World champion Viswanthan Anand could do little with white pieces as his opponent Levon Aronian of Armenia held him to an easy draw in the first round of the Norway Chess 2013 super tournament that got underway in Sandnes, Norway, on Wednesday.
Anand, who has received a tough draw in the tournament, made a sedate start. White pieces against most of the top seeds and black against lower ranked players means that the Indian ace has to be in top form to deliver the goods and in the opener Aronian was not troubled much.
Sergey Karjakin of Russia continued from where he had left -- winning the blitz drawing of lots -- and put it across Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan whose woes continued after falling hugely in the world ranking.
Norwegian World No 1 Magnus Carlsen, who is set to play Anand in the next round as well as in the next world championship match in Chennai, could not do more than splitting the point with former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
The other two games in the high category 10-player round-robin tournament, however, were decisive as Russian Peter Svidler scored a lucky win over Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway and Hikaru Nakamura proved smarter than Wang Hao of China.
After the end of the first round, Nakamura, Karjakin and Svidler emerged early leaders with a full point, while Anand, Aronian, Topalov and Carlsen are close behind with half point each. The three losers are on the bottom of the table.
Anand went for the closed Ruy Lopez as white and his strategy did not yield a desirable result. Aronian was well armed in the opening and as many as three minor pieces changed hands by 13th move itself.
The resulting middle game with more heavy pieces was not dry but the presence of opposite coloured Bishops did not provide chances to either player. After a bit of a shadow-boxing, the peace was signed on move 33.
Radjabov slipped further after a dismal show in the last candidates tournament as he fell prey to a finely crafted manoeuvre by Karjakin in the middle game arising out of an off-beat Sicilian.
Playing white, the Russian sensed his chances perfectly in the middle game, and his 26th move was a clincher leading to a winning endgame.
Svidler was only trying to equalize a pawn-less endgame against Hammer out of a Grunfeld defense when the Norwegian number two started to make a lot of mistakes. Launching his double rook on the seventh rank, the Russian won a handful of pawns to turn the tables.
In the other decisive game of the day, Nakamura won two pieces for a rook with a sortie against Wang Hao to get a winning endgame. The Chinese had gone for the solid Petroff defense which did not come good as black.
Carlsen played a solid English opening as white but got nothing against Topalov who is in top form the game was drawn after 51 moves.
Results Round 1: Viswanathan Anand (Ind) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm); Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul); Sergey Karjakin (Rus) beat Teimour Radjabov (Aze); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa) beat Wang Hao (Chn); Peter Svidler (Rus) beat Jon Ludvig Hammer (Nor).
Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters