Draws are seldom intriguing. However, the match between USA’s Wesley So and the current world rapid champion Viswanathan Anand, which ended in a 145-move marathon draw, was anything but boring. The tie comes on a day when three players, including Pentala Harikrishna, shared the lead after third round of the 2018 Tata Steel Chess India.
It was Azerbaijan’s World No. 3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, the reigning World Cup winner Levon Aronian and India No. 2 Harikrishna who share the lead with 2 points each.
Following them are 4 players that includes the reigning Viswanathan Anand with 1.5 points.
All the ten contestants play a solitary round robin (all play all) Rapid Tournament in the first 3 days which is followed by a double round robin Blitz tournament that will be held from November 13 and 14. The prize money for the event is set to the tune of USD 40,000. The competition will be decided based on the cumulative points earned by the players over the set rounds.
Anand, who’s playing his first tournament on the home-soil in five years, drew all the three rounds against Wesley So of USA. Of the three, the first was the most notable round as it saw the 5-time world champion being held to interesting 145-move draw that could have gone either way.
The grandmaster himself asserted that the tie was an interesting affair, saying, “I think there are days when I have not played 145 moves so to do it in one game was nice. And I was clearly lost at one point. I was relieved when he did not find that.”
Anand decided to go ahead with the Italian opening against So. There was a parity in the position as the match was clearly heading for a draw. However, as he later informed, Anand made a blunder on the 41st move with the pawn to a5.
Wesley could have easily chanced upon the golden opportunity, but returned the favour by grabbing Anand’s pawn with Kc3.
Anand tried his best to make a comeback and was even close to the victory, but the American managed to somehow hold his ground. Eventually, both the parties had to settle for a a draw.
Elsewhere, Mamedyarov, who is also a gold medallist at the 2012 Olympiad, also had an exciting battle as all his three games produced decisive results. He beat the local favourite Surya Shekhar Ganguly to gain 2 points.