Having drawn the first eight games in the tournament, Anand was expected to hold fort against Carlsen but the Indian ace cracked under pressure and went on to lose his first game in the tournament. | PTI / File
It went from bad to worse
for world Champion Viswanathan Anand as he suffered a shocking
loss at the hands of Norwegian Magnus Carlsen in the ninth and
penultimate round of fifth Final Chess Masters here.
Having drawn the first eight games in the tournament,
Anand was expected to hold fort against Carlsen but the Indian
ace cracked under pressure and went on to lose his first game
in the tournament.
The loss has not only cost him valuable rating points but
also put Anand in an unthinkable fifth spot in the six-player
double round-robin tournament.
On what turned out to be the most exciting day of the
event, Italian Fabiano Caruana punished Armenian Levon Aronian
for an over-ambitious approach while local hopeful Francisco
Vallejo Pons slipped from another highly promising position
and went down to Sergey Karjakin of Russia.
With just one round to go, it's Carlsen against Caruana
for the top spot as they continue to share the lead on 16
points under the soccer-like scoring system that gives three
points for a win and one for draw.
These two are followed by Aronian on 10 points while
Karjakin now stands fourth -- a point behind the Armenian.
Anand with eight points, is on fifth spot, three points ahead
of Vallejo Pons.
It turned out to be an utterly forgettable day in office
for Anand in the Sokolsky variation that Carlsen played
against his Sicilian defence.
The opening was quite peaceful and Anand maintained the
balance but in the middle game his position collapsed in very
Carlsen in fact gave a temporary pawn sacrifice to create some weaknesses in Anand's position and then at the right time
came up with some spectacular manoeuvres that left Anand
Almost running out of moves towards the end, Anand
resigned on move 30. For Anand, this was the second loss ever
against Carlsen in classical games. The previous instance was
in 2009 when Anand had lost in Linares tournament.
If Carlsen thought he had done his bit defeating the
world champion he was in for a big surprise as Fabiano Caruana
defeated Aronian in splendid fashion.
A closed Ruy Lopez was followed by some strategic
manoeuvres and in a balanced middle game, Aronian went for an
unwarranted complications after sacrificing a knight for two
Caruana was in his elements thereafter. The Italian
calculated like a machine and carried out his plans to
First it was a slow improvement and when the position
warranted, Caruana launched a king side attack to finish
matters in 39 moves.
For Aronian, it was a shocking defeat while Italy's first
son in Chess revelled in glory defeating another higher ranked
player. The victory also enabled Caruana to seal his place in
the top-five of world rankings for now.
For Vallejo Pons, it was another day of heartbreak. The lowest ranked player in the tournament spoilt another chance
to score a victory and instead lost to Karjakin out of his pet
Karjakin went for a tactical skirmish on the king side
but Vallejo Pons was quite up the task on the other flank and
as it happened, the Spaniard was quite superior in the middle
game that ensued.
However, with the clock ticking away, Vallejo Pons made a
series of errors and the finale came through a forced