Bilbao (Spain):World Champion Viswanathan Anand got an easy draw as black against Spaniard Alexei Shirov while Vladimir Kramnik of Russia drew the first blood
defeating elo favourite Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the first round of Bilbao final masters here on Sunday.
Anand showcased his new found love for the Berlin defense that came in to prominence at the turn of the century in the brain games world championship final between Garry Kasparov and Kramnik with the later using it to decisive affect in the match.
Since then, a lot of analysis and games have been played on the system though Anand used it for the first time as black. It can be termed as a decent start for the world
champion as he achieved what Carlsen could not with the slightly unfavourable colour of pieces on the chequered board.
As it happened in the game, Shirov was, at first, surprised and could not get his act together for any onslaught.
"A dry game with no real mistake", was how the experts summed up the motions on Anand`s table.
After an early trade of queens that`s typical of the system, Anand went on an exchanging spree which was clearly a fruition of work at home. The remaining heavy pieces were off
the road by the 20th move itself and the draw was the only logical outcome.
However, going by the Sofia rules in place here, the players had to continue the battle as agreeing to draws "unless it`s a forced draw" is what the players had to abide by. The game continued in an opposite coloured Bishop endgame and finally the peace was signed after 41 moves.
Kramnik outplayed Carlsen out of a Queen`s Indian defense where the former played with white pieces. The Russian went for a solid system and traded the queens early but still kept the dynamic balance he was looking for.
Carlsen has been clearly struggling with his form since the Chess Olympiad and it seems he is desperately trying to find it back. The middle game saw Kramnik employing tactics to keep Carlsen under pressure and the Norwegian super talent collapsed when faced against a difficult choice in the final stages of the game.
It was almost a `Zugzwang` like situation when Carlsen called it a day on move 45. In just a few moves, Kramnik would have escorted an opponent piece back home and the rest was child`s play.
In the next round of the four-players double round-robin contest, Anand will meet Carlsen who helped him for his World championship preparation against Vaselin Topalov earlier this year.
The Indian ace will yet again play black, but in the remaining four games of the super tournament, he will get three whites. That might well be the time for the World champion to strike.