Viswanathan Anand survived a few anxious moments before beating Maxim Matlakov in the first round of Tata Steel Masters Chess tournament here.
Coming into the event after his title-win at the World Rapid Championship, Anand outwitted the Russian in 53 moves. The Indian ace is playing in the 80th edition after a gap of four years.
A winner here five times – a record that he shares with World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway – Anand allowed Matlakov to break through on the queen side in a Ruy Lopez opening manoeuvre.
“I was not able to break through,” said Anand in the post-game chat.
When asked about his possible sixth title victory, Anand said, “If I win now, I’m winning after 12 years, so it’s not like I’ve been blazing but, well, I’ll try for sure.”
Grandmaster B Adhiban, the other Indian in the 14-player field, started with a draw against Peter Svidler of Russia. In the last edition, Adhiban had finished third, ahead of many stalwarts.
Besides Anand, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and local hero Anish Giri were the other winners in the opening round. Kramnik won against Wei Yi of China and Giri beat Yi’s compatriot Yifan Hou.
Carlsen was held to a draw by Fabiano Caruana of the United States. It was an usually long game arising out of a Petroff defense that the world champion could not break.
In the Challengers section, top seed Vidit Gujrathi was held to a draw by World Junior champion Aryan Tari of Norway.
D Harika drew with Amin Baseem of Egypt.