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Anand retains world title

Raakesh Natraj

— PHOTO: AFP

Black magic:Viswanathan Anand (right) quelled Veselin Topalov's challenge, winning the decisive

CHENNAI: Viswanathan Anand retained the FIDE World Chess Championship, defeating Bulgarian Veselin Topalov with black pieces in the final classic game of the series in Sofia on Tuesday.

Anand won the 12-game match with a score of 6.5-5.5 to defend the title he claimed in 2007.

A draw in the final game would have taken the match into a series of four rapid games, but Topalov blundered on his 31 {+s} {+t} and 32 {+n} {+d} moves to hand Anand the decisive victory, which came at the end of 56 moves.

The same spirit that saw Topalov adopt the ‘Sofia rule,' under which he refused to accept draw offers, was evident when he battled till the end before resigning as his position became increasingly untenable.

Anand opted for the Lasker defence after Topalov opened with d4 and black's isolated pawn on c5 was the focus of the early part of the middle game. Anand, however, obtained some counterplay with his light bishop, which exerted its influence all along the long diagonal from a8 to h1. The position still remained fairly equal until Topalov decided to take black's poisoned pawns on f5 and e4, letting Anand breach his defences in a slightly protracted but ultimately critical manner.

Anand earlier got off to the worst possible start in the Championship, losing the first game before bouncing back with wins in games two and four. Topalov managed to regain parity by winning in the eighth , but Anand's latest victory, the first time that either player had won with black pieces in the series, put an end to the contender's challenge.

Anand became the Undisputed World Chess Champion after winning an eight-player tournament in 2007 and defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008. Topalov won the right to challenge Anand after getting the better of Gata Kamsky in 2009.

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