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December 6, 2001
Anand beats Shirov in first game
Defending champion Vishwanathan Anand sparkled yet again and outwitted last year's finalist Grandmaster Alexei Shirov of Spain in the first game in the quarter-finals in the World chess championship at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Thursday.
In other quarter-final action, Boris Gelfand of Israel drew with Peter Svidler of Russia, Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) drew with Evgeny Bareev (Russia) and Joel Lautier (France) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine).
In the women's semi-finals, Xu Yuhua of China beat Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia and Maya Chiburdanidze (Georgia) drew with Zhu Chen (China).
Playing white in the first game, Anand knew that he had to take his chances as in Friday's reverse game, he will play with black.
The opening was on expected lines as the Latvian-born Shirov chose to play the fashionable Petroff defence, an opening that gave him a victory over Anand in the Linares tournament in 2000 and also against GM Veselin Topalov in the tie-break games in the fourth round on Wednesday.
Anand had obviously expected the outcome from the opening, as he blitzed out the opening moves. Shirov did not test Anand in the usual variations and instead chose a sharp 11th move that gives white a tangible advantage but at the same time black gets to keep the central control.
However, Anand had an ace up his sleeves as he uncorked a brilliant idea with the deployment of his queen on the queenside to exert pressure on Shirov's weakened pawns and Knight, which was stranded in the corner.
Shirov's counter play bid on the central files did not materialise as Anand created a sort of castle near his king to make the position impregnable.
At this point, Anand was yet to develop his Queenside pieces effectively but a protected passed pawn in the centre ensured that the complications would favour him.
Playing further for an advantage, Anand turned down Shirov's offer of a Queen sacrifice on the 27th move and relentlessly put his pieces on the most desirable squares. As Anand's pieces started to make a foray, Shirov was forced to part with a rook for knight and got two pawns as some optical compensation.
However, the resulting position was clearly inferior as Shirov's king fell under mortal danger with Anand's Queen, Rook and Bishop queuing up to force checkmate.
Anand's offer of Queen exchange did not amuse Shirov as he would have been lost anyway and he went on to create a few inconsequential threats that Anand thwarted quite easily.
With mate imminent after the 44th move, Shirov called it a day.
"The critical time was early in the middlegame when he swapped the light Bishops. I think I am just better after that. White has a strategically better position but black has a little more space, may be if white could gain a few moves he will be much better. I think I did precisely that," Anand said reviewing the game.
Asked about his preparations to play Shirov, who he beat 3.5 - 0.5 in the final of the last edition of the World championship, Anand said: "We briefly looked at the possibility of exchanging the king side pawns and liked it, Shirov obviously improved upon his game against Topalov here."
Lautier drew with Ivanchuk from the white side of a Queens Indian defence game. Lautier opted for a relatively less played system on his fifth move and did not get anything against Ivanchuk's solid play in the opening.
Ivanchuk effortlessly developed all his pieces and by the 10th move exchanged a couple of minor pieces to draw level.
Lautier tried getting some advantage by declining the exchange of queens on the 15th turn but Ivanchuk was quite up to the task and continued with his exchanging spree with another Knight trade in the centre of the board.
With Ivanchuk's Bishop occupying the vital central square Lautier had to go for the draw in just 21 moves.
Gelfand appeared to have taken a cue from Lautier as he too settled for the peace treaty soon after against Grandmaster Peter Svidler.
Playing white, Gelfand, who reached the quarterfinals with a lot of hard work in the Blitz tiebreak games against Georgian GM Zorab Azmaiparashvili yesterday, opened with the Queen pawn and was in familiar territory in his pet Catalan opening.
Three minor pieces flew off the board by the 20th move as Svidler attained an equal position and drew in 23 moves.
Anand, V v Shirov, A
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 Nb4 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nc3 Be6 11. Ne5 c5 12. Nxe4 dxe4 13. d5 Bc8 14. a3 Na6 15. Qc2 f6 16. Ng4 Qd6 17. f3 f5 18. Nf2 Bf6 19. fxe4 Be5 20. h3 Bd4 21. e5 Qxe5 22. Kh1 Bd7 23. Nd3 Ba4 24. Qxa4 Qxe2 25. Rf3 Rae8 26. Bf4 h6 27. Bd6 Rf6 28. Nf4 Qe4 29. Ne6 Rexe6 30. dxe6 Qxe6 31. Bg3 Bxb2 32. Re1 Qf7 33. Bh4 Re6 34. Rxe6 Qxe6 35. Qc2 Bd4 36. Qxf5 Qxc4 37. Kh2 Qe2 38. Bg3 Qd1 39. Rf1 Qb3 40. Qe4 Qb5 41. Qe6+ Kh7 42. Qf5+ Kg8 43. Qc8+ Kh7 44. Rf8 1-0
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