Zurich: World champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw with Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the first round of the Zurich Chess Challenge that got underway here. Playing black in the opener of his third super tournament of the year, Anand was seen pushing for an advantage as black and Caruana had to defend precisely from a difficult position but the Italian held fort to force the split of the point.
The other game of the four-player double round-robin tournament between Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Boris Gelfand of Israel also ended in a draw leaving the four participants as equals after the first round with half a point each. With nothing to separate the four contestants after the first round, Anand has every reasons to be pleased with his effort in the opener. The Indian ace had black against a formidable Caruana but gave him no chance whatsoever in a Sicilian Najdorf game as black.
For some reasons, Caruana -- after scaling the top five world ranking -- has become a sought after player and Anand yet again proved that the youngster has to prove himself over and over again. At the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk Aan Zee at Holland, Anand had beaten Caruana as black and then two draws had prevailed at Grenke Chess Classic that Anand won in style ahead of the Italian.
The Sicilian Najdorf was Anand's preferred choice that met with a system perfected by Vladimir Chuchelov, who is coaching Caruana. Anand, however, was in his elements in the opening and the middle game that followed as he gained a small advantage and even won a pawn to push for a victory.
Although down, Caruana was not out of contest as he matched Anand move for move and once the passed pawn of black was successfully neutralised the draw was a logical outcome. Kramnik set out to test his strength and not the opening against Boris Gelfand. The players fought on an even keel with Kramnik, as white, pursuing his ambitions in an Irregular opening and Gelfand came up with some spectacular resources when his position demanded.
In the end it turned out to be a hard fought draw as Kramnik's position remained just a shade batter through the course of the game. Results Round 1: Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 0.5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 0.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 0.5) drew with Boris Gelfand (Isr, 0.5).