World Champion Viswanathan Anand [ Images ] took an early lead by winning the first game of the rapid match against former world champion Anatoly Karpov of Russia [ Images ] in Bastia, France [ Images ] on Sunday.
Anand played it safe and got an easy draw with black pieces in the second game to lead the four-game match 1.5-0.5. The remaining two games of the match will be played at Ajaccio on Monday.
Anand took a cue from Garry Kasparov [ Images ] in choosing his opening. The now-retired Russian stalwart had used a typical system in the Queen pawn opening to win a recent rapid-blitz match against Karpov and Anand used similar ideas to come up triumphs.
It was a Queen's gambit declined wherein Karpov got close to obtaining an equal position but Anand always commanded with his better placed pieces.
The middle game saw the Bishops going off the board along with one set of rooks but Anand's grip on the position remained intact with some finely crafted manoeuvres leading to the win of a pawn.
Meticulous play thereafter ensured that Anand's advantage increased and after forcing the exchange of queens it was curtains for Karpov. The game lasted 46 moves.
In the second game Karpov could not get an advantage in a Semi Slav defense variation by Anand and the exchange of pieces at regular intervals saw the Indian equalizing comfortably with the slightly less favourable colour black.
The transitions from opening to middle game and then to endgame had one thing in common; Anand's defenses were impregnable.
The players eventually arrived at a queen and pawns endgame and signed peace in 42 moves via perpetual checks.
This is Anand's first appearance in competitive chess since losing the Mainz Classic title at Mainz, Germany [ Images ] in the month of August.
From here, the Indian ace will take part in the Tal Memorial tournament at Moscow [ Images ], the world blitz championship and the Corus chess tournament at Wijk Aan Zee in January 2010.