Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand played a brilliant defensive game to get the better of world number two Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France inthe second round of the Sinquefield Cup, a part of the GrandChess Tour.
Facing a lot of pressure in the early part of the middlegame and till much later, Anand put up stiff resistance and his counter-strike was simply brilliant as Vachier-Lagrave suffered his first loss in Classical chess this year.
Armenian Levon Aronian added to the woes of Peter Svidler of Russia who succumbed to his second straight loss while Hikaru Nakamura of United States bounced back from a first round loss to beat Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri.
The other two games of the ten-player round-robin tournament ended in draws with Fabiano Caruana of United States surviving some anxious moments against Veselin Topalovof Bulgaria and Chinese Ding Liren getting a draw against thethird American Wesley So.
With seven rounds still to come in the USD 300000 (Rs. 20million Approx.) prize money tournament, Anand shares the leadwith Aronian, Topalov and Wesley So while Caruana, Liren and Nakamura are in close pursuit with a full point to back them.Vachier-Lagrave and Giri share the eighth spot on a half pointwhile Svidler is yet to open his account. I
t was a botched-up opening by Anand when in the CaroKann defense the Indian found the going tough early on withhis black pieces. The black was forced to take an early walk to the queen side and to his credit Anand hung in there justlong enough for the French star to make a mistake.
"I'm literally just hanging on every move, trying not tolose on the spot," he said. "It was extremely scary," Anandsaid after the game.
As it happened, Vachier-Lagrave fell prey to wrong calculation. The culprit was a single move, which cost him the game and ended his streak of unbeaten games which stood at 67 before the start of this round. Anand was quite happy to spotthe rejoinder and crashed through with all his forces.
"My fortune has been better in the last month,"Vachier-Lagrave remarked. "But this can happen. I've been onthe other end as well."
Aronian made use of his excellent technique to convert a difficult endgame against Svidler while Nakamura put up a fine defense to thwart Giri's attempt to dismantle his king side.
Results round 2: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 0.5) lostto V Anand (Ind, 1.5) Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 1) drew withVeselin Topalov (Bul, 1.5); Ding Liren (Chn, 1) drew withWesley So (Usa, 1.5); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1) beat Anish Giri(Ned, 0.5) Levon Aronian (Arm, 1.5) beat Peter Svidler (Rus,0).