Viswanathan Anand closed the gap between him and the leaders with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Dutchman Loek Van Wely in the fifth round of the Melody Amber Blindfold and rapid chess tournament.
With two wins Anand is now just one point behind overall leaders, Vladimir Kramnik, Vassily Ivanchuk and Lev Aronian. Anand is now in joint lead in the rapid, where he has four points out of five, but it is in Blindfold that he is struggling with just two points from five games.
Round five was lively with the tournament being thrown open with a 0-.5-1.5 loss of Kramnik to Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk now joins Kramnik and Aronian in joint lead. One behind them is Anand who had a 2-0 win over Loek Van Wely. There are still six rounds and 12 games to go.
Anand who has a huge plus score against Van Wely having won 18 times in 33 clashes before this event, carried on his domination over the Dutch player. With these two wins, Anand has now won 20 of the 35 games between the two and has lost only twice.
The blindfold game was in Sicilian Najdorf, one of the favourites for Anand with both white and black. Anand capitalised on a mistake from Van Wely, who on his 18th move played g6, which landed him immediately in trouble.
Anand capitalised on his Van Wely's mistake of a queen move instead of g6. Anand pounced on it and himself played g6 and unleashed a blistering attack. Anand finished the game in great style, sacrificing a rook and offering his queen.
Then Van Wely in the rapid game, which was a Queen's Indian went for a piece sacrifice which was wrong. He missed a line that Anand took. Despite frightening Anand for a while with his 37th move, Van Wely was soon looking down the barrel of a gun and lost in 53 moves.
Ivanchuk, who was elected Ukrainian player of the year for 2006, won a short blindfold game with Kramnik. Blitzing out his moves the Ukrainian grandmaster seemed to be ultra-motivated to pose problems. But after 21 moves he suddenly proposed a draw. Kramnik thought for a moment and then accepted.
In the rapid game Kramnik played an insipid opening that soon left him without any hopes of an advantage. Without any real effort Ivanchuk took over the initiative and reached a winning position after Kramnik committed a blunder with his 22nd move which cost him a piece. Ivanchuk rolling up his jacket sleeves with the shirt, made sure he got the full point.
Thursday was a day of rest during which many of the Grandmasters went on an excursion to the Esterel mountains in the vicinity of Saint Rafaël. The excursion also included a gourmet lunch at the L'Etoile des Mers restaurant in Théoule sur Mer.
Results of Round 5: Blindfold: Gelfand beat Vallejo; Carlsen drew with Leko; Svidler drew with Aronian; Morozevich drew with Radjabov; Anand beat Van Wely;
Ivanchuk drew with Kramnik
Results of Round 5: Rapid: Vallejo beat Gelfand; Leko drew with Carlsen; Aronian drew with Svidler; Radjabov beat Morozevich; Van Wely lost to Anand; Kramnik lost to Ivanchuk - 0-1
Round 5 Standings: Blindfold: 1. Kramnik 4.5; 2. Gelfand, Svidler and Ivanchuk 3.5; 5. Aronian 3.0; 6. Leko 2.5; 7. Morozevich, Radjabov and Anand 2.0; 10. Carlsen 1.5; 11. Van Wely and Vallejo Pons 1.0
Round 5 Standings: Rapid: 1. Aronian and Anand 4.0; 3. Ivanchuk 3.5; 4. Carlsen, Morozevich, Svidler, Leko and Kramnik 2.5; 9. Vallejo Pons 2.0; 10. Gelfand and Radjabov 1.5; 12. Van Wely 1.0
Round 5 Standings: Combined: 1. Aronian, Ivanchuk and Kramnik 7.0; 4. Svidler and Anand 6.0; 6. Gelfand and Leko 5.0; 8. Morozevich 4.5; 9. Carlsen 4.0; 10. Radjabov 3.5; 11. Vallejo Pons 3.0; 12. Van Wely 2.0