Grenke 2019 Round 6+7: Anand loses two consecutive games to 2600 GMs, Carlsen leads by one full point
The Grenke Chess Classic 2019 is progressing just like any other tournament for world number one Magnus Carlsen. After seven rounds, he now has a lead of one point over his nearest rival Fabiano Caruana. In round 7 Magnus played a game that was so good that even commentators Gustafsson and Leko were left confused as to how Levon Aronian lost the game. In this article we look at two games of Vishy Anand from rounds 6 and 7. Anand lost his 6th round game to Naiditsch and round 7 game to Meier. When was the last time that Anand lost two consecutive games against players who were rated below 2700. In-depth analysis of both these games.
Round 6: Naiditsch vs Anand
Vishy Anand and Arkadij Naiditsch have been playing against each other since 2003. They have played many games in different formats (classical, rapid and blitz) and Anand has never lost a game to Naiditsch. This was the first time that Vishy tasted defeat. Let's have a look at how it happened.
Naiditsch vs Anand, Round 6
After Ruy Lopez and Italian game, it seems now that the focus has begun to shift to the four knights in 1.e4 e5. This position has been reached several times and here I would like to suggest a new idea. Black must take on c3 and after bxc3 take on f3 with the bishop and move his knight to f5 followed by 0-0. This would give him excellent compensation and this has not been tried before by anyone. Instead, what Anand did here was not so great. He played... Nc7. This allowed Naiditsch to activate his pieces with Bg5 and White had a definite edge.
A player like Anand, when he is out of form, he doesn't miss tactics or positional ideas. Much more common is making moves which look obvious, but on deeper introspection are actually wrong. For eg. in the above position ...Kb8 just looks absolutely natural and normal. However, there is a problem. Black would like to take on b3 and then put his knight to f4, so that he can have the f4 square under control. However, if you play ...Kb8 then later on after ...Bxb3 axb3, the a-file is once again opened up and the a7 pawn is falling. Hence, it makes sense for Black here to play a6! This is what Anand missed and this was the beginning of getting into a really bad position.
If you too would like to take a break from the Italian and the Ruy Lopez and try your hand at the Four knights, then the Rocket Repertoire - Four knights by Simon Williams is a good idea.
Round 7: Anand vs Meier
Georg Meier is one of Germany's top players. However, when it comes to taking part in super tournaments, Grenke has been one of the main ones where he has got to compete with players like Vishy Anand. And this was their fourth encounter in classical chess. The previous three had ended in draws. Meier played his favourite opening - the French. White got a small but nagging edge, but then Vishy began to go wrong in the position. He lost the thread of the game and very soon Meier had chalked up a nice victory. Meier becomes one of the very few players who has a plus score against Anand.
In this position Meier went for quite an interesting choice of moves that changed the character of the position. He first took on f3 with his bihsop. This was followed by c5-c4 and then with g5 pushing the bishop back. These were three highly debatable decisions and they changed the nature of the position completely. Bxf3 gave up a strong bishop for the knight, c5-c4 resolved the central tension and g5 weakened the black king. But concretely Black was doing not so bad.
Anand badly wanted to take advantage of the kingside pawn weaknesses and hence played g4. His plan is that he would like to push on with the move h4 and open up the kingside. However, a better choice definitely would have been to go back Bc2 and then try to get the rook to e5.
Meier was brave enough in the game to snatch the h2 pawn and in order to show some compensation, Anand went and took the a7 pawn. In this position black went for ...b4. The right move would have been to simply go Rdf1 when after Rc7 Qxb4, the position is around even. But Anand picked up the pawn on b4 immediately with his queen and was met with the strong Rb8, when it was Black who had a decisive advantage.
The position had already become quite difficult for Anand by now. Still the right move would have been to push ahead with d6 (instead of Rd1-d4). Anand went Rd4 and after Rg1+, he made another huge blunder by playing Kc2 (Rd1 was better than Kc2). It is now Black to play and win.
Magnus' masterclass to beat Levon
This game was special because Magnus Carlsen played a new move in a position that had been played in thousands of games. It seemed as if his position was not so great, but he managed to even put a lot of pressure on a player like Levon Aronian with one strong move after another. For now we will be just putting up the game here without annotations. The full game with detailed annotations will be published in a separate article.