Anand loses to Topalov

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Defending champion Viswanathan Anand suffers a shocking loss at the hands of Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the 12th round of Corus Chess tournament.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands:

Defending champion Viswanathan Anand suffered a shocking loss at the hands of Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the 12th round of Corus Chess tournament now drawing to a close here. Despite the loss, Anand (8 points) maintained a slender half point lead over nearest contender Grandmaster Peter Leko of Hungary. GM Michael Adams of England might join Leko in the second spot as he enjoyed a favourable position against local veteran Jan Timman. The penultimate round was in fact topsy-turvy in more ways than one as the biggest upset of the tournament also came in this round. Dutchman Ivan Sokolov, who had not won a game so far in the event, accounted for top seeded and Braingames match winner Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. Next week Anand is going to play a match with Topalov in Bulgaria and the game today might as well have served as curtain raiser for the main event. Though been in tremendous form so far in this category 19 event, Anand could not really match Topalov who has thus far had mixed results here. Playing black for the last time in the event, Anand just needed a draw to ensure himself the title as he plays white against tail-ender Ivan Sokolov in the final round game tomorrow but as things turned out, the Indian star was denied the needful by a resurgent looking Topalov who put up a tremendous effort to score against the man in form. The opening was a Sicilian Nazdorf where Topalov traded early on less trodden paths and was duly rewarded with a pawn sacrifice by Anand. Playing resourcefully thereafter Topalov steered his king to safety in an open position and gradually increased his advantage by pushing the pawn. Anand's final bid for counter play came in form of an exchange sacrifice in the final stages of the game but Topalov was well armed to face any consequences by then and handed Anand his first loss in the tournament. The game lasted 44 moves. Ivan Sokolov, formerly from Bosnia, shocked Kramnik to come out of his last place in the standing list. Playing white, Sokolov faced the Queen's Indian and got a better position as Kramnik went haywire in the middle game. Uncorking an exchange sacrifice, Sokolov won his first game of the tournament in style, marching his central passed pawn to glory. In the other decisive game of the day so far, Bologan continued with his uncompromising attitude and defeated four times Russian champion Peter Svidler in a keenly contested game. (PTI)