Anand joint ninth after sedate start in World Rapid

Dubai: Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand got off to a sedate start with two draws and ended up joint ninth after the end of the fifth round of World Rapid Chess Championship that got underway here.

A couple of draws at the beginning against Ivan Salgado Lopez of Spain and Maxim Matlakov of Russia in the first two rounds for Anand were followed by a couple of victories coming at the expense of his new full time `second` Sandipan Chanda and Russian Vladimir Fedoseev but another draw in the fifth round with Viktor Laznicka of Czech Republic saw the Indian ace slump a little in the strongest ever rapid chess tournament of the world.

Anand, a known expert in rapid chess took some time to adjust to new rules that gives 15 minutes to both players with a ten second increment guaranteed after every move. It may be recalled that the earlier rapid events used to have 25 minutes to both players with a similar increment.

However, Anand recovered and with ten rounds still to come it seems a certainty that the Indian tiger will be on the prowl for a podium finish.

The World Rapid sees most of the top players of the world in action including world champion Magnus Carlsen who was apparently irked that he is not the top seed in this variant.

"It feels strange not to be number one by rating, it bothers me a bit and I am going to change it," Carlsen said after the official opening ceremony had ended.

However, the reigning world champion still finds himself on joint fourth spot in faster version of the game with one third of the event over. With ten rounds still come, Carlsen is on four points, a half more than Anand but a half point less than the three leaders ? Russian duo of Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi and Italian Fabiano Caruana who all have garnered 4.5 points each from the first five games.

The Indian challenge seems limited to Anand as second highest rated P Harikrishna could only muster three points in the first five outings. Harikrishna started well with two victories but a loss at the hands of highest rated woman Judit Polgar of Hungary pulled him back a little.

Among other Indians in the fray, Grandmaster Debashish Das came out with an exceptional performance on the opening day getting three points as well while Sandipan Chanda, Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Sriram Jha and M Shyam Sundar have all got two points each.

Anand next meets Zahar Efimenkov of Ukraine with white pieces and the Indian will be a huge favourite in this game. The format is quick and interesting with five rounds slated each day for the rapid event while the world blitz will be fought thereafter in 21 rounds in just two days.

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