World Blitz C'ship: Anand falters at end

World Champion Viswanathan Anand nearly pulled off a stunning title win as he took overnight leader Vassily Ivanchuk to the very brink.

updated: November 24, 2007 19:08 IST
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World Champion Viswanathan Anand nearly pulled off a stunning title win as he took overnight leader Vassily Ivanchuk to the very brink at the World Blitz Chess Championships before blundering and losing a golden opportunity to add another world title to his kitty.

Anand ended second to Ivanchuk Friday evening in the strongest-ever World Blitz Championships.

The Chennai-born Anand, trailing Ivanchuk by two points after the first day, caught up with the Ukrainian with a string of wins on the second day. With 10 wins, six draws and just two losses Anand swallowed up the gap and the two players were tied at 24.5 points each after 37 games in the 38-game tournament, which had 20 players.

Anand with white pieces looked to be cruising to a win when he went two pawns up after 28 moves against Ivanchuk in the title-deciding game. Anand only needed to keep pushing his h-pawn but he misplayed and inexplicably lost with a rather strange 35th move Neg4. He resigned two moves later and Ivanchuk was the new world Blitz Champion.

Each of the 20 players played the others twice, once each with black and white. After the first day, Ivanchuk ran up a two-point lead and Anand was lying fifth.

On the second day, Anand began the great chase with four wins in a row over Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Morozevich, Alexei Shirov and Peter Leko - the last being a revenge for a first-round loss. By the end of the 29th round - the 10th of the second day - Anand had caught up with Ivanchuk.

Thereafter World No. 1 Anand World No. 2 Ivanchuk were neck and neck till they stayed tied at the end of 37th and penultimate round. Then Anand seemed to be running away only to lose in the end.

"It was great to chase Chuky (Ivanchuk) and I started well, but it was then disappointing to lose it after coming so close," said Anand, who played safe draws with Alexander Grischuk, Gata Kamsky and Vladimir Kramnik, to whom he had lost in first round, which he called as a 'bad day'.

The original number of players at the tournament was 18, but the organisers decided to increase this to include the finalists of the 2006 World Blitz Championship in Israel, Grischuk and Peter Svidler.

The rate of play is four minutes per game for each player, plus two seconds per move starting from move one.

The prizes were $25,000 for the winner, $15,000 for the runner up, $10,000 for third place and further prizes ranging from $7,250 for fourth to $2,500 each for 11th-14th places and $1,500 each for 15th-18th places.