While Anand and Gelfand remained locked 2.5-2.5 in a heavyweight match, several more entertaining, if less important, events were in progress. Teenaged Indian GM Parimarjan Negi won the Asian Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Negi scored 7 points from nine games to tie with Chinese GM Yu Yangyi (7/9) but Negi had the better tie-break.
This result also qualifies Negi for the World Cup and it was a huge win ahead of a field that included Quang Liem, Ni Hua, Wesley So, Ding Liren, etc. Kharisma Sukander of Indonesia (7/9) won the women’s title with Mary Ann Gomes coming out second with the best tie-break in a multiple tie on 6.5. This was a pretty good result for Mary as well.
Another teenaged talent, Fabiano Caruana scored an astounding 5.5 from 7 at the Sigeman GM in Malmo, Sweden. Caruana had a rating performance of 2852 against a field, which included Peter Leko (second on 5), Anish Giri, Li Chao2 (not a misprint — there’s a Li Chao1 as well), and several Scandinavian GMs (not Carlsen). The Italian American GM improves his rating to 2777, which puts him at number 7 in the live list.
Meanwhile Nakamura and Kamsky are battling in the US Championships. Both have 5 points from 7 games in the 12-player round robin. In the 10-player women's event that is running concurrently, Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih share the lead with 4.5 from 7 games each.
To return to normal programming, Gelfand has looked to be better prepared than Anand in the first five games. Or at the least, the Israeli challenger has produced more surprises, adopting sharp defences like the Grunfeld and the Pelikan, which he’s never been known for playing. Anand has been unable to get an initiative with white though he's drawn comfortably with black so far.
The diagram, WHITE TO PLAY (Negi Vs Ding Liren Asian Chps, 2012) features an unusual pawn sacrifice after an unusual opening. White is more or less forced to play 18.e6! fxe6. Black could now try 18.-- Bxc5 19. exf7+ Bxf7 20. dxc5 O-O with a similar position. This is about equal but the opposite bishops make it imbalanced. Either side may drum up an unstoppable attack.
Play continued 19.Rfe1 Bxc5 20.dxc5 Rf8. This must be better for white since the black king is in strife. 21.Qg4 Rf5 22.Bxg7 b6 23.Bd4 bxc5 24.bxc5 Rb8 25.Re3 Kd7 26.Rae1 Bf7 ? A grim defence with 26. - Re8 may holds. Now black collapses with startling speed after 27.Qg7 h5 28.Re5! Rf4 . If 28.--Rxe5 29. Qxf7+. Now if white plays 29. Be3? Rg8 30. Qh7? d4! wins for black. However, 29.Qh7! c3 30.Be3 (1-0).
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player