Anand sole leader at end of Morelia-Linares chess first leg

February 25th, 2008 - 3:50 pm ICT by admin  

Morelia (Mexico), Feb 25 (IANS) Viswanathan Anand’s love affair with Mexico as a chess venue continued as he grabbed the top honours in the Morelia leg of the Morelia-Linares Grandmasters tournament. The World champion drew his seventh round game against Vassily Ivanchuk to be the sole leader at the halfway stage in the event that is held in two venues. Anand leads with 4.5 points while Latvia-born Spaniard Alexei Shirov and Bulgarian Veselin Topalov have four each. Armenian Lev Aronian and Swede Magnus Carlsen are tied for fourth at 3.5 each, while Azerbaijani Teimour Radjabov and Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk have three each. Hungary’s Peter Leko brings up the rear at 2.5 points.

Despite Anand’s draw which was the final set of matches in the Mexican leg, the seventh round had three decisive games. Magnus Carlsen played a classic against Levon Aronian, while Veselin Topalov, playing black, took a full point from a luckless Peter Leko. Alexei Shirov won a fine game against Teimour Radjabov.

Anand had white pieces in a Scheveningen Sicilian game against Ivanchuk. The Indian, who has won three games with black but none with white, went for the usual pawn assault aimed at the black castling. But Ivanchuk was wary and handled the situation well and took proper measures at the centre. He managed to neutralize the attacks to ensure a balance. The draw was agreed after 31 moves.

Aronian was caught on the wrong foot against Carlsen in a Ruy Lopez resembling an Archangelsk. Aronian’s sharp play went wrong and Carlsen managed to find a weakness as Aronian’s attempt to grab White’s d4 pawn proved costly. Black was left with a minor piece deficit insufficiently compensated by three pawns. Carlsen handled the rest skilfully to ensure a full point.

The Leko-Topalov clash was another Sicilian. Leko’s passive play allowed Topalov to seize the initiative and play a free flowing game. Later, Topalov trapped Leko’s queen which was traded by the black rooks. That gave Topalov a big advantage as Leko’s white pieces suffered from lack of coordination. Also falling under time pressure, Leko made a final blunder and Topalov pocketed full points.

Shirov beat young Radjabov in another game in the King Indian Defence.

The tournament so far has seen some exciting chess and very few games have been boring or short draws. The scene now shifts to Linares, Spain for the second half of the tournament.

Results (seventh round): Anand drew with Ivanchuk; Shirov beat Radjabov; Carlsen beat Aronian; Leko lost to Topalov.

Points after seven rounds: 1. Anand (4.5); 2. Shirov and Topalov (4 each); 4. Aronian and Carlsen (3.5 each); 6. Radjabov and Ivanchuk (3 each); 7. Leko (2.5)

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