London: Five-time chess world champion Viswanathan Anand won his maiden London Classic title after defeating British Grandmaster Michael Adams in the fifth and final round on Monday.
Having drawn the first four games of the six-player, round-robin tournament, Anand had to win to stay in contention for a podium finish. He was duly assisted by Adams who fought it out instead of going for a dull draw with white pieces.
The victory confirms Anand’s presence in elite chess for some time. Just two weeks before the London Classic, Anand had suffered defeat against Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the world championship match at Sochi and the quick recovery here shows that there is more to expect from the Indian on the chequered board.
Anand scored seven points in all under the soccer-like scoring system that gives three points for a win and one for a draw. With his sole victory apart from the four draws, Anand matched Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Anish Giri on points and then has the superior tie-break to clinch the title.
The London scoring system favours the player with victories with black pieces and both Giri and Kramnik had won only with white earlier in the tournament.
Hikaru Nakamura of United States was the only serious contender for title but he could not get the better of world number two Fabiano Caruana of Italy. Nakamura ended on six points for his sole fourth spot while Adams and Caruana ended on an identical four points each.
Anand equalised comfortably with black pieces. The queen-less middle game typical of the Berlin was on board a long time till Adams went for liquidation but an erroneous plan gave Anand the better chances.
Adams was down to five minutes for nine moves and made the fatal error on the 32nd move in the knights-and-pawns endgame after which there was no looking back. Anand gobbled a queen side pawn and then the march of black pawns to glory was inevitable. The game lasted just 36 moves.
Giri and Kramnik played out a draw out of a Catalan opening where the former played white. Going for one of the main lines, Giri showed enough maturity to keep his position together and Kramnik could not dent white’s position in anyway.
The players finally reached a queen and minor piece endgame where the draw was a just result after 60 moves.
Nakamura fought the hardest but Caruana was also calling his shots for his first victory in the tournament. The middle game arising out of another Berlin looked equal but Nakamura pressed and pushed for as long as he could. The point was split only after 81 moves.