Anand to meet Caruana in eighth round
In a now-or-never situation, World Champion Viswanathan Anand will take on Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the eighth round of fifth Final Masters here.
The event that started a little over a fortnight back in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reaches its business end and with three rounds remaining, its high time that Anand finds his winning ways.
Anand has drawn all the seven games so far and has two white games left in the rest of the three rounds.
For Anand, it's a typical situation and if doesn't use his white pieces against Caruana to good effect, his chances of catching up will evaporate completely.
Two wins out of three would be ideal and if the Indian ace manage to do it, it will be a remarkable comeback after a sedate start.
Italy's Fabiano Caruana and world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway are firmly ahead on 12 points apiece and even though the comet-like run of the Italian is halted in the second half, he still remains in with a chance to win the biggest event of his career.
More often than not, Carlsen has benefitted from the soccer-like scoring system that is used here and with two back-to-back wins he has emerged as the firm favourite for the crown.
The third spot is held by Levon Aronian of Armenia and he too would be fancying his chances with a game against lowest ranked Francisco Vallejo Pons in hand in the next round.
Aronian on nine points, is two points ahead of Anand who is clear fourth and these two are the only unbeaten players so far in the tournament.
Much was expected from Russian Sergey Karjakin but he has clearly not been in his best form. With just five draws apart from a couple of losses, Karjakin will have to do well against Carlsen in the next round to restore some balance.
Francisco Vallejo Pons is the local favourite and the highest ranked native Spanish. His four draws are not a disappointment but unlike last year, when he even beat Carlsen in one game, he is not able to generate very complicated positions for the higher ranked players to go wrong.
Currently, Vallejo is losing some rating also.
Pairings round 8: V Anand (Ind, 7) v/s Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 12); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 5) v/s Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 12); Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp, 4) v/s Levon Aronian (Arm, 9).