Former World Champion Vishwanathan Anand was knocked out by World No. 109 Anton Kovalyov of Canada in the second round of World Cup knockout chess in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Thursday.
The defeat was always on the cards after Kovalyov defeated Anand with black pieces on Wednesday. Anand, the former world champion, is struggling with form. The 47-year-old is not known for his prowess with black pieces and must-win games. He had earlier bounced back from difficult situations in the World Championship matches, but those were not the last classical games of the series.
Kovalyov executed his plans to perfection in the return game on Thursday. First, he opted to start the game with c4 and then opted for the queen exchange as early as the 10th move in the English Opening game. The endgame in rooks, opposite-coloured bishops and knight wasn't too difficult for the Canadian to eke out a draw and get half a point to advance to the third round.
In the other action on Thursday, world's top woman top player and ranked No. 74 overall, Hou Yifan of China, held world No. 4 Levon Aronian of Armenia to another draw in 34 moves of Catalan Opening (Closed variation).
Heading into the Chess World Cup in Tbilisi, Anand had a strong showing in the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, having finished joint-second behind French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Although he struggled in the St Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament where he finished ninth, Anand’s exit from the Chess World Cup will raise more questions on his future.