17 Jun

Just Leuven It!

The 2016 Grand Chess Tour started with a bang last weekend with the opening leg being held in Paris with a new format that added Rapid and Blitz into the Classical mix. And after Hikaru Nakamura edged out World Champion Magnus Carlsen in an exciting two-horse race for the overall title in Paris, what more could we ask for?

Well, how about a redux this weekend with Vishy Anand now added to the ten-player elite field!


The Grand Chess Tour now moves to the Belgian university town of Leuven for the second Rapid and Blitz four-day tournament that kicked. The prize money at stake is again $150,000, only this time the tournament is supported by the Your Next Move foundation, and held at the Leuven Town Hall that dates back to the 15th century.

And arriving hot-foot from Spain after winning the City of Leon Masters (defeating Chinese wunderkind Wei Yi in the final) is now Anand, as the five-time ex-world champion replaces the French wild card Laurent Fressinet.  And Anand, Carlsen and Nakamura and the other seven GCT players got things underway on Thursday at Leuven Town Hall for a VIP and Children’s Chess Afternoon hosted by the Your Next Move foundation, that involved a simultaneous against local children and politicians.


And when play got underway proper on Friday, it was Anand who got off to an explosive start to the Rapid tournament, as the Indian veteran showed he was still a force in the game with an impressive opening round takedown of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave that features in today’s game.

Photo © | Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour 

Arguably the big success story for the GCT has been their innovative live online coverage (please take note, World Championship organisers Agon!) that has proved to be nothing short of spectacular for the masses following this battle of the elite superstars.  The strategy behind their thinking is explained by GCT organiser Malcolm Pein in this Daily Motion video. And this strategy has paid off in a spectacular way, with Paris GCT sponsors Vivendi issuing a press release hailing it to have attracted a record audience for chess coverage!

The games can again be followed all weekend on the Daily Motion video platform, through the official website grandchesstour.com or via all the usual chess broadcasting portals featuring some of the best chess commentators in the business today..

GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave - GM Vishy Anand
GCT Rapid YourNextMove Leuven, (1)
Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6 10.Re1 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.Qb3 d5 13.e5 Nd7 14.Qd1 Re8 A novelty from the ex-champion, and one that adds a bit more bite into Black's position. Back in March in the Moscow Candidates, Caruana-Giri continued with 14...f6 that allowed White to play e6 and the game ended in a draw. Here, Anand looks to prevent White from playing e6 whilst still continuing as in the Caruana-Giri to open the game up with ...f6 forcing open the f-file and lines towards the White king. 15.g4 Bg6 16.Nf1 c6 17.Bd3 f6! 18.exf6 Now if 18.e6 as in the aforementioned Caruana-Giri game, Black plays 18...Nf8 and will soon pick off the e6 pawn which is now over-extended and will not be able to be defended. 18...Nxf6 Black has an advantage with the better developed pieces, play against the isolated d4-pawn, and also all those juicy open lines leading to the White King - I think we can safely say now that Anand's novelty has been a success for him. 19.Ng3 Bxd3 20.Qxd3 Ng6 21.Rxe8+ Qxe8 22.Bg5 The open f-file is going to be a big headache for White to deal with. 22...Qf7! 23.Re1 Rf8 Stronger may well have been the immediate 23...Ne4!? 24.Nxe4 dxe4 25.Rxe4 (If 25.Qxe4 Rf8 leads to much the same.) 25...Rf8 as after 26.Re3 (26.Nd2? Qxf2+ easily wins) 26...h6! leaves the bishop somewhat short of squares. 24.Nf5 Ne4 25.Bh6 An imaginative solution from MVL - but Anand is one step ahead of him in the tactical trickery department. 25...Qc7! 26.Nxg7? Bad. Really bad. MVL cracks at the critical moment to gift Anand an easy win. However he had excellent survival chances with 26.Qb3!? (threatening Rxe4! due to the queen pin on the king) 26...Nxf2! 27.Kxf2 gxh6 28.Nxh6+ Kh8 29.Nf5 Qf4 30.Qe3! Qxe3+ 31.Rxe3 Nh4 32.N3xh4 Bxd4 33.Ke2 Bxe3 34.Nxe3 with a likely draw - but in blitz, with the knights often being tricky to deal with, White may well be the one with all the chances. 26...Nxf2!! (See Diagram) Crunch time! The open f-file is indeed a killer for MVL, as the rook pin on the f3 knight allows Anand's queen to strike right into the heart of White's camp. 27.Kxf2 Qh2+ 28.Ke3 Qg2 29.Qe2 It's hopeless now for White, as after 29.Rf1 Ne5! is crushing: 30.Qe2 Rxf3+ 31.Rxf3 Bxd4+ 32.Kd2 Nxf3+ 33.Kd1 Qxe2+ 34.Kxe2 Bxb2 with an easy endgame win with the two extra pawns. 29...Rxf3+! 30.Qxf3 Bxd4+! The (full) point to Anand's tactical melee. 31.Kxd4 Qxf3 32.Nf5 Qf2+ 33.Re3 Qxb2+ 34.Kc5 Qb6+ 35.Kd6 Qd8+ 36.Kc5 d4 0-1

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