Viswanathan AnandPlaying with whites against Michael Adams of England on Friday, Viswanathan Anand crashed through the defenses of the Englishman to jump to the sole second spot in the 2015 Shamkir Chess tournament. On Thursday, however, the Indian chess ace could not get through against Azerbaijan’s Rauf Mamedov and settled for an easy draw with Blacks in the 6th round. After his victory against USA’s Wesley So on Tuesday, Anand preferred a risk-free approach against the solid play of the Azeri. Against Adams, Anand played with simplicity that enshrined raw power and with two rounds left, he can hope to catch up with the world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the strongest tournament of the year. Carlsen was brilliant in his match against Valdimir Kramnik of Russia in scoring his fourth victory in the tournament and leads the board with 5.5 points to Anand’s 4.5. On Friday, Fabiono Caruna was the other winner and made it two in a row, when he brushed aside America’s Wesley So, who is now having a taste of the difficulties a young chess player can face against the world elite in international chess.

Against England’s Michael Adams, Anand was in his element playing with white pieces. Anand began with an English opening and in a sacrificing exchange, picked up two pawns in compensation. As the game progressed, Adams was caught in difficulties as the Indian tormented the Englishman for a long time. The crack in Adams’ game appeared as he gave up his queen for two rooks. This left Anand in a more powerful position as he had extra pawns on the board. After this, it did not take Anand too long to wrap up the match.

World champion Magnus Carlsen faced Russian veteran Vladimir Kramnik in his seventh round match on Friday. A few days before the start of the tournament, the Norwegian had told media that he considered Kramnik as the toughest opponent for him. But when he played the Russian with white pieces such a thing did not appear true. Carlsen began well and built too much pressure for the Russian to respond effectively. In the end, it turned out to be a comprehensive victory for the world champion.

Fabiano Caruana of Italy continued from his solid performance on Thursday, when he had outplayed Kramnik even with Black Pieces. Kramnik was led to unwarranted complications in the middle game and Caruna took full advantage of the wayward play. On Friday, the Italian scored his second victory against USA’s Wesley So. Caruna had the advantage of Whites and So couldn’t replicate his performances of the earlier rounds. Until the fourth round in Shamkir, So had the sole lead but then he lost to Anand on Tuesday, drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan on Thursday and succumbed to his second defeat against Caruna on Friday.

In other two games on Friday, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France had a drawn game with Anish Giri of the Netherlands while in the all-Azerbaijani match Shakhriyar Mamedyarov could not break the fortified defense of his compatriot Rauf Mamedov and the two settled for a draw.

As on Friday night, Carlsen looks like the most likely winner at Shamkir with 5.5 points while Anand on 4.5 is a point behind him. Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana are close behind Anand on 4 points each while Mamedyarov is sole fifth on 3.5 points. Mamedov, Vachier-Lagrave and Giri are on joint sixth spot on 3 points each while Kramnik is now on ninth spot with 2.5 points. Languishing on the last spot is the Englishman Michael Adams, who has only 2 points.