Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
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By Our Chess Correspondent
The 20th City of Linares chess tournament had an off day on Tuesday. Five rounds remain to be played in this seven-player double round robin category 20 tournament.
Gary Kasparov, the No. 1 ranked player, has dominated Linares, winning eight out of 19 times. Anatoly Karpov and Ukraine's Vassily Ivanchuk have won three times each, but are not taking part this time.
Among others who have played and won once are India's Viswanathan Anand, who won the event unshared in 1998 and Kramnik who shared the title in 2000.
In 1997, Kramnik was leading but was pipped by Kasparov. Most of these previous events have been one horse race or at most a two-way tie for the title. A four-pronged battle is unusual for a big tournament and will be remembered for it.
Being in the lead, Kramnik has the best chance to win the tournament for the second time. Moreover, he has not lost a game and this solidness in his play should reflect in a good finish. The big game left for him is against Anand where he has white and there is no danger.
Leko may not be in the lead but has an extra game on hand and if he manages more than a draw from it he might emerge as the leader. Barring the defeat against Anand, he had made a good played a good tournament making a comeback into the tournament after a gap.
In the joint third place are Kasparov and Anand with 4.5 points from seven games. The Indian would rue his missed opportunities and needs another victory to rekindle his spirits.
Kasparov is among the points and a win against Anand has boosted his chances. If he can show the form as in the four previous Linares tournaments or his performance at the Bled Olympiad he is likely to make the title race interesting.
It is still not late for Anand to pull up after letting the good initial start slip. His play has been dominated by missed chances in successive games. One point from the last three games has spoilt his progress. In the tenth round he has a bye followed by a black game against Kramnik, a white game against Radjabov, black against Leko, and white against Kasparov.
One victory and three draws can still be enough for a tied first place. To win the tournament he needs at least two wins, as Kramnik is not likely to drop games at this point.
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