December 13, 2001

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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.

FIDE World Ch Semi-finals (6.4) 13.12.01

1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 d6 5. d3 Be7 6. Nd2 Nf6 7. Nf1 Nd7 8. Nd5 Nb6 9. Nxb6 axb6 10. c3 O-O 11. Ne3 Bg5 12. O-O Kh8 13. Bd2 Bxe3 14. fxe3 Qe7 15. Bd5 Be6 16. Qb3 Na5 17. Qc2 Qc7 18. h3 h6 19. c4 Nc6 20. Qd1 Bxd5 21. exd5 Ne7 22. a4 f5 23. Bc3 Rf7 24. Qb3 Ng6 25. Rf2 Raf8 26. Raf1 f4 27. Bd2 f3 28. Rxf3 Rxf3 29. gxf3 Qc8 30. Kh2 Rf5 31. f4 Rh5 32. f5 Rxf5 33. Qd1 Qf8 34. Rxf5 Qxf5 35. Qe2 e4 36. Qg4 Qxg4 37. hxg4 Ne5 38. Kg3 exd3 39. b3 g6 40. e4 h5 41. gxh5 gxh5 42. Kf2 h4 0-1 (Ivanchuk wins)

Earlier reports:
Anand looking to wrap it up
Anand draws third game in a row
Anand draws game 2 of semi-final
Ivanchuk, Anand draw game 1 in semis
Ivanchuk to meet Anand in semis
Anand reaches semi-finals
Anand beats Shirov in first game
Anand beats Dreev to enter quarters
Anand faces tough road ahead
Quick draw for Anand in round 4
Anand through to last 16
Anand settles for draw, Van Wely loses
Anand enters third round
Anand scores quick win
Anand moves into second round
Anand wins second game
Anand shocked in opening round

Mail Sports Editor