World Champion Viswanathan Anand defeated challenger Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria 1.5-0.5 in the first round of the Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament in Monaco.
Anand got off to a flier in the final edition of this unique event winning the blindfold game with white pieces and signed peace in the rapid to get another good result against Topalov, who did not figure in any super tournaments in the past few months.
The shocker of the opener came from Alexander Grischuk of Russia who defeated compatriot and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik in both the games to emerge as one of the joint leaders.
Levon Aronian of Armenia, Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan and Boris Gelfand of Israel were the other players who came out with a 2-0 rout of their opponents and now jointly share the early lead with Grischuk.
Aronian accounted for Anish Giri of Holland, Gelfand outplayed Russian Sergey Karjakin while Gashimov also scored upset victories over Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine.
With four players in front and 20 games still remaining in this 12-players double round robin event with one blindfold and one rapid game in each round, Anand shares the fifth spot along with Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who scored a similar victory against Tata Steel tournament winner Hikaru Nakamura of the United States.
Anand and Topalov met again for the first time after their World Championship match last year in Sofia. The blindfold was a Berlin Defence where the Bulgaria played black and initially little was happening.
Although there was not too much going on not all roads were leading to a draw and after the game the World Champion condemned Black's decision to exchange his final pair of rooks.
White was soon in a very comfortable position and Anand kept trying for more without the slightest risk. Anand was critical of his decision on move 47 when he went for a capture, instead of first improving his position but despite this rash decision he managed to win an important point.
The rapid game between the two ended in a draw. "It was one of those games where you make a couple of solid moves and that's enough," Anand said.
For the records it was a Queen's gambit declined by Anand as black and Topalov still could not find a way to effectively tackle the opening.
It may be recalled that Anand had used the same opening to win the all-important 12th game of the last world championship.