Anand to meet Carlsen in Final Masters opener



Anand to meet Carlsen in Final Masters openerSao Paulo (Brazil): It will be a clash of titans as world champion Viswanathan Anand will take on world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the first round of the Bilbao Final Masters chess tournament here.

The concluding event of the Grand Slam will be played in two parts of five rounds each.

While the first leg will be held in Ibirapuera Park in the center of the Brazilian mega-city, the concluding part will be played in Alhondiga in Bilbao, Spain.

In both locales, the players will compete in a sound-proof glass-room.

The six-player double round robin tournament will be played with soccer-like scoring system and Sofia rules to make the event more competitive.

There will be three points for a win and one for a draw. Under the Sofia rules, the players are not allowed to offer draws and this result can be achieved only with the intervention of the arbiter.

The time control of 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and then 60 minutes with an increment of 10 seconds per move is likely to produce more decisive games in the event.

In-form Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine is one contender who can give Anand and Carlsen a run for their money along with Levon Aronian of Armenia.

The winner of the Tata Steel tournament earlier in the year - Hikaru Nakamura of United States and Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain -- complete the line up.

Anand, who is fresh from his recent victory at Botvinnik memorial rapid tournament, will be hoping for an improved performance from last time when he finished second behind Russian Vladimir Kramnik.

Carlsen had a forgettable result in the Botvinnik memorial in Moscow and will have his task cut out. The Norwegian has a distinct ability to win many games and in this scoring system he has held an edge over others.

Hikaru Nakamura announced his arrival to elite chess club after winning the Tata tournament in January but since then has had mixed results while Ivanchuk recently earned the right to be in title race of 2013 World Championship by finishing third in the just-concluded World Cup.

Francisco Vallejo Pons will serve the local interest when the tournament shifts to Bilbao. Pons is the highest rated native Spaniard.

Pairing round 1: V Anand (Ind) v/s Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa) v/s Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Levon Aronian (Arm) v/s Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp).

PTI