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Anand stays 2nd after draw

Linares: Viswanathan Anand played out his third successive draw, against Azerbaijan sensation Teimour Radjabov, in the fifth round of the 20th Linares Super Grandmaster Friday.

Hungarian Peter Leko emerged sole leader by clinically dismissing the challenge of Francisco Vallejo of Spain on a day that witnessed world’s highest rated Garri Kasparov strike form with a brilliant onslaught against Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.

Leko has three points and is trailed by Anand and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia who have 2.5 each. Also on 2.5 is Radjabov but he has played a game more than Kramnik and Anand.

Anand opted for a safety first ploy and was never in any real danger against the Azerbaijan 15-year-old who played white. Employing the Queen’s Indian Defence, Anand reached a balanced middle game with routine exchanges and by the 17th move three minor pieces were off the board.

Another exchange of a couple of pawns in the centre enabled Anand direct his pieces to effective squares from where he could tackle any attack. The draw was agreed to after just 25 moves. Radjabov had beaten Kasparov earlier in the tournament.

Kasparov and Ponomariov entered the game after an indifferent display so far in the tournament. But while the Russian played some brilliant chess to raise his tally to two points, Ponomariov’s slump continued.

Kasparov showed that he might be down but certainly not out. Opening with the king-knight move, he sprang an early surprise and was rewarded handsomely when Ponomariov went for the Queen’s Indian.

The middle game became easy for Kasparov as Ponomariov found one of knights stranded on the edge of the board while his king came under danger. Even the exchange of queens on the 29th move did not ease the pressure and Kasparov pocketed a pawn before marching his king to force a fitting finale. The game lasted 43 moves.

Leko did what he is best at these days — maintaining the tension for a long time in one of the fashionable variations against the Sicilian Taimanov with white. The Hungarian traded the queens at a crucial juncture to net a slight advantage.

Vallejo appeared all at sea and could not find any good plan for counter play. Leko steadily built his position and was getting set for the knockout punch when Vallejo resigned on the 43rd move. (PTI)

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