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Saturday, June 30, 2001

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Anand expected to show better nerves

By Arvind Aaron

MAINZ, JUNE 29. World champion Viswanathan Anand will be expected to show better nerves and use his white pieces effectively should he plan to recover from Wednesday's poor showing in the 10-game rapid match against rival Braingames World champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the Mainz chess classic.

The most important chess match of the year has started well for 26-year-old Kramnik who leads 2.5-1.5 after four games.

Six games remain to be played in this match. In case of a 5-5 tie there will be a play-off to keep in line with the tournament motive: two champions, one winner. The venue is the Rhinegoldhalle in the Hilton International Hotel.

Failure to press with white by Anand has left Kramnik a happy man. The Russian hasn't been fully tested in his defences. In the second game, Anand missed the opening move order and soon there was nothing to play for except a draw. In the third game in which he was white, from an advantageous position he tried a disastrous pawn capture that spelt doom.

In his black games Anand gave a draw in what was thought to be a better position in game one and defended well to draw the fourth after Kramnik obtained the upperhand.

``Kramnik shows greater concentration here and that could give him a big edge,'' said German Grandmaster Eric Lobron who then added, ``it is not about who is the better player.''

``A lot will depend on if he can manage to recover,'' said commentator Dr. Helmut Pfleger, who said about Anand making a comeback. This Grandmaster said, ``I was afraid he would lose the fourth one too and collapse like he did to Karpov at Lausanne in 1998 but it did not happen.''

Anand will have to play towards his strength and get a position from the opening where his quick thinking will be a certain edge. The previous time Anand lost to Kramnik was at Dortmund 2000 where too he made a simple mistake while rushing a move.

Rather than say that Kramnik has taken the lead, it may be right to say that Anand has lost the lead. The free day should help him chalk out a plan for the next six games where he will hope to bridge the deficit. His familiar team, which includes his trainer of the past seven years, GM Elizbar Ubilava and his wife Aruna are around to talk to him.

They silently spent their fifth wedding anniversary evening at an Italian restaurant and walked on the banks of the Rhine river. They also had a long chat with organiser Mr. Hans- Walter Schmitt till past midnight. They married at Chennai on June 27 and have spent every wedding anniversary in this tournament, winning three titles. One of them included a final clash against Kramnik which he won 4-3 in the tie-break after the rapid games were tied.

At the chess board, the pattern of the opening choices is unlikely to change with no major dent dealt to the queen's gambit accepted and the Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez. Anand will have to play on positions using his smartness to survive in positions at reduced time and this should help him win a game. Once ignited by a victory he can keep the match exciting with risk taking. More decisive games in the match should favour Anand and he should play with greater risk. Kramnik has some moral support with the presence of some Braingames officials here, including GM Raymond Keene who supports breakaway FIDE groups.

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