With Viswanathan Anand unexpectedly setting the pace early, there has been no dearth of excitement in the first three rounds of the World Candidates chess tournament at Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.
Following two victories, including one with black pieces, Anand has already made a strong statement that he was not around to be among the also-rans in the eight-player field.
Anand’s opening-round stunner against top seed Levon Aronian, a comfortable draw with former world champion Veselin Topalov and a business-like triumph over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov proved the five-time world champion was as much a contender as pre-event favourites like Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik.
But these are still very early days. Not much should be assumed going by the current point-position.
A half-point lead for Anand does help the Indian reinforce his new-found confidence for the tougher battles ahead.
On Monday, when every board features a Russian, the Aronian-Svilder battle holds plenty of promise.
Fourth round pairings: Anand (2.5)-Kramnik (2); Aronian (1.5)-Svidler (2); Karjakin (1)-Topalov (1.5); Mamedyarov (0.5)-Andreikin (1).