The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anand still top of the heap

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands): Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand maintained a slender half point lead after a draw with GM Michal Krasenkow of Poland in the ninth round of the 65th Corus chess tournament.

After a few exciting previous rounds, most of the players preferred an extended rest day ahead of the final one scheduled for Thursday. Six out of seven games ended in draws leaving Anand (6 points) half a point ahead of nearest rivals GM Loek Van Wely of The Netherlands and world’s highest rated woman player Judit Polgar of Hungary.

The lone big beneficiary of this round was defending champion Evgeny Bareev of Russia who scored over compatriot Alexander Grischuk in an exciting game. As a result, Grischuk fell down to joint fourth in the standing list where he was joined by Bareev and Spaniard Alexei Shirov.

In the Grandmaster B tournament however, it was a different story altogether with as many as six decisive games. The spectators’ interest was naturally shifted to this section and even the best game prize of the day was given to Friso Nijboer who outsmarted woman world championship finalist Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia.

Chinese top seed Zhang Zhong expanded his lead to two points and looks a certain winner having tallied eight points out of nine so far. Former world junior girls’ champion Koneru Humpy also fought back in the event and scored over GM Peter Acs of Hungary.

Anand was up against the Berlin defence by Krasenkow who shifted from his pet Sicilian Sveshnikov with the black pieces. The queens were traded quite early and Anand could not really make any decisive headway at any point of time. After a mere 19 moves the Indian ace decided that there was nothing left to play for and the peace was immediately signed.

“I might have gone wrong somewhere,” said Anand after the game adding that his 17th move was probably a mistake.

Bareev employed the Caro Kann Defence and faced the sharp advance variation by Grischuk who played white. The middle game was fierce with Bareev’s queen taking a crash course and venturing into opposition territory on her own.

Masterminding a brilliant attack, after confining his king to safety, Bareev knocked down one pawn and following Grischuk’s desperate measures, ended up with a couple of extra pieces. Grischuk resigned after 38 moves.

Polgar and Shirov have generally fought wild Sicilian games between them but the Spaniard went for a safer approach.

The preferred Sveshnikov Sicilian yet again proved successful to give an easy draw with black pieces to the Latvian born Spaniard with the game lasting just 22 moves.

Van Wely too appeared in mood to test GM Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and took the raw in a mere 20 moves. Ivanchuk has not been involved in a single decisive game yet and most of his games have been tame draws.

GM Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, however, took a different route to draw. Playing white against Ponomariov, Topalov was seen fighting hard for an advantage against the Berlin ‘wall’ and forced the world champion to part with an exchange.

However, Ponomariov defended the ensuing endgame precisely to get the half point.

Teimour Radjabov appeared to be in fine fettle against BrainGames champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia but in the end decided against going for complexities while Jan Timman of The Netherlands put a much needed break to his losses with an easy draw against former world champion Anatoly Karpov of Russia.

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