The Weekend Leader - Anand plays 145-move round, three in lead on Day 1 of rapid chess

Anand plays 145-move round, three in lead on Day 1 of rapid chess



India's No.2 Pentala Harikrishna took the joint lead along with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Armenia's Levon Aronian even as reigning world rapid champion Vishwanathan Anand played a round of 145 moves on the first day of the Tata Steel Chess India here on Friday.

The trio of Harikrishna, Mamedyarov and Aronian have two points apiece after the third round. Four players including reigning Anand follow the leading pack with 1.5 points.

Anand, a five-time former world champion, drew all three rounds including the marathon 145-move draw against Wesley So of the US in the first round.

"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 told reporters after the day's play.

Anand is playing his first tournament in India after five years. He chose to deploy the Italian opening against Wesley and the players blitzed out some well-known theory.

The position had been more or less equal and heading to a draw before Anand blundered on the 41st move with the pawn to a5.

Wesley had the opportunity to win the game himself but returned the favour by grabbing Anand's pawn with Kc3. 

Anand tried hard to win and was really close to victory but the American held on and claimed a draw after a tenacious defence on the 147th move (by the 50 move rule).

Mamedyarov, a gold medallist at the 2012 Olympiad, had the most exciting battles of the day as all his three games were involved in decisive results.

Having lost to Harikrishna in round two, the 33-year-old defeated local favourite GM Surya Ganguly.

Ganguly played a risky variation on the black side of the English opening but soon landed in some trouble as his 10th move of Bishop to f5 was clearly not the best move.

Mamedyarov pounced on the opportunity and piled on the pressure to bring home the point.

In round two, Harikrishna got the better of early leader Mamedyarov who played the risky Short variation from the white side against the Caro-Kann defence.

In the middle-game skirmish Harikrishna won a pawn and was pushing for victory throughout before Mamedyarov just blundered with Nxb3 on the 38th move and left his King alone against the mighty attack by White's Queen and Rook. 

"After opening, I think I could play something better which was mentioned by Shakhriyar after the game. But I missed it and I think it was probably equal but he missed nice trick," Harikrishna said after the day one's action.

"I was short on time so I had to be careful because he is always tricky and it's not easy. But it was smooth after I won the pawn."

GM Levon Aronian of Armenia thwarted the gambit line of Indian prodigy Nihal Sarin by playing a counter gambit on move 10) Pawn to b4.

Nihal did not respond in the best way possible and he duly outplayed by the Elite GM who showed supreme chess understanding with accurate play.

Ganguly drew his close friend Harikrishna in a tense encounter in round one.-IANS

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