Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand failed to press hard with his white pieces and had to settle for a draw with Michael Adams of England in the first round of the London Chess Classic that got underway here on Saturday. (Viswanathan Anand Takes on Michael Adams in London Chess Classic Opener)
Having done badly in the second edition of the Grand Chess tour following a couple of early defeats, Anand took the safer approach and it was a cautious start by the Indian ace to set the pace in the tournament.
The day in fact produced as many as four draws out of five games and only Dutchman Anish Giri was lucky enough to have scored a full point when his opponent Veselin Topalov failed to spot a relatively simple tactic.
World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway started his campaign by getting an easy draw as black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France while Russian Alexander Grischuk and American Hikaru Nakamura played some tense chess before reaching the drawn conclusion.
In the other game of the day, Fabiano Caruana of Italy too played it solidly against Levon Aronian of Armenia. Giri, thus, emerged as the early leader in this final edition of the Grand Chess Tour that will decide the top three winners.
As of now, Anand shares the sixth spot in the tour rankings and needs a big win here to match the higher ranked players like Topalov and Aronian who occupy the top two spots in the tour.
Apart from USD 300000 prize money at stake, there is another USD 150000 for the taking for the top three finishers of the tour.
Anand did not mince his words when asked about his plans. Commentator Jennifer Shahade asked Anand on how confident he felt about winning the Grand Chess Tour.
"My first aim is to play a good tournament and win the London Chess Classic and then think about the Grand Chess Tour," Anand said.
It was an English opening by Anand wherein Adams remained impregnable. The minor pieces changed hands at regular intervals and the position was soon level. The peace was signed in 32 moves.
It turned out to be a lucky day for Giri as Topalov missed a little tactic in a still-playable position. Giri pounced on his chance and sacrificed a rook to rip apart Topalov's kingside and it was soon a dead-end for the Bulgarian.
Carlsen came up with a unique preparation to outsmart Vachier-Lagrave. In the Sicilian Sveshnikov, the world champion improved upon a game played way back in 1983 in Correspondence chess and forced the draw without much ado.
Results Round 1: V Anand (Ind) drew with Michael Adams (Eng); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Alexander Grischuk (Rus) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa); VeselinTopalov (Bul) lost to Anish Giri (Ned); Fabiano Caruana (Usa) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm).