Anand draws with Aronian; Caruana leads
With draws from two white games so far, it turns out to be a mediocre start for Anand, who is back to competitive chess after a four-month break. The Indian ace will certainly feel the pressure as the tournament progresses with five black and just three white games remaining for him in the last eight rounds.
Meanwhile, youngest participant Fabiano Caruana of Italy continued with his impressive run by beating Russian Sergey Karjakin to maintain an all-win record after two rounds.
In the other game of the day, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen put the loss against Caruana behind and outwitted Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain. Caruana surged ahead with six points under the soccer-like scoring system in place here which gives three points for a win and one for a draw.
The Italian is now followed by Aronian who has four points, while Magnus Carlsen announced his arrival and jumped to three points with his solitary win. Anand with two draws is fourth in the standings on two points and Vallejo on one point is on his toes. Karjakin is yet to open his account. It was a rather tame draw for Anand after an exciting first round game against Vallejo.
Up against the Berlin defense, the Indian went for early simplification in the center and Aronian equalised without much ado. The pieces got exchanged at regular intervals thereafter and the players arrived at a level minor pieces endgame in no time. The repetition of moves followed soon after and the point was shared after 35 moves.
Caruana was simply outstanding as he crushed Karjakin with black pieces. Karjakin was surprised in the Moller variation in Ruy Lopez and Caruana maintained a dynamically balanced position in the middle game. The Russian was not able to make progress and this propelled him to play actively that resulted in a thematic exchange sacrifice by Caruana. As the Italian improved his position consistently thereafter Karjakin allowed a second exchange sacrifice after which his position was in tatters. It took just 36 moves for Caruana to complete the formalities.
Carlsen also came up with an opening surprise to down Vallejo Pons. Playing the Phillidor defense, Carlsen allowed an early trade of queens and then subsequently outclassed Vallejo in the endgame that ensued. The game lasted 42 moves.