Former world champion Viswanathan Anand started his campaign with a draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in the first round of Altibox Norway Chess tournament. It turned out to be a relatively easy day for Anand with black pieces in the opener and the Indian ace can now look up to his next game with white pieces against Russian Vladimir Kramnik.
American Hikaru Nakamura emerged as the early leader in the strongest tournament of the year defeating Anish Giri of Holland. It was a game that Giri should have held, but a late mistake cost the Dutchman dearly.
The much hyped encounter between world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and world number two Wesley So of United States ended in a truce as the former could not find any reasonable breakthrough with white pieces.
Wesley So has been a huge success in the last one year winning several super tournaments.
In the other-two games of the 10-player round-robin event, Levon Aronian of Armenia signed peace with Fabiano Caruana after a tense affair while the all Russian duel between Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin also ended in truce though the latter had to suffer a bit.
Being the lone winner in the opening round, Nakamura moved to early lead on one point and has eight players following him on a half point each.
Giri is at the bottom of the table with eight rounds still to come.
Anand had used the Caro Kann defense to beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in one game last year and decided to test the Frenchman yet again. The advance variation saw an early surprise by Anand on move three as he discarded the main lines and Vachier sank in deep thought just a couple of moves later.
Anand gave white the Bishop pair while keeping his position solid and Vachier could only livened things up in the heavy pieces endgame wherein he got a semblance of an advantage.
However, it was all short-lived as Anand found the way to safety with some timely exchanges and the game was drawn after 44 moves.
Nakamura won out of a Grunfeld defense game with white pieces. Giri did everything right to remain within the striking distance of a draw but failed.
In the blitz tournament that decided the colours of this event, Giri had lost six games without a single victory against his name.
As it happened, Nakamura applied the squeeze with his better placed pieces in the endgame and Giri crumbled after white got a passed pawn on the queen side. The game lasted 67 moves.
Carlsen-Wesley was a tame affair out of a king pawn opening as the world champion did not look in any punishing mood while Karjakin missed an early chance to equalise, suffered in a worse position before steering himself to safety against Kramnik.
Results after Round 1: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) drew with Vishwnathan Anand (IND); Magnus Carlsen (NOR) drew with Wesley So (USA); Hikaru Nakamura (USA) beat Anish Giri (NED); Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) drew with Sergey Karjakin (RUS); Levon Aronian (ARM) drew with Fabiano Caruana (USA).