Winless Anand to play Vachier-Lagrave in round 7 of Altibox chess
Stavanger (Norway), Jun 5 (PTI) Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand would be desperate to secure his first victory when he meets Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France after the second and final rest day of the Altibox Norwway chess tournament here.
With three rounds still to come in what is known as the strongest tournament of the year, Anand has 2.5 points in his kitty coming from all draws.
The Indian ace still has to play Fabiano Caruana of United States and ultra-solid Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine in the remaining rounds.
From what looked like a runaway victory for local hero and world champion Magnus Carlsen, the equation has changed completely and the title race is wide open, thanks to a stupendous effort by Wesley So of United States who grinded the Norwegian in the previous round.
The cross-table still shows Carlsen in front on 3.5 points but the fact remains that he has won two games lost one and drawn the remaining which puts him on par with Wesley, who has won one game and drawn the rest. In chess jargon, the scores of Wesley and Carlsen are called plus one' while Anand is on equal'.
Anand's chances would rely heavily on his last white game against Caruana in the penultimate round. If the Indian is able to use the whites effectively, a finish at the top might be possible.
In the seventh round Vachier-Lagrave is likely to go all-out against Anand and this might be tricky as the latter would also get his chances in this case.
Carlsen will have a bye in the seventh round and that would give him ample time to recover from the loss he suffered.
An upbeat Wesley meets Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and this can be another keenly contested game of the seventh round.
In other matches of the day, the all-American duel between Hikaru Nakamura and Caruana can go either ways and the latter might have an edge while Karjakin will try to impress Levon Aronian of Armenia.
With an unexpected drama infused by Wesley by beating Carlsen, the Norway Chess seems poised for a nail biting finish.
Pairings of round 7: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA, 2/5) vs Vishwanathan Anand (IND, 2/5/5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2.5/6) vs Wesley So (USA, 3/5); Sergey Karjakin (RUS, 2.5/5) vs Levon Aronian (ARM, 3/6); Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2.5/5) vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2.5/5); Magnus Carlsen (NOR, 3.5/6) has a bye