Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand made a disappointing start to his campaign at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival here after he was held to a draw by International Master Szidonia Lazarne Vajda of Hungary in the opening round of the masters section. (Latest Chess News)
Playing in a Swiss open for the first time in 23 years, Anand failed to get into the groove and the Hungarian lady matched him move for move.
For the records, it was a Slav defense wherein the Indian got a miniscule advantage but it remained just that as black was quick to take control of key squares in the middle game.
Anand opened up the queenside resulting in a level rook and minor pieces endgame and once the rooks changed hands the writing was on the wall.
It was a Bishops and pawns endgame soon after with just three pawns for both players when the peace was signed after 45 moves.
The day produced its usual share of upsets as Anand's former second Surya Shekhar Ganguly also had to split points with Matthias Bach of Germany.
Ganguly, however, was clearly on top by move 20 and it looked like an easy ride for him till he missed a simple manoeuvre on the 22nd move. Soon the Indian was on the defensive and forced the draw.
On the brighter side from Indian perspective, fourth seed former world junior champion P Harikrishna played a flawless game to outwit Alan Tate of Scotland.
Getting a little but lasting advantage in the middlegame, Harikrishna deployed his forces well around the centre and broke through with some simple tactics.
The other higher ranked Indians in the 185000 pounds sterling tournament had decent outings too. Vidit Gujrathi pulled off an easy victory against Rolf Bergstrom, S P Sethuraman accounted for compatriot Pratyusha Bodda while Spaniard Pereda Carlos Nava proved no match for Abhijeet Gupta.
Meanwhile at the top of the table, highest rated Hikaru Nakamura of United States got off to a desired start at the expense of Robert Bellin of England. The American won with white pieces after capturing opponent's queen for just two pieces.
The Gibraltar Chess Festival is one of the strongest and biggest open tournament in the world with a first prize of 20000 pounds for the winner and 15000 pounds for the best woman player. There are 10 rounds in all under classical time control.