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Heartbreak for a fighting Anand

Reigning supreme: Magnus Carlsen underlined his credentials as the best among the best with a superlative show.

Reigning supreme: Magnus Carlsen underlined his credentials as the best among the best with a superlative show.  

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Dominant Carlsen strides to the title with a record tally of 27 points

“By some strange irony, I remember this quote. “Failure I can handle. I’m okay with failure. It is the hope that is killing me.” That was what I was doing today. I would keep giving myself a chance and then destroy myself.”

These words from Viswanathan Anand pretty much summed up his play on the final day of the Tata Steel rapid and blitz tournament here. Anand missed by a whisker, a qualifying spot to the four-man Grand Chess Tour Final in London. He needed to finish sixth or higher. He ended up seventh.

Magnus Carlsen, troubled by an upset stomach that saw him even take a five-move draw with Vidit Gujrathi at the start of the day, raced away with the title following a record tally of 27 points. He improved his previous record of 26.5 points set in the first event of the season.

Special feeling

“I am very happy with my performance here. The record suggests I am playing well in a strong field. After a good start to the year, I had not won anything. So this feels special in that sense,” said the champion after finishing four points clear of runner-up Hikaru Nakamura.

The storyline of the final day revolved around Anand’s possible qualification to the GCT’s London finale. Soon-to-be-50 Anand bounced back from the early reverse to Levon Aronian, to nail Wesley So and P. Hari Krishna, but surprisingly lost to Vidit.

The loss did hurt Anand’s chances but he returned to dominate Anish Giri and inched closer to a much-needed victory. However, disaster struck Anand as he ran out of time on the clock and was declared “lost-on-time.”

‘My worst enemy’

“It was probably the final straw. I’m just winning and I don’t know. I just forgot about the clock. And if win this game, I’m right back in contention. So I was my worst enemy,” said a dejected Anand.

With Nakamura, Carlsen and Ding Liren as his rivals in the remaining rounds, Anand’s chances of scoring well looked bleak. Anand took a quick draw with Nakamura and found himself tied with Ian Nepomniachtchi, beaten by to the sixth spot.

Even with two rounds to go, Anand was tied sixth with Nepomniachtchi, the Russian who won all three encounters against him. Once Anand lost to Carlsen for the third time in three days before Nepomniachtchi defeated Hari, it paved the way for Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to go to London.

“It was much worse this way. If I had no chance it would have been nicer,” said Anand.

At the end of an otherwise harsh day, Anand chose to share some “good news” with a wide smile. “Akhil (Anand’s son) won the second prize in a dance competition in school. I am very happy about that,” concluded a proud father.

The results: 27th round: Viswanathan Anand drew with Ding Liren (Chn); Wesley So (USA) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Vidit Gujrathi lost to Hikaru Nakamura (USA); P. Hari Krishna drew with Anish Giri (Ned); Levon Aronian (Arm) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus).

26th round: Carlsen bt Anand; Nepomniachtchi bt Hari; Giri bt Vidit; Liren bt Aronian; Nakamura drew with So. 25th round: Anand drew with Nakamura; Aronian lost to Carlsen; Hari drew with Vidit; Nepomniachtchi lost to Liren; So drew with Giri. 24th round: Giri bt Anand; Liren lost to Hari; Carlsen drew with Nepomniachtchi; Nakamura bt Aronian; Vidit drew with So.

23rd round: Anand lost to Vidit; Ding bt Carlsen; Hari lost to So; Nepomniachtchi lost to Nakamura; Aronian drew with Giri. 22nd round: So lost to Anand; Carlsen bt Hari; Vidit bt Aronian; Nakamura drew with Liren; Giri drew with Nepomniachtchi. 21st round: Hari lost to Anand; Carlsen drew with Nakamura; Aronian lost to So; Nepomniachtchi drew with Vidit; Liren drew with Giri.

20th round: Anand drew with Aronian; Giri drew with Carlsen; Nakamura bt Hari; Vidit drew with Liren; So drew with Nepomniachtchi. 19th round: Nepomniachtchi bt Anand; Carlsen drew with Vidit; Nakamura drew with Giri; Hari drew with Aronian; Liren drew with So.

Final standings (rapid plus blitz): 1. Carlsen (27), 2. Nakamura (23), 3-4. Giri, So, (18.5 each), 5. Liren (18), 6. Nepomniachtchi (17), 7. Anand (16), 8-9. Vidit, Hari (14.5 each),10. Aronian (13).

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:35:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/heartbreak-for-a-fighting-anand/article30089819.ece

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