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Anand favourite in Corus, meets Radjabov in opener

For Anand, a win here could mean returning to the 2800 ELO rating club once again. In the latest FIDE rating list announced in the New Year.

other Updated: Jan 12, 2008 18:53 IST

World champion and five-time winner Viswanathan Anand will start his campaign against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan in the first round of the Corus International Chess tournament which gets underway here.

The Indian will play with black pieces in his 'A' group opener.

On Elo counts, Anand starts as joint favourite with Russia's Vladimir Kramnik but given the enviable record of the Indian on the Dutch soil, his chances of winning again are certainly brighter than most of the participants according to the experts of the game.

The average rating of the field is a whopping 2742 and 10 of the world's top 13 players are here to play 13 rounds in the 14-player round robin event spread over a fortnight.

Former World champion Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov, who won last year following a three-way tie involving Armenia's Levon Aronian and Radjabov, will be among the favourites yet again in this prestigious tournament.

Norwegian Magnus Carlson, who has been steadily improving will be another player to watch out for.

For the first time, four Indians will feature in the three sections of this elite, invitational event. In the 'B' Group, P. Hari Krishna and Koneru Humpy are part of a 14-player field.

Hari is seeded fifth and Humpy is ninth amongst 14 participants here. In the 'C' group, the Indian challenge will be spearheaded by Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi who starts as the sixth seed.

For Anand, a win here could mean returning to the 2800 ELO rating club once again. In the latest FIDE rating list announced in the New Year, Anand lost a couple of points and came to 2799 points which proved equal to Kramnik who had a superb result in the Tal memorial at Moscow.

The Indian ace has a tough draw though and will have to do better with his black pieces in order to keep the remaining aspirants at bay.

Radjabov, who is fresh from his first place finish in the just concluded ACP World Rapid chess championship will be tough for Anand and in the second round he meets Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan who has been steadily improving as well in terms of chess understanding.

In the 'B' group, Harikrishna also has a realistic chance of winning his maiden title here against a mixed field. In the opener Hari will take on his former trainer Nigel Short of England while Humpy will start her campaign against local star Jan Smeets.

In the 'C' Group, Parimarjan will meet Pontus Carlsson of Sweden. The events will be played under FIDE's Classical time control.