Former world champion Viswanathan Anand rose back from a bad start to score one win and two draws on the second day of St. Louis Rapid chess, including a draw against his old rival Garry Kasparov in the sixth round game. For the chess world, nothing else mattered on the second day apart from the Anand-Kasparov encounter.
The last time they played was over 4000 days ago when Kasparov was just a day away from his retirement and the fact that the two had played a world championship match too, made it count more than anything - for once the presence of these two took precedence over the game itself.
Anand started off with the king pawn, and Kasparov replied with the Sicilian. After an initial skirmish, it was a balanced middle game where the pieces changed hands at regular intervals. Neither Anand nor Kasparov minded the draw that eventually ensued.
And then there was this discussion. "We chatted like World war-I veterans," said Anand on a jovial note.
Anand's inching up on the points table did not have much saying on the final standings after the second day.
The Indian ace was languishing at the bottom of the tables on one point from three games thanks to a solitary draw and today he took his tally to five points out of a possible six as a win here is worth two and a draw gives one point.
Not without reasons, Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia emerged as the sole leader on eight points. Nepo, as he is fondly called, hogged the limelight to become the first person to beat Kasparov on his return.
It was a game of lots of ups and downs but in the end, Nepo prevailed thanks to some immaculate play.
With the Russian on eight points, US duo of Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, Le Quang Leim and Levon Aronina of Armenia share the second spot just a point behind.
With three rounds in the rapid and 18 games in the blitz still remaining in the USD 150000 prize money tournament.
Lenier Dominguez of Cuba is sole sixth on six points while Anand, Kasparov and Sergey Karjakin of Russia share the seventh spot in the ten-player tournament.
The luckless David Navara of Czech Republic is at the bottom of the tables with three points in his kitty.
Anand still has a task to do and he is not far away from the leader. And there are still many, many games to come in this rapid+blitz feast.
The Indian ace will be hoping for some more points in the rapid on the final day and then might want to go all out for the kill when the 18-game blitz tournament commences after the rest day.
Standings after round 6 Rapid: 1. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 8); 2-5: Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura (both USA), Sergey Karjakin (Rus), Levon Aronian (Arm) 7 each; 6. Lenier Dominguez (Cub, 6); 7-9: Garry Kasparov, Sergey Karjakin (both Rus), V Anand (Ind) 5 each; 10. David Navara (Cze, 3).