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Anand in joint lead with 2 rounds to go

Linares: Viswanathan Anand emerged joint leader after registering a fine win against teenage sensation Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan in the 12th round of the Linares Super Grandmaster chess tournament here.

With two more rounds remaining in this seven-player category 20 tournament, both Anand and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia have amassed six points from their ten games and they seem to be heading towards the battle for the crown.

The third place is jointly held by top rated Garri Kasparov of Russia and Hungarian Peter Leko on 5.5 points apiece and these two are the only ones in with a chance for top place.

The earlier two encounters between Anand and Radjabov — one here and one in the last Corus meet — had ended in draws and this could have propelled the speed king to draw the first blood in the 12th round.

The opening choice by Radjabov, a Sicilian Labourdonnais, did not come as a major surprise as Anand took the game move by move. The Indian got a slight but lasting advantage in form of a central bind as the game surfaced middle game stage.

Radjabov went berserk looking for a good plan and ended up getting his rook trapped in the middle of the board after a rather uncharacteristic blunder on the 31st move. Anand wrapped the issue just two moves later.

“I was pressing in the end. When the position was getting better, he (Radjabov) blundered. He got his rook trapped in the centre of the board, that was obviously a pleasant surprise for me,” Anand said after the game.

In a major upset of round 12, local star Francisco Vallejo Pons finally proved his mettle by defeating highly-regarded Leko.

Playing white, Vallejo got a big plus in the middle game as Leko went for unwarranted complications resulting in his losing two pieces at the cost of a rook.

The rest required a lot of precise technical display but Vallejo made it look quite easy with some fine moves.

Kasparov could not do much with his black pieces against world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine and had to settle for a draw in 34 moves of a Nimzo Indian defence game.

The stage is set for a photo finish here and the next round will be crucial in final standings. Anand will have his last black against a wounded Leko, who is likely to take a wild shot after the disastrous result in the 12th round.

Kasparov with white will definitely go all out against Vallejo while Kramnik will meet Radjabov looking to get back the sole lead.

Results

Anand (6) beat Radjabov (4), Vallejo Pons (4.5) beat Leko (5.5); Ponomariov (4.5) drew Kasparov (5.5), Kramnik had a bye.

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