St. Louis (USA), Aug 24:
Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand played out his fifth draw on the trot in the Sinquefield Cup, signing peace with Levon Aronian of Armenia in the fifth round here.
After a rather forgettable show in the preceding Rapid and Blitz event, this is a comeback of sorts for Anand as he remained within striking distance of the five leaders but now needs to drive in top gear in the remaining four rounds to have any chance of a podium finish.
The threat of an all-drawn games in a round had been looming for the last few days and it finally happened in the fifth round as none of the participants could make a decisive headway.
As a result, the leader-board remained unchanged and crowded as it was after the fifth round with as many as five players sharing the lead on three points apiece.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway split the point with Wesley So of United States and the former was the only one who looked close to getting a decent advantage. However, Wesley kept his cool and steered the game to a draw.
In other games of the day, Frenchman Maxime-Vachie-Lagrave could not dent the Petroff defense of Fabiano Caruana of United States and the all-Russian duel between Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk could not reach a decisive point.
In another match, American Hikaru Nakamura tried to make some headway but Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was alert to find some good defense.
Carlsen, Caruana, Grischuk, Aronian and Mamedyarov thus remained in the lead while Anand and Vachier-Lagrave follow them half a point behind.
It was a good day for Anand as he uncorked an opening Novelty that is going to shut out one variation for white.
The Queen’s gambit declined has been in Anand’s repertoire for a while and it was on the 19th move that Anand played a super-improvement that virtually ended the game with a Queen manoeuvre.
“I’ve had it in my notes for a while. It’s funny because periodically my seconds would jog my memory, and two or three times I would play 16…Qd5, thinking that was our improvement over 16…Qf6, and they would look at me and tell me: ‘No, you mixed it up again!” said Anand.
“Qf6 is the improvement over Qd5.’ So I had this nice note in block capitals saying: NOT Qd5!” (…) It’s quite an important improvement because it kills this particular line.
“I know it doesn’t warm your hearts, this kind of draw. (…) It’s not that I’m trying to be solid but you have to play the move that is called for. The Queen’s Gambit is working well. I was happy to get an easy draw with Levon because he’s obviously quite formidable with White,” he added.
In the next round Anand plays black against Wesley while after that in the last three he has two white games lined up.
Results round 5: Levon Aronian (Arm, 3) drew with V Anand (2.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3) drew with Wesley So (Usa, 2); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 2.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 3); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1.5) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3); Sergey Karjakin (1.5) drew with Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 3). PTI