Anand bags his fifth León title

6/13/2005 – Former FIDE world champion Vishy Anand defeated the current FIDE champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov in the finals of the traditional Ciudad de León rapid chess event with an exciting 2½:1½ victory. It wasn't as easy as it sounded, since Kasimdzhanov threw a spanner in the works with a first-game win. Full illustrated report.

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Ciudad de León 2005

June 9 – 13, León, Spain

The 18th chess tournament Ciudad de León features four players playing knock-out rapid chess matches. The semi-finals were on June 10 and 11, the final is on June 12. The event takes place in the "Edificio de la Junta de Castilla y León" and is sponsored by the Ayuntamiento de León, the Junta de Castilla y León, the Diputación de León, the Universidad de León, Cajaduero and Alsa, and a number of commercial companies.

Vishy Anand retains his title

We start with the second semi-final on Saturday, in which Vishy Anand defeated the young Norwegian chess star Magnus Carlsen 3:1, with two wins and two draws.

In the first game he demolished Carlsen's Petroff Defence. The game ended with a fairly easy but nice final blow.

In the second game Anand played the Marshall and Carlsen choose a secondary line after accepting the pawn sacrifice. The boy kept his extra pawn, but Anand had good compensation thanks to his bishop pair in an open position. The draw was agreed with Anand having ten minutes more on his clock.

In the third game Carlsen played the Petroff Defence again, but this time Anand deviated from the first game, and played a rather unusual variation. He obtained a nice advantage, thanks to his bishop pair once more. Carlsen defended his shaky position, using up too much time and losing two pawns in the process. Anand opted for a different colours ending in which he demonstrated his usual superb technique. So Anand had already won the match.

In the last game Anand chose a “tricky” move order in the opening, where the fashionable English attack is not easy to play. When Carlsen mechanically played 7.Qd2 Black got a very good position. But the Norwegian prodigy played with ingenuity, not only equalizing the game but becoming slightly better for the first time in the match. Anand had to defend, which he did very well, and the game finished in a draw.


Press conference with GM Zenón Franco Ocampos

In the press conference Anand said he was surprised but the choice of the Petroff Defence, because Carlsen has no experience in it. He considered Carlsen is developing very well, no matter how unsuccessful this year has been for him.


The Final

Former FIDE world champion Vishy Anand won the Ciudad de León Chess tournament for the fifth time, after defeating the current FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov 2½:1½.

It was not an easy match for the rapid chess specialist Anand. In the first game, with the Mayor of León Mario Amilivia executing the first move, the popular English Attack of the Najdorf variation soon appeared. Anand produced what looked like a strong novelty, 14…Bxe4, over the game Leko vs. Kasparov from Linares 2005. The position was very complex, and Anand played too quickly, making some mistakes, while his opponent Kasimdzhanov used much more time but played very well to score a fine victory. It was his first win over Anand in eight games. In the others, five were lost and two were drawn.

In the second game Anand showed his better preparation, more experience, and maybe even his better understanding of another position of the English attack. Kasimdzhanov was subjected to a strong attack, with his king caught in the middle of the board. Anand won convincingly.

In the third game Anand opted for a Paulsen Attack, and Kasimdzhanov made a thematic sacrifice of the central pawn. In the ending the position was basically equal, but then Anand committed some inaccuracies, and Kasimdzhanov came very close to a win. But excellent defence by Anand brought the game to a peaceful conclusion.

In the last game of the final "Kasim" abandoned the Sicilian Defence in favour of a closed Ruy Lopez. Anand got a slight advantage, which was converted into a winning position after the sacrifice 30.Nxc4! The world's number one player (after Kasparov's retirement) used his three passed pawns to win the game and the game and the tournament.

In the press conference Anand admitted he was very near to losing the third game. Had he done so a very long string of victories in rapid tournaments would have been stopped. The Indian superstar had trouble remembering the last time he had not won a rapid tournament – later it occurred to him: Monaco 2004.

Kasimdzhanov said that the level of play in the match was more or less the same, the big difference was that Anand was much faster, ant this decided the struggle. Anyway he was very proud of being a good contender for Anand, because in previous occasions it had not been so.


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