With a healthy one-point cushion to lean on, Viswanathan Anand could afford to relax a bit during Monday’s rest day in the World Candidates chess tournament at Khanty Mansisyk, Russia.
With five rounds to go, Anand needs no reminding that his lead is far from unassailable.
Even as he hopes to continue his unbeaten run, the five-time world champion knows that the other contenders will play more aggressively than ever to catch up with him.
When the action resumes with the 10th round on Tuesday, Anand plays white against a resurgent Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, whom he had beaten with black in the third round.
The Azerbaijani, who tossed away a winning advantage to lose to Vladimir Kramnik, has victories over top seed Levon Aronian and the lowest-rated Dmitry Andreikin.
Though the chess world is already talking about Anand gaining a rematch against Magnus Carlsen for the world title in November, the Indian knows too well that his job is far from finished.
No doubt, Anand has looked the best in the eight-man field. Apart from scoring three victories, he has stayed clear of trouble in the drawn games. His flawless showing has earned him 16 rating points.
Compared to Anand’s unblemished run, the rest of the players have suffered at least two defeats.
Jump in rankings
In fact, the Indian’s performance has lifted him five spots to the third spot, behind Carlsen and Aronian, in the live World rankings.
Statistically, Anand has performed at a rating-level of 2898 after starting at 2770.
Anand’s 1.5-0.5 triumph against Aronian in their mini-match, when seen with the tournament’s tie-break rule that considers head-to-head score, has made the Armenian’s task more difficult.
In the next three rounds, Aronian faces seasoned campaigners like Topalov, Peter Svidler and Kramnik.
With the fatigue factor setting in, as reflected in the high number of errors in the last three rounds, fitness will play a big role in the rest of the rounds.
The pairings (10th round):
Viswanathan Anand (6)-Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 4.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5)-Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3.5).
Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 4.5)-Peter Svidler (Rus, 4); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5)-Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 4).