Anand favourite at Pearl Spring

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010, 13:35 PM IST

Nanjing: World champion Viswanathan Anand starts as the favourite to win his maiden Grand Slam of the year in the Pearl Spring Chess tournament that gets underway here.

Following his decent performance in the recent Bilbao
Final Masters that saw him regain the number one ranking in
terms of ELO rating in the unofficial live rating list, the
Indian ace will be hoping to win his first Grand Slam of the
year ahead of Norwegian Magnus Carlsen who has been struggling
for form.

Carlsen has lost more than 25 points from his last
outings at the Chess Olympiad and Bilbao and is currently
ranked second in the world.

The event will also see former world champion Veselin
Topalov of Bulgaria vying for the top slot.

Topalov, who lost to Anand in the last World Championship
in Bulgaria will be hoping for an improved performance against
the Indian and given his uncompromising style, he is the other
contender for the title besides the top two.

It will be played on a double round-robin basis between
six players and each participant will get to play against the
others twice.

The Sofia rules will be in place and the draw offers are
not allowed. The draw can be agreed to in theoretically drawn
positions only.

The total prize fund of the tournament is 2,50,000 Euros
(over Rs 1.5 crore) with the winner`s purse being 80,000
Euros.

Wang Yue of China will spearhead the local challenge. The
current World University champion has been playing in top
events regularly for some time now and is known as a solid
player.

Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan and Etienne Bacrot of France
complete the line up. Gashimov was surprisingly left out of
the Azerbaijan`s national team in the Chess Olympiad and he
will be itching to prove his mettle in this elite field while
Bacrot has been a consistent performer for many years now.

For Anand, the main challengers will be Carlsen and
Topalov who are not playing their best at the moment. Like
Carlsen, Topalov too lost many rating points in the Olympiad
and both need to recover lost ground.

Anand meets Wang Yue in the opener where the former will
play with white. Carlsen and Topalov also open their campaign
with white pieces against Bacrot and Gashimov respectively.

Pairings round 1: V Anand (Ind) v/s Wang Yue (Chn);
Magnus Carlsen (Nor) v/s Etienne Bacrot (Fra); Veselin Topalov
(Bul) v/s Vugar Gashimov (Aze).

PTI