Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will look to defy odds as he faces his toughest challenge in recent years at the Candidates tournament that gets underway here.
The three-week long event will decide the challenger for the next world championship match against Norwegian Magnus Carlsen slated to be held in United States of America in November this year.
As expected, the pundits do not rank Anand amongst the favourite but the Indian ace has shown time and again that he is made of sterner stuff.
After being written off following a defeat at the hands of Carlsen in the 2013 World championship match at Chennai, Anand rose back in great fashion when he won the Candidates to set up his second title clash against Carlsen. Though Anand lost the second match in 2014 at Sochi as well, this time he did pose many challenges to the Norwegian.
At 46, Anand is the oldest competitor in the field of eight players vying for the top spot that will earn a right to challenge Carlsen for the ultimate crown of world champion.
American Fabiano Caruana starts as the rating favourite in the lengthy tournament that will have fourteen rounds in all and participants play twice against each other.
The other American - Hikaru Nakamura is a favourite on form while Anish Giri of Holland, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Levon Aronian of Armenia are the other main contenders for the title besides Anand.
On current rankings, Anand is sixth in seeding only ahead of Russian duo of Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler.
The stakes are pretty high. The tournament itself carries a total prize pool of 420000 Euros (A little over Rupees thirty million) and besides the world championship match itself is likely to have a minimum prize fund of at least two million USD.
For Anand, its all about making another comeback and he has done it umpteen number of times. The Indian has a good opening draw when he takes on Veselin Topalov with white pieces. Anand had beaten Topalov in the 2010 world championship match in latter’s ‘den’ Sofia.