Anand crushes Ponomariov in Tata Steel chess tourney

Wijk Aan Zee: World
champion Vishwanathan Anand defeated former FIDE world
champion Ruslan Ponomariov of the Ukraine in his opening round
in group A competition of the 73rd Tata Steel chess tournament

The win, with black in 52 moves from a Sicilian Defence,
was an important boost for Anand to regain the top spot in
rating list, which he lost to Norway`s Magnus Carlsen earlier
this month.

International Master Tania Sachdev caused a major upset
in the `C` group being held simultaneously defeating second
seed Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia. Tania emerged as early leader
in her group while in the `B` group, the lone Indian Surya
Shekhar Ganguly went down to Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia.

It was a tense first day in the premier group as three
decisive games did not exactly justify the intense battles
between the best chess brains. Carlsen played out a draw with
Levon Aronian of Armenia in which majority of experts believed
that the former was in some troubles.

The surprise of the day came from local star Jan Smeets
who outwitted Alexei Shirov of Spain through a home-cooked
novelty and the best game prize of the day was won by Hikaru
Nakamura of United States for his fantastic victory over
Alexander Grischuk of Russia.

Anand, Smeets and Nakamura thus emerged as early leaders
in the 14-players round robin tournament being played under
classical time control.

With four drawn encounters, as many as eight players
share the fourth spot after the first round including Carlsen,
Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

Anand played in classic style to outplay Ponomariov in
all departments of the game. Playing the black side of a
Sicilian Najdorf, Anand attained easy equality in the middle
game that ensued and slowly pushed for the initiative while
Ponomariov appeared at sea.

The Ukrainian blew away his chances when he tried to
invade the queen side with his queen and, much to his own
dismay, found it trapped. Losing the queen for a knight,
Ponomariov continued in vain, prolonging his agony till the
52nd move before finally calling it a day.

Nakamura`s victory against Grischuk was best described by
GM Ivan Sokolov. "It was a beautiful game, conducted with a
steady hand by Nakamura," said Sokolov.

"Grishuk was cramped for space and saw no other way out
than to sac a piece for two pawns after only 18 moves. It was
an effort to obtain active play but he never got a chance. It
isn`t often that Grishuk gets clobbered in such a way," he

Dutch champion Jan Smeets sprang a theoretical novelty on
Shirov on the 22nd move of a Ruy Lopez game. Playing black,
Shirov was copying a game which had earned him an easy half
point last year, unaware that Smeets had given it special

"Just to make sure it really worked, my second and I had
even checked the idea only half an hour before the start of
the round," Smeets said.

"You can imagine how glad I was when the line came onto
the board. Shirov didn`t see it coming. When he realised how
strong it was, he sacrificed a piece for three pawns. But that
was far from enough. He resigned three moves later."

In the `C` group, Tania punished Ivanisevic`s lackluster
play in style. The Serbian Grandmaster, rated over 200 points
more than Tania, went for a sacrificial variation in the
opening as white and ended up being a rook less in the middle
game when the attack boomeranged.

Tania won in just 30 moves.

The other Indian did not have such luck as Sargissian was
in his element in a Queen`s gambit accepted. Losing an
exchange early, the counter play bid by Ganguly did not really