Viswanathan Anand, the former five-time world champion, played out a solid draw against Alexander Grischuk while Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, showed that he is the best in the business by defeating Anish Giri and extending his lead by one and a half points with just two rounds remaining in the Shamkir Chess Memorial tournament. In the earlier round, having done the hard work, Anand fumbled and lost to Sergey Karjakin of Russia in the sixth round. Playing the black side of a queen's gambit declined, Anand came up with some spectacular preparation that should have been good enough for a draw but Karjakin pressed hard where it mattered and went on to secure a rare victory against Anand.
The game between Carlsen and Giri saw an exchange of knights and it seemed like the game would be heading to a draw. However, Carlsen displayed his class by displaying a strong pawn effort in the middle board and putting Giri’s queen under immense pressure. With the advantage of two rooks, Carlsen’s position was simply too strong and Giri resigned after 43 moves.
In the Anand vs Grischuk, the Indian Grandmaster opted for a rather safe opening and Grischuk displayed a solid game as the game ended in a draw in just 32 moves. With just two rounds remaining, Anand will be hoping that Carlsen loses one and draws one game and he wins the remaining two in order to have a chance at the title. Anand will next take on Teimour Radjabov in round eight while his final round will be against Vaselin Topalov.
The Shamkir Chess tournament is played in the memory of Vugar Gashimov, an Azerbaijani Chess Grandmaster who once reached a peak ranking of number six in the world and was noted for his play in the blitz format of the game. Gashimov fell ill in 2000 with epilepsy but he was later diagnosed with brain tumor. His last tournament was the Tata Steel Chess tournament in 2012 but on January 11, 2014, he died at the age of 24. The first edition of the tournament was held in his memory in 2014 and has been continuing since then.
Carlsen is a three-time winner of the tournament while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who lost to Anand in the third round, won the tournament in 2016 and 2017. These were the years in which Carlsen did not participate.