It was the day of the world champions Wednesday in Corus Group A with India’s Viswanathan Anand, the reigning title holder, notching up his first victory in tenth-round action, after an unbroken series of draws, and former world champ Vladimir Kramnik of Russia taking the sole lead in the standings of the annual chess tournament at Wijk-aan-Zee.
Kramnik surprised Vassili Ivanchuk in an unusual variation of the Queen’s Gambit sacrificing a piece at his 19th for a promising attack. But ‘Chuky’, who played black, found a way out and even held a slight edge in the resulting endgame. The peace was signed at the 40th when both players were in danger of getting into time trouble. The draw put Kramnik half a point in front of Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Spain’s Alexei Shirov.
The Spaniard, who had been on top of the A-Group standings from round one, played a brilliant game from a Ruy-Lopez Archangelsk variation with black to reach a vastly superior position against Anand. Pressed for time, however, he missed the winning 39. …Ng3!! wasting his advantage and, in fact, the whole game, when he blundered with 39. …Rxe6?? instead. He fought on but never got back into the game and surrendered sixteen moves later.
“I’m not playing all that well,” Anand admitted, commenting on his victory at a press conference. “It’s not that I’m unwilling to show my hand in advance of the title match I’ll be playing against Veselin Topalov in Sophia, Bulgaria, next April. I’m really trying to win but it just doesn’t work. Today, for example, I got nervous in an already worse position. I don’t know what came over me; I was dreaming.” Even a world champion is only human, it seems.
Carlsen, who faced Russia’s Sergei Karjakin in a French game, got lucky, too. The Russian did well in the opening and had the upper hand until a rash exchange sacrifice around the 30th changed the situation drastically. Carlsen remained an exchange up to grab the full point in the ending fifteen moves later. As both players left the tournament hall straight away, there was no helpful comment available. Some experts admitted they failed to understand the encounter but GM Ivan Sokolov was so impressed by Carlsen’s performance that he decided the young Norwegian deserved the daily ‘Ymouth Versatile Prize’ of 500 euros.
Three other games were drawn in a more or less orderly fashion –although Hikaru Nakamura had to work hard for his half point against Leinier Dominguez- but in the final encounter of the round, Sergei Tiviakov defeated fellow Dutchman Jan Smeets with white in 34 moves from a Petroff Defence.
Dimitri Reinderman earned the 250-euro prize for the best game of the day in Group B with another lucky win. Playing white in an English game against India’s Pentala Harikrishna, the Dutchman obtained a winning position only to waste his advantage in time trouble towards the 40th. What followed was a virtually balanced endgame with two white rooks, one black queen and an equal number of pawns on both sides. Reinderman’s win came when Harikrishna committed a fatal blunder on the 58th.
Sounya Swaminathan of India defeated Sweden’s Nils Grandelius with white in 36 moves from a Sicilian Defence. It was the Indian’s first victory and earned her the daily prize of 100 euro’s. Holland’s Benjamin Bok defeated Dutch women’s champion Zhaoqin Peng with black in an English game to reach his second IM norm.
Images: Corus Chess 2010