Bilbao: Anand Also Beats Vallejo, Ponomariov Loses Second to Aronian

Bilbao: Anand Also Beats Vallejo, Ponomariov Loses Second to Aronian

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

On Monday Viswanathan Anand also won his second game at the Chess Masters Final as he beat Francisco Vallejo Pons in 35 moves from a Ragozin Defense. Ruslan Ponomariov lost his second game in a row to Levon Aronian in a King's Indian. At the European Clup Cup top seed SOCAR defeated the strong Moscow team 5-1.

Masters Final

Vishy Anand couldn't ask for a better start at the Masters Final. With the “football scoring system” in use, the Indian GM reached the maximum possible score of 6 points out of 2 games after Vallejo spoilt an interesting position in just a few moves.

The game started as a Queen's Gambit Declined, but with 4...Bb4 Anand chose the system developed by the Soviet grandmaster Viacheslav Ragozin. With 15...b6!?, a theoretical novelty, he immediately started asking questions to his opponent.

A handshake between Vallejo and Anand | Photo © David Kaufmann

Vallejo took up the gauntlet and moved his c-pawn to c6, where it would stay for a long time. The Spanish number one boldly sacrificed an Exchange in return for the d5-pawn and a strong knight on d4 that defended his c-pawn. Later, the pawn even ran to c7 from where it was defended by the white queen's bishop.

“My impression wsa that it was balanced throughout,” said Anand. “I thought I had found this right maneuver not to get worse: Re8-e5-d5-d7.”

After the trade of queens, the game took an unexpected turn. Vallejo chose the wrong plan, lost some tempi with his knight but then also saw his pride on c7 fall of the board. Probably influenced by that mistake, he failed to put up a tougher defense in the resulting ending.

An excellent start for Anand | Photo © David Kaufmann

“My opponent got confused. He was running short of time,” said Anand. “He blundered away the game in one move so he was quite unlucky I think.”

There is always one player who starts with two whites (here Vallejo), and one who plays the black pieces in the first two rounds. Ruslan Ponomariov was the unlucky one this time. (It should be noted that, for some reason, the organizers didn't do a drawing of lots at the opening ceremony but simply announced the pairings. Why?)

The Ukrainian GM, who nowadays lives in Getxo (about 20 minutes by metro from Bilbao), played another King's Indian, against Levon Aronian. The Armenian GM went for a safe piece setup that involved a kingside fianchetto.

Aronian vs Ponomariov | Photo © David Kaufmann

Aronian praised his opponent's opening play. “It was an original structure. I think my opponent played very well in the opening, but then he got too optimistic.”

With a bishop on d7, a knight on c7 and a rook on b8 Black was ready for a ...b5 pawn push, but it didn't have the desired effect. According to Aronian, he should have played ...d5 there instead. “Then I got confidence.”

After 23 moves it was clear that White was better, having more space and control of the center. After a tactical sequence, White won a pawn but, more importantly, gained a strong passer on c6. With only queens and opposite-colored bishops the position was probably still a draw, but when Aronian got his queen to the eighth rank he could add mating threats, and it was over.

In Tuesday's third round, the big clash Anand-Aronian could be a crucial game for the tournament. Aronian said about this: “Strong players want a challenge, and tomorrow's game against Anand is a challenge so I am looking foward to that.”

2014 Masters Final | Pairings & Results

Round 1 13.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 4 17.09.14 15:00 CET
Vallejo 1-1 Aronian   Ponomariov - Aronian
Anand 3-0 Ponomariov   Anand - Vallejo
Round 2 14.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 5 18.09.14 15:00 CET
Aronian 3-0 Ponomariov   Aronian - Vallejo
Vallejo 0-3 Anand   Ponomariov - Anand
Round 3 15.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 6 19.09.14 15:00 CET
Anand - Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Ponomariov - Vallejo   Vallejo - Ponomariov

2014 Masters Final | Round 2 Standings

# Name Fed Rtg Perf + = - Pts
1 Viswanathan Anand IND 2785 3514 2 0 0 6
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2804 2905 1 1 0 4
3 Paco Vallejo ESP 2712 2604 0 1 1 1
4 Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 2717 1995 0 0 1 0

European Club Cup

In the second round SOCAR faced quite a strong team already: SHSM Moscow. Still, the Azeri team, playing in the strongest possible line-up with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Veselin Topalov on top boards, won convincingly: 5-1. Board one was the first decisive game. “I spoke with Ian and he though he was better, but I thought I was better!” said Mamedyarov about the middlegame.

Moscow vs SOCAR: a convincing 1-5

Obiettivo Risarcimento of Italy did exactly the same against the English team Grantham Sharks: four wins and two draws. The match saw the first game for Fabiano Caruana after his monster score at the Sinquefield Cup, and the world #2 duly continued winning.

Fabiano Caruana back at the chess board!

He didn't get much out of the opening actually, but in the long run he was simply too strong for his opponent.

Malakhite of Russia defeated Huginn Chessclub of Iceland, but only with 4-2. Gawain Jones and Robin van Kampen held Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk to a draw, and Einar Hjalti Jensson was the Icelandic hero of the day as he managed to beat Alexei Shirov. Vladimir Tukmakov, team captain of SOCAR, said: “Einar played like Shirov, and Shirov played like... I don't know!”

The Oslo Schakselskap did a very good job on Monday beating the runner-up in the Spanish league, Sestao Naturgas Energia, 3.5-2.5. Simen Agdestein, who recently toyed with the idea to retire, won his game on board 2. Ornulf Stubberud (2342) couldn't save himself against GM Ivan Salgado Lopez but Lars Oscar Hauge (2322)'s win against GM Alfonso Romero Holmes made the day for the Norwegians.

Bon Accord of Scotland held SV Muelheim Nord of Germany to 3-3 which was splendid result if you look at the average ratings. In fact the same happened to another German team: Schachfreunde Berlin was held 3-3 by Bronshoj Skakforening of Denmark.

The biggest news in the women's section is that favorite Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo started with two losses! In round 2 they went down against SHSM Moscow. World Champion Hou Yifan won her game against Valentina Gunina and Anna Muzychuk drew with Alexandra Kosteniuk, but on boards 3 and 4 the full points went to Moscow.

Unfortunately the server issues still haven't been solved, and so also during the second round the full tournament website couldn't be reached online. The organizers again had to work with a simplified version. Luckily the live games worked somewhat better, although many mistakes were made and again in many games the moves didn't correspond with the correct names. Thanks to TWIC's Mark Crowther who helped sorting out some of the games.

More from PeterDoggers
Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak