Monarch of Mainz

ONCE again, Viswanathan Anand made it clear that he was in no mood to let the Mainz Chess Classic title slip away from his grasp.

By adding the name of Alexander Grischuk to the list of those he had conquered in the last five years in this annual rapid match, Anand underscored the point that in the shorter version of the game, he is simply the best, and that too, by a long shot.

On way to a comfortable 5-3 triumph in the eight-game contest, Anand never allowed the Russian to get close to comfort. Though the games were fiercely fought, Anand's domination was there for everyone to see. Victories in the two games of the opening day gave Anand the best possible start. At the halfway stage, Anand led 3.5-0.5. A draw in the fifth and a victory in the sixth game saw Grischuk delay the inevitable. In the seventh, Anand's comprehensive victory sealed the challenger's fate. In the inconsequential final game, Anand mishandled a promising position to give Grischuk some consolation.

Grischuk, twice winner of the Ordix Open rapid title at Mainz and also at Dubai, was seen as someone who could trouble Anand. But that was not to be.

After becoming the World champion in 2000, Anand has remained the `Monarch of Mainz' by beating Vladimir Kramnik (2001), Ruslan Ponomariov (2002), Judit Polgar (2003) and Alexei Shirov (2004). Grischuk was chosen to be Anand's challenger after his consistent showing in the rapid competitions.

Knowing Anand's prowess in rapid play, Grischuk needed a great deal of preparation and practice to match the champion. In fact, after the disastrous opening day, Grischuk opted for the Ordix Open played concurrently. What more, he scored nine points and lost only to Alexei Dreev. There were reasons to believe that Grischuk realised that he required more match practice to face the fury of Anand.

"I did not regret a single bit that I played in the Open," said Grischuk who had to play the seventh game against Anand soon after the prize distribution of the Open. He went on to lose that game before miraculously winning the eighth.

"My romantic side says that I have to wish good luck to the winner, but my realistic side says that Anand triumphed because of serious training and practice and therefore deserved to win the match. The last game was strange. I did not want to make a draw, but I was not really motivated anymore. And then a miracle happened. I won the last game."

Grischuk was gracious in defeat and all along gave the impression that he knew full well that he had plenty of ground to cover before he could come close to challenging Anand.

Anand, on his part, played well enough to stay clear of danger of losing the contest.

"I expected a close match and on the chessboard it was clear that it was a really close match. But the score tells a different story. After winning the fourth game, it was difficult to get a grip on the match. I wanted to get 4.5 points as soon as possible and that resulted in a disaster in the sixth game. You should never sit on your lead. It was an interesting match with a lot of good games. I even enjoyed the last game, which I lost. It was a beautiful game. I was having a clear upper hand, but somehow lost it."

Next year, Anand's challenger is likely to be Teimour Radjabov, who won the Ordix Open. He scored 9.5 points out of 11 games. India's P. Hari Krishna tied for the second spot with Levon Aronian, Alexander Morozevich, Alexei Dreev, Grischuk and Gabriel Sargissian at nine points. The strength of this event could be gauged from the fact that the average rating of the top 10 players was 2705. — A Special Correspondent