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Anand lights up the opening day

NEW DELHI: It needed a brilliant knight-sacrifice from Viswanathan Anand to end Judit Polgar's resistance and light up the opening day of the World chess championship at San Luis, Argentina, on Wednesday evening.

Anand's well-executed victory in 41 moves with black pieces came before joint top seed Veselin Topalov benefited from Peter Leko's generosity and emerged a fortuitous winner, also with black. The other two matches ended in draws of contrasting nature.

But the day belonged to Anand who opened his campaign holding an 8-5 head-to-head advantage with black pieces in 22 games against Polgar, the strongest-ever woman player in the game. He surprised Polgar by adopting Caro-Kann, an opening witnessed only in two drawn encounters between these players in 1998 and 2003. Most of Polgar-Anand games have seen different lines of Sicilian Defence or Ruy Lopez.

After the players castled on opposite sides, Anand easily defused Polgar's aggressive intent on the kingside and initiated his attack from the queenside. With Polgar in time-trouble, Anand delivered a stunning blow by sacrificing his knight on the 34th move. Though Polgar managed to survive a checkmate as well as the danger of being declared lost on time, she gave up before the 42nd turn when faced with the impending disaster.

Lucky Topalov

The other game between Leko and Topalov was also thrilling. Leko held the upper hand in this Sicilian Najdorf game until he allowed the exchange of queens. Thereafter, Topalov seized his chance and shattered Leko's position to force the Hungarian's resignation after 40 moves.

The second round will witness the biggest clash of the event, with Topalov playing white against Anand.

Alexander Morozevich, the unpredictable Russian, stuck to his reputation of opting for lesser-played lines before thwarting World champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov's designs in their 54-move draw in Sicilian Najdorf. In the endgame, involving a rook each and pawns, the Uzbek pressed hard for a win but could do little about his doubled-pawns. Morozevich, despite a pawn less on the board, managed to come out safely.

In the shortest and the most uneventful game of the opening day, Russia's Peter Svidler and England's Michael Adams agreed to sign the peace pact in 24 moves of Petroff Defence.

The results (first round): Peter Leko (Hun, 0) lost to Veselin Topalov (Bul, 1); Alexander Morozevich (Rus, 0.5) drew with Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzb, 0.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 0.5) drew with Michael Adams (Eng, 0.5); Judit Polgar (Hun, 0) lost to Viswanathan Anand (Ind, 1).

Second round pairings: Topalov-Anand; Adams-Judit; Kasimdzhanov-Svidler; Leko-Morozevich.

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