Anand draws with Aronian in opener

Anand draws with Aronian in opener

World rapid champion Viswanathan Anand was caught off-guard by Levon Aronian of Armenia as he conceded an easy draw in the first round of Altibox Norway chess tournament here.

Coming to the first round after a fine performance in the preceding blitz tournament where he tied for second spot, Anand could do little as Aronian came up with an unusual move order in the Anti-Berlin as black and the game ended without any drama.

It was on the eighth move that Anand was caught unaware. Aronian was following an earlier game by countryman Hrant Melkumyan and as Anand confided to him after the game, he had not paid enough attention to this move order.

The day witnessed four draws out of five games and the lone winner was World champion and local favourite Magnus Carlsen who showed the way to his next challenger Fabiano Caruana of United States.

While Carlsen and Caruana are set to meet in November this year for the world championship clash in London, the former took a psychological edge for the match as this was their last Classical encounter before London.

The Bishops opening by Carlsen only led to complications after the Norwegian parted with a pawn but the ensuing tension worked in his favour as Caruana erred to reach a worse queen and pawns endgame. Although he did not show a computer-like technique, Carlsen was still at his prime as he slowly breached a tenacious defence.

Ding Liren of China took his unbeaten stint to 73 games in Classical chess after surviving some anxious moments against American Hikaru Nakamura. The latter held a clear better position at one point in the middle game but it slipped out of his hands almost immediately.

Carlsen emerged as the early leader in the ten-player round-robin event that is likely to be the strongest super tournament of the year.

Caruana’s loss puts him at the bottom of the tables while the other eight contestants are all tied second with half a point.

Eight more rounds remain in the tournament.

Results (Round 1): V Anand (Ind) drew Levon Aronian (Arm); Magnus Carlsen (Nor) bt Fabiano Caruana (Usa); Hikaru Nakamura (USA) drew Ding Liren (Chn); Wesley So (USA) drew Sergey Karjakin (Rus); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) drew Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra).