Anand draws white in easy first round

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Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Defending champion Viswanathan Anand will start his campaign with the white pieces in the opening game of the first round of World Chess Championships that gets underway here at the Kremlin tomorrow. Faced with a relatively tough draw than in the last edition at Delhi, Anand is likely to meet Grandmaster Vladislav Tkachiev of France in the second round as his first round victory over International Master Touzane Olivier of France looks a near certainty. There will be six rounds in the men's championship till the semifinal stages and the two finalists will play an eight-game match after a month's break. Each round will comprise two games and in case of a level score, games of shorter durations will be played to determine the winner. Among other Indian players in the fray in men's section, GM Krishnan Sasikiran has drawn a favourable white against GM Vereslav Eingorn of Ukraine and in the opinion of experts here, is the favourite to cruise into the second round. Eingorn, who is no stranger to Indian chess, has played in Kolkata and Sasikiran has apparently done the homework well. GM Dibyendu Barua will have to face the formidable GM Joel Lautier of France with the black pieces in the opening game. Barua told reporters it is not a new thing for him to start as the underdog in a World Championship match as that has already happened thrice in three previous editions. Former champion GM Alexander Khalifman is a big favourite against IM Surya Shekhar Ganguly who will have the white pieces in the first game tomorrow. For this Championship, Ganguly and Barua have prepared together as the openings played by their opponents match a good deal. India's youngest ever GM Pentyala Harikrishna too will open with the favourable colour against GM Alexander Belyavsky of Slovenia. After a few successful stints at the international level, this is Harikrishna's big opportunity to make a start in the elite chess circles. Belyavski is the highest rated opponent that Harikrishna will play twice against, and given his deep opening preparation, magician like middlegame and machine-like endgame skills, a surprise result is not ruled out. In the women's championship being held simultaneously, India's first Woman Grandmaster S Vijayalakshmi too has the advantage of white pieces in the first game. After suffering a shocking ouster in the first round itself against a lowly rated player in the last Women World Championship, Vijayalakshmi looks determined to do better this time. Vijayalakshmi will have to battle it out against Dworakowska Joanna of Poland and this match is unlikely to go to the tiebreak. Only thing that Vijayalakshmi might have to worry about is complacency that troubles her in better positions. Woman International Master Nisha Mohota meets WGM and 13th seed T Stepovaia-Diachenko of Russia in her maiden attempt in the World Championship while double WGM-norm holder Aarthie Ramaswamy meets WGM Nino Khurtsidze of Georgia. (PTI)

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