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Victory keeps Anand in leading pack

Wijk aan Zee: Viswanathan Anand and three of the other five sharing the lead after Round V posted wins in Round VI of the 66th Corus Grandmasters chess tournament late on Saturday.

All four winners — Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Michael Adams, Veselin Topalov — were playing with white pieces and have four points. Anand put it across Alexei Shirov in the sixth round.

Anand, who holds a psychological edge over the Latvia-born Shirov having beaten him in the Fide world championship final in Teheran in 2000, calmly encountered a Petroff Defence and pocketed the point after 56 moves. The Indian has so far won two and drawn four games.

In other matches, Topalov beat Victor Bologan in 52 moves in a closed Ruy Lopez, while Adams outplayed Evegeny Bareev in a 25-move French Tarrasch. Kramnik dealt Chinese newcomer Zhang Zhong a longish lesson in a 78-move game after an English Opening.

The other three games, Peter Leko-Vladimir Akopian, Ivan Sokolov-Loek van Wely, Jan Timman-Peter Svidler ended in draws. The 52-year-old Timman’s draw against fourth seed and Russian champion Svidler was a surprise result.

Anand admitted he may have missed a winning move earlier, but then said: “I missed a winning move but did not lose any opportunity to apply fresh pressure. I knew I had the win.”

The Anand-Shirov game was fairly routine in the beginning, following the tried and tested lines of the Petroff Defence. By the 24th move, the players had exchanged most of the pieces and were left with a rook and knight each.

Anand won a couple of pawns and then ensured the exchange of knights to reach an ending where he had two pawns and a rook against Shirov’s rook. This position had in the past seen draws, but Anand piled on the pressure and forced a mistake from Shirov.

With Anand’s pawn getting to the seventh rank, Shirov’s rook was distanced from his king and that resulted in his resignation after the 56th move.

Anand meets Zhong in the seventh round.

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