Anand In Great Form, Wins 2016 Champions Showdown
Viswanathan Anand maintained his excellent form to hold on to his lead and clinch first place in the 2016 Champions Showdown, ending with a score of 15.0/24. Today's blitz portion featured 12 games of game in three minutes with a two-second delay. That equaled the total number of games played in the classical and rapid portions of the event.
All photos courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club.
Hikaru Nakamura entered the day 1.5 points behind, and he kept chances to catch up to Anand for most of the day. However, a few crucial losses to Fabiano Caruana left Nakamura in clear second place with 14.0/24. Caruana did quite well compared to his previous performance in the event, earning third place with 11.0/24. Meanwhile, Veselin Topalov simply could not keep up, scoring just three points on the day and finishing with 8.0/24.
Nakamura started the day with wins over Caruana and Topalov while Anand made a few draws. This allowed Hikaru to close the gap and be just a half-point behind Anand.
Then the tables turned in round five of the blitz; Anand beat Topalov while Nakamura went down to Caruana in one of the most spectacular games of the event:
Fabiano Caruana bounced back to play spoiler today against Nakamura.
But Nakamura was not discouraged, taking advantage of a struggling Topalov and finding a simple but elegant combination to win material:
Yet in the very next round, Anand won a critical game against Nakamura to extend his lead once again:
The two continued to do well with wins over Caruana and Topalov:
A rough day at the office for Veselin Topalov
Then with just three rounds to go, Hikaru got another chance to catch up as he ground Anand down in the longest game of the event. Ultimately, Vishy flagged in a theoretically drawn rook versus bishop ending:
This win caused a bit of controversy. The players felt that with a two-second increment (instead of delay), Vishy would have accumulated time defending and would be able to hold the final position without much effort.
A determined Nakamura fell short of catching Vishy, despite scoring many wins on the final day.
This intense victory put Nakamura within one point of the lead going into the penultimate round, but he overpushed against Caruana to lose. That allowed Anand to clinch first place with a round to spare: