Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will have his task cut out when he takes on Fabiano Caruana of United States in the seventh round of Altibox Norway Chess tournament. As the tournament observed its second rest day, Anand on 5.5 points is in joint fifth spot, needing a great finish to ward off early round blues in the super tournament. It’s not normal for Anand to begin any event with two losses but in here decisive result is the order of the day as a tiebreak game under Armageddon rules is played to determine the winner in each round. Starting off with a loss in the tiebreaker against reigning world champion and tournament leader Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Anand lost the next match against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and then from the bottom of the tables he has walked his way to the middle.
A previous round loss against Yu Yangyi, in fact, stopped Anand from winning his fourth mini-match on the trot even though the Indian ace enjoyed better prospects. With Carlsen running away for his sixth straight title of the season on 9.5 points, Yangyi is in sole second spot with eight points to his credit. Levon Aronian of Armenia is third on 7.5, a full point ahead of fourth placed Wesley So of United Stated. Amongst the top four, Anand only has to meet Aronian and that match is slated for the final day. After Caruana, Anand will have to take care of Russian Alexander Grischuk who is clearly in a very bad form.
Anand will have black against both Caruana and Grischuk and this could be a good omen as if he can at least hold the Classical games, the tiebreak will give the Indian draw-odds, meaning he will win the match with a draw. When Carlsen is around these days, he is the biggest news usually. The format has suited the Norwegian well as he has just scored one Classical victory and has won five matches in the Armageddon. That the luck has been with him is another matter as Carlsen should have lost two of those at least.
First Aronian gave it on a platter from a won endgame in the tiebreaker and in the previous round it was Ding Liren who threw it away when he had everything in his control. Anand’s final tally will depend upon how he handles the next two rounds and if it all goes well, there is still a chance for a top three finish as Carlsen looks out of bound.
Pairings round 7: Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 5) vs V Anand (Ind, 5.5); Ding Liren (Chn, 5.5) vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 5); Wesley So (Usa, 6.5) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 9.5); Yu Yangyi (Chn, 8) vs Levon Aronian (Arm, 7.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 4.5) vs Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 3).