Anish Giri drew with his closest pursuer in Round 5 to maintain his half-point lead.

After two consecutive rounds with three decisive results, it was perhaps inevitable that things would cool at the Tal Memorial tournament in Moscow. Indeed, there was only one decisive game in Round 5 on Saturday — a victory by Viswanathan Anand of India over Boris Gelfand of Israel.

The leader after Round 4, Anish Giri of the Netherlands, preserved his lead by drawing with Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, his closest rival. Giri now has 4 points, Nepomniachtchi has 3.5, and Anand is tied for third with Li Chao of China, eah with 3 points. 

The elite tournament is a 10-player round robin and is being held in the Museum of Russian Impressionism. It has a prize fund of $200,000, with $45,000 for first place.

Gelfand has had some problems with Anand ever since their 2012 World Championship match. Round 5 was no exception. Anand came well prepared and won a fine game to send Gelfand, who is having a terrible tournament, to his fourth loss in a row.

Viswanathan Anand vs. Boris Gelfand
Tal Memorial | Moscow | Round 5 | 01 Oct 2016 | 1-0
9. d3 c4!? Gelfand has played this pawn sacrifice before. Playing it against Anand shows that he has real confidence in the idea.
10. dxc4 dxe4 11. Qxd8 Rxd8 12. Rxe4 e5! Black has a big center and a bishop pair as compensation for being down a pawn.
13. Re1 f6 14. Nbd2 Nf7 15. Ne4!? The first new move, and it is a strong one.
15. Nb3 This is the computer's choice and had been played before, but after
15... a5! 16. Be3 a4 17. Bb6 Re8 18. Nc5 Bf5 Black has good counterplay.  )
15... f5 16. Neg5 e4 17. Nxf7 Kxf7 18. Bg5! Developing his bishop and gaining a tempo
18... Rd3 19. Nd4 Ba6?! This looks like a mistake to me.
19... Bxd4 20. cxd4 Be6! 21. b3 Rxd4 White has a somewhat better pawn structure, but Black has no real weaknesses and since there are opposite-colored bishops, I think Black should be able to draw without too much trouble.  )
20. b3! c5
20... Rxc3 21. Nxc6 White is up a pawn and Black has no compensation  )
20... Bxd4 21. cxd4 Black has real problems, partly because his bishop on a6 is so passively positioned.  )
21. Ne2 h6!
21... Rxc3 While watching the game, I expected this move, but the engine just laughs.
22. Nxc3 Bxc3 23. Rad1 Bxe1 24. Rxe1 Rc8 Black has decent drawing chances but White is clearly in the driver's seat.  )
22. Be3 Rc8 23. h4! Preventing any expansion with g6-g5 and f5-f4. Black's bishops are really ineffective.
23... Bf6 24. Nf4
24. Bxh6 Was also possible and may have been stronger.
24... Bxh4 25. Nf4  )
24. g3 g5! 25. hxg5 hxg5 This is not the position that White wanted.  )
24... Rdd8 25. Nd5 Bxh4?
25... Rxd5! 26. cxd5 Bxc3 Black should be able to draw with best play.
27. Bxh6 c4!  )
26. Bxh6 Bb7 27. g3 Bf6 28. Nxf6 Kxf6 29. Be3 White is up a pawn, Black's bishop on b7 is lousy and Black's pawn on c5 is vulnerable. Black's position is probably hopeless.
29... Rd3 30. Kf1
30. Rad1 This looks more natural to me but the move that Anand played is fine.  )
30... g5 31. Ke2 Rxc3 32. Rac1 Rxc1 33. Rxc1 Black has back a pawn, but he cannot guard his many weaknesses. Notably, once c5 falls, the White queenside pawns will quickly begin to advance.
33... Rd8 What else? White was planning Rd1.
33... Ke6 34. Bxg5  )
34. Bxc5 f4 35. gxf4 gxf4 36. Bxa7! e3 37. Bxe3! Simple and strong. White allows no counterplay, and he can run over Black over with his four passed pawns. The rest was easy for Anand
37. fxe3 f3+ 38. Ke1 Kf5 Would have allowed Black some counterplay as the pawn on f3 is pretty annoying.  )
37... fxe3 38. Kxe3 Bc8 39. Rc2 Bf5 40. Rd2 Ra8 41. Kd4 Ke6 42. Kc3 Ke5 43. a4 Be4 44. Kb4 Rb8+ 45. Ka3 Rf8 46. a5 Rf3 47. Kb4 Bb7 48. Rd8 Rxf2 49. Kc5 Rf6 50. Re8+ Kf4 51. b4 Rc6+ 52. Kd4 Rd6+ 53. Kc5 Rc6+ 54. Kb5 Rf6 55. Re7 Ba6+ 56. Kc5 Rf5+ 57. Kd4 Kf3 58. b5

There was some excitement in the other games, even though they all ended in draws. I quite enjoyed the game between Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azeraijan and Peter Svidler of Russia. Mamedyarov chose a strange opening that led to interesting and unusual play from very early on.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Peter Svidler
Tal Memorial | Moscow | Round 5 | 01 Oct 2016 | ECO: E60 | 1/2-1/2
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Bg5!? A very unusual move
3... Ne4
3... Bg7 This move is common in the Grunfeld and has some transpositions possible, but Svidler had other ideas.  )
4. Bf4 c5
4... Bg7 I remember thinking this was best but the move played by Svidler should be fine.  )
5. Qc2 Qa5+! 6. Nd2 f5! 7. f3! Nf6
7... Nxd2 8. Bxd2 Qb6 9. dxc5 Qxc5 10. e3 This is a very weird position but White looks like his position is better.  )
8. d5 d6 The opening has transposed into a bizarre-looking Dutch Defense. If the pawn on f3 were on f2, I would say White is clearly better, but as it is, Black should be fine.
9. e3 Bg7 10. Ne2 b5! Black looks for counterplay in a style typical of the Benoni and Benko Defenses.
11. Bg5 Nbd7 12. Nf4 Nb6! 13. Kf2 O-O 14. h4
14. cxb5 If I were playing this game, I might have tried to take some pawns because the pan on d5 cannot be safely taken.
14... Nbxd5 15. Bc4! e6 16. Bxf6! Nxf6 17. Bxe6+ And White has won an important pawn.  )
14... bxc4 15. Nxc4 Qa4 16. b3?!
16. Qxa4! Nxa4 17. h5 Would give White with a small initiative. Still after
17... Kf7 Black is almost equal.  )
16... Qe8 17. Rd1 Qf7 And Black has good counterplay
18. Nxb6
18. Na5 This is the engine's choice. It looks bizarre but probably is playable  )
18... axb6 19. a4 Bd7 20. Bc4 Rfb8! White cannot stop b5
21. Qe2 Ra5 22. Rb1 h6!
22... b5 This was also possible immediately, of course, but I prefer the move that was played.  )
23. Bxf6 Qxf6 24. h5 g5 25. Ne6 b5! Black simply ignores the knight on e6 - it looks pretty but doesn't do much.
26. axb5 Bxb5 27. f4 gxf4 28. exf4 Rba8 29. Rbc1 Ra2?! I'm not sure why Svidler wanted to trade an active rook for a passive one.
29... Bd7! Would have been a better move.  )
30. Rc2 Rxc2 31. Qxc2 Bd7 32. Qe2 Bxe6 33. Qxe6+! And White will easily be able to hold the opposite-colored bishop ending.
33... Qxe6 34. dxe6 Ra2+ 35. Kf3 Rd2 36. Rc1 Bb2 37. Re1 d5 38. Re2 Rxe2 39. Bxe2 Kg7 40. Bb5 Kf6 41. Bd7 Bc1 42. g4 Bd2 43. Bc8 c4 44. bxc4 dxc4 45. Ba6 c3 46. Bd3 fxg4+ 47. Kxg4 Kxe6 48. f5+ Ke5 49. Kf3 Kd4 50. Bc2 Ke5

Levon Aronian of Armenia, who has had a quie tournament, looked like he had some chances against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, but Kramnik held with accurate defense.

Levon Aronian vs. Vladimir Kramnik
Tal Memorial | Moscow | Round 5 | 01 Oct 2016 | 1/2-1/2
50. a4 Black was under moderate pressure for a while and had to lose a pawn, but with accurate defense he held without trouble.
50... bxa4! 51. Rxa4 Rc6! 52. b3 f6 53. Ra5 Rb6! White is unable to make any progress. Black's pawns are all well defended and the king cannot effectively approach without losing the b-pawn.
54. Kc3 Rc6+ 55. Kb4 Rb6+ 56. Kc4
56. Kc5 Rxb3  )
56... Rc6+ 57. Rc5 Rd6 58. Ra5 Rc6+ 59. Kb4 Rd6 60. Rd5 Rb6+ 61. Kc3 Rc6+ 62. Kb2 Rc8 63. Ra5 Rc6 64. b4 Rd6 65. Kc3 Rc6+ 66. Kb3 Rd6 67. Kc4 Rc6+ 68. Rc5 Rd6 69. Kc3 Rb6 70. Kb3 Rd6 71. Ka4 White finally found a way to get to the a6 pawn, but it allows too much counterplay.
71. Rc3 White cannot save the f3 pawn because he needs to control the b5 square.
71... Ke5 72. Ka4 Rb6! 73. Ka5 Rb5+!  )
71... Rd3! and Black has enough counterplay to save the game
72. Rc6+ Ke5 73. Rxa6 Rxf3 74. b5 Rf1 75. Rc6 Kxe4 76. b6 f5 77. Rc3 Ra1+ 78. Kb4 Ra6 79. Kb5 Rxb6+ 80. Kxb6 fxg4 81. Kc5 Kf4 82. Rc4+ Kf3 83. Rc3+ Kf4

In Round 6, Aronian, who seems to be on good form despite his five draws, will get a crack at the leader while playing White.

————————————————————————-

Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 5 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.