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Anand retains world chess title

other Updated: Oct 30, 2008 13:24 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times
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Viswanathan Anand was in no mood to relent after his 10th round loss to Russian Vladimir Kramnik a day before Diwali. The Indian Grandmaster mixed aggression with caution to eke out a draw and retain the World Championship title in the 11th game on Wednesday.

Anand required only half-a-point to clinch the title and win a purse of euro 250,000. He grabbed his chance with both hands the moment Kramnik offered him an opportunity. The 38-year-old Indian thus moved to 6.5 points and retained the title he won in Mexico last year by topping a field of eight players that also included Kramnik.

Kramnik tried to take the game on Wednesday through a maze of complicated moves, as that was the only way to put pressure on the Indian. However, Anand fought bravely and negated all threats posed by his rival. He neutralised the complications and steered the game to a position from where Kramnik could see no chance of winning and thus decided to concede the match.

This was the third World Championship title for Anand, who had earlier bagged the title in 2000 at Delhi and Tehran by winning the FIDE knock-out tournament, and then regained it last year at Mexico.

The title also made the Indian undisputed champion of the game. He was already the world champion in 'tournament and knockout formats' but this 'match-play' victory has made him the all-round champion. Anand's win is all the more significant considering that the chess bodies have unified.

Anand's dilemma

Anand was in a dilemma as to whether he should play it safe and allow his rival go for broke, or go for sharp, complicated lines that served him well in the first half of the match. He finally decided to play his usual aggressive game and reached a comfortable position midway through the game. It became clear the Indian Grandmaster would be able to squeeze out at least a draw unless he made a mistake or Kramnik pulled a rabbit out of his hat.

Anand surprised Kramnik by opening with the king pawn, his favourite first move with white that he had steadfastly avoided in this match thus far. Anand had started by moving a pawn in front of his queen, which he had done rarely before this match and forced a bemused Kramnik into sharp, complicated lines that the Russian failed to handle properly.

But on Wednesday, Kramnik was up for a battle and chose the Sicilian Najdorf, one of the sharpest openings and which he has not used many times.

Anand offered a pawn and Kramnik took it and created complications by launching an attack on the Indian Grandmaster's king.

However, Anand won back the pawn, exchanged pieces and traded off the queens to steer the game to a position where black had no choice but to draw.

As Kramnik offered his hand with a shake of his head, the crowd in the hall stood up to applaud Anand.