Paris: World champion Viswanathan Anand made a disappointing start as he suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Englishman Michael Adams in the first round of Alekhine Memorial Chess Tournament here at the Louvre.
On what turned out to be a day of big upsets, Chinese champion Ding Liren caused another big flutter crushing world number three Levon Aronian of Armenia. The 10-player round-robin super tournament, however, saw Vladimir Kramnik of Russia at the top of his form as he grounded compatriot Nikita Vituigov while the other two games ended in draws.
Anand's 2012 World championship challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel played exciting chess as black before holding Peter Svidler, while the all-French clash between Laurent Fressinet and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave turned out to be the shortest game of the day. Split between The Louvre Museum in Paris and the Russian museum in Saint Petersburg, the tournament will have the first five rounds here before the battle shifts to Russia for the last four games.
Anand went down with white pieces, something that might be detrimental to the Indian's campaign as the tournament progresses further. He went for the Ruy Lopez and for a line that Indian P Harikrishna had successfully chosen against Gata Kamsky of United States some time back. Adams, however, remained a tough nut to crack from a level position that arose after the trade of queens.
The English Grandmaster took command by getting the Bishop pair and Anand's slightly defected pawn structure proved to be the decisive factor. Forced to part with a rook for three pawns, Anand could do little as Adams' King and rook stopped the march of his connected pawns in the end. The game lasted 56 moves.
Ding Liren played an inspired game to beat Aronian. From a Slav defense, the Chinese got a slightly better position and nurtured it well amid complexities to get a huge space advantage in the middle game What followed was a tribute to the genius of Alexander Alekhine, the fourth world champion, in whose memory the tournament is held.
Liren sacrificed a rook for a knight before ripping apart the king side with a Bishop sacrifice on move 37. A few quite moves later Aronian was defenseless. Kramnik shied away for complications out of a Reti opening as white and cruised to a victory against Vituigov.
A piece sacrifice was declined by Kramnik in early middle game and even the exchanges at regular intervals did not deter him from pressing hard for a victory. Vituigov was saddled with a weak pawn structure on the queenside and Kramnik capitalised with a pawn break that gave him an outside pawn that marched to glory in quick time. The game was over in 50 moves.