Shocking start for Anand in Gibraltar Chess

Viswnathan Anand failed to get into the groove and the Hungarian lady, Szidonia Lazarne Vajda, matched him move for move.

Viswanathan Anand is playing in a Swiss open for the first time in 23 years.   -  Reuters

Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand made a disappointing start to his campaign at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival here after he was held to a draw by International Master Szidonia Lazarne Vajda of Hungary in the opening round of the masters section.

Playing in a Swiss open for the first time in 23 years, Anand failed to get into the groove and the Hungarian lady matched him move for move.

For the records, it was a Slav defense wherein the Indian got a miniscule advantage but it remained just that as black was quick to take control of key squares in the middle game. Anand opened up the queenside resulting in a level rook and minor pieces endgame and once the rooks changed hands the writing was on the wall. It was a Bishops and pawns endgame soon after with just three pawns for both players when the peace was signed after 45 moves.

The day produced its usual share of upsets as Anand’s former second Surya Shekhar Ganguly also had to split points with Matthias Bach of Germany. Ganguly, however, was clearly on top by move 20 and it looked like an easy ride for him till he missed a simple manoeuvre on the 22nd move. Soon the Indian was on the defensive and forced the draw.

On the brighter side from Indian perspective, fourth seed former world junior champion P. Harikrishna played a flawless game to outwit Alan Tate of Scotland. Getting a little but lasting advantage in the middlegame, Harikrishna deployed his forces well around the centre and broke through with some simple tactics.

The other higher ranked Indians in the 185000 pounds sterling tournament had decent outings too. Vidit Gujrathi pulled off an easy victory against Rolf Bergstrom, S.P. Sethuraman accounted for compatriot Pratyusha Bodda while Spaniard Pereda Carlos Nava proved no match for Abhijeet Gupta.

Meanwhile at the top of the table, highest rated Hikaru Nakamura of United States got off to a desired start at the expense of Robert Bellin of England. The American won with white pieces after capturing opponent’s queen for just two pieces.

The Gibraltar Chess Festival is one of the strongest and biggest open tournament in the world with a first prize of 20000 pounds for the winner and 15000 pounds for the best woman player. There are 10 rounds in all under classical time control.

Results after Round 1 (Indians unless specified): Hikaru Nakamura (USA) beat Robert Bellin (ENG), Ehud Shachar (ISR) lost to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA), Vishwanathan Anand drew with Szidonia Vajda Lazarne (HUN), Alan Tate (SCO) lost to P. Harikrishna, Li Chao B (CHN) beat Xander Wemmers (NED), Nigel Short (ENG) beat Ernest Kharous (RUS), Surya Shekhar Ganguly drew with Matthias Bach (GER), Vidit Santosh Gujrathi beat Rolf Bergstrom (SWE), S.P. Sethuraman beat Pratyusha Bodda; Nava Pereda Carlos (ESP) lost to Abhijeet Gupta, Menna Barreto Felipe Kubiaki (BRA) lost to Sandipan Chanda, Pavel Tregubov (RUS) beat Nisha Mohota, M.R. Lalith Babu beat Alan Walton (ENG), G.N. Gopal beat Alan Byron (ENG), V. Vishnu Prasanna beat Alistair Hill (ENG), Michael Dougherty (CAN) lost to D. Harika, S. Kidambi beat Daniel Vanheirzeele (BEL), Aravindh Chithambaram beat Osuna Vega Enrique (ESP), Prasanna Rao beat Alistair Compton (NZL), Padmini Rout beat Kimia Moradi (NOR), George Lolomari Erekosima (NGR) drew with S. Satyapragyan, Anurag Mhamal beat Michael Schimmer (GER).

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