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Viswanathan Anand is new World Chess Champion


Mexico City : Viswanathan Anand installed himself as the new World Chess Champion with a quick bloodless 20-move draw against Peter Leko of Hungary in the 14th and final round of the Championships here.

Coming out of the Sheraton Hotel Hall here Saturday, the 37-year-old Anand’s first words were, “You can imagine how I feel. This is something very special for me.”

Mexico has once again proved special for Anand. Six months ago he took over as World No.1 in elo ratings, soon after winning the Morelia-Linares tournament, an event that was played in two halves – first half in Mexico’s Morelia city and the second in Linares, Spain.

Anand’s game with Peter Leko was a Ruy Lopez Marshall. Anand (white) resolved the opening issues and moved towards a draw that would ensure a clear title win.

Anand, a great fan of the former world champion Mikhail Tal, chose a quote from his idol when he said: “When the hand wants to go one way and the heart the other, that is not good.” That was an explanation of sorts for the solid draw line he went for.

As Anand and Leko got up from the table, Leko congratulated his rival for a brilliant and well-deserved victory, saying he was “fantastic” all the time in the tournament. Later, Anand’s arch rival Kramnik also praised Anand, saying, “He had prepared very well for this tournament. He deserved the victory.”

While meeting the press later, Anand said: “I want to thank all my friends who helped me a lot. I want to thank my wife who has done everything to keep me in a good shape for competing. I also want to thank my trainer.”

He also thanked “Mexico for its hospitality, not in so many places you can find as many chess fans as here. I always feel great in Mexico”.

Anand, who is one of the only four players in history to have gone past the 2,800-Elo ratings barrier, took home a cheque of $390,000.

Anand replaced Vladimir Kramnik as the new champion, as he totalled nine points out of 14 and finished a full point ahead of Kramnik and Gelfand. Kramnik beat Lev Aronian in the final round, while Gelfand drew with Alexander Morozevich.

It was the first time Anand was winning the unified world title, though in 2000 he emerged as champion in the official FIDE World Championships played in India and Iran, but at that time world chess was split and some top stars including Kramnik did not play in it.

Boris Gelfand, who in early stages of the tournament shared lead with Anand, drew his final round game with Alexander Morozevich, but Kramnik beat Aronian to join him in tied second place.

After winning the final game, Kramnik said he was pleased that he had come back into form, but regretted that he had not previously exploited his chances as well as Anand had exploited his.

In another game, Peter Svidler finally found his first win of the tournament in the last game against Grischuk in an interesting line in the Sicilian.

Eight of the world’s top chess stars played in the championships and Anand won four of his 14 games and drew 10 to remain the only unbeaten player in the competition. The only time he came close to defeat was in the 13th round where he still managed to extricate himself to earn a draw against another Russian, Alexander Grischuk.