Viswanathan Anand kickstarted his campaign with an easy draw with black against former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine in the first round of the Corus Chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee.
Anand, competing in the elite Group A, showcased his deep preparation in Catalan opening, leaving Ponomariov with little chance to fight for an advantage in the game which lasted just 22 moves.
On a day when caution was the name of the game, Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan turned out to be the sole winner, defeating Loek Van Wely of The Netherlands in a finely crafted game.
The other six games of the day ended in draws resulting in Radjabov emerging as the sole leader in this category-19 event played on a round robin basis between 14 players.
In Group C, world's youngest grandmaster Parimarjan Negi scored a scintillating victory over local International Master Wouter Spoelman to announce his arrival in style.
The Dutchman proved no match for Negi who cruised, bruised and squeezed out his opponent's resources in quick time to emerge as an early leader.
Four games out of seven ended decisively in this section and quite impressive among these was Hou Yifan of China who outclassed Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia to start with a victory as well.
The other big winner was IM Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia who defeated top seed and hot favourite Michal Krasenkow of Poland while Emanuel Berg of Sweden had it easy against Edwin van Haastert of Holland.
Anand had to do little against Ponomariov. Intending to play the Nimzo Indian, he was mildly surprised when Ponomariov opted for the Catalan and got a miniscule advantage when the theoretical battle ended.
Anand did some routine deployment of pieces and Ponomariov realised quite soon that it was not possible to break the solid black defence.
Radjabov displayed top form in outwitting Van Wely in the favourite setup of the former. Playing the black side of a King's Indian, Radjabov faced the Bayonet attack and got the tactical possibilities he was looking for in the middle game.
Van Wely came under tremendous pressure as Radjabov's pieces spat fire on the king side and succumbed to it after a picturesque exchange sacrifice. The game lasted 40 moves.
Parimarjan uncorked a new idea on the 14th move, inviting tactical fireworks. The Delhi boy was in his elements as Spoelman fell for the trick and allowed Parimarjan to gain a dangerous initiative after a rook sacrifice.
No matter what the Dutchman did thereafter, Parimarjan remained on top and won in just 27 moves.
The 12-year old Hou Yifan proved a notch above Kosintseva in a French defense game where the former played black. Up against an in-vogue variation, Yifan kept her cool amidst wild tactical complications and emerged a piece ahead after the dust subsided. Kosintseva called it a day after 39 moves.
Results Round 1 'A' Group: Veselin Topalov (Bul) drew with Alexander Motylev (Rus); Loek van Wely (Ned) lost to Teimour Radjabov (Aze); Sergei Karjakin (Ukr) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus); Alexei Shirov (Esp) drew with Peter Svidler (Rus); Sergei Tiviakov (Ned) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Pol); David Navara (Cze) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm); Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr) drew with V Anand (Ind).
Round 1 'C' Group: Stellan Brynell (Swe) drew with Thomas Willemze (Ned); Parimarjan Negi (Ind) beat Wouter Spoelman (Ned); Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus) lost to Hou Yifan (Chn); Michal Krasenkow (Pol) lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus); John van der Wiel (Ned) drew with Zhaoqin Peng (Ned); Emanuel Berg (Swe) beat Edwin van Haastert (Ned); Manuel Bosboom (Ned) drew with Harmen Jonkman (Ned).