Advanced Chess 2001

Anand Comes Good For The Third Time

By Arvind Aaron

The speedy world chess champion Viswanathan Anand kept his Advanced Chess Tournament title for the third year running after he defeated Alexei Shirov 2.5-1.5 in the finals on Sunday.

Anand with the trophy

The players were given much powerful pentium computers this time with a second processor and effectively working at 1000 MHz speed. The RAM (Ram Access Memory) was 1 GHz and the machine could virtually check three million positions per second. The increase in computer power was significant but the time for the humans was drastically reduced from one hour a game to 20 minutes. Fifteen seconds was added on the incremental system each time they made a move. Last years two games a day was replaced by four games a day and it was more demanding on the players and those who followed it.

Everyday started with a surprise and anti-climax and results wise one could not have asked for more. The event was held from June 7-11 for a prize money of 8 million pesetas, about Rs.26 lakhs.

Anand receiving the trophy from Guzman, KING OF LEON

Anand, 31, won due to his adaptibility to the blitz tie-break, and his overall superiority in various aspects. He won the title but had to take in two nasty defeats, one to Leko in the first and to Shirov in the last. He had a hard time in the 2-2 draw against Leko but was well placed once the match moved to tie-break. He bounced back very well in the second advanced chess game to win and level the scores. Strangely, there was many black victories in the event. In the blitz tie-break, having two extra pawns, Anand was calling the shots at the board but was dangerously down on the clock and accepted Leko's draw offer with only one second on the clock. Leko had three seconds. In the second game, Anand won with flair and a blaze of tactic at the very end.

The finals was more easy for Anand. It was a known opponent and he had fewer surprises. In the opening game, he played positionally to bring himself near the victory line. All he had to do was turn to his left and feed the moves for a second opinion. He played human versus human game albeit having five solid minutes. The rook for bishop advantage melted down and Shirov got the counter going for a miraculous draw. Anand's miss here should be described as locking the coffin and forgetting the nails. However, after making a draw in the opener he excelled in the second and third games to pocket the match at 2.5-0.5 and win with a game to spare. The fourth game was played and here he Shirov won a technical rook ending to salvage some prestige in the score line.

The defeated semi-finalists Topalov and Leko did not have a match for the third place. Shirov was too strong for Topalov and he was strangely at the defensive end, accepting sacrifices to win the first semi-finals. More people were rooting for Anand and left happy as the Indian keeps a domain under total control. The organisers call this "The Chess Of The Future". This experiment is going on now for four years. With the strong line of sponsorships, it is likely that this event will happen next year.

The players said everything was professionally organised but the crowds and enthusiasm is thinning down. Conditions for the press was noticeably bad. Organisers call for press conferences and do not allow members of the press to ask questions in English. People were smoking 'strong smoke' in  the press room.  The atmosphere was not healthy and working conditions were poor.

The results:

Semi-finals: V.Topalov (Bul) 1.5 lost to A.Shirov (ESP) 2.5, V.Anand  (Ind) bt P.Leko (Hun) 2-2, 1.5-0.5. Finals: V.Anand (Ind) bt A.Shirov (ESP) 2.5-1.5.