WIJK AAN ZEE(THE NETHERLANDS): World Champion Viswanathan Anand will take on Hikaru Nakamura of United States in the ninth round of the ‘A’ group of 73rd Tata Steel Chess tournament.

After the first eight rounds of the category-20 super tournament, both Anand and Nakamura share the lead on 5.5 points, a half point ahead of Levon Aronian of Armenia, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

The face-off with Nakamura will be Anand’s second in recent times after the Indian ace had drawn with him during the London Classic last month. So far here, Anand has won three and drawn four while Namakura has won four, lost one and drawn three.

Five-time winner Anand starts the last five rounds as one of the hot favourites having already played Carlsen, Kramnik and Aronian. Nakamura still has some tough games left and Carlsen is the other one who gets the backing of the experts with his ability to strike when it matters.

Anand will have three black games in the last five rounds and his two whites are against Alexei Shirov of Spain and local lad Anish Giri who has done quite well so far.

Carlsen, like many times before, is on a comeback mission after a sedate start. The Norwegian has won three of his last four games and in the next round takes on Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

In the ‘B’ Group being played simultaneously, Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly will be hoping for a good finish to end the tournament engagements at least at par. The Indian has won two, lost four and drawn two in the eight rounds so far. The leader in this section is Wesley So of Philippines, who has six points.

International Master Tania Sachdev has done quite well despite starting as the lowest seed in the ‘C’ Group. Tania is tied for the fourth spot with two others on 4.5 points and one of her victories earlier in the event came against leader Daniele Vocaturo of Italy.

Tania needs to score 1.5 points from the next two games or win the next against Mark Bluvshtein of Canada to achieve her second Grandmaster norm.

Pairings round 9 Group A: Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 5.5) vs Viswanathan Anand (5.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 5) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5) vs Erwin L’Ami (Ned, 3); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) vs Alexei Shirov (Esp, 2.5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 4.5) vs Jan Smeets (Ned, 2); Wang Hao (Chn, 3) vs Ruslan Ponomariov (Rus, 4); Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 2) vs Anish Giri (Ned, 4).