World champion Viswanathan Anand got tangled in a complicated position and was held to a draw by little-known Spaniard Francisco Vallejo Pons in the first round of the fifth Chess Masters final here.
It was not a desirous start for the Indian ace, who played with white in the opener against the lowest-ranked player in the tournament, and Anand will be hoping for a better performance especially in the return game against Vallejo.
The six-player double round-robin event got off to a good start for the chess buffs with Armenian Levon Aronian crushing Sergey Karjakin of Russia and Italian Fabiano Caruana doing an early damage to the aspirations of world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
Aronian and Caruana shot in to early lead following victories on three points in the unique event that will be split between Sao Paulo and Bilbao in Spain.
Anand shares the third spot on one point under the soccer-like scoring system and giving him company is Vallejo while Karjakin and Carlsen are yet to open their account.
Anand went for a principled variation in the Ragozine defense by Vallejo and a complicated position arose on the board in the middle game that ensued.
Vallejo, to his credit, did not let the position slip out of hands at any point and kept himself in contention by making counter active moves after castling on the king side.
As the game progressed, Anand was not able to make much impact even though the balance was slightly tilted in his favour and once the complexities subsided, the Spaniard came up with a thematic queen sacrifice to reach a theoretically drawn position. The game lasted 59 moves.
Aronian simply outplayed Karjakin in all departments of the game. Playing the white side of a Queen's Indian, the Armenian once again showcased his deep opening preparation as Karjakin was a mere spectator to a massacre after sacrificing an exchange in the opening.
With copy-book technique, Aronian exchanged pieces at will and eventually broke through in the eighth rank to force matters in a mere 30 moves.
Carlsen paid the price for being overambitious out of a seemingly impregnable position. It was a French defense by the Norwegian that did not give anything away to Caruana and the Italian was quite content defending a slightly worse endgame with presence of opposite coloured Bishops.
However, as the game progressed, Carlsen, in his bid to force a winning advantage, missed a tactical trick and was caught unawares as Caruana marched his pawns to glory. It was all over after 91 moves.
Results round 1: V Anand (Ind, 1) drew with Francisco Vallejo Pons (1, Esp); Levon Aronian (Arm, 3) beat Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 0); Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 3) beat Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 0).