World champion Viswanathan Anand ended his long chain of draws with a lucky victory over Spaniard Alexei Shirov in the tenth round of the ‘A’ group of the Corus chess tournament.
Having drawn the first nine games, Anand yet again tried hard to be back on his winning ways but missed a simple tactic which might have seen him on the receiving end.
However, Shirov missed the opportunity at the fag end of the first time control and instead landed in a lost position which the Indian ace converted without much ado.
Ahead of the third and final rest day, this welcome break for Anand saw him jump to joint fourth spot with just three rounds remaining in this category-19 event.
Russian Vladimir Kramnik emerged as the new sole leader on seven points after Shirov’s disastrous loss. The Russian played drew with Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine on a day that also saw Magnus Carlsen uncork the French defense and winning a fine game against defending champion Sergey Karjakin.
Carlsen and Shirov are joint second with 6.5 points each while Anand shares the next position along with Hikaru Nakamura of United States, Leinier Dominguez of Cuba, Vassily ivanchuk of Ukraine and Karjakin who all have 5.5 points each.
In the ‘B’ group, P Harikrishna suffered a shocking loss against Dmitri Reinderman of Holland, while Parimarjan Negi played out a draw with Ni Hua of China.
Harikrishna was outdone in an English opening by Reinderman who stuck form. Harikrishna lost a couple of Queen side pawns in the middle game and his counter play bid did not really materialise as Reinderman won in 58 moves.
Parimarjan Negi yet again held a higher ranked opponent to an easy draw. Playing the black side of a Queen’s gambit declined, Parimarjan had no difficulties in equalizing out of the opening and timely exchanges forced the game in a level ending. The peace was signed in 51 moves.
Anish Giri of Holland remained at the top of the tables in this section after taking a draw with top seed German Arkadij Naiditsch. The 15-year old now has seven points and Erwin l’Ami of Holland and Ni Hua are still on his toes a half point behind. Parimarjan is joint fifth on 5.5 points while Hari slipped to joint seventh spot on 5 points.
Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta suffered his second reversal in as many days in the ‘C’ group as the Indian could not find an adequate method to combat Norwegian Lie Kjetil and sacrificed a pawn early in the opening. Kjetil played the ensuing middle game quite well to romp home in 53 moves.
World junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan scored her first victory in the event at the expense of Swede Nils Grandelius. The Pune-based got an attacking position early in the opening and she was a treat to watch in tactical complications. Grandelius resigned in 36 moves.
Chinese Li Chao increased his lead to a whopping 1.5 points after beating Robin Swinkles and took his tally to 7.5 points in all and a group of four follow him with six points each. Abhijeet with 5.5 points is joint fifth here while Soumya stands 13th in the 14-players competition.
Iranian chess grandmaster Morteza Mahjoob, who holds the world record for the most number of simultaneous matches, is bent on reviving old Persia’s passion for the ancient game.
Chess was outlawed for nearly a decade after the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah, sidelining Iran from the international chess map.
The 29-year-old Mahjoob, one of seven Iranian international grandmasters — five men and two women, has worked to reverse this and “promote this sport nationwide,” he told AFP.
This fueled his bid to break the record for simultaneous games when he played 500 opponents in Tehran’s Enghelab sports complex last August in a feat monitored by FIDE, the World Chess Federation.
“I had less than five seconds for each move, while each competitor had 20 minutes for his or hers… And I had to walk more than 500 metres (yards) for each round.
“It actually took 18 hours, from 10 am … until 4 am the next day, and given the high temperatures that month it was quite a challenge,” he said.
Though Mahjoob was “really worried”, he won 397 games and “broke the record recorded in the Guinness Book of records,” confirmed Dave Jarrett of FIDE in an email. This sidelined Bulgarian grandmaster Kiril Georgiev who set the world record only six months months earlier playing 360 opponents.
Now Filipino international grandmaster Rogelio Antonio will try to break Mahjoob’s score in April by playing 600 simultaneous matches at Ninoy Aquino stadium in Manila, according to organisers.
The attempt was to have taken place this weekend but organisers said it had been postponed.
But Mahjoob is undaunted. “I always knew that this record would some day be broken, but did not expect it would be this fast.” If sidelined by Antonio, he said he is already “working to regain the world record again during the coming summer.”
“I don’t know how many more (players) but hopefully one hundred more,” he said — meaning 700 simultaneous games.
Mahjoob trained for more than a year for last August’s event, including an exhaustive physical fitness regime. “In this kind of competition as well as having a trained mind, one has to be in good physical shape.
But his real start came as a youngster when he saw his first game.
Chess was outlawed in 1981 because it was thought to encourage betting, which is forbidden in Islam. But in 1988 the Islamic republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or Islamic religious decree, permitting chess as long as no gambling was involved.
The game, driven underground, made a vigorous comeback.
“One day I went to a park near my home to get a notebook from my friend and … saw two grown-ups playing chess on a bench,” Mahjoob told AFP.
“To kill time I gazed at them moving their pieces around the board and it was there and then that I learnt chess. I asked one of them if I could play … I told him I had just learnt it by watching him! But the man let me play and I beat him in my first game.
“I was 13 then and it made me realise that I had potential in chess,” he recalled.
Mahjoob won grandmaster status in 2007 and today ranks 668 in FIDE’s list of active world players and 60 among active Asian players. He runs two chess schools with a dozen coaches and 800 trainees.
Both his website and that of the Iranian Chess Federation feature a picture of Khomeini’s hand-written fatwa. “It paved the way for Iran’s progress in the world of chess,” Mahjoob said.
The country, which had no grandmasters and only three international masters prior to the revolution, now ranks 49 on FIDE’s list of the 139 top chess countries and has some 200,000 residents playing competitively, according to national chess officials.
Budding champions and chess classes abound, both privately and in city hall-run cultural centres. Competitions are held on every level from national down to local schools, and state-run television broadcasts key games, also showing women players in Islamic dress.
Mahjoob, father of a three-year-old girl and married to a chess coach, has been wooed by neighbouring United Arab Emirates to train their national team — even more so since his world record — but says he’s not interested.
“Like any athlete, I love to reach the summit,” said Mahjoob, who cites legendary Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov as a role model.
“I would love to become the world chess champion.”
A well rested Filipino GM Wesley Barbasa So is looking for his first win in the 72nd Corus international chess championship group B as he battles Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna in the 5th round at the De Moriaan Community Centre in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands.
The 16-year-old So, 2009 Corus C group champion, drew his first four round assignment against top seed GM Arkadij Naiditsch of Germany, GM Erwin l’Ami of the Netherlands, GM Varuzhan Akobian of the United States and GM Parimarjan Negi of India.
So gets his much needed rest on Wednesday before tackling Harikrishna.
Over-all, So tallied a total of 2 points and joins the 6th placers in the company of Negi, Naiditsch, former World Championships finalist Romanian GM Liviu- Dieter Nisipeanu and Finnish GM Tomi Nyback.
“Crucial game ni Wesley (So) sa fifth round, hope manalo siya,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., who bankrolled the local and international chess campaign of So together with Filway Marketing Inc. CEO Hector “Chito” Tagaysay.
Dutch GM Anish Giri and Chinese GM Ni Hua, both leading in the 13 round-robin tournament with 3 points will each try to maintain their lead. Giri will go up against Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky while Ni will face England’s GM David Howell.
Individual Standings after round 4, Group B:
3 points— GM Anish Giri (Netherlands), GM Ni Hua (China)
2.5 points— GM Erwin L’Ami (Netherlands), GM David Howell (England),GM Pentala Harikrishna (India),
2 points— GM Wesley So (Philippines), GM Arkadij Naiditsch (Germany), GM Liviu- Dieter Nisipeanu (Romania), GM Tomi Nyback (Finland), GM Parimarjan Negi (India),
1.5 points— GM Emil Sutovsky (Israel), WGM Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine)
1 point— GM Varuzhan Akobian (USA),
0.5 point—GM Dimitri Reinderman (Netherlands)
Before the final round of this prestigious Italian tournament seven-time Hungarian champion Zoltan Almasi was a full point ahead. But he had to face his main rival, Gata Kamsky, with the black pieces. The US grandmaster played a dashing exchange sacrifice on move 17 to take the game and the overall tournament victory. Second was Almasi, third Fabiano Caruana.