Anand wins shootout to keep world chess crown

Updated 31 May 2012
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Anand wins shootout to keep world chess crown

MOSCOW: India’s Viswanathan Anand retained yesterday his world chess title by outgunning his Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand in a quick-fire shootout forced after their 12-game Moscow epic ended all square.
Dubbed the “Battle of the Armageddon” in chess circles, the tiebreak saw the two chess titans clash in four nail-biting speed chess games that lasted over four hours and left both players emotionally exhausted.
Three of the games ended in draws but a mistake by Gelfand in the endgame of game two as his allotted 25 minutes ran out proved decisive. Anand, known as the “Tiger of Madras,” won that game and then doughtily resisted attempts by the Israeli to break through.
“It was incredibly tense,” a drained Anand told reporters after the match. “I think that right now, the only feeling you have is relief. I am really too tense to be happy, but there is relief.”
“Today, it is difficult to claim anything. I would simply say that my nerves held on better. I simply hung on for dear life.”
With the players knowing one mistake could cost the championships, the match was marked by the almost unbearable tension of past great clashes like the epic world title match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in 1984-85.
The series had been staged at the Tretyakov art gallery in Moscow, the first time the Russian capital has hosted the world chess championships since the Kasparov-Karpov game that was called off due to fears for their health.
Anand will take $1.4 million and Gelfand $1.15 million from a $2.55 million total prize fund, under rules that saw an evening-out of the prize money if the match went to a tiebreak.
The thrilling tiebreak was worthy of a tournament whose history also includes the historic 1972 clash in Reykjavik at the height of the Cold War between Bobby Fischer of the US and Soviet great Boris Spassky.
The Minsk-born Israeli had chances in all four tiebreak games to put pressure on Anand and at times showed magnificently resourceful defense against the Indian’s attacks.
Anand, dressed in his usual blue shirt, sat rooted to his chair as the more expressive Gelfand ran his hands through his hair and took long walks away from the board to think out his positions.
As tension mounted, Gelfand indulged in his favorite stress-busting habit of repeatedly rotating one of the taken bishop pieces in his right hand.
But he did not find a way to break down the Anand defense and seeing no chance of the victory he needed in the final fourth game Gelfand offered the draw which gave Anand the tiebreak by 2.5 points-to-1.5 and the title.
After four-and-a-half hours of extreme tension, the two men shook hands and immediately left the stage.
“Boris had his chances in each of the four tie-break games,” commented Russian grandmaster Peter Svidler.
“Today has been a magnificent struggle, not without mistakes, but a lot of fight was shown by both players,” he added.
Gelfand used up most of his allotted time in each of the games, leaving him under huge pressure as he made the endgame moves with just seconds remaining.
“I think the decisive factor was that fact I did not use my time so wisely,” he said. “My strategy was simple — to take it one game at a time, create the most problems and make the best moves.”
The two masters displayed titanic control of the board in the regular 12-game series earlier this month but it ended level with just a win apiece and 10 draws.
Anand lost game seven but then levelled the scores by coming back to win game eight. He revealed yesterday that he could not “remember such a bad day as after game seven. I mean I could not sleep.”
FROM: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Absent from the world championship process has been the world No. 1 , the 21-year-old Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen who dropped out in the qualifying rounds as he did not agree with the format.
FROM: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE


Match-fixing in tennis is rife, warns report

Updated 5 min 58 sec ago
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Match-fixing in tennis is rife, warns report

LONDON: A “tsunami” of match-fixing is plaguing non-elite tennis, according to a report released Wednesday by a review panel set up to look into allegations of corruption in the sport.
The Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis report said the lower levels of the sport provide a “fertile breeding ground” for breaches of integrity and are engulfed in betting-related corruption.
The problems stem from too many players in the lower reaches, such as the Futures and Challenger circuits, not earning enough to make a living, coupled with the rise of online betting.
“Player-incentive structure and remuneration creates a lamentably fertile breeding ground for breaches of integrity,” said lawyer Adam Lewis, who chaired the Independent Review Panel (IRP).
“In particular only those playing principally at Tour level make a decent living. Only the top 250 female players and the top 350 men players break even before coaching costs, yet there are around 15,000 professional players.”
The IRP was set up in January 2016 following allegations made by the BBC and Buzzfeed that leading players, including Grand Slam winners, were involved in suspected match-fixing and that evidence had been suppressed.
Having surveyed more than 3,000 players as well as tournament organizers, officials and betting operators, it found “evidence of some issues” at Grand Slams and Tour events, although it did not uncover evidence of a widespread problem at those higher levels.
A total of 14.5 percent of players who responded to the survey said they had first-hand knowledge of match-fixing but the panel found no evidence of top-level players being implicated in corruption.
“Detection is difficult, not least because at many lower-level matches there are no spectators and inadequate facilities to protect players from potential corrupters,” the report said.
“Moreover, under-performance is often attributed to ‘tanking’, which too often has been tolerated.”
The level of suspicious betting alerts rose sharply after the sale of official live scoring data to betting companies in 2012, making tens of thousands of matches available to gamble on.
“The imbalance between prize money and costs, and deliberate under-performance, are the seeds for corruption,” said Lewis.
“It is a small step for a player who already intends to lose for other reasons, to bet or to make others aware of their intentions. It’s a small step to deliberately lose, or lose a game or a set, so as to make enough money to continue playing.
“According to experts, since 2015 tennis has been responsible for more suspicious betting than any other sport.”
The review did not find evidence of a cover-up by either the Tennis Integrity Unit or the International Tennis Federation and the Association of Tennis Professionals — a finding welcomed by the governing bodies.
However, some of the actions taken by the ITF and ATP were seen to be “inappropriate and ineffective.”
The panel recommended restructuring of the professional game with a significant reduction in tournaments deemed “professional,” discontinuing the sale of official live scoring data at lower-level tennis and eliminating betting sponsorship in the sport.
A joint ATP, ITF, Women’s Tennis Association and Grand Slam Board statement read: “Following an initial review of the interim report we confirm our agreement in principle with the package of measures and recommendations proposed by the IRP.
“These include the removal of opportunities and incentives for breaches in integrity, the establishment of a restructured, more independent Tennis Integrity Unit, enhanced education, expanded rules, and greater cooperation and collaboration with the betting industry and broader sports community.”