CHENNAI:Former world champion Viswanathan Anand started the new season with a comfortable draw against World No 2 Fabiano Caruana in the first round of Grenke Chess Classic in Baden Baden, Germany, on Monday. It turned out be a day of draws as the other three games ended in truce.
The Indian star made accurate moves in the middle-game to force a draw after 38 moves from the black side of Guioco Piano.
The seven-round eight-player round-robin tournament assumes more significance as Anand matches wits with world champion Magnus Carlsen for the first time since his loss to the Norwegian in the World Championship Match in Sochi last year. They will play in the fourth round on Friday.
Anand’s performances in 2014 has rekindled his zest for the game, besides vindicating the fact that he is still one of the strongest players despite the rise of young guns. The Indian ended last year with a title triumph in the London Chess Classic and will be eyeing his second title in Baden Baden, which was also the place where he ended his five-year classical title drought in 2013. Having a rating of 2797, Anand also has a chance of pushing his rating to 2800 again if he manages a positive score.
World No 1 Carlsen settled for a draw against Levon Aronian in the longest game. Carlsen kept pushing for the maximum but Aronian defended well to ensure half a point after 64 moves.
Carlsen came into the tournament on a high after winning his fourth title in the Tata Steel Chess in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, which was the first big tournament of the season.
The Norwegian posted six straight wins after a poor start to win yet another tournament. Carlsen’s target will be to triumph in another big event even though he will face challenges from Anand, Caruana and Aronian.
Caruana, touted to be Carlsen’s future challenger because of his stupendous showing in 2014, will be looking to get his act together in this tournament after his not-so impressive show in Wijk aan Zee (7th).
Aronian, who has slipped from second to ninth in the world rankings in the space of four months, would be hoping to stop the rot.
French No 2 Etienne Bacrot missed a clear winning continuation on the 27th move and had to split the point against David Baramidze, the lowest-rated player in the tournament.
In the battle between English No 1 and German No 1, Michael Adams thwarted Arkadi Naiditsch’s bid for victory in a tricky rook and knight ending.
Results (1st round): F Caruana (Ita) drew V Anand, E Bacrot (Fra) drew D Baramidze (Ger), L Aronian (Arm) drew M Carlsen (Nor), M Adams (Eng) drew A Naiditsch (Ger)
Pairings (2nd round): Anand vs Naiditsch, Carlsen vs Adams, Baramidze vs Aronian, Caruana vs Bacrot.