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Vishy Anand beats Vallejo, joins Carlsen in the lead

by Sagar Shah - 24/04/2019

We had four out of five games ending decisively in round four of the Grenke Chess Classic 2019. The biggest win of the day was for Vishy Anand, who beat Spanish GM Francesco Vallejo Pons with the black pieces. This was Vishy's third game with the black pieces in four rounds at the event. To have scored 3.0/4 is quite creditable. Anand essayed the Caro Kann and it seemed as if he would be under severe attack. However, Vallejo didn't play in the most resolute manner and Anand was at his best combining attacking and defensive ideas at the same time. Vincent Keymer lost to Naiditsch, while Aronian got the better of Svidler. MVL's game against Meier was heading to a draw, when MVL found some endgame magic to beat his opponent! Caruana against Carlsen was an exciting Sveshnikov battle that ended in a draw. Detailed round four report.

A look at the ranking list after four rounds and you see Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand at the top with 3.0/4

Results of round 4:

Four decisive games out of five is a treat for the viewers

Vallejo Pons vs Anand

Vallejo Pons (right) versus Vishy Anand (left) in round four of the Grenke Chess Classic 2019 | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Beating a player like Anand is not easy. The reason is that even if you get an excellent attacking position against him, his sense of danger combined with an ability to find the most active defence for himself makes him an irresistible force. Hence, when Paco Vallejo had his chances he should have played more actively. Instead, he was circumspect and that was all that Vishy needed to finish off his opponent. Have a look at how Anand scored the full point.


Vallejo Pons vs Anand

Sometimes it is just nice to see Vishy going for openings other than 1.e4 e5

Vallejo essays the two knights in the Caro Kann and Anand plays the most solid line against it with ...Bg4

We reach some kind of King's Indian Attack structure and Vishy immediately begins with his play on the queenside

Vallejo gets this very pleasant pawn break. Although White is undeveloped, his f-pawn gives him a very pleasant position. Here White can play f5 closing the structure and then continue with g4-g5 and it looks extremely promising.

Give this position to any beginner and he will push his g-pawn without too much thought. It was the best move in the position and White can follow it up with f6 creating quite a bit of play on the kingside. But Vallejo went Nf3 and Vishy continued unperturbed with ...c4!

It was high time to think about a move like Nh2 followed by g5 and Ng4. This would have still given White a good position with attacking chances. Instead Vallejo played Bg5? This move just blocked his own pawns and gave Black the much needed time to further his play on the queenside.

White has just played his knight to g5. If you were in Vishy's shoes, what would you play here?

Here is a perfect example of how Anand manages to combine his attack and defence in a balanced manner. He saw that if he is not careful White has two ideas. One is to get the queen to h4 via f2 or e1. And the other is to just sacrifice the knight on h7. How do you kill both of the ideas? ...Bf8! The bishop has to be exchanged and after Bxf8 Nxf8 White is just worse. The h7 point is guarded. Hence, we would have no sacrifices on h7 now. Vallejo went for the next plan now to get his queen to h6.

Anand got his knight back to d7 and with Ra6 coming up, he had his eye on the f6 pawn. This made getting the queen to h6 impossible.

Black's kingside looks fortified for now. The only way to breakthrough is by a sacrifice on h5. This is going to take some time to execute. Meanwhile Anand got his play rolling on the queenside.

The queen entered on c2 and White pawns are just too weak

Vallejo goes into desperation mode. He needs to sacrifice something on h5 to breakthrough, but Anand has seen it all. He picks up the knight on d2 and after Bxh5, he picks up the pawn on g5 with his queen! Everything is under control. Vallejo took Bxg6 (double check) Kxg6 Rg2 the queen is pinned...

...but Black simply takes on g2 and followed it up with Rh8. The f6 pawn fell and the Black has a rook and two knights for the queen. A lot of material.

The king is safe on e7 and in a few moves the Spanish GM resigned.

An impressive show by Vishy Anand | Photo:Georgios Souleidis
Interview with Vishy Anand by Aditya Pai

If you too would like to start playing the Caro Kann then we recommend you to go for Vidit Gujrathi's DVDs on the opening. In this two part series Vidit has covered the opening in great depth and will help you navigate the complexities of the opening in a precise manner.

Maxime Vachier Lagrave showed great fighting spirit to beat Georg Meier | Photo:Georgios Souleidis

There was one position in particular that was very impressive.

How often do you see complete zugzwang like this?!

The first encounter between Carlsen and Caruana after their World Championship Match was filled with great excitement. It was the Sveshnikov once again. Finally after Caruana was under some pressure, he sacrificed his knight and reached a theoretically drawn endgame. | Photo:Georgios Souleidis

Naiditsch played the opening in an unsure manner, but once we were in the middlegame, he showed his real attacking skills and won the game in style against Vincent Keymer | Photo:Georgios Souleidis

Going into round four Svilder was leading the tournament with 2.5/3. However, Aronian played a fine game in the Ruy Lopez to hand Peter his first loss of the tournament | Photo:Georgios Souleidis
Recap of round 4 with Jan Gustafsson