Five-time former world champion Viswanathan Anand will begin his campaign against Filipino-American Wesley So in the ‘Tata Steel Chess India 2018’ starting here at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations on Friday.
“It’s a very nice feeling to be back in Kolkata. I’ve got a lot of memories here. I’m really excited,” Anand said on the sidelines of the draw.
The 48-year-old last played here at the 3rd Goodricke Open in 1992.
Anand last played in India at his hometown Mayiladuthurai in 2013 when he lost the World Championship title to Magnus Carlsen.
India’s No.2 and former world junior champion Pentala Harikrishna will open his account against local challenger Surya Sekhar Ganguly.
Ganguly said he is looking forward to facing Anand for the first time in his life.
“I remember making the demo board during Anand’s match here in 1992. It’s strange but for the first time I’ll take him on a real board. I’m absolutely honoured,” an excited Ganguly said.
The USD 40,000 prize money tournament will feature three players in the top 10 ranking including Azerbaijan GM and world number three Shakhriyar Mamedyarov who will start off against India no 3 Vidit Gujrathi in the second board.
Mamedyarov, who has an Elo rating of 2817, said he does not give much importance to his rating.
“I’m not under any pressure. I will forget my rating and play my own game. I think it’s an open field with seven eight players who can go all the way,” he said.
Current World Cup winner Levon Aronian is slated to arrive on Friday as he missed the flight. He is drawn against Hikaru Nakamura who will play with white in the third board.
Armenian GM and world number six Levon Aronian; USA’s GM Wesley So who is world number 9; Japanese-American GM and four-time United States champion Hikaru Nakamura who is world number 14 and Russian GM Sergey Karjakin (world number 15) also feature in the draw.
The tournament features six Indian and five overseas Grandmasters including two wild card entries to Nihal Sarin and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu who will compete in the rapid and blitz formats respectively.
The first three days of action will be of rapid chess in all nine rounds in round robin format followed by a rest day on Monday.
The final leg will be of double round robin blitz concluding on November 14.
Round One: Pentala Harikrishna v Surya Sekhar Ganguly; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) v Vidit Gujrathi; Hikaru Nakamura (USA) v Levon Aronian (Armenia); Nihal Sarin v Sergey Karjakin (Russia); Viswanathan Anand v Wesley So (USA).