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Anand king at Amber

Monte Carlo: Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand won the 12th Amber blindfold and rapid chess meet in style defeating Bulgarian Veselin Topalov 1.5-0.5 in the 11th and final round here.

This was Anandís third title in this unique meet that has one blindfold and one rapid game in each round. The Indian ace had earlier won in 1994 and 1997.

Anand finished the tournament with a tally of 14.5 points, a full point ahead of nearest rivals Peter Leko of Hungary and 2001 champion Alexander Morozevich of Russia.

Though Anand did not finish first in the individual rapid and blindfold categories, his steady performance in both was enough to earn him the championís crown.

BrainGames champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia won the blindfold title after he drew his last round game with Ljubomir Ljubojevich of Yugoslavia. Anand tied for second along with Morozevich in blindfold with a fluent victory over Topalov.

Russian Evgeny Bareev won the rapid title after agreeing to a quick draw with Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine. Like Kramnik, Bareev also scored 8 points out of a possible 11 and was half a point clear of Anand and Leko in this section.

Anand started the last round with white and faced the Sicilian Sveshnikov. Anand deviated from variations he had been employing of late and caught Topalov off guard.

The Bulgarian was surprised by a very effective 13th move that gave Anand a tangible advantage with his pawn advances, fetching him a passed pawn on the sixth rank as early as on move 15.

Topalov never recovered thereafter and it was evident that he was fighting a lost battle after Anand exchanged a few pieces to lend momentum to his quest for the title. On move 30, Anand had passed two pawns on sixth rank and it was just a matter of finding the right moves to curb Topalovís last-ditch efforts. The game lasted 43 moves.

In the return rapid game, Anand equalised comfortably with his black pieces after opting for one of the side variations of the Ruy Lopez. Topalov was obviously dismayed by his mauling in the blindfold and took a safe approach that ended the game in truce in just 17 moves.

This was Anandís sixth title in eight appearances this season.

FINAL STANDINGS

Combined: 1. Anand (14.5); 2-3. Leko, Morozevich (13.5 each); 4-5. Kramnik, Topalov (13.0 each); 6. Gelfand (12.0); 7. Shirov (11.5); 8. Bareev (11.0); 9. Almasi (9.5); 10. Ivanchuk (9.0); 11. Van wely (8.0); 12. Ljubojevic (3.5).

Blindfold: 1. Kramnik (8.0); 2. Morozevich, Anand (7.0); 4. Gelfand (6.5); 5. Leko, Topalov (6.0 each); 7. Shirov (5.5); 8-10. Ivanchuk, Almasi, van Wely (5.0 each); 11. Bareev (3.0); 12. Ljubojevic (2.0).

Rapid: 1. Bareev (8.0); 2-3. Anand, Leko (7.5); 4. Topalov (7.0); 5. Morozevich (6.5); 6. Shirov (6.0); 7. Gelfand (5.5); 8. Kramnik (5.0); 9. Almasi (4.5); 10. Ivanchuk (4.0); 11. Van Wely (3.0); 12. Ljubojevic (1.5).

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