Anand Retains Morelia-Linares Title


Morelia, Mar 8: World champion Viswanathan Anand asserted his supremacy at the Morelia-Linares tournament for the second time on the trot after settling for a facile draw with former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the 14th and final round in Linares.

Anand ended this category-21 tournament with 8.5 points and finished a half point clear of nearest rival Magnus Carlsen of Norway who played a draw with Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan in his last game.

Levon Aronian of Armenia signed peace with Peter Leko of Hungary while Alexei Shirov of Spain could not break the ice and reached the same result against Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk making it an all-draws affair in the final round.

For the records, Aronian and Topalov tied for the third spot on 7.5 points, Radjabov finished fifth on 7, Ivanchuk ended clear sixth a half point behind while Shirov and Leko tied for the seventh spot scoring just 5.5 points apiece.

It was an encore of Anand's last year's result but the gap was a bit narrower. In the previous edition too, Anand had won the title scoring 8.5 points but was a full point ahead of nearest contenders.

In the final round Anand playing white, had little troubles against Topalov as the Indian knew that his half point cushion was going to be tough for Carlsen to jump over.

It was a Sicilian Najdorf by Topalov wherein Anand, as demanded by the tournament situation, played it safe and allowed Topalov to get away with an easy equality in the middle game.

After a few minor pieces and a couple of pawns had changed hands the players arrived at a middle game with heavy pieces and bishops of opposite colours where the peace was a just result.

Anand said he owed his success to his consistency in the tournament.

"I had a turbulent first half but I caught up by the fifth round with a score similar to last year, after that I had two draws before flying over [to Spain from Mexico]. I feel in people [other players] were tired here. I think I was the most stable person here while others were going through roller coasters," he said after the win.

On how he would compare his performance in the two legs of this unique event played over two continents, Anand said, "I scored a half point more at Morelia but its basically the same tournament, I think in Morelia I played interesting games".

The Indian ace said his first round win over Shirov was his best effort in the tournament.

"I really like my win over Shirov, it was a great start to the tournament," he said.

The Indian star ruled out his participation from the FIDE Grand Prix this year and will next play in the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess tournament before taking a break.

After Anand had drawn, the onus was on Carlsen to match the world champion and he tried quite hard against Radjabov.

Playing white, the teenaged sensation from Norway even managed to win one of Radjabov's pawns but the latter remained alert in the endgame to force a draw after 69 moves.

Results final round: V Anand (8.5) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul, 7.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 7.5) drew with Teimour Radkjabov (Aze, 7); Alexei Shirov (Esp, 5.5) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 6.5); Peter Leko (Hun, 5.5) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm, 7.5).

The moves: V Anand v/s Veselin Topalov: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Bg5 Be6 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. Qd3 Nc6 11. O-O-O Qb6 12. Qxd6 Be7 13. Nd5 Bxd5 14. Qxd5 O-O 15. Qd2 Qxf2 16. Bc4 Qh4 17. Qe2 Rac8 18. a3 Bf6 19. Kb1 Nd4 20. Nxd4 exd4 21. g3 Qg5 22. Rhf1 Qe3 23. Rf3 game drawn.


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