Former world champion Viswanathan Anand has missed a chance to challenge his arch nemesis Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship after losing to Canadian Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov. On the other hand, SP Sethuraman easily held higher-ranked compatriot P Harikrishna to a draw.
Having struggled in the second game of the first round, Anand’s dip in form continued against Kovalyov as well who kept his nerves in a thrilling game after a speculative piece sacrifice by the Indian ace. Anand continued with a typical variation of the Sicilian Najdorf that pushed the Canadian to a slightly worse position in the middle game, but he stayed put with some fine defensive
After the trade of queens, the Canadian Grandmaster was surprised by a knight sacrifice by Anand but he walked his king around the
Down a point in the two-game mini-match, Anand had to win with black pieces in the return game but failed to do so as he settled for a draw after 31 moves. The veteran Indian Grandmaster needed to reach the final of the World Cup to qualify for the Candidates tournament, the winner of which goes on to challenge the reigning champion.
Meanwhile, Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi made a strong bid for the third round by winning his first game as black against top Vietnamese Le Quang Leim. Gujrathi now just needs a draw in the next game with white pieces to enter the third round.
Grand Master SP Sethuraman also proved that his first round victory against Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine was no flash in the pan as he easily held Harikrishna to a draw with black pieces. The other remaining Indian, B Adhiban also drew with higher-rated Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.