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Russians reduce margin

Moscow: The Russians staged a superb comeback and defeated Rest of the World team twice by identical 5.5-4.5 margin in the third and fourth set of ten games in the match of the new century currently underway at State Kremlin Palace.

With six more sets of ten games remaining in the match, the world team continues to lead the Russians by a slender one-point margin. The score after the fourth round is 20.5-19.5 in favour of the world team.

World’s top rated player Garri Kasparov scored his first victory in the match, getting the better of in-form Alexei Shirov of Spain who had defeated Vladimir Kramnik in the third round. The Russians dominated the world team in most of the important clashes of the day and it now suggests a level battle on the cards.

Starting off with two victories in the first two games, Viswanathan Anand was up against former world champion Anatoly Karpov Monday. But the veteran did not do much with his white pieces in the fourth round game.

Anand’s theoretical tactics in the queen’s gambit declined continued with the Russians, having earlier played it against Vladimir Kramnik in the last Advance Chess match at Leon in Spain.

This time Karpov managed a slight advantage out of the opening when Anand gave up a pawn to get the bishop pair as the game entered the middle game phase.

Anand ventured into the minor pieces endgame and controlled all the major entry points with his bishop that gave him a fortress-like position. Karpov, on the other hand tried relentlessly to score his first win in the match after two rather dismal losses and did almost everything the position allowed.

The game lasted 114 moves before the peace treaty was signed.

Kasparov was at his attacking best in tackling Shirov from the white side of a Caro Kann advance game. Setting his sights on the king right from the beginning, Kasparov launched an attack on both flanks and won a pawn.

Shirov made an impressive come back bid with a piece sacrifice on the 17th move but his king became more vulnerable than Kasparov’s in the middle of the board. With accurate placement of his queen, Kasparov weaved a mating net in the resulting queen and minor pieces endgame and won in just 30 moves.

Youngest world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine continued with his winning ways and defeated former world champion Alexander Khalifman with black pieces. This, in fact, became Ponomariov’s second successive victory with the black pieces after he earlier beat Vadim Zvjaginsev in the third round.

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