Moscow: In joint fifth spot after five draws, World Champion Viswanathan Anand will take on Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine in the sixth round of the Tal Memorial International chess tournament.
With the next World Championship match against Boris Gelfand on his mind, Anand has not been at his best. But, despite his mediocre result, the Indian ace is just half a point behind the leading group.
Except in the game against Levon Aronian of Armenia, Anand has not had tough positions to contend and while there have not been very sharp or complicated battles; he has been holding his fort with consummate ease.
After the black game against Ivanchuk, Anand will have two back-to-back white games against World No 1 Magnus Casrlsen of Norway and Garry Kasparov`s latest protege Hikaru Nakamura of United States.
In these two games, the World Champion can make the fortunes swing towards him.
The lead past the half-way in this ten-players round robin tournament, is shared by Carlsen, Aronian and Russian duo of former European Champion Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin, who all have three points each from five games.
Anand shares the next spot along with Ivanchuk and World Cup winner Peter Svidler of Russia on two and a half points, while Russian Vladimir Kramnik and Nakamura are closed behind with two points apiece.
Anand`s challenger in the next world championship -- Boris Gelfand of Israel -- is currently languishing at the bottom with three draws and two losses with four rounds still to come.
The Indian lost to Ivanchuk 0.5-1.5 in the two-games mini-match of the Bilbao Final Masters recently and he will be looking forward to avenge that here.
Ivanchuk has had some mixed results here with one victory, one loss and three draws so far.
Magnus Carlsen is the one everyone fears in crunch games and he has come up with some inspiring games here. The Norwegian is trying to create something of his own in most of the games here and his efforts are laudable simply because none -- as yet -- has been able to dent his confidence.
Nepomniachtchi benefited from an oversight by Kramnik in the first round and has been reaping dividends of that to be on the leader board.
Karjakin, like Carlsen, has scored over Gelfand to be at the top so far and the next round will be crucial for him as well when he takes on Nepomniachtchi with black pieces.
Pairings round 6: Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 2.5) v V Anand (Ind, 2.5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 3) v Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 3); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3) v Peter Svidler (Rus, 3); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2) v Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 2); Levon Aronian (Arm, 3) v Boris Gelfand (Isr, 1.5).