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Peter Leko pips Kramnik to title

Linares: Hungarian Peter Leko pipped Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik by virtue of a better tiebreak score to the 20th Linares Super Grandmasters title after the two played out a draw in the final round Monday.

Viswanathan Anand drew his final round game with top rated Garri Kasparov to finish third on better tie-break.

The tie-break rule favoured the player with more wins and Leko had the maximum four in the tournament. Anand was next with three wins while Kasparov and Kramnik recorded two each.

Anand could have easily finished on top but for the misfortune that struck him in two endgames when he lost from drawn positions against Kasparov and Leko.

The last round games were devoid of any excitement as players concentrated on accurate play and avoided risks.

Leko, who beat Anand in the penultimate round, managed to equalise pretty comfortably against Kramnik, who played white. Anand, on the other hand, could not find himself in a position from where he could press hard against Kasparov.

Playing white, Anand faced the accelerated Sicilian Dragon defence by Kasparov that the Russian employed for the first time. The game took the shape of one of the dull variations of the regular Dragon and Kasparov pushed hard to get something on the king side with a pawn sacrifice but in vain.

Anand exchanged the queens successfully but his extra pawn came under severe pressure. Subsequent exchanges led to a simple endgame and the peace treaty was signed after 32 moves.

Kramnik opened with the king pawn and Leko easily equalled in one of the side variations of the Sicilian. The middle-game did not have many strings attached to it and exchanges at regular intervals led the game to a rook and pawns endgame.

Kramnik offered the draw after 35 moves and it was immediately accepted by Leko.

In the lone decisive game, world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine beat local star Francisco Vallejo giving a fine display of his endgame prowess.

The opening was a Queen’s Indian and Vallejo missed out on converting a better position in the middle-game.

The endgame might have been drawn with correct play but Ponomariov persisted with his better-placed rook and was rewarded after 43 moves.

Final standings

1. Leko; 2. Kramnik; 3. Anand; 4. Kasparov; 5. Ponomariov; 6. Vallejo; 7. Radjabov. (PTI)

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