Anand favourite at World Championships

Reigning world champion and top seed Viswanathan Anand starts as big favourite in the World Chess Championships starting on Tuesday at Moscow.

updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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New Delhi:

Reigning world champion and top seed Viswanathan Anand starts as big favourite in the World Chess Championships starting on Tuesday at Moscow. But the course ahead for the five-member Indian team would be anything but challenging at the prestigious event boasting of a very formidable field. Barring Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran, who takes on GM Vereslav Eingorn of Ukraine with only a marginal rating difference of 9 points as per FIDE's July rating list, others will have to face highly ranked players before moving ahead. The rating list taken for the purpose of pairing is the one issued in July and it appears that Anand will have to eliminate the likes of GM Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and former World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov of Russia enroute to the final. India's youngest Grandmaster, Pendyala Harikrishna will take on highly regarded GM Alexander Belyavski of Slovenia. Harikrishna has been preparing hard with his trainer GM Evgeny Vladimirov of Kazakhstan and his ability to deliver the goods against mighty opposition gives him a fair chance to proceed to the second round. A veteran of the World Championships and national champion GM Dibyendu Barua will have to battle it out against GM Joel Lautier of France. Lautier, whose claim to big fame came during the Kasparov versus Kramnik match last year wherein he assisted Kramnik as second, has a tough nut to crack in Barua even though the difference in rating points is huge. A handicap that Barua faces is first round elimination jinx that he would try and overcome after a gap of three championships. Incidentally, ever since its inception as a knock-out event in 1997-98, Barua has played in all the World Championships. The happiest guy in the Indian contingent is International Master Surya Sekhar Ganguly who made a valiant effort in the Asian Championship to find a place against former world champion GM Alexander Khalifman of Russia. Ganguly's effort in the Asian Championships not only earned him a berth in Moscow but also fetched him his maiden Grandmaster norm. However, playing Khalifman will be tough and none other than Anand would testify that, having overcome him twice in two nail-biting semi-final matches in the last edition in New Delhi. The tough has to get going when the going is tough observed FIDE Vice President and All India Chess Federation Secretary P T Ummerkoya. Ummerkoya said that he was confident that Indians will do well and hailed Harikrishna as another Anand in the making. "The World Championship will definitely come back to us with Anand in such a fine fettle and I am sure that others will do well too," said Ummerkoya. (PTI)