Anand recovers to beat Vallejo Pons

Last Updated: Oct 12, 2011, 08:28 AM IST

Bilbao (Spain): World Champion Viswanthan Anand recovered a little to beat Francisco Vallejo Pons of Ukraine in the tenth and final round of 4th Final Masters and had to be content with a fifth place finish in the six-player double round-robin that concluded here.

Languishing at the last place at the start of the final round, the onus was on Anand to come out with flying colours and for once, Vallejo`s famous luck in the tournament deserted him as Anand proved superior on all grounds to score his second victory against the Spaniard.

Interestingly enough, Vallejo was Anand`s sole prize catch in the tournament as the World champion could not beat any of the other four contestants in the fortnight long event spread over Sao Paulo in Brazil and now here.

Meanwhile Magnus Carlsen of Norway came true to his words and won the title after wining the blitz finale against Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine who led the tournament right from the beginning. For the records Carlsen won by a 1.5-0.5 margin winning the second blitz game.

Anand, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Hikaru Nakamura of United States tied for the third spot while Pons had to be content with the last place finish despite showing some incredible results.

Carlsen settled for a draw in the tenth round game against Nakamura and Ivanchuk achieved the same result with Aronian to set up an exciting blitz finale that the Norwegian won by a 1.5-0.5 margin after winning the first game with black.

"Anything is possible" was Carlsen`s thought when the first leg at Sao Paulo had ended and the Norwegian`s words proved prophetic as Ivanchuk lost steam towards the end.”

For Anand, it was clear that the foremost thing on his mind is the next World championship contest against Boris Gelfand of Israel. The final game was just about consolation to an evenly played event in which Anand beat Vallejo twice, lost to Ivanchuk and Aronian once and drew the remaining games to finish on a 50 per cent score.

In the last game Anand was at his technical and tactical best though in a Slav defense game playing white. Vallejo went for equalizing early that was not forthcoming as Anand kept on increasing his initiative on the king side. The Indian ace eventually won a pawn and romped home in just 39 moves.

In a Queen`s gambit declined Tartokower variation, Nakamura did not get what he had assumed in the middle game and Carlsen forced parity with regulation exchanges leading to a rook and pawns drawn endgame. Ivanchuk tried to make a foray in the Berlin defense but Aronian was up to the task in his defense as black and the game was drawn vide repetition in 35 moves.

This paved the way for the blitz games between the two leaders where in Carlsen proved superior to win the second game with black after drawing the first game to win the event.

PTI