On an absolutely amazing day in Shamkir, there were three decisive games with the charms of their own. After drawing with his opponents in the first four rounds, Vishy Anand scored his first win with a brutal new idea in the Spanish, sacrificed a piece and won against a surprised So. In another game, world champion Magnus Carlsen adopted an unbelievable technique to win against Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. But the greatest match was played towards the day’s end in which Shakhriyar Mamedyarov distinguished himself as the first Azeri ever to beat Russian Grand Master Vladimir Kramnik after seven hours.
Anand’s victory assumed additional significance since it came against the overnight leader Wesley So of the USA. Despite the loss, So still occupies the second spot ahead of Anand, whereas Norway’s defending champion Magnus Carlsen moved up to the top spot with another victory on Tuesday. Before he took on Anand on April 21, 2014, Wesley So had crushed three opponents in his last four matches. Against Anand, however, So played with Blacks and faced a Ruy Lopez opening from the Indian ace. Anand seemed to have prepared well against the Filipino, who recently acquired the American citizenship. Anand mounted a series of attacking maneuvers following the opening move, against which So began struggling at the start itself. Having taken a good hold of the game, Anand played fascinating chess in the middle game. The Indian made a piece sacrifice that left the Black bewildered. Wesley So however, continued to fight despite the knowledge of his own shaky position. The onlookers also saw the outwitted So even as Anand’s queen delivered the final blows in the following queen and pawns endgame. The game lasted 45 moves and by delivering a crushing victory to someone, who had led the pack until Monday night, Anand’s confidence will get a huge boost in his remaining rounds to be played from April 23 onwards since April 22 has been kept as a rest day.
With Wesley So losing to Anand and world champion Magnus Carlsen defeating Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Norwegian has emerged as the new leader in the tournament with four points. Carlsen produced an inspired performance on Tuesday and completely outwitted Vachier-Lagrave. Playing with White pieces, Carlsen began with the Reti opening and made some pretty ingenious moves that showed who the boss was, as early as the fourth move. It was one of the most fascinating games of the tournament in which the Norwegian played some remarkable positional chess to outclass Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Carlsen’s fans were overjoyed as the world champion settled into his rhythm and destroyed the Frenchman in a picturesque check-mate in the end.
Italian Fabiano Caruana struggled with his form and even with White pieces, appeared far from impressive in his match against Anish Giri of Holland. Rather than use his opening advantage, Caruna settled for a draw with the Dutchman. Local hope Rauf Mamedov drew his fourth game of the tournament when he and the English Grandmaster Michael Adams settled for peace.
But the best chess action came towards the end of the day, when Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov sat against Russian Grand Master Vladimir Kramnik. The Azeri played with white and took a long time to arrive in an equal position. Kramnik kept testing Mamedyarov and lot of time was taken in the realisation of an already decisive advantage. White needed to be accurate and when Kramnik realized that further resistance was pointless, he gave up. When the marathon of a match ended after seven hours, the entire Heydar Aliyev Centre in Shamkir came alive with a round of applause.