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Anand completes hattrick

New Delhi: Viswanathan Anand added a fourth world-level title to his collection this year as he rebounded strongly from a first-game loss to beat veteran Anatoly Karpov of Russia in the final of the sixth Corsica Open chess tournament in Bastia, France.

Over the last three months Anand has won the Eurotel title in Prague in May, followed by the Chess Classic of Mainz title in July, the World Cup in Hyderabad in October and now the Corsica Open.

In the final against Karpov, another former Fide world champion like Anand, the Indian lost the first game but bounced back to win the next and send the match into a play-off, according to information received here on Tuesday.

They drew the next two before Anand won the last two games played in the blitz format. This was the first match in the knockout stage where Anand had been stretched beyond the normal two-game match.

The 32-year-old Anand, who, ironically had lost the Fide world championships final to Karpov in the rapid games tie-breaker back in 1998, has now beaten the 52-year-old Russian in their last two finals, at the Eurotel meet and now in Corsica.

It was a very interesting and gripping battle between two of the greatest players of our times. The clash was witnessed by a large audience that included more than 200 school students and for them seeing a match between two former world champions was indeed a treat.

In the six games in the final, they went through a whole series of openings. It could well have been a clash for the books, where they showed their skills in various kinds of opening and with Anand recently signing up to promote a chess-for-schools programme, this match could well be one to use a great example of skills.

Anand lost the first game with black in a Queen’s Indian opening, but then struck back with white in a Petroff Defence employed by his rival. The next two games were drawn in Caro-Kann and queen’s gambit accepted.

In the fifth game, played in the blitz format with five minutes for the game besides five seconds being added for each move, Anand won in Neo Gruenfeld with black pieces.

Needing a draw in the sixth game, Anand clinched the title in style in a Sicilian but Karpov was also taking chances knowing he had to win to stay in the hunt.

The time control for the first two games was 20 minutes plus five seconds for every move; and then it was 10 minutes plus five seconds for the next two games and then five minutes plus five seconds for the blitz games.

With the victory, Anand became the first player ever to win the title three times in a row.

In his last four rounds in the knockout format, Anand beat Javier Cornero Moreno of Spain, Artur Yusupov of Germany, Mikhail Gurevich of Belgium and finally Karpov. Karpov got past Jurij Zezulkin, Vladislav Tkachiev, and Alexei Shirov before succumbing to Anand.

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