Linares: Rejuvenated after a four-month break, defending champion Viswanathan Anand will be back in competitive chess when he locks horns with Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan in the first round of the 22nd Linares chess meet that got underway here.
The eight-player double round robin will see Anand in action after a gap of nearly four months as the king of chess was on a well-deserved break after beating Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the World Championship in Bonn last October.
With that win, the Indian became the first player in history to have won the World Championship in three different formats: knockout, tournament, and match.
The three-time world champion, who has been living in this country with his wife Aruna for the last few years, will defend his world title this year against the winner of the challenger match between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Gata Kamsky of the US.
The top seed had also won the Linares title last year. As always, there will be stiff competition for the defending champion in this tournament this year and Anands main rival could either be Levon Aronian of Armenia or Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
The other players in the fray are Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine, Alexander Grischuk of Russia and debutants Wang Yue of China and Cuban Lenier Dominiguez.
Carlsens surprise loss against Wang Yue in the final round of Corus chess tournament might have put him out of a top place finish but the Norwegian has it in him to score when it matters.
Aronian is likely to be his usual nonchalant self, while Ivanchuk will try to recover some lost ground.
Round 1: Viswanathan Anand (Ind) vs Teimour Radjabov (Aze); Levon Aronian (Arm) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Alexander Grichuk vs Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Wang Yue (Chn) vs Lenier Dominguez (Cub).