SPORT

Anand needs a win to make knockout

Cap d'Agde (France) Oct. 26. Former World chess champion Viswanathan Anand requires a final round win against former World champion Anatoly Karpov to avoid the play-offs and enter the knockout phase of the World rapid chess championship.

Anand made two draws in the fifth and sixth rounds on Sunday to crawl to three points from six games. He shares the fourth-fifth place in Group B with Alexei Shirov of Spain. The top four players move into the knockout phase of the rapid tournament.

White pieces and the Ruy Lopez opening had not gone well for Anand, who had not been able to show any advantage with it.

After 16 moves he surprised everyone by proposing a draw which Peter Svidler took. It was one of the quickest games of the event and it looked dangerous as Alexei Shirov joined him in the fourth place and Peter Leko closed in with a victory over Judit Polgar.

Anand will require a win against Karpov with the black pieces to ensure qualification.

"Vishy's draw offer was actually welcome," said Peter Svidler, the leader of Group B. Mainly it ensured his qualification. With a round to go, only Karpov and Lautier have lost qualification hopes.

In the sixth round, Alexander Grischuk moved closer to earning a place in the knockout phase after he accepted a 12th move draw from Karpov to take his tally to four points.

The battle to take the top four places in each of the two groups warmed up this morning. Major queen blunders gave way for two decisive results in Group B. Overnight joint leader Polgar was content with a short draw against Shirov, while Svidler trapped Karpov's straying queen to re-establish the lead. Like Karpov, Leko also blundered his queen overlooking a knight fork from Grischuk.

Anand remained quiet with a 32-move draw by repetition of moves with the black pieces against his former Lyon clubmate Joel Lautier.

Paris-based Lautier, who is half Asian, born to a Japanese mother, followed Alexander Khalifman's idea against Anand from the Merida tournament of May 2001.

Anand held the black side tight without giving white much chances. Lautier reached the identical position where Khalifman and Anand took a draw and tried for 12 more moves before taking a repetition to draw the game.

Local star, Etienne Bacrot essayed a brilliant overall display to upset Bareev after 57 chanceless moves and join Vladimir Kramnik in the lead after five rounds in Group A.

In the battle between the two World champions, Kramnik had a slight advantage with the black pieces but it was insufficient for a victory.

Ruslan Ponomariov's draw offer after 35 moves was accepted by the Russian. Boris Gelfand bounced back into reckoning with a victory when Veselin Topalov's strategy of abandoning the queen-side failed after 75 moves.

In a game of little interest, Michael Adams humbled Zurab Azmaiparashvili by picking up a rook for bishop on move 27.

The results:

Round five: Group B: Leko lost to Grischuk; Svidler bt Karpov; Lautier drew with Anand; Polgar drew with Shirov; Group A: Bacrot bt Bareev; Gelfand bt Topalov; Ponomariov drew with Kramnik; Adams bt Azmaiparashvili.

Round six: Group B: Grischuk drew with Karpov; Anand drew with Svidler; Shirov bt Lautier; Leko bt Polgar; Group A: Azmaiparashvili playing Bacrot; Topalov playing Bareev; Kramnik playing Adams; Gelfand playing Ponomariov.

Standings after six rounds: Group B: 1. Peter Svidler (Rus) 4.5/6; 2. Alexander Grischuk (Rus) 4; 3 Judit Polgar (Hun) 3.5; 4-5. Viswanathan Anand (Ind), Alexei Shirov (Esp) 3 each; 6. Peter Leko (Hun) 2.5; 7. Joel Lautier (Fra) 2; 8 Anatoly Karpov (Rus) 1.5.

Standings after five rounds: Group A: 1-2. Etienne Bacrot (Fra), Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) 3.5/5 each; 3-4. Boris Gelfand (Isr); Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr) 3 each; 5. Veselin Topalov (Bul) 2.5; 6. Evgeny Bareev (Rus) 2; 7. Michael Adams (Eng) 1.5; 8. Zurab Azmaiparashvili (Geo) 1.

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