Defying expectations, his position and odds, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand won a nerve wracking contest against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the first round of Candidates to go in to early lead here.
With the two of the three games ending in draws, Anand is likely to emerge as the sole winner on day one of the biggest event of the year and can now look up to remaining event with immense confidence after being written off by the pundits.
While luck might have played a pivotal role in Anand’s conquest, Topalov went on missing some very refined tactics in the game that might probably be known as the clincher for the future generation.
Anand started off well in his pet Ruy Lopez and just when things were looking good for the Indian ace, Topalov came up with a superb pawn sacrifice that was in fact taboo. Anand went for pawn grabbing which was not correct according to computers but Topalov missed a super-tactic that involved a Bishop sacrifice in the middle game.
As it happened, Topalov could never come back in the game post the fiasco. The Bulgarian watched as Anand penetrated in the base rank with his rooks and completed the formalities in familiar fashion. The game lasted 45 moves.
In other games of the day, the all-American and all-Russian duel ended in draws without much ado. Hikaru Nakamura took his chances and appeared slightly better against compatriot Fabiano Caruana before the latter neutralised everything and got an easy draw. Sergey Karjakin of Russia also failed to make an impact against Peter Svidler who seemed at ease in the complexities of a Slav defense as black.
In the other game of the day, Levon Aronian of Armenia got a taste of his own medicine against Anish Giri who employed a variation the Armenian favours himself. However, the position was still level while the combat continues here.