| ANAND: Forced to split point with Teimour Radjabov
Wijk Aan Zee: Viswanathan Anand started off with a quick 28-move draw against Azerbaijani sensation GM Teimour Radjabov in the opening round of the 65th Corus GM tournament Saturday.
Stealing Day I honours was Anatoly Karpov of Russia who won the public prize for the best game of the day by crushing Polish GM Michal Krasenkow.
The only other victory of the day was also scored by a Russian as defending champion Evgeny Bareev defeated Fide world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.
In the GMs group B event being held simultaneously, GM Koneru Humpy held GM Jan van der Wiel of the Netherlands to an easy draw with black pieces.
Anand is playing a classical time control event after a gap of nearly one year, the only exception being a couple of games he played against Karpov en route to his victory in the Eurotel Trophy at Prague last year.
Many hail Radjabov as future world champion and he did not disappoint his fans in the first game of the first major classical event in his career. Taking his chances in the Maccutcheon variation of the French Defence with black pieces, Radjabov had little trouble in securing an easy draw.
Anand could not do much in the opening and conceded a balanced middle-game after fighting out the intricacies of black’s minor weaknesses on the kingside. Successfully guiding his king to safety on the queenside, Radjabov maintained a level position.
Karpov, 51, is fresh from a grand victory over world’s highest rated player Garri Kasparov in a rapid match and his hunger for more was eminent the way he handled the black side of a Queen’s Indian Defence.
Krasenkow, winner of the group B event last year, had no answers to a brilliant attack and was clueless against the senior-most competitor in fray.
Bareev lived up to his reputation of being a very solid player with black pieces. He was also helped by the fact that Ponomariov was distracted by some off-the-board tussle.
The Ukrainian is in the firing line following his failure to sign the Fide contract under reunification plan. As per the contract Ponomariov has to play against Kasparov and the winner will play the final match against the winner of the duel between BrainGames winner Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Hungarian Peter Leko.
Ponomariov has refused to sign the contract in its present form, as he wants the time control to be 90 minutes plus 30 seconds after every move. His version is that since it was followed in the last world championship that he won, it should be implied against Kasparov too.
With so many things on his mind, Ponomariov was just a pale shadow of himself against Bareev. Playing white he went for a rather dubious plan in the Advance variation against the Caro Kann Defence. Losing an exchange for very little compensation, he was slowly outplayed in the endgame.
Hungarian Judit Polgar, who recently became the first woman to cross the 2700 Elo rating mark, was held by GM Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Polgar lost a pawn in the middle-game but ensured that the opposite coloured bishops were left on board. Topalov accepted the draw offer after 36 moves.
Top seed Kramnik was held by Vasilly Ivanchuk. Spanish GM Alexei Shirov failed to break the defences of veteran Dutch GM Jan Timman and settled for draw, while Russian GM Alexander Grischuk drew an intense game with GM Loek van Wely.