London: World champion Viswanathan Anand survived anxious moments before he salvaged a draw against Luke McShane of England in the second round of the London Chess Classic here Monday. Having started with a bye, Anand had the advantage of playing white in the opener but the Indian ace could not find any real advantage and finally survived by the skin of the teeth to open his account.
World number one, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen registered himself as the highest rated player ever in the history defeating second seed Levon Aronian of Armenia in a finely crafted game. The victory took Magnus to 2856 points in live ratings and he just now needs to maintain the tempo to become the highest rated player ever in the history of the game on January 1. Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia made sure that Carlsen did not get a runaway lead in just two rounds and grinded Hikaru Nakamura of United States in a long drawn queen and pawns endgame.
The other game between Judit Polgar of Hungary and Gawain Jones of England ended in an exciting draw. With eight rounds still to go in the nine-player round-robin tournament, Carlsen and Kramnik surged ahead with six points apiece in the soccer-like scoring system that gives three points for a win and one for a draw. In the first round Carlsen had beaten London-nemesis McShane, while Kramnik got a head-start at the expense of Polgar.
Nakamura and Michael Adams of England share the third spot with three points apiece and the latter has an extra game in hand as he had a bye in the second round. Anand, with an extra game in hand like Adams, is now on joint fifth spot in the rankings along with Polgar, Jones and McShane, while Aronian finds himself at the bottom of the table as he is yet to open his account.
Exchanges at regular intervals enabled Mcshane to reach a drawn rook and pawns endgame where he had an extra pawn and in a momentary slip in concentration left Anand with a theoretically lost endgame for one brief move. However, with the clock ticking away McShane could not find the path to victory and Anand was soon back to find the right defense. The marathon lasted 108 moves.
Carlsen was pleasantly surprised by the pawn sacrifice of Aronian early in a closed Ruy Lopez where the Armenian played black. Even as Aronian got his share of counter play and should have drawn, an erroneous plan post the first time control cost him heavily. Once on top Carlsen gave no chances the clinched the issue in 59 moves. Kramnik faced a rare sixth move in the Scotch opening as black and benefitted in the Queen and pawns endgame knocking down two pawns. The Russian won in 87 moves.
The highest rated woman in the world, Judit Polgar got an advantage in the Sicilian Dragon against debutant Jones but missed the thread in the queen and rook endgame where she had an extra pawn. Jones drew after 73 moves.
Results, Round 2: Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 6) beat Levon Aronian (Arm, 0); Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 3) lost to Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 6); V Anand (Ind, 1) drew with Luke McShane (Eng, 1); Judit Polgar (Hun, 1) drew with Gawain Jones (Eng, 1); Michael Adams (Eng, 3) had a bye.