Anand Defeated By Nakamura On Birthday
Less than two weeks ago, Magnus Carlsen played incredibly on his birthday and won the world championship, but in London, birthdays have been most cruel to the participants.
Hikaru Nakamura was defeated by Wesley So on his birthday two days ago, and today he defeated Viswanathan Anand on the Indian legend's birthday. This proved to be the only decisive game of the day, sending both Nakamura and Anand back to a 50% score.
Games from TWIC.
Much has been made of Carlsen's great score against Nakamura, but Nakamura has the measure of a few players himself. One is Anand, whom he has eight wins and two losses against with thirteen draws. More than any other other top-level player, Nakamura seems to find ways to create unpleasant problems for Anand.
Nakamura explained the discrepancy simply: "I seem to get White a lot."
Today's opening and early middlegame actually suited Anand just fine, and in fact, he could have been much better. However, as the pressure started to build on the kingside and in the center, he soon went wrong and had to surrender the queen.
Against lesser players, Anand might have managed a fortress, but Nakamura cleaned up accurately and stylishly.
Two professionals discussing the game. | All photos courtesy Lennart Ootes for the London Chess Classic.
The most interesting draw of the day was Levon Aronian's near win against Wesley So. In the wake of the world championship, much has been made of the importance of defensive play. It seems to be a cornerstone of Sergey Karjakin's elite play, and today, So demonstrated similar skills.
So was dangling on the precipice for many moves, but he never fell into a lost position. When Aronian snagged f7 and entered an endgame, the winning chances were gone, and with a few accurate moves, So earned peace and maintained his undefeated status.
Both hands, eyes fixed, board in the glasses: That's a 2800 pose.
Veselin Topalov had similar opportunities to win against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and the scripts for Vachier-Lagrave vs Topalov and Aronian vs So could easily be swapped.
Near to a win, both players slipped in key moments and allowed drawn endgames.
Topalov was much closer to a clear win though, and he may have been objectively winning. As against Caruana yesterday, Topalov misplayed the critical moments, seeing shadowy (and non-existent) resources for Vachier-Lagrave, saying, "I started to find things for him."
London Chess Classic | Round 3 Standings