Anand vs Nakamura

Oleg Skvortsov triggers storm after Hikaru Nakamura’s victory in Zurich
Leonard Barden
Friday 19 February 2016 13.55 EST

Speed chess is gaining popularity, but this week’s event in Zurich, yet another victory for the US champion Hikaru Nakamura, proved a step too far for some. The six elite grandmasters, headed by the former world champions Vlad Kramnik and Vishy Anand, had 40 minutes each for the whole game, plus a 10 seconds per move increment.

What triggered a storm was the sponsor Oleg Skvortsov’s assertion that his new time control, effectively a souped-up version of one-hour rapid games, should be a “new classical” format and thus eligible for the world ranking list. Critics rubbished the idea, and one fan wrote the new time control “is to classical chess what McDonald’s is to classical cooking”.

Anand beat Armenia’s world No5, Levon Aronian, in the opening round in 19 moves with a simple knight sacrifice, while the Netherlands’ Anish Giri, who hardly ever loses a classical game, blundered his position in one move to Nakamura. Zurich’s embarrassment was compounded at the end when Nakamura and Anand tied for first, the American was declared winner on tie-break, but then the sponsor asked them to play an Armageddon game (White five minutes, Black four, draw counts a black win) which Anand refused.

Faster time controls will not go away, though, partly because of the pressure on tournament budgets, but also because the nature of top chess has changed, with fewer games where the winner dominates and where the flow of play is easily understood.

Full article here.

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