Tata Steel chess: All-conquering Nakamura joins adventurous Aronian in lead

Things couldn’t have gone any better for the all-conquering Hikaru Nakamura on a day when an adventurous Levon Aronian flirted with danger but escaped unscathed. Taking contrasting routes, the duo moved to the top at 4.5 points after six rounds of rapid games in the $40,000 Tata Steel chess tournament here.

Saturday provided very little cheer for India. Vidit Gujrati provided the lone high spot when he overpowered Sergey Karjakin in the sixth round with clinical precision. Beaten by Wesley So in the previous round, Vidit gave nothing away and won in style.

P. Hari Krishna (3.5 points) and Viswanathan Anand (3) drew all their games, including the one where they faced off in the fifth round, to hold the third and joint-fourth positions, respectively. Anand, who seemed better off against joint overnight leader Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, remained the only player with all draws so far.

Five times World Champion Viswanathan Anand and Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi during the Tata Steel Chess Championship in Kolkata on November 10, 2018.

Five times World Champion Viswanathan Anand and Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi during the Tata Steel Chess Championship in Kolkata on November 10, 2018.
| Photo Credit: PTI


Nihal Sarin, 14, reinforced his growing respect among the elite by holding Hari and Mamedyarov before losing to Nakamura in a match that featured highest and the lowest rated players of the competition.

However, home favourite Surya Shekhar Ganguly lost all three games as his streak of successive defeats stretched to four. At the other end of spectrum was Nakamura who on all three games.

The top seeded American benefited from Mamedyarov’s reluctance to accept draw and eventually prevailed. He then added to the woes of Ganguly before prevailing over Sarin, rated over 700 rating points below. Not many are aware that Sarin upstaged Nakamura in their online clash in the blitz format last year.

“Today, I got absolutely nothing out of the opening against Sarin. In an equal position, he could not hold the position for long. As you get stronger, you learn to maintain the position against higher rated players. This comes with experience,” said Nakamura, a known admirer of the youngster.

Aronian, too, had an eventful day. He started the day by scoring over Wesley So in 42 moves. In fact, on the 27th move, he could have trapped So’s queen with a rook-move but overlooked it.

In the next round, Aronian and Sergey Karjakin blitzed the first 24 moves in added increment time before sanity returned to the proceedings in this Ruy Lopez Berlin game and ended in a 64-move draw.

“Actually, I had played the same line against Anish Giri and got into trouble. Today, I made some better moves and still got into trouble,” revealed Aronian and continued, “I need to think about this line before I come back tomorrow.”

He then lured Surya Shekhar Ganguly to his doom in their Guico Piano game. “I tried to create some imbalance in the position just to press Surya on the clock. I think. I managed to get him excited. At the very last moment, he could still make a draw, but I think he thought it’s a good moment to have his first win and he lost his way.”

Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 4.5) bt Nihal Sarin (2); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (1) lost to Levon Aronian (Arm, 4.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3) drew with Viswanathan Anand (3); P. Hari Krishna (3.5) drew with Wesley So (USA, 3); Vidit Gujrati (2.5) bt Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 3); (fifth round): Anand drew with Hari; So bt Vidit; Nakamura bt Ganguly; Sarin drew with Mamedyarov; Karjakin drew with Aronian; (fourth round): Vidit drew with Anand; Hari drew with Sarin; Mamedyarov lost to Nakamura; Ganguly lost to Karjakin; Aronian bt So.