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Zurich Challenge: Anand beaten by Aronian in opener

Last updated on: January 31, 2014 16:48 IST

Five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand began his campaign in the Zurich Chess Challenge on a losing note, beaten by Armenian Levon Aronian in the first round.

It turned out to be a bad day in office for the Indian as he lost his way in the middle game and his counter play bid did not materialize.

The loss may prove quite costly as every win in this tournament is worth two points in the overall standings.

World champion Magnus Carlsen started from where he had left in classical chess. His last outing being the World Championship match in Chennai, he did not show any rustiness coming back to the board and outplayed Boris Gelfand of Israel in a remarkable game.

The other game of the six-player round-robin tournament between Fabiano Caruana of Italy and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States ended in a draw.

With four rounds in the Classical chess event remaining, and then five in the rapid stage to be played, Carlsen and Aronian emerged the early leaders on two points each. They are followed by Nakamura and Caruana, who have a point apiece.

Gelfand and Anand will be hoping to open their account in the second round.

The tournament has a unique format, wherein the Classical and Rapid scores will be clubbed together to find the winner. Every Classical win gives two points, a draw one and defeat none, while in Rapid, every win gives one point and a draw half.

After tying for third and finishing fifth, Anand got a black to start the proceedings and Aronian came up with the English opening as an initial surprise. After the opening Anand was close to equal but Aronian ensured consistent pressure on the queen side that increased after an error.

The Indian decided to part with a piece for three pawns but it was Aronian’s day as he masterminded the ensuing endgame in copy book fashion. The technical issues remained and Anand fought on till the end but the Armenian gave nothing away and won in 73 moves.

Carlsen was at his technical best against Gelfand. The Norwegian chose to get a playable position as white and then, in his typical style, created huge complications that were hard to handle. When the dust subsided, Gelfand found himself two pawns less and the rest was child's play.

Nakamura and Caruana battled it out in a Grunfeld defense game wherein the latter, as black, got a level endgame and the draw was a just result despite a tough contest.

Image: Viswanathan Anand

Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images