Picures from the Armageddon


Zurich Rapids: Nakamura!



Detailed analysis of the games on chessbase.com

by Alejandro Ramirez

Viswanathan Anand came into the rapid portion with a relatively comfortable lead; one full point over Hikaru Nakamura, and a full three points ahead of the bottom three players: Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian.

Round One
The first fight was a solid one for the Indian player. Playing black against Kramnik he chose to use a sort of reversed Pirc/King's Indian Attack, After any trades the players reached an endgame that was clearly drawn.

Unusually, Karjakin-Aronian was also a KIA. (King's Indian Attack, not the car). Aronian's exchange sacrifice might have been enough for a draw in classical chess, but in rapid it was clear that Karjakin was facing real practical problems. He could not cope and Aronian won a nice game. Caruana also sacrificed an exchange against Nakamura, but here the American very nicely defended against the threats and proved that his material advantage was winning!

Round Two
Three decisive games! What more can you hope from the rapid battles? Nakamura-Kramnik shows how quickly things can change in this time control. The American was outplaying his opponent, but he overestimated his chances; when he 'won" a pawn it was already clear that Black had become too active. One more mistake and Kramnik brought the point home

Caruana-Karjakin was an example of the same: in a completely winning position Karjakin had two choices: block with the bishop and win, or get mated. Let's just say he did not block with the bishop.

Aronian-Anand was a thing of beauty. A powerful pawn sacrifice exposed Black's king in the Meran and Aronian won with a brilliant attack.

Round Three
Kramnik again turned around a worse position when he defeated Aronian. A serious mistake by the Armenian not only destroyed his own positional advantage that he had nurtured for many moves, but gave his opponent the win.

Anand-Caruana was extremely one-sided. Playing for a win the Italian chose a version of the Modern defense that somehow landed his knight on g4. This knight was trapped by move 20 and by move 22 Caruana had resigned.

Karjakin-Nakamura was actually just a solid draw, the exception rather than the rule in this time control!

Round Four
Kramnik at this point had 2.5/3 in the rapid, but still trailed Anand by a full point, same as Nakamura. The crucial duel was then the match Nakamura-Anand.
The American played great. He pushed his advantage with an advancing c-pawn that always looked like it was hanging, but somehow was always tactically defended. Anand took the fantastic decision of sacrificing his queen for a rook and a bishop, trying to hold a fortress.

While this was happening Karjakin got an easily winning position against Kramnik by shutting out his opponent's bishop on g7. It was simply dead, unable to participate in the battle on the queenside! And yet Kramnik showed how resilient he can be! By some miracle Kramnik held the position and even had a win, but time trouble started to kick in. After missing the winning shot Kramnik started erring and Karjaking regained his winning advantage.

Caruana and Aronian finished in a draw in the most classical way: a king vs. king final position!

Nakamura had to try to break Anand's defenses... and he did so successfully! His excellent f5 break and the attack with his queen and knight was just sufficient to collapse his opponent's fortress.

Round five
In the fifth round of the rapid games, Vladimir Kramnik finished his comeback with yet another win, defeating Sergey Karjakin in emphatic fashion. A superb effort, but not quite enough to catch up to the two leaders Vishy Anand and Hikaru Nakamura, both of whom drew their final games. The end the tournament tied for first, and decided the event in an Armageddon playoff.

Armageddon
There was a bit of confusion prior to the start of the playoff, since the official site displayed tiebreak scores, suggesting there would be none. Shortly before the last rapid game was over, the playoff was confirmed and here too it was not clear the shape it would take as the clocks on the video feed showed times suggesting a normal blitz game, possibly more than one. Finally the chief arbiter came over, switched the clock that now displayed five minutes for White, and four for Black. The conclusion was clear: Armageddon!

Nakamura strolled in and sat at the black pieces, followed by Anand who sat at the white side. The game started and the Indian immediately went on the attack in a QGD with Bf4 by responding to 7...Nh5 attacking the bishop with Be5 and g4. Although White tried to 'shove his opponent off the board with aggressive kingside pawn advances, Black kept his cool and ripped open the queenside for a counterattack to take advantage of the king still stuck in the center. Punishment came swiftly and Hikaru Nakamura avenged his classical loss by snatching the title right at the finish line.

Though he won't be happy for having come in second in the classical part of the tournament, the event had always been designed to reward play in all time controls, and with his win Hikaru Nakamura has already started the year with two spectacular wins, first at the Gibraltar Open and now the Zurich Chess Challenge.

Today's Rapid games and Armageddon:


Breaking News: Nakamura wins the Zurich Chess Challenge 2015

After five highly dramatic rounds, the American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura managed to equalize Indian Viswanathan Anand's one point lead after the Classical games, mainly because he beat Anand in the direct duel in round 3. In the end, both players finished with 9 points each, so according to the regulations, a single Armageddon blitz game had to decide on the overall winner. Anand chose the white pieces and therefore had to win the showdown, but the American convincingly refuted Anand's early kingside attack and invaded the white queenside with his heavy pieces. Anand tried to give an exchange in order to lessen the pressure, but Nakamura continued to find the best moves and in the end won another rook to decide the fate of the tournament to his favor.

Round 1 - Armageddon game
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Nakamura, Hikaru
0:1

Final standings after 5 rounds Classical and 5 rounds Rapid Chess
Combined after Round 5
Rk
Name
ELO
Pts
SB
1.
Anand, Viswanathan (IND)
2797
9.0
20.75
2.
Nakamura, Hikaru (USA)
2776
9.0
18.50
3.
Kramnik, Vladimir (RUS)
2783
8.5
20.25
4.
Aronian, Levon (ARM)
2777
7.0
15.75
5.
Karjakin, Sergey (RUS)
2760
6.0
16.00
6.
Caruana, Fabiano (ITA)
2811
5.5
12.50


Rapid Games: Preparing for the final clashes!

Today beginning from 13:00 CET, the final Rapid tournament will decide the question of who will be the overall winner of the 2015 Zurich Chess Challenge. After the Classical section, Anand is clear first a full point ahead of Nakamura, but as we all know -anything can happen when playing with limited time. Unlike the games in the Classical, where a win equalled two points and a draw one, a win in the Rapid tournament is worth just one and a draw 0,5 respectively, so Vishy's lead can be called quite comfortable, though definitely not decisive. Especially as his American persecutor, Hikaru Nakamura, is well-known both for his fighting spirits and for his skills in games with shortened time.

The matches will be played with a time limit of 15 minutes per game plus 10 seconds increment per move. The parings wll be those of the Classical, only with colors reversed. As usual, we will have live coverage on our live site, with commentaries in German, English and Russian.

Coming up next:

Round 5 - Thu, February 19th, 17:10 CET
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Caruana, Fabiano
1:0
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Karjakin, Sergey
½:½
Aronian, Levon
-
Nakamura, Hikaru
½:½

Stadings:

Combined after Round 10
Rk
Name
ELO
Pts
SB
1.
Anand, Viswanathan (IND)
2797
9.0
20.75
2.
Nakamura, Hikaru (USA)
2776
9.0
18.50
3.
Kramnik, Vladimir (RUS)
2783
8.5
20.25
4.
Aronian, Levon (ARM)
2777
7.0
15.75
5.
Karjakin, Sergey (RUS)
2760
6.0
16.00
6.
Caruana, Fabiano (ITA)
2811
5.5
12.50


Rapid after Round 5
Rk
Name
ELO
Pts
SB
1.
Kramnik, Vladimir (RUS)
2783
3.5
7.75
2.
Aronian, Levon (ARM)
2777
3.0
6.25
3.
Nakamura, Hikaru (USA)
2776
3.0
6.00
4.
Karjakin, Sergey (RUS)
2760
2.0
6.00
5.
Anand, Viswanathan (IND)
2797
2.0
4.25
6.
Caruana, Fabiano (ITA)
2811
1.5
2.50


Classical after Round 5
Rk
Name
ELO
Pts
SB
1.
Anand, Viswanathan (IND)
2797
7.0
16.5
2.
Nakamura, Hikaru (USA)
2776
6.0
12.5
3.
Kramnik, Vladimir (RUS)
2783
5.0
12.5
4.
Karjakin, Sergey (RUS)
2760
4.0
10.0
 
Caruana, Fabiano (ITA)
2811
4.0
10.0
6.
Aronian, Levon (ARM)
2777
4.0
9.5




Zurich Rd5: Peace in the last classical round



Detailed analysis of the games on chessbase.com

by Alejandro Ramirez

Karjakin - Anand.

The reverse Sicilian had some of the most interesting strategical properties of any opening. Black in this case sacrificed his pair of bishops to ruin his opponents pawn structure. This typical idea forces black to try to contain the bishops while white is looking for any way to blast open the position and give his bishops scope.

Karjakin's c5 fixed his structure somewhat, but his bishops still remained trapped. He managed to liberate them but at the cost of a pawn. His activity was just sufficient to regain said pawn... But at the cost of his pair of bishops! The resulting endgame was clearly drawn.

Caruana-Kramnik

The Italian player played... The Italian opening! Actually a rare sighting since he usually plays the spanish, but in the past couple of tournaments has experimented with 3.Bc4. However he did not seem successful at all as Kramnik got a very comfortable position.

A liquidating sequence forced trade after trade into a clearly drawn rook endgame.

Nakamura-Aronian

The anti-Berlins with symmetrical pawn structure promise white a very slight edge and no risk, but one could argue that the edge is simply too small. Aronian had to endure a slightly worse position on the queenside, but as long as he kept his b7 pawn defended it didn't seem as if the American could do anything.

As usually happens in these kinds of positions the e-file is where all the major pieces are traded. With only a knight left for Nakamura and a bishop for aronian it was clear that these pieces too would have to be traded: the only square for the knight was c5, closely guarded by the bishop. The resulting pawn endgame was hopelessly drawn.

Today's games