Anand shocked by unheralded qualifier

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Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Defending champion Viswanathan Anand suffered a shock defeat at the hands of unheralded Olivier Touzane of France in the first game of the first round of the World Chess Championships here today. Form book was thrown out of the window as, despite playing with the favourable colour, tournament favourite and top seed Anand was made to bite the dust by Touzane, ranked lowest in the 128-player field at the knock-out competition. Anand will now have to win the second game and the tiebreak against Touzane to remain in contention for the title. India suffered another setback when Dibyendu Barua lost to formidable Grandmaster Joel Lautier of France. Playing white in the first game of the two-game mini-match, Anand opened with his favourite king pawn and was up against the fashionable Petroff defence that is employed at the top level quite frequently. The middlegame was fiercely fought as Anand gave an exchange for two pawns to get his pieces rolling on the queenside but the Olivier was quite up to the task as he brought his rooks out in the open to corner the dangerous Anand pawn on the seventh rank. The credits were soon stolen from Anand as Olivier got in to the groove on both flanks and extended his play to the king side wherein his timely return of exchange netted him a winning queen and pawns endgame. Anand soon found the ice melting under his legs and there was no chance in his position when he called it a day on the 39th move. Olivier, who qualified for this Championship through an internet competition organised by FIDE, later told reporters jokingly that his teammates refused to prepare him as he was playing Anand. "I have never played and beaten a player of this magnitude and this is the happiest day of my life," said Olivier who plays for French club Montpellier. "Probably the pressure has now shifted on Anand as I have white tomorrow and hopefully many players will help me in preparing now," the lanky player said. GM Dibyendu Barua lost to formidable GM Joel Lautier of France in his opening game today. Playing black, the bespectacled Indian found his rhythm all wrong in the complexities of the middlegame and lost without much ado from a Queens Gambit declined game. Lautier sniffed his chances early in the middlegame and launched an offensive on the king side with a well calculated central pawn thrust that left Barua's king stranded in the centre. Playing true to his strength, Lautier continued to pile up pressure along the king side and Barua's defensive resources did not prove enough. By the 25th move, the outcome of the game was much in Lautier's favour. Barua gave a piece on the 29th but did not recover after that. (PTI)

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