| Garri Kasparov vies with Azerbajian’s Teimour Radjabov on Day II of the Linares chess meet Monday
Linares: Viswanathan Anand played out a second-round draw with Spaniard Francisco Vallejo Pons to maintain top position in the 20th Linares Super Grandmaster chess tournament Monday.
On a day which saw world’s highest-rated player Garri Kasparov of Russia suffering a shock defeat against tournament baby GM Teimous Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Russian World No. 2 Vladimir Kramnik played sensibly to beat youngest ever world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine to share the lead with Anand on 1.5 points.
Playing black, Anand had his task cut out in the Queen’s Indian Defence as Vallejo got a slightly better position after the opening.
The young Spaniard used his middle game expertise to exert pressure in the centre and held a firm control with imaginative deployment of pieces.
The Indian got his share of counter-play on the queenside as Vallejo initiated a king-side attack and sacrificed an exchange on the 28th move.
Vallejo offered the draw just two moves later which Anand accepted.
Though many hail Radjabov as a future world champion, none would have trusted him to strike such stupendous which handed Kasparov his first loss in Linares since 1997.
The Russian’s no-loss streak in the prestigious event lasted a staggering 62 games.
Kasparov, playing white, was taken aback by Radjabov in the French Defence game. Uncorking a rather dubious new idea on the 10th move itself, Radjabov was written off by quite a few during the course of the game, but his tenacity took him through as Kasparov attacked in the centre.
Though Radjabov survived many threats against the king, he kept finding just the right kind of moves to keep going in the middle game.
The young gun bounced back into the game on the 24th move as Kasparov erred decisively to hand over the initiative in a platter.
Once on top, Radjabov was at his attacking best and gave no chances to Kasparov who turned a mere spectator to his opponent’s knights doing a tango.
In a last ditch effort, the Russian tried a piece sacrifice but could not prevent the loss in 39 moves.
Ruslan Ponomariov, who is having a hard time in the tournament, suffered his second loss.
The Ukrainian fell prey to a tactically alert Kramnik in the Rossolimo Sicilian. The white pieces failed to yield any advantage to Ponomariov as his position gradually deteriorated. Kramnik just had to calculate right in the final stages to march his pawn to glory and he did precisely that to clinch the issue after 40 moves.