Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will start his campaign against top seed Levon Aronian of Armenia in the first round of Candidates chess tournament.
After a first round with white against Aronian, the Indian will have two black games to negotiate against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.
The other first round pairings are quite interesting. Andreikin will meet Kramnik and would like to avenge his defeat at the World Chess Cup finals. However, Kramnik has been out of chess for almost three months mostly paying attention to all his opponents here and it will be a contest worth watching.
Sergey Karjakin is pitted against seven-time Russian champion Svidler. The 37-year old Svidler looks in pink condition for this event and he is likely to give his best shot while in Khanty Mansiysk. For Karjakin, a first round victory could be vital for a start in such an event. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov meets Topalov and it's likely to be a nail-biter contest.
For Anand, Aronian has posed some real challenges in the past and the five-time world champion is expected to be cautious against the rating favourite. Post that two black games means Anand will get a good chance to get in to the groove before he takes on Russian opponents in the last four rounds of the first half.
This will be a test of time for Anand who has not been at his best since losing the world title to Magnus Carlsen in November last. In the London Classic rapid thereafter Anand was ousted in the quarterfinals while in the Zurich Chess Challenge recently the Indian could score just one win, against Boris Gelfand of Israel, out of five games that he played.