Looking for an elusive win in the tournament, Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand has his task cut out when he sits across Ding Liren of China in the seventh round of the Grand Chess tour in Zagreb, Croatia.
The five-time world champion started the super tournament with a loss against Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia. He had five draws since then to collect 2.5 points out of a possible six.
With five rounds still to come in the 12-player 11-round tournament, Anand will look forward to an improved performance and all the Indian ace needs are a couple of victories that will take him closer to the top.
Anand has had to do some hard work in the tournament thus far but apart from one bad day in office against Nepomniachtchi, the younger players have not been able to crack him.
The game against Magnus Carlsen of Norway is surely going to find its way in the history books, given the way the Indian defended and came out unscathed in what looked like a lost endgame.
After the first and only rest day in the tournament, the next two rounds will be most crucial for Anand as he plays both with white pieces. If the Indian is able to dent Ding Liren’s hopes in the tournament, Fabiano Caruana will be the next big hurdle.
The tournament still looks wide open but reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen has not quite displayed the terrific form he has been in the last six months. After the rest day breather, Carlsen, who won a nice game against Hikaru Nakamura of United States in the fifth round, might just have his say if he finds his winning ways.
Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen and Wesley So of United States share the lead with four points from first six rounds and they are followed by Caruana, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian of Armenia on 3.5 points apiece.
Anand shares the seventh spot with Sergey Karjakin of Russia and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and these three are a half point ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, Anish Giri of Holland and Nakamura.
There have been just seven decisive games in the tournament out of 30 thus far but the battle is only likely to heat up in the last five rounds.
Pairings Round 7: V Anand (Ind, 2.5) vs Ding Liren (Chn, 3.5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 4) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 2) vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 2.5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 3.5) vs Anish Giri (Ned,2); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2.5) vs Wesley So (Usa, 4); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 2) vs Levon Aronian (Arm, 3.5).