In Switzerland, Hikaru Nakamura, the third highest-rated American GM, emerged on top at the recently concluded Korchnoi Zurich Chess Challenge (Cat. 20), one of those Swiss-sponsored major tournaments, which have become traditional in the European chess circuit.
The 29-year-old Nakamura, ranked 6th in the world, had an impressive 15.0 out of 21.0 combined classical-blitz aggregate score, to win his third consecutive Zurich plum.Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi registered 14.0 for second and former world champion Vishy Anand of India took third with 13.5. Russian Peter Svidler finished fourth with 12.0, while former world champion Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) was a poor fifth at 11.0.
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In Karlsruhe (Germany), the imperturbable Armenian world contender, Levon Aronian, ran away with the top prize at the Grenke Super GM Classic. He had five points with still one round left.
Aronian, 34, ranked ninth in the world, scored four wins and two draws without loss in the seven-round category 20 event that had world champion Carlsen (Norway), world No. 3 Caruana, (USA) and No. 5 Vachier-Lagrave of France, including many-time women’s world champion Hou Yifan of China.
It was Aronian’s first major victory in two years. Biting the dust in a tie for second-third were Carlsen and Caruana, 1.5 points behind at 3.5.
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The following game sheds more light on the opening involved. Anand handles the White side in typical aggressive fashion. Still he achieves no particular advantage. A daring Knight sacrifice in the early middle game, met only superficially by Black, decides the game.
2017 Zurich Challenge (Classical)
W) V. Anand (IND)
B) P. Svidler (RUS)
1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 e6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nc6
5. Nc3 d6
6. Be3 Nf6
Now the opening has transposed into the old, familiar Scheveningen Variation.
7. Qe2!? ….
A new move? Perhaps, but even if had been played before, it was not given enough attention by theoretical experts. Standard here is 7. Be2.
8. 0-0-0 Qc7
9. g4 b5
10. g5 Nd7
11. h4 Bb7
12. a3 Rc8
13. Bh3 b4
14. axb4 Nxb4
15. Nxe6!? …
An interestiing Knight sacrifice, which Anand obviously holds to offer White satisfactory chances, as the Black King is exposed to dangerous attack.
16. Bxe6 Qa5
17. Kb1 Rxc3?!
Seems dubious here. The engine recommends 17…Kd8 with unclear consequences after 18. f4 Rc7 19. Rhe1 Nc5 20. Bc4 Kc8 21. Bxc5 Rxc5 22. e5 d5 23. Bb3 Kb8.
18. bxc3 Nc6
19. Rh3 Be7
19…Qxc3?! is met by 21. Bf4 and White has a big positional advantage.
20. Bd4 …