NEW DELHI: Viswanathan Anand was off to a winning start in the prestigious Mtel Masters chess tournament after beating Frenchman Etienne Bacrot in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Thursday. The victory also put the second seeded Indian in the lead as he was the only winner on the opening day.

Playing from the black side of the Queens Indian game, Anand let Bacrot trade his queen for two rooks following a kingside offensive. Before long, Anand's active queen managed to capture a couple of pawns. Anand finally drove home the advantage in 54 moves.

Anand again plays with black pieces in the second round against World champion and home favourite Veselin Topalov who drew with Russia's Peter Svidler in 71 moves of Sicilian Scheveningen. Ruslan Ponomariov and Gata Kamsky were engaged in a 64-move deadlock in Ruy Lopez.

The results (first round): Etienne Bacrot (Fra) lost to Viswanathan Anand (Ind); Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr) drew with Gata Kamsky (US); Peter Svidler (Rus) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul).

Second round pairings: Topalov-Anand; Svidler-Ponomariov; Kamsky-Bacrot.

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