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Anand, Kramnik in semis
October 29, 2003 14:53 IST
Vishwanathan Anand defeated World champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine 1.5-0.5 to march into the semi-finals of the World Rapid Chess Championship at Cap d'Agde in France.
Braingames champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia also entered the last four with a similar victory over world's best woman player Judit Polgar of Hungary.
The other two semi-finalists will be known only after the end of the remaining two semi-final matches wherein local hope Etienne Bacrot will play against Alexander Grischuk of Russia while Russian champion Peter Svidler will take on Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
These two matches will be played on Tuesday while the next two days will witness the semis and finals of the 16-player competition to decide the best player of Rapid Chess.
Anand proved yet again why he is always one of the top contenders in the faster variant of the game. The Indian ace had almost crawled his way to the quarter-final stage after working hard in the league phase but once in the knock-out, he regained his confidence and cruised past Ponomariov like he did last year in the Mainz Chess Classics.
The much wanted victory came in the second game of the two-game mini-match, yet again with the black that have certainly become Anand's favourite colour in this event.
In fact Anand is yet to win a game here with white pieces and all his victories, including two in the league phase against former World champion Anatoly Karpov of Russia and Hungarian Peter Leko came with black.
It was yet another Queen's Indian after Ponomariov transposed to a variation chosen by Karpov in his league encounter against Anand. The middle game was quite fierce with the Indian launching a queen side offence early and gobbling up a couple of sacrificed pawns to turn the tide decisively in his favour.
Ponomariov sought some solace in the endgame but was gradually outclassed in 52 moves.
Earlier in the first game, Anand opened with his favourite king pawn and was pleasantly surprised by Ponomariov's choice of Brayer defense in the Ruy Lopez.
Anand thwarted Ponomariov's counter play and wiped off two pawns to attain a clearly superior position. However the world champion fought bravely right till the end and capitalised on endgame error to secure the draw.
Kramnik was in top form in outplaying Polgar in all departments of the game. The first game begun with a Queen's Indian and took shape in a sharp tactical battle as the Braingame champion launched a direct attack against the king with a fine pawn sacrifice as early as on move 8.
Thereafter Polgar could not make a real fight as her King was subjected to vigourous attack by all Kramnik's pieces. The Russian stalwart took it one step at a time, struck an unobtrusive attack against the king, manoeuvred in the centre excellently to gain space and uncorked a fine finale to romp home in just 38 moves.
In the second game Polgar deviated from main lines but Kramnik proved quite well armed in attaining easy equality against the Grand Prix attack. Masterminding a tactical route to get the upper hand Kramnik went for Polgar's king and exchanged pieces at regular intervals to reach a much better rook and pawn endgame where the peace was signed after 35 moves.
Vladimir Kramnik beat Judit Polgar 1.5-0.5; Ruslan Ponomariov lost to Viswanathan Anand 0.5-1.5
Other quarter-finals: Etienne Bacrot (Fra) v/s Alexander Grischuk (Rus); Veselin Topalov (Bul) v/s Peter Svidler (Rus).
V Anand v/s Ruslan Ponomariov:
1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. b3 Bg7 16. d5 Rc8 17. c4 c6 18. Bd2 a5 19. Be3 Qc7 20. Bd3 bxc4 21. bxc4 Ba6 22. Bf1 Nc5 23. Bxc5 dxc5 24. Rb1 Bh6 25. Qc2 Rb8 26. Rxb8 Rxb8 27. dxc6 Bf4 28. Ne2 Qxc6 29. Nxf4 exf4 30. Qd2 Re8 31. e5 Nh5 32. Qxa5 Bb7 33. Nh2 f3 34. Nxf3 Nf4 35. Qd2 Ne6 36. Ng5 Rd8 37. Qe3 Rd4 38. Nxe6 Qxe6 39. Qa3 Qb6 40. Qc3 Ba6 41. a4 Qe6 42. Qa5 Qc6 43. Rb1 Bxc4 44. Bxc4 Rxc4 45. Qd8+ Kg7 46. Rb8 Kh6 47. Qf8+ Kg5 48. Qxf7 Qe4 49. Qf6+ Kh6 50. Kh2 Rxa4 51. e6 Ra7 52. Rf8 Qd4 53. Qxd4 cxd4 54. Rf7 Ra2 55. h4 Re2 56. g4 g5 57. hxg5+ Kxg5 58. Kg3 Kg6 59. Re7 h5 60. gxh5+ Kxh5 draw agreed.
R Ponomariov v/s V Anand:
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. d4 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qb3Nc6 6. Nbd2 d5 7. Bg2 Qd7 8. O-O Bd6 9. Qc3 O-O 10. Ne5 Bxe5 11. dxe5 Ng4 12. b4 dxc4 13. Nf3 f6 14. a4 b5 15. Bf4 Rad8 16. Bh3 fxe5 17. Nxe5 Ngxe5 18. Bxe5 bxa4 19. Rad1 Qf7 20. Bf4 Bb5 21. Qe3 e5 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 23. Bxe5 Re8 24. f4 a6 25. Bg2 Nxe5 26. fxe5 Qe6 27. Qc5 c6 28. Rf3 Qe7 29. Qxe7 Rxe7 30. Re3 Kf8 31. Kf2 Ra7 32. Ra3 Ke7 33. Ke3 Rd7 34. Be4 h6 35. Bc2 Rd5 36. Bxa4 Rxe5+ 37. Kf2 Kd6 38. Bc2 c5 39. bxc5+ Kxc5 40. e4 Kb4 41. Ra2 c3 42. Ke3 Re7 43. Ra1 Rd7 44. Rb1+ Kc 45. Rb3 Kc4 46. Rb1 Rd2 47. Bb3+ Kc5 48. Rc1 Rd3+ 49. Kf4 Kb4 50. Bc2 Rd2 51. h4 Rxc2 52. Rxc2 Kb3 white resigned.