Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand started off with a clinical victory over Li Tian Yeoh of Malaysia in the first round of the first game of World Chess Cup in Tbilisi today. The second highest rated Indian, P Harikrishna, however, suffered a defeat at the hands of Yuri Vidal Gonzales of Cuba. Anand was superior in all departments of the game. The Alapin opening by the Malaysian did not bother the Indian ace much as he gained easy equality early in the opening.
However, as the game progressed, Anand got a slight advantage and the real technicality surfaced after his opponent decided to part with his queen for two pieces. Once on top, Anand was in his true self and destructed all possible counter-play. The Queen proved superior to the two pieces and the Indian can look up to the second round with power backing him.
Harikrishna, on the other hand, was a pale shadow of himself as he was grinded down by the Cuban opponent. The opening was fine for the Indian as he played black. It was a Petroff defense game wherein Harikrishna equalised early but then had to pay the price.
Gonzales got on top with his fine play in the middle game that reached some dangerous equations for the Indian as the queen side opened. The end result was a checkmate on Harikrishna’s king.
Harikrishan now needs to win the return match and then win the tie-breaker as well to remain in this 128-player knockout event.
The other Indians in the fray also had a field day. Grandmaster Vidit Gujarathi, who recently became the fourth Indian to break in to the 2700 rating club, was tested with his white pieces and got a draw against Neuris Ramirez Delgado of Paraguay.
Grandmaster B Adhiban played out a draw with Vietnam’s Nguyen Ngoc Troung Son while Deep Sengupta did well to hold higher ranked Wang Hao of China.
S P Sethuraman also did fine as a start as he held former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov to a draw while Murali Karthikeyan went down to the experienced Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain.
The World Cup is a 128-player knockout event with two games under normal time control in each round and if the scores are tied, games of shorter duration are played in each round to determine the winner.
This is Anand’s last chance to be a part of next World Championship cycle and he has to qualify to the final to be in contention for the next Candidate’s Tournament. The road is tough from round three onward when he is likely to meet England’s Michale Adams.