Bilbao, Spain:World Champion Viswanathan Anand settled for a draw with Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk after finding himself in time trouble in the first round of the Bilbao Grand Slam Final chess tournament.
Anand could not make the most of the advantage of having the white pieces and faced considerable difficulties before salvaging a draw against Ivanchuk, who played the Marshall attack by sacrificing a pawn against the Indian's Spanish opening.
Anand has an enviable record against the Marshall but he could not find a satisfactory reply to Ivanchuk's opening play and soon drifted into a difficult position.
The Indian lost back his pawn and his king was exposed to attack. The adverse turn taken by the opening served as a wake up call for Anand.
He defended an inferior position with consummate ease and gave up a pawn to centralise his queen and rook. The World Champion ensured that there was excellent coordination between his major pieces, preventing Ivanchuk from making inroads into his territory.
Ivanchuk conceded a draw when he was unable to make any progress against Anand's stubborn defence.
Meanwhile, Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen shot into the lead with a victory over Grandmaster Levon Aronian of Armenia.
Carlsen played the symmetrical variation against the English opening and accepted a pawn sacrifice by his opponent.
Aronian got a grip on the black squares and seemed to have good compensation for the sacrifice. However, Carlsen managed to ward of all the threats with resourceful play and hung on to his extra pawn.
Aronian broke up Carlsen's kingside pawns in an attempt to gain some attack, but he could not create serious threats as all the minor pieces had been exchanged. Carlsen retained his pawn advantage in the queen ending and won with impeccable technique.
The game between Topalov and Radjabov was headed for a draw from the opening itself. Radjabov played the Scotch opening and Queens were exchanged on the 12th move resulting in a level endgame.
Further exchanges took the players closer to a draw, and though they fought on till just kings were left on the board, a draw was the inevitable outcome.
The tournament is being played with a new scoring system being tried on an experimental basis, with a player being awarded 3 points for a win, nothing for a loss, and both players being awarded 1 point in the event of a draw.