Anand held by Howell, McShane shoots into sole lead

London: World champion Vishwanathan Anand had to settle for a draw with lowest rated David Howell of England but local hero Luke McShane downed compatriot Nigel Short to shoot into sole lead after the second round of the London Chess Classic on Friday.

After drawing the first game against Hikaru Nakamura of the United States from a position of strength, Anand could not do much against Howell`s solid play and split the point for the second day running.

The soccer-like scoring system does not favour players who draw many games as only one point is awarded for this result while for a win three points are given.

As a result of his two draws, Anand slipped to sixth spot in the overall rankings with two points in his bag.

Magnus Carlsen of Norway came back into reckoning with a thumping victory over Michael Adams of England on a day that saw as many as three decisive games out of four in this eight-player round-robin event.

In the other game of 145000 Euros prize money tournament, Hikaru Nakamura scored a sensational victory at the expense of former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

With five rounds still to come, McShane is leading the pack with six points from two victories and Nakamura is right behind him on four points. Carlsen, Kramnik and Adams share the third spot with three points through a win each and Anand stands next on two points.

David Howell is in seventh spot after opening his account while Nigel Short is currently last and is yet to open his account.

For Anand, the Rossolimo variation by Howell did not yield much even as the Indian ace shown intentions of a keen tussle by going for the Sicilian defense.

Howell, who finished an impressive third in last year`s tournament, tried to exert some pressure in the middle game after trading all minor pieces but Anand was up to the task in finding the right path to equality.

Anand, in fact, got some chances after Howell lost a pawn but the English came up with some fine counter play to win back the extra material and finally drew easily. Anand is the only player in the tournament who has drawn both the games.

McShane showed that his victory against Carlsen in the tournament opener was no flash in the pan. Going for a full-bloodied Sicilian Dragon, the young Brit came up with yet another inspiring performance once the game went into uncharted paths.

Short lost a couple of pawns and the counter-active attempts did not prove enough.

Nakamura came back from a worse opening to beat Kramnik.

The American had expressed concern for his draw in the
tournament that pits him with black pieces against Anand, Kramnik and Carlsen but in the first two rounds itself, he has shown his true mettle.

Kramnik played the Catalan opening and, after attaining a superior position, went for a piece sacrifice that proved inadequate as the game progressed. Nakamura went on to win a long drawn endgame.

Carlsen avenged his defeat against Adams that he suffered in the Chess Olympiad a couple of months back. The Norwegian star was in command in the middle game after weakening black`s pawn structure and won a pawn to force matters.

In the open tournament being organised simultaneously, Grandmaster Abijeet Gupta and GM norm holder Sahaj Grover scored hard-fought victories to remain in the pack but candidate GM Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury was held by lower ranked opponent.

Results round 2: David Howell (Eng, 1) drew with V Anand (Ind, 2); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3) beat Michael Adams (Eng, 3); Nigel Short (Eng, 0) lost to Luke McShane (Eng, 6); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 3) lost to Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 4).


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