Wijk Aan Zee: World Champion Viswanathan Anand starts the home-stretch of 73rd Tata Steel Chess tournament as the hot favourite for the title after the third and final rest day.
With seven points in his kitty so far and Hikaru Nakamura of United States for company at the top of the tables after ten rounds, the World Champion has reasons to be pleased with how things have gone thus far and he begins the last leg of the tournament against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France.
Effectively, in the last three rounds, Anand`s experience will be tested against the youth of Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri of Holland and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia. All the three are out of title race in this category-20 tournament that might just make Anand`s task a little easier.
The Indian ace however has two black games out of remaining three.
Nakamura on the other hand has to deal with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Nepomniachtchi besides in-form Wang Hao which, according to experts, `is a tough draw given the tournament situation`.
Levon Aronian of Armenia and Kramnik share the third spot at half point behind the two leaders and the former is really in with a chance of catching up with the leaders as he still has to play the Dutch duo of Jan Smeets and Erwin L`Ami who are not doing too well.
Aronian, Kramnik and Anand are the only three players with an unbeaten record thus far and much would depend on scoring in the final three games. A thrilling finish seems much on the cards here.
Magnus Carlsen of Norway might not be in the race for the title but he remains a threat to Kramnik whom he has not played. The Norwegian is likely to lose his number one status after this tournament unless there is a tremendous turnaround
Tania Sachdev has now got a tough score to make in the last few rounds for her Grandmaster norm but the Delhi-based has come out with flying colours against a high class opposition in the `C` group.
For the record, Tania has scored four wins and two draws besides four losses and three of these victories have come against Grandmasters.
Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly is on a recovery path in the `B` group after a disastrous start. The Indian is now on 4 points from 10 games.