Anand Bounces Back As Topalov's Slump Continues In London

Anand Bounces Back As Topalov's Slump Continues In London

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

Viswanathan Anand bounced back from his round-four loss and defeated Veselin Topalov the next day at the London Chess Classic. The Indian GM won a knight-vs-bad-bishop-endgame after more than six hours of play.

“Not sure I've ever done more extensive analysis of a position in my life,” wrote GM Robert Hess when he sent the game Anand-Topalov for this report. “I spent over 2.5 hours trying to figure out if the ending is won, and I'm still uncertain if White is winning or if Black can hold.”

Anand reached a typical knight (on d5) vs bad bishop (Bd8 with pawns on d6 and e5) endgame. The game had started as a 6.h3 Najdorf but the position was similar to a Sveshnikov when White got a passed b-pawn.

Anand was clearly enjoying the game. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

Topalov, who had already lost twice, faced the arduous task of defending this endgame. Maybe it was a draw, but the chances for White winning were much bigger than Black drawing.  

Annotations by GM Robert Hess


Nigel Short was referring to this article, which reports that the Anand family has thrown open the doors of their house to flood-affected residents of neighboring slums. Anand's wife Aruna told Times of India:

“Since it was difficult to leave my toddler and elderly father-in-law at home and venture out to offer relief and assistance, we chose to open our doors to those affected. Following the first floods, we had close to 20 people, including two pregnant women, from the neighboring slums staying over at our place. My maid, who lost her home and all her belongings, too came over along with her extended family and stayed with us. Food was cooked in large amounts for all those at home as well as handed over to volunteers for distribution.”

A wonderful gesture indeed.

Back to the chess, where yet again the round saw only one decisive game. Except for Topalov, who is simply having a very bad tournament, the players are all on either 2.5 or 3 points, which means anything can happen.

Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri are still in shared first place. This means Nakamura has the best chances to win the Grand Chess Tour; he leads with a four-point gap in the virtual standings (see below).

Nakamura has a 40.9 percent chance to win the tour according
to Chess by the Numbers. Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

The situation could have been even better for the American number-one, who was a pawn up against Mickey Adams. That was one of the three Berlins in this round.

The Englishman pushed his h-pawn early on and then decided to give it up for active piece play. Nakamura seemed to be consolidating, and Adams had to defend the rook ending, which turned out to be an easier draw than expected.

Caruana and Grischuk followed the same variation of the 4.d3 Berlin, with White quickly taking on c6 voluntarily. Grischuk chose a different setup but failed to fully equalize.

Caruana was on his way to win an excellent game, until he missed a queen move that won on the spot. The sign of a player who lacks form.

The third Berlin of the day was a real theoretical battle in the actual endgame. In the commentary room, Anish Giri gave a small lecture about how this line developed, and how his novelty 19...Nd4 came about.

That new move was a deviation from the game Adams-Kramnik played one year ago in the same playing hall. Better prepared than his opponent, Giri held the draw comfortably.

Aronian used only one word to describe his game with Carlsen: “Boring!” It could have been more exciting, with a potential attack for White on the kingside, but in the game not much happened.

15.Rfe1 was “a lemon” according to Aronian, who had missed 15...Bxh2+, which should be fine for Black. “I thought objectively it should be all right but it's easier to play with White,” said Carlsen.


Not the most inspiring game between Aronian and Carlsen. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

The Norwegian called his 22...Rfe8 “a bulls*** move” and 28...g6 “positionally bad,” but his position was still solid enough to hold the draw.


Wednesday is a rest day. Anish Giri said he has “32 hours to prepare for Magnus Carlsen” (“Sopiko is gonna do the Najdorf. For the greater good!”). 

The world champion, who by the way is part of a new Porsche campaign, is rather busy on Wednesday. In the morning he will be interviewed by CNN, and in the evening he will go and watch the Chelsea-Porto football match.

“So there's not much time to prepare?” asked commentator Danny King. Carlsen: “No, I'll probably play some crap!”

2015 London Chess Classic | Pairings & Results

Round 1 04.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 2 05.12.15 14:00 GMT
Topalov 0-1 Giri   Giri ½-½ Adams
Grischuk ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian ½-½ Anand
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½-½ Caruana
Caruana ½-½ Aronian   Nakamura ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Anand ½-½ Adams   Topalov ½-½ Grischuk
Round 3 06.12.15 14:00 GMT   Round 4 07.12.15 16:00 GMT
Grischuk ½-½ Giri   Giri ½-½ Aronian
Vachier-Lagrave 1-0 Topalov   Carlsen ½-½ Adams
Caruana ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura 1-0 Anand
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Topalov ½-½ Caruana
Adams ½-½ Aronian   Grischuk ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Round 5 08.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 6 10.12.15 16:00 GMT
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Giri   Giri - Carlsen
Caruana ½-½ Grischuk   Nakamura - Aronian
Anand 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Adams
Adams ½-½ Nakamura   Grischuk - Anand
Aronian ½-½  Carlsen   Vachier-Lagrave - Caruana
Round 7 11.12.15 16:00 GMT   Round 8 12.12.15 14:00 GMT
Caruana - Giri   Giri - Nakamura
Anand - Vachier-Lagrave   Topalov - Carlsen
Adams - Grischuk   Grischuk - Aronian
Aronian - Topalov   Vachier-Lagrave - Adams
Carlsen - Nakamura   Caruana - Anand
Round 9 13.12.15 14:00 GMT        
Anand - Giri        
Adams - Caruana        
Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave        
Carlsen - Grischuk        
Nakamura - Topalov        


2015 London Chess Classic | Round 5 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Nakamura 2793 2840 phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½     ½ ½ 1   3.0/5 7.75
2 Vachier-Lagrave 2765 2865 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½   ½     1 3.0/5 6.50
3 Giri 2778 2839   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ ½     1 3.0/5 6.25
4 Adams 2744 2801 ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½     ½   2.5/5 6.75
5 Carlsen 2850 2776   ½   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ ½   2.5/5 6.50
6 Aronian 2781 2792     ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png   ½ ½   2.5/5 6.50
7 Grischuk 2750 2785 ½ ½ ½       phpfCo1l0.png ½   ½ 2.5/5 6.25
8 Caruana 2787 2795 ½       ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png   ½ 2.5/5 5.75
9 Anand 2803 2795 0     ½ ½ ½     phpfCo1l0.png 1 2.5/5 4.75
10 Topalov 2803 2536   0 0       ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/5  


Virtual Standings Grand Chess Tour

# Title Name Rating Fed Points London Virtual
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2802 USA 16 12 28
2 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2723 FRA 12 10 22
3 GM Anish Giri 2773 NED 13 8 21
4 GM Levon Aronian 2780 ARM 15 4,5* 19,5
7 GM Viswanathan Anand 2804 IND 12 7 19
5 GM Magnus Carlsen 2876 NOR 14 4,5* 18,5
6 GM Veselin Topalov 2798 BUL 17 1 18
8 GM Fabiano Caruana 2805 ITA 9 2 11
9 GM Alexander Grischuk 2781 RUS 8 3 11
10 GM Adams Michael 2744 ENG 0 6 6
11 GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2677 NOR 1 0 1
12 GM Wesley So 2779 USA 1 0 1

*At the moment Carlsen and Aronian's tiebreaks are exactly the same, so that their points for sixth (5 points) and seventh (4 points) place in London are shared here.

The London Chess Classic takes place in Kensington Olympia, London and runs until Monday, December 14. December 9 is a rest day. You can watch live streaming commentary daily at with GMs Jan Gustafsson and Daniel King. phpfCo1l0.png

Image courtesy of Spectrum Studios.
Image courtesy of Spectrum Studios.

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