A date for your diary: Saturday 30th of January 2016. Round five of the Tradewise Gibraltar International Chess Tournament. Much to the shock of many, (most infact, if not all), Former World Champion, Viswanathan Anand would lose. Not only would he lose, but he would lose with the white pieces. He would lose carelessly, to a player who was, with the greatest of respect, a severe underdog.
Anand (2784) played White against Adrien Demuth (2535), of France and had quite a tough game as it turned out. Black equalised very well in the Ruy Lopez, quite frankly helped by one or two moves from Anand that appeared to me rather blasé. The crucial moment came upon Anand’s 39th move. (Diagram.)
Here, 39.Qxf7+ would lead to an initiative for White after 39…Kc8 40.Qg8+ Kb7 (not …Kd7?? When Black is getting mated after 41.Nf6!) 41.Nf6 and the h-pawn is very dangerous indeed. Inexplicably, Anand played 39.Kh4? This allowed his opponent to take the initiative instead, with 39…Qh2+! There followed: 40.Kg5 Qg3+ 41.Kh6 Qxg8 42.Nf6+ Ke7 43.Nxg8+ Kf8 and here it quickly becomes apparent that White has no control of queening squares and all roads are in Black’s favour. There followed 44.Nf6 a5 45.Kh7 a4 46.Nd7+ Ke8 and Anand resigned.
And this was really the news of the day. Leaders Bacrot and Ragger didn’t really feel like battling it out, and agreed a rather speedy draw in 20. Infact, the majority of games at the top would be drawn, and this allowed Pentala Harikrishna and Abhijeet Gupta to bring themselves in to the mix. Both won their games, the former taking advantage of a gross tactical misjudgement by his opponent and the latter outplaying Zoltan Almasi.
At the halfway stage, then, there was a four-way tie at the top, between Ragger, Bacrot, Harikrishna and Gupta, who were setting the pace of 4.5/5. No less than twenty-two players snapped at their heels, though, on 4/5, top seed Nakamura among them.