Anand settles for draws to maintain lead

Viswanathan Anand settled for two draws with Grandmaster Alexei Shirov of Spain to maintain a one point lead in the Mainz Chess Classic.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Viswanathan Anand settled for two draws with Grandmaster Alexei Shirov of Spain to maintain a one point lead after the second day of the duel of the World champions in the Chess Classic here. At the half-way mark in this 8-games contest, Anand leads by 2.5-1.5 and now needs just a fifty per cent score from the remaining games to win this event for the fourth time in succession. The match is being played with 25 minutes each to both players with a 10 seconds addition after every move is made. The fourth game of the day had ample excitement as Anand went for the Ruy Lopez open and Shirov employed the most dangerous position. Early lead Sacrificing a piece early in the opening that is already a part of established theory, Anand got two connected passed pawns in the middle of the board and Shirov was constantly nagged thereon. The Spaniard apparently did not have any new idea to test and as a result Anand got a slightly favourable position. To add to Shirov's trouble the clock also showed a substantial lead in time for the Indian ace. Shirov however fought back brilliantly and restricted Anand from making a decisive headway. Subsequent exchanges witnessed a transposition to rook and pawns endgame by force and there was nothing to play for either player. The peace was signed in 42 moves. "I was under tremendous time pressure and I am happy to draw this game," complemented an exhausted Shirov after the game. Pressing on Summing up the days play, Anand said "Somehow in the second game I missed the chance. Having said that, I am still pressing him in every game." Earlier in the first game of the day, Anand played white and yet again was prompted to go for the Marshall Gambit that is the main weapon in Shirov's armour. However, this time, probably anticipating that Shirov was well prepared, Anand went for the Anti-Marshall but could not achieve what he really desired in the complex middle game. Even though Shirov surrendered a miniscule advantage to white, Anand only had just as much for the major part of the game as black pieces too made their presence felt in the not-so-exciting encounter. After routine manoeuvring, Anand found himself in a balanced middle game position where playing for a win could have been futile. Sacrificing a pawn in the final stages of the game, Anand went for the minor piece endgame wherein Shirov's pieces did not gain the mobility they deserved and a draw was a just result after 45 moves. Decisive games In the Chess 960 battle between defending champion Peter Svidler of Russia and Armenian Levon Aronian two more decisive games were the order of the day. Aronian was the first to strike but Svidler came back with some imaginative ideas to level scores. Chess 960 is a variant of the game wherein the position of the pieces is changed randomly before the start of every game. An invention by former World Champion Robert Fischer who is currently detained in Japan, the initial position of the pieces can have as many as 960 designs and that's where the new name is derived from. (PTI)