The Zurich Chess Challenge 2016 has started with three exciting games and one winner: The Indian Viswanathan Anand outplayed Armenian Levon Aronian in a seemingly calm Four Knights' Game, that suddenly came to live when white allowed his pawn structure to be damaged, but in return got a strong knight on f5, the open f-file and an attack.

However, material was a bit reduced after the exchange of two pairs of minor pieces, so the attack didn't seem to be very dangerous at first and maybe this is what Aronian thought when he first committed an inaccuracy by playing his king to h7 (instead, Re6 was probably better) and then blundered with the retreat Nc6-b8. Black didn't have time for such luxury, as Anand immediately proved by sacrificing a knight on h6. Aronian had to take it with the king, but in return his majesty was forced to talk a walk outside his own castle. Not the best thing to do for royalties and it was no surprise that Anand caught him only a few moves later by weaving a mating net.

Shirov - Kramnik was a YABB - Yet Another Bloody Berlin, as chess fans over the world nowadays tend to call this opening that has a strong tendency towards a draw, at least on high level. And the story was the same indeed, although at some point Kramnik's position looked a bit passive, but the Russian has such a huge experience with it that Shirov found no other way but to sacrifice a pawn in order to get some play. Kramnik took and soon afterwards returned it to reach a drawn endgame with opposite-colored bishops.

Nakamura - Giri was the clash of these two players who found themselves at the top and the bottom of yesterday's Blitz and most probably many saw Nakamura the clear favorite to win against the Dutch, but the game told a different story. Nakamura played the opening a bit too light-hearted maybe and got into trouble with black expanding on both wings. But although the position clearly seemed to favor black, Nakamura somehow managed to escape into a drawn ending. In the end, only two kings and two pawns were left of the previous battle.

Round 1 - Saturday, February 13th, 3pm

White BlackRes.
Alexei Shirov-Vladimir Kramnik1:1
Hikaru Nakamura-Anish Giri1:1
Viswanathan Anand-Levon Aronian2:0

Round two will start at 6pm with the following encounters:

Round 2 - Saturday, February 13th, 6pm

White BlackRes.
Vladimir Kramnik-Levon Aronian1:1
Anish Giri-Viswanathan Anand0:2
Alexei Shirov-Hikaru Nakamura0:2


Download all games from round 1 (PGN)