Irrespective of how much I enjoyed a long break from tournament chess after the World Championship match in Chennai, I.m simply delighted to be playing the unprecedented category 23 (average rating 2801) Zurich Chess Challenge.
The first round classical game against Gelfand today was exactly the kind of chess game I like to play. The queenless middle game fight offered positional and tactical nuances on every move. It is hard to say where Gelfand went wrong, but after 15.g4! his position was quite tricky. I allowed my pawn structure to be totally busted, but as long as I could keep on putting pressure on him on every move, my advantage quickly became quite significant. By the time he got into time trouble the position was probably already winning for me. He resigned just before the first time control.
Aronian outplayed Anand in the early middle game. After a possibly dubious piece sacrifice, Anand defended well for a long time, but Aronian managed to convert the game to victory and we share the lead after round one.
As yesterday I needed close to an hour to get warmed up. Today it meant spending 30 minutes procrastinating on how to meet 9.. Bf5.
In the blitz yesterday my situation was pretty desperate being a pawn down and low on time against Aronian in game 3, after having lost to Caruana and saved a draw against Gelfand. I woke up in time to save the draw against Aronian and beat Anand and Nakamura to clinch 1st on tie-break ahead of Aronian.
The tournament takes place in the .Festsaal. of Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville.
We have quite a schedule these seven days.
From today until Monday we play the round robin classical part of the tournament, and any drawn game prior to move 40 will be followed by a rapid game with opposite colors.
Tuesday we play 5 rounds rapid chess each carrying half the weight of each classical game.
Friday I have white against co-leader Aronian who came straight from a convincing victory in Tata Steel Chess.
Magnus Carlsen, January 30th, 2014, Zurich