Viswanathan Anand's [ Images ] title defence got off to the worst possible start as he was shocked by challenger Veselin Topalov [ Images ] of Bulgaria in the first game of the World Chess Championship, at the Central Military Club, in Sofia, on Saturday.
The Indian ace found it incredibly tough to handle local stalwart Topalov, who cruised to a fascinating victory in just 30 moves, in the first of the 12-game match to decide the next world champion.
The match was postponed by a day to allow Anand rest after a 40-hour road journey from Germany [ Images ], and a further two hours to meet Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov's previously arranged schedule.
At 17:00 local time the two contestants started the much-awaited clash, with Topalov playing out an expected queen pawn move with white pieces.
Anand started off with the Gruenfeld Indian defense, an opening that many feared to be unlikely, owing to the risk of being run over if things go sour.
The choice led to one of the quickest and most decisive opening games in World Championship history with Topalov rattling off his moves very quickly and comfortably.
The game followed playable moves in computer books until move eleven, where Anand deviated a little bit but was still in known territory.
At move 16, Topalov moved away from the main lines with a rook manoeuvre, a move that had only been played once before, and disturbed Anand. The opening moves were played at a very fast pace and in under five minutes as many as 14 moves were already on the board.
Topalov followed a move played by Ukrainian Sergey Karjakin against Magnus Carlsen [ Images ] of Norway in a game played in 2008 on his 16th turn and soon Anand was under pressure.
Anand followed the standard plan to slow down White's advance in the center but meanwhile Topalov moved his Knight closer to the enemy King, and a sudden Rook lift on the 23rd move created dangerous threats, highlighting the fragile nature of Black's castle.
With a piece sacrifice imminent, Anand dove into his first long thought, but erred immediately to allow the sacrifice with a devastating attack.
It was Topalov all the way as he penetrated the seventh rank to make life difficult for Anand's king. A picturesque finale was on the anvil and it followed with a quiet yet decisive Bishop move on the 29th turn by the Bulgarian.
Anand resigned one move later.
There are 11 games still left in the championship for Anand to make a comeback.
Team Anand will have to spend a lot of thinking time to combat Topalov who has emerged as a far superior rival than Russian Vladimir Kramnik [ Images ] -- who was comprehensively outplayed at Bonn in Germany in 2008.
Game 2 is on Sunday.
Topalov-Anand (Game 1)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 O-O 10.O-O Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.Qd2 e5 13.Bh6 cxd4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.cxd4 exd4 16.Rac1Qd6 17.f4 f6 18.f5 Qe5 19.Nf4 g5 20.Nh5 Kg8 21.h4 h6 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.Rf3 Kf7 24.Nxf6 Kxf6 25.Rh3 Rg8 26.Rh6+ Kf7 27.Rh7 Ke8 28. Rcc7 Kd8 29. Bb5 Qxe4 30.Rxc8+ 1-0.