Afternoon Voice

Vishwanath Anand struggling in last place

Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand again had an average day scoring 3.5 points out of a possible nine and was pushed to the last spot in the St Louis Rapid and Blitz competition here.

Anand began the day with two losses on the trot and then stabilised a little by settling for a few draws and a win. However, a last round loss to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan did not help, leaving the Indian ace with a lot of ground to cover in this leg of the Grand chess tour.

Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Mamedyarov stayed in front on 17 points apiece after the first day of blitz and Fabiano Caruana of the USA remained in third on 15.5 points.

Closing in the gap was Maxime Vashir-Lagrave of France who came up with a spectacular performance to notch five wins and four draws in the blitz first day.

Vachier-Lagrave stands fourth on 15 points, a point clear of Levon Aronian of Armenia, who in turn is 1.5 points clear of sixth placed Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

Leinier Dominguez of Cuba stands seventh on 12 points a half point ahead of Alexander Grishuk of Russia while Grand Chess tour leader Wesley So is ninth on 11 points.

Anand, with 9.5 points, currently is on last spot but, like in the past, the Indian will hope for a reversal of fortunes on the final day.

Things did not go on expected lines for Anand as he lost to in-form Vachier-Lagrave in the first game and then went down to Karjakin. The most spectacular victory for Anand happened against Grischuk in the fifteenth round but after that it went downhill.

The rapid section offered two points for a win whereas Anand managed six points in all.

Standings after 9 rapid and 9 blitz games: 1-2. HIkaru Nakamura (USA), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) 17 each; 3. Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 15.5); 4. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 15); 5. Levon Aronian (Arm, 14); 6. Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 12.5); 7. Lenier Dominguez (Cub, 12); 8. Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 11.5); 9. Wesley So (Usa, 11); 10. V Anand (Ind, 9.5).