World rapid champion Viswanathan Anand will take on long-time nemesis and world No 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the ninth round of the Tata Steel Masters at Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands.
With two wins, five draws and one loss, Anand is sharing the sixth spot in the 14-player, 13-round tournament and the Indian ace will look for a good finish in the last five rounds of this marathon event. Anand had lost his world chess champion crown to Carlsen.
Anish Giri of Holland, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Carlsen share the top spot on 5.5 points apiece while Wesley So of United States and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia follow the three leaders a half point behind.
Anand is next on 4.5 points and giving him company is Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine.
In the remaining five, Anand has three white games and the most important one will be in the next round.
Thereafter, Anand has white games lined up against Yifan Hou of China and Wesley So while his two black games will be against Gawain Jones of England and Mamedyarov respectively.
The Indian will need at least two victories to pose a serious challenge to the three leaders at this stage.
Things could have been much better for Anand had he not lost to Kramnik in the seventh round.
It’s a long road to recovery and an easy draw with Russian Peter Svidler in the previous round and a rest day thereafter would have likely served as good recovery plan for the five times winner here.
The other Indian in fray – B Adhiban – is languishing at the 13th spot and his hunt for an elusive victory has continued.
On just two points, Adhiban will hope to do some damage control in the last five games.
In the challengers section Vidit Gujrathi looks poised for a podium finish with six points from eight rounds and if he can win the event, he will get a direct entry to the next year’s masters tournament.
The Nasik-based has played very maturely thus far and has given nothing away to opponents. His four victories have been convincing besides four draws.
Gujrathi shares the lead with Anton Korobov who looked like a runaway winner until the previous round when he was grinded down by Amin Baseem of Egypt.
It will be a race between the Indian and the Ukrainian in the last five as both enjoy a massive two-point lead over their nearest rivals in this section.
Pairings Round 9
Masters: Gawain Jones (Eng, 3.5) vs Yifan Hou (Chn, 1); V Anand (Ind, 4.5) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5.5); Wesley So (Usa, 5) vs Peter Svidler (Rus, 4); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 5.5) vs Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5); Maxim Matlakov (Rus, 3.5) vs Anish Giri (Ned, 5.5); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5) vs Wei Yi (Chn, 3); Fabiano Caruana (Usa 3)vs B Adhiban (Ind, 2).
Challengers: Aryan Tari (Nor, 3.5) vs Benjamin Bok (Ned, 4); Michal Krasenkow (Pol, 4) vs Jordeen Van Foreest (Nor, 4); Amin Bassem (Egy, 4) vs Olga Girya (Rus, 2.5) D Harika (Ind, 3) vs Anton Korobov (Ukr, 6); Erwin L’Ami (Ned, 4) vs Jeffery Xiong (Usa, 3.5); Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (Ind, 6) vs Matthias Bluebaum (Ger, 4); Lucas Van Foreest (Ned, 4) vs Dmitry Gordievsky (Rus, 3.5).