Chess: Anand to meet Ponomariov in Tata Steel opener

Wijk Aan Zee: World Champion Viswanathan Anand has drawn former champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine in his opening round in group A competition of the 73rd Tata Steel chess tournament here.

It seems like a good draw for Anand even though he will get seven blacks and six whites in the 14-players round robin tournament hitting category-20.

Amongst the hot contenders for the title, Anand will get white against Russian duo of Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grishchuk and will also play with the favourable colour against Levon Aronian of Armenia.

On the flip side, against world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Champion will play as black.

The first super tournament of the year has garnered a top field barring Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik and Aronian are main title contenders.

The challenge can come from Grischuk and Alexei Shirov of Spain who both have it in them to beat the best while the young crop headed by Hikaru Nakamura of United States can always prove to be dangerous for the bigwigs.

Anand drew number 14 in the drawing of lots during the opening ceremony. The Indian ace will be looking forward to a better finish than Carlsen and Aronian which would help him reclaim the top ranking in the rating list.

Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly will make his debut in the group `B`. The Indian will have a tough field to negotiate where he is seeded ninth in the category-17 event.

In the first round Ganguly meets Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia. Another Indian making debut is International Master and former National Champion Tania Sachdev, who will open her campaign in the group `C`.

In the first round, Tania has a tough opponent in second seed Grandmaster Ivan Ivanisevic.

The Tata Steel tournament was formerly known as Corus tournament and the new name has been given this following the takeover of Corus Steel by the Indian Company.

The event will be played under Classical Chess rules with 100 minutes to each player for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 and thereafter sudden-death of 15 minutes each will be applicable. There are three rest days in all.