Former world champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw as white against Hikaru Nakamura of United States in the fifth round of the Candidates chess tournament now underway here. Following a shocking loss against Sergey Karjakin of Russia in the previous round, Anand played it safe with white pieces and it was almost an uneventful draw in the end that kept the Indian ace within striking distance.
For the first time in five rounds, all four games ended in draws in the eight-player double round-robin tournament. Overnight leader Karjakin held on to his own and drew with Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, Anish Giri could do little with hie white against Peter Svidler of Russia while Armenian Levon Aronian could not find a way to penetrate the defences of Fabiano Caruana of United States.
The draw melee ensured that the status quo remained and Karjakin remained a neck ahead of the field with 3.5 points coming from two victories and three draws thus far.
Aronian remained the nearest contender to Karjakin on three points while Anand, Giri, Caruana and Svidler are tied third on 2.5 points apiece. In seventh position is Nakamura, on two points, who is training his sights for a comeback while Topalov stands last at this juncture with 1.5 points in his kitty.
There are nine rounds still remaining in the 420000 Euros prize money marathon that will decide the next challenger for World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
Anand chose the Ruy Lopez and it was another Berlin on board wherein the Indian ace decided to play cautiously. It was another Anti-Berlin for the Indian ace in as many white games and while Anand had beaten Topalov in the first round in the same opening the other two have now been drawn.
For the records, the pieces got traded at regular intervals in one of the topical variation and Nakamura was able to neutralised any initiative that white had. In the end it was just equal.
“Many of these position where I can get my Queen to ‘e5’ can be unpleasant for him but the version I got in the game was not good enough,” Anand said after the game.
Caruana surprised everyone with his choice of the Benoni opening and got out with flying colours as Aronian was not able to prove an advantage.
Anish Giri could not out-prepare Svidler out of Grunfeld FIanchetto Variation while Topalov decided to split the point against Karjakin when there was still something for both players to play for.
Results round 5: V Anand (Ind, 2.5) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa); Anish Giri (Ned, 2.5) drew with Peter Svidler (Rus, 2.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 3) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 2.5); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 1.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 3.5).