The rapid portion of the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid and Blitz concluded in day 3 with reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen extending his lead even further over the competition. The National Library of Kolkata filled up with chess fans this Sunday afternoon as the day commenced with Magnus Carlsen facing off against Viswanathan Anand. This was their first encounter on Indian soil since the 2013 World Championship Match, in which the Carlsen dismantled Anand for the coveted world title.
Standings after round 9. In the rapid, a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0
Given the anticipation leading up to the Carlsen-Anand game, it did not disappoint. Play began with a quiet variation of the Ragozin variation, but the position quickly escalated into complete chaos. Even with the help of engine analysis, the Grand Chess Tour commentators struggled to comprehend the intricacies of the position. GM Maurice Ashley said that it was the type of game you would want in correspondence chess, not rapid chess. After the middlegame fireworks, Carlsen emerged with an aesthetic mating attack to finish off the Indian superstar.
In the post-game interview with IM Tania Sachdev, Carlsen shared his thoughts about his strong performance: “It’s all about confidence. When you start off well, you can allow yourself to relax more and take more chances.”
Carlsen defeated Anand in what Jennifer Shahade called, "the most exciting game of the tournament"
Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So began the day tied for second place and faced off in round 8. The all-American matchup produced the only decisive game of the round as Nakamura displayed some brilliant technique. Nakamura obtained a pleasant position in the early middlegame after receiving the bishop pair. His bishops then came to life in the endgame and he proceeded to completely outplay his compatriot. This result seriously damages So's chances of qualifying for the GCT Finals in London. In order to qualify, he would need to win the event. Such a task is now ever more difficult with Carlsen's dominating performance.
Nakamura defeated So in round 8 to cement his standing in 2nd place
The ninth and final rapid round saw lots of fighting chess. Magnus Carlsen delivered yet another win, taking down Ding Liren. Levon Aronian defeated Vidit and increased the already high likelihood of qualifying for the GCT Finals in London. Meanwhile, Anand hiccupped as he failed to convert a winning position against Indian wildcard Harikrishna. In order for Anand to qualify for the GCT Finals he will need to finish in clear 6th place or better to overtake Maxime Vachier Lagrave in the overall GCT standings.
Games will resume tomorrow at 2pm Kolkata time (GMT +5:30) with the first 9 games of blitz. Be sure to catch all the action with GM’s Peter Svidler, Maurice Ashley, WGM Jennifer Shahade, and IM Tania Sachdev on GrandChessTour.org