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Viswanathan Anand keeps his tryst with history

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HAIL THE EMPEROR: Viswanathan Anand (left) drew the 11th game against Vladimir Kramnik and retained the World title on Wednesday.
HAIL THE EMPEROR: Viswanathan Anand (left) drew the 11th game against Vladimir Kramnik and retained the World title on Wednesday.

Rakesh Rao

The Indian draws the eleventh game against Vladimir Kramnik in 24 moves

Anand now has claimed the World title in three different formats

His approach was pro-active in the eleventh game

BONN: Viswanathan Anand has kept his tryst with history here on Wednesday. The much-needed draw against challenger Vladimir Kramnik in the eleventh game gave Anand a historic win (6.5-4.5) with white pieces in the most-widely followed World chess title match.

Anand, winner of all the major titles in the game at least once in his illustrious international career spanning 25 years, now holds what appears to be an unbeatable record of having claimed the World title in three different formats.

Anand won the title in 2000 in the now-discontinued 128-player knockout format. Last year, it was in the eight-player double round-robin format. Now Anand has regained the title in the most accepted and traditional matchplay format. Known for his versatility in all time-formats — classical, rapid and blitz — Anand has now widened his reputation in the chess world like never before.

Silencing the critics

He has silenced all those who doubted his ability to emerge stronger in matchplay. Anand could not have proved his point against a better player than Kramnik. Until Wednesday, Kramnik was unbeaten in World title matchplays since attaining greatness by beating Garry Kasparov by a two-point margin in2000.

In 2004, Kramnik defended the title by staving off Peter Leko’s challenge with a last-round win. And in 2006, he bounced back to beat Veselin Topalov in their acrimonious match to keep the title. On the other hand, in spite of being the most consistent performer in the game over the past decade, Anand did not get his due from a large number of connoisseurs from the erstwhile Soviet Union and other East European nations. They contended that Anand had not proved his worth in the matchplay format.

With the latest triumph, Anand has left none in doubt that he truly belongs to the gallery of greats. Even for a person like Anand, who does not believe in leaving behind a legacy, it was important to prove his calibre once for all, at the biggest stage against the most accepted match-player since Kasparov.

Throughout the match, Anand showed tremendous intensity and character. The most admirable aspect of Anand’s victory here is his ability to match fire with fire. He was not one bit intimidated by Kramnik, his reputation and envious record in title matches.

Even after winning two games with black and one with white, Anand did not play the waiting game. When the world expected him to become a little defensive, and even a bit passive to add to Kramnik’s frustration, Anand’s approach was pro-active. However, this suited Kramnik and he was steadily better off after Game Seven. Anand admitted feeling “lost” in the eighth game, before escaping from the Russian’s clutches in the ninth and eventually surrendering the 10th.

After a day of rest, Anand was expected to play a formidable mainline of a well-known opening that could lead to a much-needed draw on Wednesday. Unlike Anand’s previous game with white, this time Anand gave nothing away and forced a comfortable draw in 24 moves.

The title-match is over. With the coronation of King Anand as the new Emperor of world chess, Kramnik’s thirst for revenge may have just begun.

Corrections and Clarifications

In the reports "Anand is world champion" (October 30, 2008, page 1) and"Viswanathan Anand keeps his tryst with history" ("Sport", October 30,2008), the word "matchplay" was used repeatedly, leading to a query on howit had relevance to chess. The Sports Desk clarifies that "match-play", inchess, often used without a hyphen in the United States, has the samemeaning as in golf. It refers to a series of head-to-head contests such asin the world title match between Anand and Kramnik. There are various otherformats in chess, including round-robin (which Anand won last year) andknock-out (which Anand won in the year 2000.)

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