Anand at his best

WORLD CUP champion Viswanathan Anand was at his brilliant best as he won the SIS-MH Masters chess tournament in Denmark by a huge margin.

ARVIND AARON

WORLD CUP champion Viswanathan Anand was at his brilliant best as he won the SIS-MH Masters chess tournament in Denmark by a huge margin. As the favourite, Anand was expected to win, but the manner in which he went about accomplishing his mission made it look both easy and artistic. Speed in calculation and an intuitive flow of sacrifices devastated his opponents. Anand won the four-player tournament (April 5-6) easily, scoring 5.5/6, thereby making it a one-horse race.

Viswanathan Anand won the tournament with a round to spare. -- Pic. P.V. SIVAKUMAR-

He drew the first round game and from then on there was no looking back as he won five games in a row to win the title in great style. The Middlefart Mayor gave away the trophy to the Indian Grandmaster.

Anand, the world's top performer in the first quarter of this year, excelled once again and maintained his form with which he won the recently concluded Amber tournament. The Indian arrived early in Denmark, from Germany, where he completed his league engagements for Baden OS in the Bundesliga season. Then he won 23 games and made a single draw in the VIP simultaneous display on April 4 involving the elite Danish society. In the tournament proper, he went about the task of demolishing his opponents and getting better with each game.

In round two, the Indian star broke through the centre with a knight sacrifice against Hansen to share the lead. In round three, he played the pawn variation of the Sicilian Najdorf to beat Hector and moved to sole lead. Anand showed that he had done elaborate opening preparations and was ready with it even during the Amber tournament though he did not get a chance to prove it there. Having taken a 2.5/3 lead at the end of the first round robin, it was clear that Anand had an easy chance of winning the title in the second cycle with the change in colours.

He started with a rook for knight sacrifice against Hector to win a simple ending. In the penultimate round, Hansen surrendered meekly in just 19 moves with white. It was perhaps Anand's easiest victory in a decade. Having won the tournament with a round to spare many Grandmasters would prefer to take a draw and pack up. But Anand won the final round too, with a rook sacrifice.

Peter Heine Nielsen is Denmark's best player and he lived up to that, snatching a draw against Anand. The 29-year-old, a three-time Danish champion, is currently ranked world No. 69. Nielsen had also been Anand's second round victim in the World championship in Moscow in December 2001. Nielsen drew with Hansen 1-1 and beat Hector in one of the two games for a shared second place.

Curt Hansen, 38, currently ranked 83 in the world, is a former world junior chess champion and has at best been No. 14 in 1984, just when Anand had won the Asian Juniors for his International Master title. Hansen had identical scores against all players, and tied for the second-third places. He had two defeats against Anand, two draws against Nielsen and two wins against Hector.

Swede Jonny Hector, living in Denmark for the last 10 years, was given an entry, as he was extremely popular in the local chess circuit. But the 39-year-old fared poorly, managing just one draw in his six games.

As a result of this victory Anand's rating in rapid chess should go up. Three titles in four appearances and that too without a travelling trainer, is no mean achievement. From July 1994 till Linares 2002, Anand used to have the services of Georgian Elizbar Ubilava, settled in Madrid, as his trainer.

Anand will compete in a rapid tournament at Bilbao in Spain in May before returning to India. His next major chess tournament is the Sparkassen chess meeting at Dortmund, Germany, from July 31 followed by the match against World No. 10 Judit Polgar at Mainz, also in Germany, from August 17.

Overall, the event made chess more popular and was the talk of the town. It was clear to the local chess fans that they do not have a player to challenge the likes of Anand yet. But there was a lot for them to learn for the Indian gave a brilliant exhibition of tactical wizardry. The arbiter for this contest was International Arbiter Martin Noer.

Two of Anand's best games from the tournament:

GM Curt Hansen-GM Viswanathan Anand, round five, English opening, A29: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Nd5 Bc5 6.d3 Nxd5 7.cxd5 Nd4 8.Nxd4 Bxd4 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 d6 11.e3 Bb6 12.a4 a5 13.Bd2 Bd7 14.Bc3 f5 15.Kh1 Qe8 16.b3 Rf6 17.f4 Rh6 18.e4 Qg6 19.fxe5 Qxg3 0-1.

GM Viswanathan Anand-GM Peter Heine Nielsen, round six, Caro-Kann defence, B17: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Qe2 Nb6 8.Bb3 h6 9.N5f3 c5 10.c3 Qc7 11.Bd2 a6 12.Ne5 Bd7 13.Ngf3 cxd4 14.Nxd4 Bd6 15.Nxd7 Nbxd7 16.Nf5 Bf4 17.Bxf4 Qxf4 18.Nxg7+ Kf8 19.Nh5 Nxh5 20.Qxh5 Qe4+ 21.Qe2 Qxg2 22.0-0-0 Qg5+ 23.Kb1 Nf6 24.f4 Qc5 25.Qf3 Qc7 26.Qe3 Rg8 27.f5 e5 28.Qxh6+ Ke7 29.Rhe1 e4 30.Bc2 Rg4 31.Bxe4 Nxe4 32.Rxe4+ Rxe4 33.Qg5+ Ke8 34.f6 1-0.