Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand lost to World champion Magnus Carlsen from a winning position to finish fifth in the blitz event that acts as a curtain raiser for the Norway Chess tournament which begins in Stavanger, on Tuesday.
After starting off with two victories, Anand missed out on a winning opportunity against Norwegian Carlsen and finally ended fifth with 5.5 points out of a possible nine in the blitz event.
Besides being a curtain raiser, the blitz event decides the pairings for the main tournament -- which will be played in classical format -- and the top half finish for Anand means a lot as he will get to play five white games.
The surprise winner of the blitz event was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France who led from the beginning and defeated Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana of Italy en route to his 6.5 points.
Former world champion Anand will play against Caruana in the Norway Chess tournament, part of the Grand Chess tour. Anand's white games are lined up against Caruana, Alexander Grischuk of Russia, Hikaru Nakamura of United States, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Carlsen, which undoubtedly is a very favourable draw.
The Norway Chess tournament also signals the start of the much-awaited Grand Chess tour. With a staggering US$ 305000 as prize money, the tournament is the first in a series of three which will have same prize fund and the top three stands to gain another US$ 150000 once the series is completed.
The other two events will be played in San Luis in the US and London later this year.
There are nine fixed players for the 'Grand Tour' and the host-city reserves the right to nominate one player. Besides, Anand, Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave, Caruana, Nakamura, Grischuk and Aronian, the other two players are Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Anish Giri of Holland. Notable absentee is Vladimir Kramnik of Russia who cited a busy schedule ahead.
For Anand, the season has been pretty good so far as he won the classical section in Zurich Classic and finished second in the Shamkir Chess tournament. The Indian ace also broke back in to the 2800 rating club and rose to number three in the world rankings recently.
Carlsen remains the hot favourite for the title but the local settings do not necessary help the World champion. In the last two editions of Norway tournament, Carlsen has only finished second while Sergey Karjakin of Russia won on both occasions.
Caruana and Nakamura recently qualified to the next candidates tournament and both will be among the favourites for the title.
The tournament will be played under Classical format and in the event of a tie at the top, tie-break games of shorter duration will be played to determine the winner.
Results (Blitz tournament): 1. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 6.5); 2. Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 6); 3-5: Magnus Carlsen (Nor), Anish Giri (Ned), V Anand (Ind) 5.5 each; 6. Levon Aronian (Arm, 5); 7. Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 4); 8. Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3); 9. Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 2.5); 10. Jon Ludvig Hammer (Nor, 1.5).
Pairings Round 1 (of Classical Format): Giri v/s Grischuk; Anand v/s Caruana; Carlsen v/s Topalov; Nakamura v/s Hammer; Vachier-Lagrave v/s Aronian.
Image: Viswanathan Anand