Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand suffered a shocking loss against Sergey Karjakin of Russia in the fourth round of Candidates Chess tournament.
The loss, coming in after a fine start that started with a victory over Topalov and two draws, put Anand on the back-foot in the biggest challenge of this year for the Indian ace.
It turned out to be an irregular opening choice by Karjakin wherein Anand was closed to equalising but could not quite get there as Karjakin was on his toes looking for the initiative. The middle game was fought hard but Anand was on the defensive and when the queens got traded it was clear that the Indian was up for a long defensive challenge.
Contrary to his known defensive skills, Anand could not put up a stiff defense and his position collapsed in quick time.
With his first loss in four games, Anand slipped back to a fifty percent score while Karjakin rose to be on three points out of a possible four. Levon Aronian of Armenia got the draw he was looking for against Peter Svidler of Russia, while Dutchman Anish Giri got his preparation rolling against Hikaru Nakamura of United States to force a draw in the other games of the day.
For Anand, it has always been about comebacks and the Indian will be itching to do an encore. It was a missed opportunity in the middle game that cost the Indian dearly and a lot has to be done to control the damage the loss incurred.
As things stand, Karjakin holds solo lead on three points out of a possible four, while Aronian is on second spot having 2.5 points under his belt. Anish Giri holds the third spot on two points along with Peter Svidler and Anand and while the first two have drawn all their games, Anand has been involved in a win and a loss.
The Candidates decides the next challenger to incumbent World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway. There are 14 rounds in all before the winner of this strong tournament is decided.