Viswanathan Anand, the reigning world rapid chess champion, tasted defeat on the final day of the Tata Steel Rapid Chess tournament in Kolkata on Sunday as he finished seventh in the tournament. The tournament was won by Hikaru Nakamura while India was boosted by Pentala Harikrishna who finished second. Levon Aronian, the world number seven who was in the lead heading into the final day, finished third.
After securing tense draws against Aronian and 14-year-old Indian prodigy Nihal Sarin, Anand faced Ganguly, who was for a long-time his second in the team and had helped him win multiple world championships. The game took an aggressive turn when Surya went for the initiative and advanced his own pawns against Anand's kingside. However, two consecutive mistakes on the 26th and 27th move by Anand gave Surya a huge initiative and Vishy stretched out his hand in resignation on the 37th move.
This was the first time that Ganguly had ever secured a victory over Anand in the rapid format. Anand’s tournament ended without a win, managing eight draws and a loss.
On the other hand, India were boosted by the performances of Pentala Harikrishna, who defeated Aronian in a marathon 95 moves to seal his second spot. Vidit Gujrathi also had some credible performances, holding Aronian to a draw but suffered a loss to Harikrishna. Sarin gave American Grandmaster Wesley So some tough moments but the experienced Grandmaster managed to hold his nerve and secure a win.
Harika Dronavalli crashes out
It was a mixed day for Indian chess athletes throughout the world. While Harikrishna impressed in Kolkata and the likes of Anand, Gujrathi and Sarin underperforming, in Khanty Mansiysk, India’s challenge ended at the World Women Chess Championship with grandmaster Harika Dronavalli bowing out following a defeat against former champion Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia in the second set of tie-break games.
Harika had carried the Indian hopes nicely till the tie-breaker of the third round. However, she got a jolt in the first game of the rapid tie-break where both players had 25 minutes on their clock. The Indian looked down and out but a major comeback was on the cards as she won the return game with white pieces to level scores. But in the 10-minute games, Harika again lost the first game with black.
Final rankings, Tata Steel Chess
1 Hikaru Nakamura (US; 6 points); 2 Pentala Harikrishna (5.5); 3 Levon Aronian (Arm; 5.5); 4 Wesley So (USA; 5); 5 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 5); 6 Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5); 7 Viswanathan Anand (4); 8 Vidit Gujarati (4); 9 Nihal Sarin (3); 10 Surya Sekhar Ganguly (2.5).
Results in Khanty Mansiysk
Results after round 3: Zhai Mo (CHN) lost to Ju Wenjun (CHN) 0.5-1.5; Jolanta Zawadzka (POL) lost to Abdumalik Zhansaya (KAZ) 1.5-2.5; Natalija Pogonina (RUS) lost to Kateryna Lagno (RUS) 4-5; Anna Muzychuk (UKR) beat Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) 2.5-1.5; Harika Dronavalli (IND) lost to Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) 1.5-2.5