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Since 1st March, 1999
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Anand held by Ponomariov

Linares: Viswanathan Anand failed to convert an advantageous position and settled for a draw with world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of the Ukraine in the eighth round of the Linares Super Grandmasters chess tournament here.

Peter Leko of Hungary crushed Azerbaijani wonder kid Teimour Radjabov for the second time in the seven-player double round robin tournament and jumped into joint lead with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia who drew top rated compatriot Garri Kasparov.

Kramnik and Leko have 4.5 points each, while Anand and Kasparov follow the duo half a point behind.

Radjabov and Ponomariov share the fifth spot on 2.5 points apiece and local lad Francisco Vallejo Pons brings up the tail on 2 points with an extra game in hand.

Anand failed to come out of the demoralising defeat to Kasparov in the previous round and missed out on a winning attempt but he nevertheless did well to thwart the champ.

It was yet another Rossolimo attack game where the Ukrainian, white, played wildly in the vain hope of catching Anand off guard in the ensuing tactical complexities. But Anand thwarted all threats posed by Ponomariov and got a firm control with right deployment of forces.

The Ukaranian, meanwhile, worked on the queen side and got two connected passed pawns for some counter play.

Just when it looked like Anand was cruising through, a simple oversight cost him dearly. On the 39th move Anand missed out on a retreat that would have probably given him the full point. Ponomariov quickly capitalised on the inaccuracy and steered the game to a draw five moves later.

Kasparov tried hard to catch up with Kramnik in their first classical Ruy Lopez clash where the former played white.

Getting a semblance of advantage after the opening, Kasparov went for routine manoeuvres, while Kramnik struck in the centre to equalise comfortably. The game ended in a draw through perpetual checks after 33 moves.

Leko again made a mincemeat of 15-year-old Radjabov and clearly the young-beast will have to work on a makeshift opening from his French defence in the remaining games with black.

Leko got a superior position right from the opening and lingered on with his attack against the king even after Radjabov castled queenside in a McCutcheon variation.

The Hungarian was rewarded handsomely for his efforts as Radjabov allowed a queen sacrifice and resigned on the 32nd move.

RESULTS (Round 8)

Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr, 2.5/7) drew Viswanathan Anand (4/7); Garri Kasparov (Rus, 4/7) drew Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 4.5/7); Peter Leko (Hun, 4.5/7) bt Teimour Radjabov (Aze, 2.5/7); Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spa, 2/6) had a bye.

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