Former world champion Viswanathan Anand was held to an easy draw by Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the first round of Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger.
It turned out to be a good day for Caruana as his preparation in the Berlin defense came good. Anand decided not to press the Italian and soon the players entered a dead-drawn endgame with Bishops of opposite colours.
For Anand it brings out a decent start to the USD 305000 prize money tournament in what could be called the strongest tournament of the year. The Indian ace has four more white games to play in the tournament.
It was a huge drama on the opening day as World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway lost on time from a winning position in the longest game of the day. Carlsen, came late for his game against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and missed out on the initial announcement made by the Arbiter including the time control.
The Norwegian made his 60th move and then thought he had an extra 15 minutes which actually did not exist. It was checkmate in 30 moves for Carlsen when he was declared lost on time.
Anish Giri of Holland was the other big winner on the opening day at the expense of Alexander Grischuk of Russia. Playing white, Giri launched a fine king side attack and sacrificed a couple of pawns on the other flank to distract Grischuk. The Russian lost his queen for two pieces and the resulting position was child’s play for Giri.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France continued with his good form from the blitz tournament to beat Levon Aronian of Armenia. It was a tenacious defense by Aronian in a slightly worse position but the Frenchman was remorseless as he carried out his plans to perfection.
In the other games of the day Hikaru Nakamura of United States defeated wild-card Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway. It was a typical Nakamura game wherein he got the play on both flanks to put pressure. Hammer had to face a stiff task as white had a protected passed pawn on the sixth rank in the middle game and when the dust subsided, Nakamura had landed the knockout blow.
The nine-round tournament has four early leaders in Nakamura, Giri, Vachier-Lagrave and Topalov while Anand stands on the fifth position along with Caruana. Carlsen, Grischuk, Hammer and Aronian will look at doing the catch-up act.
Another unusual detail of this event is the “confession box” that can be used by players. The players can speak in front of the camera during the game. None of the other players will be able to hear the player in confession box while this happens, and the players that are in the confession box do not have interaction with other people.
According to the main organiser, Joran “JJ” Aulin-Jansson, this is completely legal according to the rules of chess. The use of the confession box, is, of course, completely voluntary.
Caruana was the first players to go to the “confession box,” where he mentioned that his opponent could force a draw on move 11. After the game he explained that he had seen that during his preparation.
Dutch GM Anish Giri was also one of the players who visited— but only when he had a winning position.
“It was a little bit uncomfortable. It’s difficult to say anything on camera when you’re playing a game of chess. But I’m sure I’d be happy as a spectator when a player does it,” Giri said.
Giri also said that he used it a bit as an excuse: “In case I wasn’t winning, I could blame this!”