Vishwanathan Anand, the five-time World Champion kick started his first game at the Bilbao Final Masters, inflicting a heavy defeat on FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, in Bilbao, Spain, on Sunday.
Interestingly, the other game between Spaniard Francisco Vallejo and Armenian Levon Aronian ended in a draw, giving Anand the opportunity to soar into the lead. It is a quadrangular tournament, with Ponomariov, Aronian, Vallejo and Anand competing for the crown. All the players play each other twice in the tournament.
This is the last official tournament that Anand plays, before his re-match at the World Chess Championship against Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, later this year. The game seemed to be more promising than the Indian Grand Master's dismal performance at the World Chess Championships last year in Chennai.
The scoring system in this league formatted tournaments has been modelled after the scoring system in league football – three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. Hence, after the first round of games, Anand sits pretty at the top of the table on three points, with Francisco and Aronian in a joint second place, with a point each. Meanwhile, Ponomariov is at the bottom of the league with no points.
Anand, who was playing the white pieces, made early inroads into the Ukrainian's side of the board. He made a couple of unique approaches, which left the Ukrainian stranded in the middle, a position he could not recover from.
Unlike the usual games, Anand left his King in the Middle till his 19th move, when he finally castled. This unexpected move, early on, seems to have left Ponomariov dumbfounded, as Anand kept on inflicting damage after damage on his opponent. But the time, Anand finally castled, the Ukrainian found it very difficult to break down the Indian's defence.
Anand was in rampant form, and seemed to be in a merciless mood, playing very aggressively for a win. He did not even flinch at any opportunity to exchange pieces, and continued to play on. Ukrainian Ponomariov tried to fight on as long as he could but it only lasted till his 61st move. The game itself, however, was decided much before this.