The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anand back as sole leader

Monte Carlo: Former world champion Viswanathan Anand regained sole lead after a long drawn 1.5-0.5 win over Spaniard Alexei Shirov in the seventh round of the 12th Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament here.

With four rounds to go, Anand has 9.5 points and leads the standings by just half a point over Israeli Grandmaster Boris Gelfand. The Indian ace also leads in the rapid category with 5.5 points.

In the blindfold playoff, Anand faced the Petroff in his game against Shirov. A draw was agreed to after 39 moves. In the rapid variety, Anand tried the Petroff against Shirov, but he kept the game evenly balanced. However, Shirov went haywire as the endgame surfaced and lost a pawn in the rook ending. Anand did not let go of this opportunity and wrapped up the game in 73 moves.

In the overall standings, Linares champion Peter Leko of Hungary, Kramnik and Bulgarian Vasselin Topalov with 8.5 points jointly hold the third place, behind Anand and Gelfand. In the rapid standing, Russian Evgeny Bareev is half a point behind Anand. Gelfand joined Kramnik at the top of the blindfold table by defeating Bareev in the blindfold variety. Both the leaders have 5.5 points apiece, followed by Topalov on 4.5. Anand and Leko share joint fourth spot on four points each. Gelfand scored over Bareev in the Chelyabinsk variation of the Slav Defence.

Playing white, the Israeli GM maintained a slight advantage in the middle game and capitalised on an erroneous endgame plan by Bareev to net a pawn. Gelfand soon drew the rapid to win the mini-match. Erstwhile leader Peter Leko went down to Alexander Morozevich. Kramnik had a 1-1 draw with Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk.Topalov scored over lowly placed Ljubomir Ljubojevic 2-0 to move up in the standings.


Blindfold: 1-2. Kramnik, Gelfand 5.5 each; 3. Topalov 4.5; 4-5. Leko, Anand 4.0 each; 6-8. Morozevich, Ivanchuk, Van Wely 3.5 each; 9. Almasi 3.0; 10. Shirov 2.5; 11. Bareev, 2.0; 12. Ljubojevic 0.5.

Rapid: 1. Anand 5.5; 2. Bareev 5.0; 3-4. Leko, Morozevich 4.5 each; 5. Topalov 4.0; 6. Gelfand 3.5; 7-9. Kramnik, Almasi, Ivanchuk 3.0 each; 10-11. Shirov, Van Wely 2.5 each; 12. Ljubojevic 1.0.

Overall: 1. Anand 9.5; 2. Gelfand 9.0; 3-5. Kramnik, Leko, Topalov 8.5 each; 6. Morozevich 8.0; 7. Bareev 7.0; 8. Ivanchuk 6.5; 9-10. Almasi, Van Wely 6.0; 11. Shirov 5.0; 12. Ljubojevic 1.5. (PTI)

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