Shamkir (Azerbaijan): Indian chess wizard Viswanathan Anand will meet reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the first round of Shamkir Chess, held in the memory of Vugar Gashimov, here.
Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. Pic: AP/PTI
Drawing number '4' in the drawing of lots, Anand will not only have the advantage of playing white in the first game but the Indian ace will also get to play five games in all with white pieces in the 10-player, nine-rounds, round-robin tournament. While the white pieces is good news, Anand would probably want to forget the last encounter against Carlsen at the Grenke Chess Classic earlier this year.
Playing white then, Anand suffered a defeat after attaining a better position first and then missing out on a draw. With five whites, Anand can look forward to re-enter the 2800 ELO rating club from here. Seeded third, Anand would need six points to break the magic barrier once again. For the records, Anand will play white against Anish Giri of Holland, Wesley So of United States, Michael Adams of England and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.
Besides, the Indian will get black against, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan and second seed Fabiano Caruana of Italy. Carlsen said he was happy to be here.
"It is great to be back. I remember the first tournament was very well organised and as a chess player I appreciate the way we are treated here," said Carlsen on his impressions about the city. Speaking about the drawing of lots, Carlsen, smiling, noted he was not too happy with it having drawn number '7'.
"I think the pairing objectively for me is...terrible," he said during the press conference that was held right after. "Five Black games and a very difficult Black game with Anand in the first round. But we'll see how it goes." The 100000 Euros prize money tournament will also see a big contest between Wesley So of United States and Anish Giri of Holland in the first round.
So, who recently forfeited a game in US Championship for making notes to himself during his game, gets the shortest recovery time as the US championship ended just a few days before this. "I'm just glad to be in different city, other than St. Louis, which turned out to be the worst tournament of my life," So said.
The most critical game of the first round might be between local hero Mamedyarov and Caruana. Both the players have had mediocre success recently and both are known to go for highly complicated struggles. In the other two games of the day, Kramnik will take on Adams while Mamedov meets Vachier-Lagrave.
Players with ELO ratings: Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2863); Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 2802); V Anand (Ind, 2791); Anish Giri (Ned, 2790); Wesley So (Usa, 2788); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus,2783); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 2762); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 2754); Michael Adams (Eng, 2746); Rauf Mamedov (Aze, 2651). Pairings round 1: Anand ¿ Carlsen; Kramnik-Adams; So-Giri; Mamedyarov-Caruana; Mamedov-Vachier-Lagrave.