Monday, Oct 21, 2002
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By V.V. Subrahmanyam
A beaming Viswanathan Anand, along with wife Aruna, flashes the victory sign after retaining the title in the World Cup chess tournament at Ramoji Film City, near Hyderabad, on Sunday. Photos: P.V. Sivakumar
With his facile 29-move win over Uzbek Grandmaster Kasimdzhanov in the second round of the men's final, he successfully defended his title he won in China two years ago. And more importantly, his third world title was his first on homeland.
As the champion performer himself remarked it was a photo copy of the result in the last World Cup as defending champion Xu Yuhua too retained the title with a 31-move win over the highest-rated player in the fray, Stefanova Antoaneta of Bulgaria.
Anand was visibly pleased with the way he could wrap up the issue without extending it into the tie-breaker. The game started off in Petroff Defence and the Indian's mastery in the middle-game was what proved to be decisive. His ability to come up with the right combinations clearly unsettled the opponent. Kasimdzhanov's 14th move Bd6-Bd7 was not a strong move which gave white pieces space advantage. After that he even conceded his bishop on the c3 square on the 15th move.
Anand took advantage of his own two bishops and came up with two real good moves - h3 and Ne5 on the 17th and 19th which gave white strong pull in the game. Worse for the Uzbek, he not only sacrificed a piece but overlooked Nc4 from the Indian after which there was very little for him but to give up hope. As that act of desperation from the opponent was what exactly Anand looking for to seize the edge.
More importantly, he didn't let up the pressure and came up with the right combinations to deliver the decisive blow and made Kasimdzhanov to resign after 29 moves, triggering off a wave of greetings, with Mr. Ravi Sanghi, managing director of Sanghi Group of Industries which hosted the World Championship quarterfinals and semifinals in early 90s, being the first one to shake hands with the champion inside the venue itself.
Contrary to the general expectations, defending champion, Xu Yuhua, meant business and was in no mood to be on the defensive even with white against the highest-rated player in women's section, Stefanova. In Ruy Lopez Variation, the Bulgarian Grandmaster faltered with her h6 and g5 moves which experts felt would not be played at this level of chess. For they were followed by a very strong move from Yuhua Ng5 which saw the black's position virtually brittle as Stefanova's Kingside was considerably weakened.
Then even as Stefanova was entertaining to come back into the game, Yuhua delivered another knock-out blow with her very strong Ne4 on the 21st move which saw Stefanova's two knights and the queen vulnerable even as the two bishops lacked space and coordination, to the delight of the Chinese Grandmaster.
Once Yuhua came up with the Ng3-Nf5 on the 28th move, it was only a question of time for Stefanova and she didn't try for too long and quit the contest after three moves.
Anand surprised at the ease
Later speaking to the media, a delighted Anand started off saying: "I am pleasantly surprised with the win in the second round game itself."
Basically, I am very happy for the way I could solve all the problems on the board. That was more important," he remarked. "I personally felt that Kasim got a better position in the opening game itself. His h6 really made me think for a long time, to be precise 20 minutes. Then his Ba5 was a shocker. But fortunately I could find some relief with my Bf4," were Anand's comments to another query.
Looking back, Anand said that his draw against Hichem Hamdouchi of Morocco in his final round game in the preliminaries was a practical move. "It made others think. Well, I was aware of the threat of elimination. But you have to be ready to accept reality," Anand remarked when reminded that he made it to the knock-out phase only after the Kasimdzhanov outwitted Krishnan Sasikiran in the crucial last round game.
He also strongly felt that it was not an easy tournament at all and had lot of depth in terms of competition. "It was not as if I had a piece of cake out there," he quipped. The Indian genius also made a pertinent point that Garry Kasparov is not the centre of attention. "He doesn't even have any titles," he quipped. "Well, he is one of the greatest players but I can help if he doesn't play in a tournament," Anand observed.
He also paid rich compliments to Koneru Humpy for playing real quality games in the first-half. "May be next time she will be lucky to win the Cup."
"I played a real bad game and I think I lost it after I made that decisive mistake Ba5. But it was a very good tournament overall for me,'' was Kasimdzhanov's reaction.
The scores (finals - overall):
Men: Viswanathan Anand (Ind) bt Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzb) 1.5-0.5.
Women: 'Xu, Yuhua (Chn) bt Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) 1.5-0.5.
The moves (final, second round):
White - Viswanathan Anand, Black - Rustam Kasimdzhanov: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Qc2 Na6 10. a3 Re8 11. Nc3 Bf5 12. Re1 h6 13. c5 Bc7 14. Bd2 Ba5 15. Bf4 Bxc3 16. bxc3 Nc7 17. h3 Ne6 18. Bh2 N6g5 19. Ne5 f6 20. Ng4 Qa5 21. Ne3 Be6 22. Rac1 Nxh3+ 23. gxh3 Bxh3 24. Nc4 Qxc325. Qxc3 Nxc3 26. Nd6 Rxe1+ 27. Rxe1 b5 28. Re3 Bg4 29. Bf5 1-0.
White - Xu Yuhua, Black - Antoaneta Stefanova: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bb7 7. Re1 Bc5 8. c3 O-O 9. d4 Bb6 10. Be3 exd4 11. cxd4 Na5 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bh4 Nxb3 14. axb3 g5 15. Nxg5 Nxe4 16. Nf3 Ng5 17. Bxg5 hxg5 18. Nc3 d6 19. d5 g4 20. Nd4 Qg5 21. Ne4 Qg6 22. Ng3 Rae8 23. Ndf5 Kh8 24. Qd2Re5 25. Rxe5 dxe5 26. Nh4 Qd6 27. Qg5 Bc8 28. Ngf5 Bxf5 29. Nxf5 Qg6 30. Qh4+ Qh7 31. Qf6+. 1-0.
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