World champion Viswanathan Anand played out a quick draw with Hikaru Nakamura of United States while debutant P Harikrishna beat local player Anish Giri in the first round of the 'A' group of Tata Steel Chess tournament that got underway in Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands on Sunday.
Nakamura went for a surprise in the French defense as black, not giving much to the Indian ace and it was a fairly quick draw but Harikrishna fought on a drawn endgame for a long time and capitalized on some errors to score his first victory in his first game of the premier group.
It turned out to a generally quite start in the traditional event as, apart from Harikrishna, only Sergey Karjakin of Russia could force a victory against Chinese girl Yifan Hou.
World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen also played out a draw with Fabiano Caruana of Italy in a rather sedate start while World No. 3 Levon Aronian could not break the ice against local star Loek Van Wely.
Ivan Sokolov of Holland pushed for a victory in his game against Wang Hao of China but never came close while Hungarian Peter Leko faltered from a much better position against Dutchman Erwin L'Ami to finally split the point.
Harikrishna and Karjakin emerged as early leaders in this 14-player 13-round tournament being played on a round-robin basis. Giri and Yifan share the last spot while the remaining 10 participants, including Anand, are tied for the third spot.
The Winawer variation has been Anand's pet against the French defense for many years now but for once the world champion could not make much use of it. Nakamura caught Anand in a less played yet sharp system in which black got an easy draw after just a few original moves.
Harikrishna qualified for the premier section and became the first Indian after Anand to play in a category-20 tournament. The qualification had happened last year when the Hyderabad-based player had won the 'B' group.
Anish Giri also went for the French defense and the Rubenstein variation gave him a level rook and pawns endgame that should have been a draw.
"There were a few tricks in the position but he (Giri) probably thought that anything draws. I am very happy to win this game," said a beaming Harikrishna in the post-game chat.
In other interesting game of the day, Peter Leko won a pawn after some reckless play by L'Ami but the Dutch GM hung in there to salvage a draw in the end.
Results Round 1: Levon Aornian (Arm) drew with Loek Van Wely (Ned); Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Ita); P Harikrishna (Ind) beat Anish Giri (Ned); V Anand (Ind) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa): Ivan Sokolov (Ned) drew with Wang Hao (Chn); Peter Leko (Hun) drew with Erwin L'Ami (Ned); Sergey Karjakin (Rus) beat Yifan Hou (Chn).