When Benjamin Gledura of Hungary sat down to play his round-seven game against Viswanathan Anand of India, all the confidence in the world will probably not have removed all the nerves and slight trepidation with regard to his task. However, for the second time in the tournament, it would be his vastly higher rated opponent, shown to be rather green around the gills.
In an anti-Meran, exchanges were made quite steadily, which resulted in the position shown in the diagram, below, which looks (and is) rather equal.
I am interested to know whether any draw offers were made during the game, when, and by whom. I say this, because to be quite frank, I can believe that Anand (who’s play I have already remarked as having been rather lack-lustre in places) may well have been happy with the draw. It is interesting that tournament commentator, John Saunders also speculates on this in his annotations to the game in question. (John’s annotations can be found in his round-seven report on the tournament website.)
For whatever reason, the game continued, and I am wondering if we are beginning to see Magnus Carlsen’s influence on our wonderful game. The World Champion makes winning games from equal (even ‘drawn’) positions an art. Is this a case of an inspired new generation following his lead? Well, answers on a postcard. What we know as fact, is that it was Anand who, from the diagram position, was outclassed. It was White who pressed, pushed, advanced and took the risks. He showed very nice positional understanding with his manoeuvres, played timely waiting moves and, ultimately, imposed zugzwang. I found this very impressive — not only his display at the board, but also his temperament and attitude!
As for Viswanathan Anand, I remember that he was quoted not too long ago as saying that he was still as motivated and hungry as ever with his chess. If this is true, then this game, above any that he has played in recent years, should serve as a wake-up-call to him. This is by no means a reflection towards his opponent, but totally towards the way that Anand lost. It is often reassuring to mere chess mortals (such as myself) that Grandmasters make mistakes, blunder, and sometimes have disasters. However, for a Grandmaster of Anand’s calibre, this loss is something else entirely. It shows that there is something badly wrong somewhere, be it motivation, confidence, or the seriousness he pays towards his opponents. It certainly is not technique.
Events away from Anand’s game, would result in a single leader at the end of this round. David Anton Guijjaro would be the only player in the top group to win his game. The Spaniard took advantage of a tactical misjudgement by Richard Rapport of Hungary, to seize the lead of the event going in to round eight. However, the buzz of the tournament is huge, with no less than 29 players all within a point of him. With 3 rounds remaining, there is lots still to play for.
On to round 8 then …