET||Round 2||19 February||14:00 CET|
|Round 3||19 February||15:00 CET||Round 4||19 February||16:00 CET|
|Round 5||19 February||17:00 CET|
2015 Zurich Chess Challenge | Final Standings
Nakamura appeared at the board first and sat there for about five minutes, but Anand didn't enter the playing hall. Then Nakamura was asked to join the organizers and Anand for a chat in a back room.
When they came out again, the arbiter announced that “because the players were tired, only an Armageddon game would be played.” Another change of plan! But the game was on.
A coin had been tossed in that back room, and choosing “heads” Anand ended up playing with the white pieces in the Armageddon game, with 5 minutes on the clock. Nakamura got 4 minutes and draw odds.
Although he needed only a draw, the American number-one won rather easily as Black. Anand didn't seem too keen on playing that playoff in the first place, which was understandable. The Indian couldn't find his normal level of play, while his opponent was fully concentrated.
Here it is in our regular game viewer, and below also in a video:
It was another excellent achievement for Nakamura, who won the Gibraltar Masters earlier this month. Talking to Chess.com, he said he is in favour of a playoff in general:
“Any time you have a mixed format, I think you almost have to have a playoff. If it was just classical I would totally understand Sonneborn-Berger, or Buchholz, or one of these tiebreaks.
“But considering that it was classical and rapid I think a playoff was fair. That being said, they made their decision so that's just how things went.”
He also likes the idea of mixing rapid and classical: “In this day and age, the game has become so much about preparation that in many ways, when you include rapid, it makes it much more interesting for the fans.
“And certainly today, you know, Levon lost this very tragic game to Vladimir but if he had won this game, I think he would have been on the same number of points as me, and I think he would have had a good chance to win outright. Every time you can add some of that suspense, it's definitely more fun for the spectators.”
- Round 5: Anand Wins Classical Part In Zurich; Rapid Tomorrow
- Round 4: Anand Beats Nakamura, Regains Lead In Zurich
- Round 3: Zurich: Nakamura Crosses 2800 Mark, Kortchnoi-Uhlmann Ends 2-2
- Round 2: Zurich: Anand Joins Nakamura; Kortchnoi-Uhlmann 1-1
- Round 1: Nakamura Takes Early Lead In Zurich
- Opening: Zurich Chess Challenge Takes Off, Aronian Wins Blitz