Anand beats Smeets to jump to sole lead

From Our Chess Correspondent

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands), Jan 21 (PTI) WorldChampion Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand scored an impressivevictory over Jan Smeets of Holland to jump to sole lead afterthe end of the fifth round of the ''A'' group in the 73rd TataSteel Chess tournament here.

With his third victory from five games, Anand took histally to four points and is now half a point ahead of nearestrival Hikaru Nakamura of United States who played out a drawwith Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.

On a day that saw Magnus Carlsen coming back to form witha hard-earned victory over local hope Erwin L''Ami, ChineseWang Hao also scored his first victory at the expense ofAlexander Griscchuk of Russia.

With eight rounds still to come in the 14-player roundrobin tournament, Anish Giri of Holland is in joint third spotwith three points along with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of Francewhile Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia share the fifthspot on 2.5 points each.

Anand played the Brayer defense in the Ruy Lopez openingand after equalizing the Indian ace was simply superb on theboard. When many believed to a be a drawn endgame, Anandcontinued to fight for a victory giving up a rook for aBishop.

The game could have been drawn with precise play butSmeets allowed Anand to march ahead with his pawn after ablunder on the 57th move. By the time the Dutchman, who had afine start, gave back his extra material, Anand had knockeddown three pawns and it was all over in quick time.

Carlsen''s perseverance paid off in his game against L''Amiwho defended a worse position well for the major part of thegame. The world number one Norwegian went for a double edgedendgame and won a pawn but the technicalities were far fromeasy as L''Ami matched him move for move.

Carlsen could finally manage a rook and knight versusrook endgame that is theoretically drawn and was eventuallyhelped by L''Ami''s blunder in this longest game of the day.

In the ''B'' group, Surya Shekhar Ganguly committed ablunder to lose to Philippines'' Wesley So. With just 1.5points in his bag from five games, the soon-to-be-marriedsecond of Anand will need to recover before it''s too late. Theleader in this section is Luke McShane who has four pointswhile Ganguly shares the last spot.

Tania Sachdev did not have to do much in her game againstRobin Van Kampen of Holland in ''C'' group as her preparation asblack came good to snatch an easy half point. Tania, whostarted as the lowest seed in the category-11 field, inched upto 2.5 points and meets leader Daniele Vocaturo of Italy inthe next round.

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