Anand crushes Ponomariov in Tata Steel chess tourney

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By Our Chess Correspondent

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands), Jan 16 (PTI) Worldchampion Vishwanathan Anand defeated former FIDE worldchampion Ruslan Ponomariov of the Ukraine in his opening roundin group A competition of the 73rd Tata Steel chess tournamenthere.

The win, with black in 52 moves from a Sicilian Defence,was an important boost for Anand to regain the top spot inrating list, which he lost to Norway''s Magnus Carlsen earlierthis month.

International Master Tania Sachdev caused a major upsetin the ''C'' group being held simultaneously defeating secondseed Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia. Tania emerged as early leaderin her group while in the ''B'' group, the lone Indian SuryaShekhar Ganguly went down to Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia.

It was a tense first day in the premier group as threedecisive games did not exactly justify the intense battlesbetween the best chess brains. Carlsen played out a draw withLevon Aronian of Armenia in which majority of experts believedthat the former was in some troubles.

The surprise of the day came from local star Jan Smeetswho outwitted Alexei Shirov of Spain through a home-cookednovelty and the best game prize of the day was won by HikaruNakamura of United States for his fantastic victory overAlexander Grischuk of Russia.

Anand, Smeets and Nakamura thus emerged as early leadersin the 14-players round robin tournament being played underclassical time control.

With four drawn encounters, as many as eight playersshare the fourth spot after the first round including Carlsen,Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

Anand played in classic style to outplay Ponomariov inall departments of the game. Playing the black side of aSicilian Najdorf, Anand attained easy equality in the middlegame that ensued and slowly pushed for the initiative whilePonomariov appeared at sea.

The Ukrainian blew away his chances when he tried toinvade the queen side with his queen and, much to his owndismay, found it trapped. Losing the queen for a knight,Ponomariov continued in vain, prolonging his agony till the52nd move before finally calling it a day.

Nakamura''s victory against Grischuk was best described byGM Ivan Sokolov. "It was a beautiful game, conducted with asteady hand by Nakamura," said Sokolov.

"Grishuk was cramped for space and saw no other way outthan to sac a piece for two pawns after only 18 moves. It wasan effort to obtain active play but he never got a chance. Itisn''t often that Grishuk gets clobbered in such a way," hesaid. (More) PTI Corr SHN

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