Tata Steel Chess: Anand starts on a winning note

After three other Indians on view — B. Adhiban in the Masters section and the duo of Vidit Gujrathi and D. Harika in Challengers section — were involved in drawn encounters, Anand was the first to register a victory in the 14-player field.

Viswanathan Anand held a pawn-advantage against Russian debutant Maxim Matlakov.   -  AFP

Viswanathan Anand made a winning start to his campaign in the 80th Tata Steel chess tournament by taming debutant Russian debutant Maxim Matlakov after 53 moves here on Saturday.

After three other Indians on view — B. Adhiban in the Masters section and the duo of Vidit Gujrathi and D. Harika in Challengers section — were involved in drawn encounters, Anand was the first to register a victory in the 14-player field.

Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri were the other winners of the day. Both players benefited by late blunders from their rivals. Kramnik outsmarted young Chinese talent Wei Yi in 55 moves before Giri thanked his stars when Hou Yifan, the strongest lady in chess today, erred in an equal and drawn position. The error on the 55th move proved decisive and Giri went on to win in 63 moves.

Playing from the white side of Ruy Lopez, Anand seized the advantage once Matlakov chose to exchange the knights on the 30th move. Two moves later, Anand claimed a kingside pawn to firm up his advantage.

The youngster, rated 49 points below Anand at 2718, put up a good resistance until the 50th move before he faltered under pressure. A poor retreat of queen gave Anand a chance to capture a pawn. Three moves later, Matlakov gave up when he saw no way of preventing Anand from holding a two-pawn advantage.

Earlier, Adhiban made a solid start to his campaign by holding eight-time Russian champion Peter Svidler in 33 moves of Carokann Advanced.

In the Challengers section, Vidit drew with black pieces in 37 moves of Chigorin variation of Ruy Lopez against Norwegian Aryan Tari.

Vidit, the favourite for the title here, sacrificed his rook for a kingside pawn and then forced draw following perpetual checks.

A littler earlier, Harika drew with ease against second seeded Egyptian Bassem Amin in 30 moves of Barcza system following a three-fold repetition.

First round

Masters: Viswanathan Anand bt Maxim Matlakov (Rus); Peter Svidler (Rus) drew with B.Adhiban; Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Fabiano Caruana (USA); So Wesley (USA) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze); Anish Giri (Ned) bt Hou Yifan (Chn); Gawain Jones (Eng) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) bt Wei Yi (Chn).

Challengers: Aryan Tari (Nor) drew with Vidit Gujrathi; Bassem Amin (Egy) drew with D. Harika; Michal Kransenkow (Pol) drew with Erwin L’Ami (Ned); Anton Korobov (Ukr) bt Mathias Bluebaum (Ger); Jeffery
Xiong (USA) drew with Benjamin Bok (Ned); Olga Girya (Rus) lost to Dmitry Gordievsky (Rus); Jorden van Foreest (Ned) bt Lucas van Foreest (Ned).