Viswanathan Anand’s Tal Memorial campaign got off to a poor start,with the Indian losing in 48 moves against Fabiano Caruana in the first round on Thursday. Magnus Carlsen outplayed Vladimir Kramnik in a drawn out end game while Hikaru Nakamura was thrashed in 31 moves by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
In order to determine the pairings for the tournament,the players were engaged in a round robin Blitz tournament on Wednesday,where Anand had finished an excellent second,with 6.5 points from 9 rounds. Apart from whatever confidence it might have given him,the result also meant that Anand would play with white pieces in five of nine games in the tournament proper.
The first of his whites came in the first round,but Anand got nothing more than a token advantage from the Ruy Lopez. Caruana answered with the aggressive Marshall attack,sacrificing a pawn for active play. Anand,by contrast was mostly penned within the last two ranks for most of the game and soon had to give up the extra pawn.
However,his position by then had worsened and he was fighting for the draw. Caruana had retained his bishop pair and though he was running short on time,managed to keep his advantage. Faced with centralised bishops and a pawn roll on the king side,Anand’s game unravelled around the first time control. A series of mistakes saw him go two pawns down and the World Champion resigned a few moves down the line.
It is not for the first time that the Spanish opening has cost Anand,with Nakamura beating him in the same line last month at Norway Chess 2013. Also,Caruana had troubled Anand earlier too,when he had beaten him in Zurich earlier this year. With the win,Caruana’s live rating edged up to the 2800 mark.
In another decisive game of the round,Kramnik inexplicably gave up a drawn position deep in the end game against Carlsen. The Norwegian chose the Trompowsky variation,not often played at this level,setting the tone for the game where both players went for unorthodox variations. The position was fairly equal in the rook,bishop and pawn endgame until Carlsen clinically capitalised on Kramnik’s late inaccuracies. Mamedyarov took full toll of Nakamura’s imprecise opening play and broke through his defences with a spectacular piece sacrifice.
Results,round one: Viswanathan Anand lost to Fabiano Caruana,Magnus Carlsen bt Vladimir Kramnik,Hikaru Nakamura lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov,Boris Gelfand drew with Sergey Karjakin,Dmitry Andreikin drew with Alexander Morozevich.