Monte Carlo: Viswanathan Anand settled for a 1-1 draw with Russian GM Evgeny Bareev to maintain his top position in the combined standings after the tenth and penultimate round of the 12th Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess meet here on Thursday.
Anand was lucky to remain in the sole lead as it was due to the surprise victory of tailender and “written off” veteran Ljubomir Ljubojevic that he now goes to a final round showdown with Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria with half a point more in his kitty.
Ljubojevic sprang a surprise in the blindfold against Peter Leko and bounced back from a nearly lost position to score his first victory in the tournament.
Anand now has 13 points and is half a point ahead of Linares champion Peter Leko of Hungary and Topalov in the combined standings. Besides these three only defending champion Alexander Morozevich of Russia is in with a chance for top honours in this $193250 tournament that has one Blindfold and one Rapid game in each round.
BrainGames champion Vladimir Kramnik set himself as the number one in the Blindfold standings as he extended his lead over Morozevich in this section to a full point. The Rapid section, however, is still open with Bareev leading the field with half a point margin over Anand and Leko.
Anand played two uneventful draws with Bareev. The first duel was a Nimzo Indian defence in the Blindfold and it appeared for some time that Bareev was in mood to take some risks.
However, with a terrible score behind him in this section, the Russian decided against it and a few exchanges led to a level position and a draw was agreed to in 24 moves.
The rapid encounter between the two lasted just one more move than the previous game and this time Anand did not get much out of his pet Winawer Variation as white against the French Defence. Two pieces got traded quite early and Anand’s attack on the kingside did not really materialise.
Ljubojevic’s perseverance yielded high dividends against Leko. Playing white in blindfold Leko outplayed his opponent right from the opening and had an extra rook by the 21st move itself. Ljubojevic created some threats that could not be countered and after the 40th move, Ljubojevic turned the tables.
In the return Rapid game, Leko was again in trouble and even offered a draw but it was spurned. However, an oversight cost Ljubojevic dear and Leko equalised through a simple and pretty combination.
Topalov lost to Morozevich in the blindfold but bounced back in the Rapid to level scores while Kramnik defeated Dutchman Loek Van Wely 1.5-0.5 by winning the blindfold and drawing in Rapid.
RESULTS (penultimate round):
Blindfold: Evgeny Bareev (Rus) drew Viswanathan Anand; Alexei Shirov (Esp) beat Boris Gelfand (Isr); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) beat Loek Van Wely (Ned); Peter Leko (Hun) lost to Ljubomir Ljubojevic (Yug); Zoltan Almasi (Hun) drew Vassily Ivanchuk(Ukr); Veselin Topalov (Bul) lost to Alexander Morozevich (Rus). Rapid: Anand drew Bareev; Gelfand drew Shirov; Van Wely drew Kramnik; Ljubojevic lost to Leko; Ivanchuk drew Almasi; Morozevich lost to Topalov.
1. Anand 13.0; 2. Leko, Topalov 12.5; 4. Morozevich 12.0; 5. Kramnik 11.5; 6. Gelfand 11.0; 7-8. Shirov, Bareev 10.0; 9. Almasi 9.0; 10. Ivanchuk 8.0; 11. Van Wely 7.5; 12. Ljubojevic 3.0.