Former world champion Viswanathan Anand ended his stint at the Bilbao Masters Final with a draw against Liren Ding of China in the sixth and final round here. (Viswanathan Anand Draws With Wesley So at Bilbao Masters)
Anand finished with five draws and a lone loss in the four-player double round-robin tournament and for the second time in a row, the Indian ace ended a Classical tournament win-less after he drew seven and lost two at the Sinquefield Cup earlier this year.
USA's Wesley So defeated Anish Giri of Holland in the tiebreak blitz games to win the event after the two overnight leaders drew their final game under normal time control.
Both Wesley and Giri ended on an identical eight points with one victory and five draws apiece, while Anand and Ding pocketed five points apiece.
The soccer-like scoring system that gave three points for a win and one point for a draw did not encourage many decisive games in the tournament for once as only two games ended decisively -- a loss for Anand against Giri and a first round victory for Wesley against Ding. There were 12 games in all.
The games were fought hard in the last round too and Anand had a real chance to score his first win. Ding opened with the English opening as white and Anand countered it easily, getting the initiative early in the middle game.
The queens got traded and Anand played some inaccurate manoeuvres to let his chances slip as the game progressed. The players reached a minor pieces endgame with opposite colours Bishops on board and though Ding was trying there was not much to hope for. The game was drawn in 69 moves.
Wesley played his cards right in the normal game. Playing black, Giri employed the Semi Slav defense and did not have any problems in equalising in the middle game that ensued. The exchange of pieces at regular intervals led to a balanced endgame and the draw was a just result after 34 moves.
That set the stage for the blitz tiebreaker with four minutes to both players with a three seconds increment.
Wesley got lucky in the first game as Giri blundered his knight in the endgame and lost while in the return game the Dutchman did not cash in on opportunities to equalise.
For Anand, the next big tournament is the London Classic in December where he will look forward to make amends. As a part of the Grand Chess Tour, the event will have a bonus prize fund for the overall winner of the three-part series. Anand currently stands sixth in the tour.
Results final round: Liren Ding (Chn, 5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 5); Wesley So (Usa, 8) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 8). Tiebreak: Wesley So beat Anish Giri 1.5-0.5.