The highlight of the fifth round was five time World Champion Vishy Anand’s miniature win over one of the current candidates Ian Nepomniachtchi in merely 17 moves. Upon being surprised in the opening by the move 12.Nf3, Nepo who characteristically plays fast, blitzed out his reply without pausing to think about Anand’s idea.
He was swiftly punished with an immediate pawn roll in the centre with f5,e5 & f6 and resigned in a position where mate was inevitable.
After the game, Nepo was gracious to praise Anand for a ‘brilliant and cunning opening trap ‘, while Anand was typically modest about his win calling it an ‘accident’ For this round both Adhiban and Harika Dronavalli were fielded, and they did very well to draw their respective games.
On the remaining board a real tragedy occurred, something which can happen only in online chess. Pentala Harikrishnan, had been defending tenaciously against Artemiev in a pawn down position. In the final moments of the game, when both the players were under severe time pressure, Hari, played 44.. Nd2, instead of 44..
Ne1, because of a mouse slip. Ne1 would have been a check, protecting his rook at the same time, while Nd2 simply left his rook hanging. He resigned on the next move. This, I feel, was the real accident in this match. There is no doubt that online chess is a great boon to us chess players but an unlikely upset from a mouse slip or network issues is typical to this format.
Acceptance and preparation can be the only way forward. Round 6 : USA won against India with the score 2.5 - 1.5. It was a closely fought match against USA, where we had a big chance to at least equalise the score. Anand continued his great form into this round and slowly outplayed Hikaru Nakamura from black, securing a strong advantage by the 30th move, which he held on to for most of the game.
Hikaru is currently one of the strongest players in faster time controls and as the game neared time pressure Hikaru’s chances to hold increased, and they finally drew. It was a close miss for Anand. On the other boards, Adhiban lost to So Wesley, Vidit Gujrathi drew against Fabiano Caruana and Humpy also drew her game.