Hakopian Evens Score in Chess Finals

LAS VEGAS (Associated Press)–Vladimir Hakopian of Armenia evened the score halfway through the finals of the World Chess Championship by defeating Alexander Khalifman of Russia.

Each now has won one game in the six-game final; one game ended in a draw.

Tuesday’s win was Hakopian’s first in 10 lifetime meetings with Khalifman. The game–comprising 84 moves–lasted nearly seven hours.

Hakopian–27–used his best play of the month-long tournament at Caesars Palace to tie the score halfway through the six-game match. A loss would have left him in an impossible situation–while a draw would have left Khalifman–33–as a strong favorite.

Since Khalifman will play white in two of the remaining games–an advantage at the top level–he remains a slight favorite. The fourth game will be played Thursday.

With Hakopian seeded 31st and Khalifman 36th–neither was expected to make it to the final rounds.

But Hakopian was undefeated before his loss to Khalifman in the first game of the finals. Khalifman was upset in the first game of his initial two matches by the Dibyendu Barua of India and the fourth seed–Gata Kamsky of the United States. He fought back to win both matches and has played excellent chess since.

Garry Kasparov–the world’s top player–and current World Champion Anatoly Karpov did not participate here due to disputes with the Federation Internationale des Echecs.

The winner of the final will be named world champion and will receive $660,000 in prize money. The loser earns $396,000.

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