Viswanathan Anand is new World Chess Champion


Mexico City : India’s Viswanathan Anand was crowned the new world champion following a quick 20-move draw against Peter Leko of Hungary in the 14th and final round of the World Chess Championships here.

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Anand replaced Vladimir Kramnik of Russia as the new world champion Saturday evening, as he finished the tournament with nine points out of a possible 14 and finished a full point ahead of the holder and Boris Gelfand of Israel.

The Indian, 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.

Kramnik beat Lev Aronian in the final round, while Gelfand drew with Russia’s Alexander Morozevich.

This is the first time Anand has won the unified world title. In 2000 he claimed the official FIDE World Championships played in India and Iran, but world chess was split then and some top stars including Kramnik did not take part.

Coming out of the Sheraton Hotel Hall here after the triumph, the 37-year-old world number one’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 number one in elo ratings, soon after winning the Morelia-Linares tournament, an event that was played in two halves – first in Mexico’s Morelia city and later in Linares, Spain.

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

A great fan of the former world champion Mikhail Tal, Anand 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 left table, the Hungarian grandmaster 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 the Indian, saying: “He had prepared very well for this tournament. He deserved the victory.”

Speaking to the media 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 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”.

Gelfand, who in the early stages of the tournament shared lead with Anand, drew his final round game with Morozevich, but Kramnik beat Aronian to finish tied with the Israeli for 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 did.

In another game, Peter Svidler finally found his first win of the tournament in the last game against Russian Alexander 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 Grischuk.