Former World champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine played out a draw with top seed Israeli Boris Gelfand in the first game of the four-game final in the World Chess Cup, now drawing to a close in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.
Both Gelfand and Ponmariov played solid and neither got any real chance in the course of the well-fought game.
Ponomariov came into the final at the expense of the last Russian remaining -- Vladimir Malakhov -- and that too in the tie-break games. The Ukrainian was apparently not in the mood for a tense battle despite his white pieces and this was probably the reason of his 'safe try' in the Petroff, an opening that has a reputation of being rock solid.
The players followed a popular variation in the opening and the transition to middle game was an expected one. With the central file open for both, the trading of pieces was almost inevitable at one point in the game.
The Cup started off with 128 players, including seven Indians, on a knock-our basis. Out of the seven Indians in the fray, four -- Parimarjan Negi, Sriram Jha, Abhijeet Gupta and Abhijit Kunte -- bowed out in the first round itself, while the trio of Krishnan Sasikiran, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Sandipan Chanda lasted one more round.