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December 13, 2001
Anand falls on the threshold
Vishwanathan Anand's reign at the World chess championship came to an end, as he was eliminated by Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk following a stunning a defeat in the fourth game of the semi-final match at the Kremlin hall, in Moscow, on Thursday.
In the other semi-final, another Ukrainian, Ruslan Ponmariov, gave himself a chance of becoming the youngest world champion, when he moved past Peter Svidler of Russia 2.5-1.5 with a draw in the fourth game.
Ponmariov, who needed only a draw on Thursday, achieved it after only 19 moves, to set up the first-ever all-Ukrainian World championship final.
The women’s semi-final has been extended into the tie-breaker after Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, trailing 1-2, won the fourth game to tie the match 2-2 against China’s Zhu Chen.
The duo will play the tie-breaker on Friday.
It will be the first time that Anand will not figure in the final when playing in the World championship.
Ivanchuk and Ponmariov will play the final from January 16 in Moscow. It will be an eight-game affair and the winner will get US $ 500,000 minus 20 per cent which goes to FIDE.
Anand will received just over US $ 80,000 after his deductions to FIDE and for the two matches he won in the tie-breaker.
Ponmariov called his entry into the final his finest moment. "It is a great moment for me," said Ponmariov, who admittedly did not expect to erach so far.
Ivanchuk said, "I am very happy to have finally beaten Anand, who has a better score against me. Also, it is good to have two Ukrianians in the final."
After three drawn games, it seemed Anand and Ivanchuk were headed for yet another draw and the tie-breaker. They played in an off-beat variation of the Sicilian and Anand was comfortable till the middle game. He had a draw in his grasp, but then he saw an advantage which he worked on.
However, suddenly, he made some crucial errors in the middle game. From there he was fighting to save the match. Ivanchuk came up with a fine pawn sacrifice on the 27th and then completed the win on the 43rd as Anand resigned.
This was only the second loss for Anand in 20 World championships matches.
He had won six rounds before losing to Karpov in the final in 1998-99 and then won seven last year to grab the title.
This year, after a shaky start in the first round, he recovered and reached the semi-finals and his performance over the last two rounds, against Alexy Dreev and Alexy Shirov, suggested he was ready for yet another term as a World champion. However, it was not to be.
Earlier, the 18-year-old Ponmariov became the youngest finalist in the history of the FIDE World chess championship, when he quickly drew his fourth game against Peter Svidler and completed a 2.5-1.5 win in the semi-finals.
Ponomariov played the Alapin variation in the Sicilian defence. It was obvious he was going to all out for a draw and with white pieces he would not have much trouble doing that. Svidler did make some effort, but Ponmoriov handled the situation well and got the desired draw in 19 moves.
ANAND V IVANCHUK
Mail Sports Editor
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