| Anand proved once again that he delivers when it matters most
Mainz: Peaking at the right time world No. 3 Viswanathan Anand completed a hattrick of victories in the Mainz chess classic billed as ‘battle of the sexes’ defeating Judit Polgar, 5-3, in the 8-game series that concluded here late Sunday night.
The victory for Anand was sweet as it came the hard way after being forced to catch up with the world No. 11, following defeats in the opening games on the first three days.
Anand proved once again that when it really matters he delivers in the most prolific fashion.
With the scores level at 3-3 at the start of the final day, Anand got the better of the world’s best woman player in both games to take the title for the third consecutive time.
Anand had earlier won the 2001 edition against world No. 2 Vladimir Kramnik of Russia while last year world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine was at the receiving end.
Anand was in his elements Sunday and Polgar proved no match. The Hungarian’s gameplan also withered towards the closing stages of the match that proved crucial.
Under pressure to level scores after losing the seventh game, Polgar simply could not live up to expectations.
Requiring just a draw from the last game, the Indian went on a ruthless, all-out offensive against Polgar to win with black pieces.
There was not a single draw throughout the match and this one will certainly go down in history as one of the most hard fought rapid chess contests.
Polgar was caught by suprise by the Indian’s Ruy Lopez opening, a shift from the usual Sicilians that Anand had been playing in this match so far, in the final game.
Anand’s second Grandmaster Rustem Dautov of Germany explained the strategy: “We thought playing Sicilian in the last game against Judit would be asking for trouble, and hence went for the Ruy Lopez”.
It surely did yield high dividends as Polgar failed to embark on her customary attack against the king, though she did try the same after settling down.
Anand maintained the balance he was hoping for with thematic manoeuvres and improved his position on the queenside after getting a firm control. Sensing danger, Polgar went for the attack on the kingside after sacrificing two pawns but the Indian was alert enough to thwart all the threats.
The piece sacrifice by white on the 37th move was also declined as black continued his roller-coaster ride.
Polgar resigned when she was faced with further loss of material, giving Anand his third victory on the trot.
“The final game was very pleasant and at some point it looked like a dream position. This will go down as the most tense rapid match I have played,” said the champion.
Polgar confessed that she was nervous and played badly in the post match briefing.
Earlier in the seventh game, Anand secured the lead for the first time by accounting for Polgar from the white side of a Sicilian defence game.