Amber 10 Flagged Off

Anand To Face Karpov

By Arvind Aaron

Vishy Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko play the Dutch game while Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen and Melody Amber watch the proceedings.

World champion Viswanathan Anand, the odds-on favourite will face former world champion Anatoly Karpov of Russia in the opener on Saturday at The Metropole Palace Hotel in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Last year, they drew both games and then never played in a same tournament again. Karpov beat Anand in two world championship cycles at Brussels 1991 and Lausanne 1998 but the Indian has a better head-to-head score.

The 12-player double round robin tournament will feature rapid chess and blindfold chess for a prize fund of $193,250. The event runs through to March 29.

The drawing of lots was done by the players playing a Dutch board game "Sjoeln". Gelfand was the best and got the highest points and the best No.1 in the tournament. All others were ranked in order. Shirov had a unique way of playing this game. The opening ceremony was well attended and open to the public.

The organisers who said that the "sponsors expect value for money" last year in the opening ceremony did not come up with any such announcement. It was more pleasing to hear: "The organiser is proud to host a world class event with two world champions for the first time." They proudly added, "nobody refused our invitation."

Anand and Kramnik got special mention. If one of them got more attention, it was Melody Amber, the daughter of Mr J.J.Van Oosterom in whose name the tournament is conducted. Amber is ten year old. Karpov, Ambassador of the UNICEF, got a special mention having played all the editions of this tournament along with four others.  Ivanchuk, was referred as the "friend of the organisation." Piket is the only player to play in all the ten editions and not win any of them! Such were the kind of remarks made on Friday.

The rapid pairings for round one: Gelfand-Ljubojevic, Ivanchuk-Leko, Karpov-Anand, Almasi-Topalov, Shirov-Van Wely and Kramnik-Piket. Later in the afternoon, the players will face each other with the reversed colours for their blindfold games.

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