The pairings for the opening round of the Zurich Chess Challenge pitted Fabiano Caruana against Vishy Anand, and Vladimir Kramnik against Boris Gelfand.
Italian-American Caruana had already faced the world champion twice this month in Baden-Baden with neither man being able to land a decisive blow. Anand once again chose the Sicilian Najdorf in response to Caruana's favourite 1.e4. but varied with 9...Nc6 to take the game down a different path.
Caruana burned up a lot of time trying to gain the upper hand, but by avoiding a repetition just before the time control at move 40 he lost a pawn, and then missed 42.Qf3 which would have levelled the material with no harm done.
Instead, Anand tried his best to make the most of the gift, but the exposed position of his King allowed enough counterplay for Caruana to hold the balance.
Boris Gelfand was clearly surprised by Vladimir Kramnik's offbeat choice of opening and sank into deep thought for half an hour before making his fourth move! Kramnik pointed out in the post-match press conference that he had played the same set-up to win against Gawain Jones in round 8 of the London Chess Classic last year!
Kramnik achieved an advantage thanks to his better co-ordinated pieces, but precise defence from Gelfand ensured that all players scored half a point on the opening day.
Vladimir Kramnik will have white again tomorrow against Vishy Anand, while Boris Gelfand will have the white pieces against Fabiano Caruana. The pairings in full are:
The time control is 2 hours for 40 moves, then 1 hour for the next 20 moves, and 15 minutes plus a 30-second increment for the remainder of the game. If a game is drawn before move 40, the players will play an additional rapid exhibition game (not counting towards the scores).
Playing Schedule (times = GMT+1)
The tournament is being staged by the Zurich Chess Club and the main sponsor is Oleg Skvortsov of International Gemological Laboratories. The venue is the Savoy Hotel, Paradeplatz.
Games via TWIC.