| ANAND: Draw with Leko
Monte Carlo: World Cup champion Viswanathan Anand maintained his position atop the table after a 1-1 draw with Linares champion Peter Leko of Hungary in the eighth round of the 12th Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament here.
Anand took his tally to 10.5 points after the two draws with Leko and remained half-a-point ahead of nearest rivals, defending champion Alexander Morozevich of Russia and Israeli Boris Gelfand in the combined standings.
Leko and Vasselin Topalov of Bulgaria, both on 9.5 points apiece, jointly hold the fourth position while BrainGames match winner Vladimir Kramnik was relegated to sixth spot on 8.5 points after Morozevich annihilated him in both the games.
The defeat cost Kramnik dearly as he lost his lead in the blindfold section as well to Gelfand and slipped to second spot after having played quite well in earlier rounds. Topalov holds the third place in this section and Anand is in joint fourth spot with Morozevich, Leko and Dutch Grandmaster Loek Van Wely.
In the rapid section, Bareev joined Anand in lead after capitalising on a blunder by Van Wely. Morozevich is half a point adrift of the two leaders while Leko is a close fourth on five points.
It turned out to be a rather uneventful day of draws for Anand. Playing black in the blindfold, Anand opened with the Sicilian Nazdorf and got a balanced middle game in the English attack employed by Leko.
In the rapid, Anand played white and Leko equalised without any trouble with his Sicilian Taimanov. Quick exchanges led to an endgame with bishops of opposite colours and rooks where Anand had a weak extra pawn. Leko just guarded against a decisive advance of white pawns and as soon as he captured Anandís extra material, the draw was agreed to. The game lasted 25 moves.
The hero of the day was undoubtedly Morozevich who had a victory he would cherish for many years. Playing the French defence as black in the blindfold, Morozevich faced the Winawer variation and struggled a little in the middle game as Kramnik managed a pleasant position.
However, while going for a direct attack against the king, Kramnik missed a tactical sortie that resulted in loss of a piece on the 36th move. Kramnik resigned one move later.
In the rapid game, Morozevich opened with the king pawn and opted for the closed Ruy Lopez that maintained the dynamic balance in the middle game. Kramnik found himself on the hot tin roof when his exchange of pieces handled the initiative to Morozevich in the queen and minor piece endgame.
Morozevich then won two pawns quickly before exchanging the queens. The rest required precise technique and Morozevich did not falter to pocket the full point in 65 moves. Monday is the second and final rest day in the tournament.
RESULTS (Round 8)
Blindfold: Peter Leko (Hun) drew Viswanathan Anand; Zoltan Almasi (Hun) bt Ljubomir Ljubojevic (Yug); Vasselin Topalov (Bul) drew Boris Gelfand (Isr); Evgeny Bareev (Rus) lost to Loek Van Wely (Hol); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) lost to Alexander Morozevich (Rus); Alexei Shirov (Spa) drew Vassily Ivanchuk.
Rapid: Anand drew Leko; Ljubojevic drew Almasi; Gelfand drew Topalov; Van Wely lost to Bareev; Morozevich bt Kramnik; Ivanchuk lost to Shirov.
1. Anand 10.5; 2-3. Morozevich, Gelfand 10.0 each; 4-5. Leko, topalov 9.5 each; 6. Kramnik 8.5; 7. Bareev 8.0; 8. Almasi 7.5; 9-10. Ivanchuk, Van Wely 7.0; 11. Shirov 6.5; 12. Ljubojevic 2.0.