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Anand in elite company in Shamkir Chess

World Junior Chess Championship 2014 press conference

Shamkir (Azerbaijan): Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will have his hands full when he competes in a very strong field in the Shamkir Chess 2015, held in the memory of Vugar Gashimov.

Come Friday, the Heydar Aliyev Centre will come alive – buzzing with the world’s best Grandmasters including World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who starts as the top seed in another super tournament of the year.

On rating count, Anand starts the tournament as the third seed and if the last tournament that he played was anything to go by, the Indian ace is in excellent form to carry on the good work he did in the Zurich Chess Challenge in March.

Anand won the Classical section in Zurich and tied for over-all first with Hikaru Nakamura of United States only to lose the decider play-off that was incorporated to find the winner at the last minute. Anand had superior tiebreak and the trophy would be his without the tiebreak game.

Here, it’s a different ball game especially with the participation of Carlsen in the 10-player round-robin tournament under Classical system. There will be nine rounds in all. The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 for the next 20 and another 15 minutes for the remaining part of the game with a 30 seconds increment from move 61. There is also 100000 Euros prize money at stake.

Apart from Carlsen, Anand will face stiff challenge from the likes of Fabiano Caruana of Italy, Anish Giri of Holland and old foe Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. Rising star Wesley So of United States, local star Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, Michael Adams of England and Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan complete the star-studded line-up.

Carlsen starts the tournament as the defending champion, having won the first edition despite losing to Caruana and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan. While Caruana might still want to torment Carlsen this year too, Radjabov withdrew from the tournament a few weeks ago citing personal reasons.

The Norwegian has only played two tournaments this year, but won both. In the Tata Steel tournament at Wijk aan Zee, Holland, Carlsen won with 9.0/13 and a few weeks later Carlsen beat Arkadij Naiditsch in a playoff to win the third Grenke Chess Classic.

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