Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw with nemesis Hikaru Nakamura of United States to kickstart his campaign in the Sinquefield Cup, a part of the Grand Chess tour. Among the chess elite, Nakamura has troubled Anand like no one else in classical chess in the past few years and the Indian decided not to go for the blood despite his white pieces. The end result was a rather dull draw.
For the records, it was the Anti-Berlin by Anand and Nakamura had little troubles in equalising. The American tried to make some headway in the centre but Anand gave nothing away and it was a balanced position when the two players decided to repeat and signed peace after 30 moves.
It was an otherwise lively start to the super tournament as the first round witnessed as many as three decisive games. The four Russian speaking Grandmasters were pitted against each other and that itself provided the major share of decisive results in the opener.
Sergey Karjakin was a class act against compatriot Peter Svidler, while Levon Aronian of Armenia continued his excellent form to beat Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi.
French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave landed a crushing blow to the aspirations of Wesley So of United States while the much-followed game between American Fabiano Caruana and World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway ended in a draw.
Vachier-Lagrave, Karjakin and Aronian emerged as the early leaders in the 10-player round-robin tournament while Anand, Nakamura, Carlsen and Caruana share the fourth spot on a half point each.
Svidler, Nepomniachtchi and Wesley So are at the bottom in the USD 300000 prize money tournament.
Aronian seems to be carrying on from where he left. The Armenian has won the last two super tournaments he played in and it seems he is not done yet for the year.
The Armenian played an idea that his opponent had prepared in the English opening and got a small advantage in the early stages of the middle game.
Nepomniachtchi just could not handle the consistent pressure thereafter and succumbed in just 29 moves.
Vachier-Lagrave benefited from the time pressure on Wesley So. The endgame that arose after an intense battle was slightly better for the Frenchman but the latter blundered on the 40th move to hand the point on a platter.
Karjakin was precise in his execution against Svidler. A solid-looking middle game suddenly had wild complexities wherein Karjakin came up with a smart exchange sacrifice to tighten the noose. Svidler fought on but it did not yield much success.
Results round 1: V Anand (Ind) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (USA); Fabiano Caruana (USA) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra) beat Wesley S0 (USA); Sergey Karjakin (Rus) beat Peter Svidler (Rus); Levon Aronian (Arm) beat Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus).
(With PTI Inputs)