NEW DELHI: Top seed Viswanathan Anand will open his campaign in the World chess championship against Israel’s Boris Gelfand when the action begins in Mexico City in the early hours of Friday, as per the Indian Standard Time (IST).

The opening round of the eight-player 14-round event also features a clash between defending champion Vladimir Kramnik and fellow-Russian Peter Svidler.

Strong contender Levon Aronian is due to play black against Russia’s Alexander Morozevich . Alexander Grischuk, the fourth Russian in the fray, takes on Hungary’s Peter Leko.

The event to be played at Sheraton Centro Historico Hotel offers $1.3 million in prize-money.

Kramnik, who dethroned the 2005 champion Veselin Topalov, has shown good form by finishing ahead of a tough field, including Anand, at Dortmund this year. Anand, the highest rated player in the world, is a joint favourite considering his consistently impressive record in the classical time format of the game.

Aronian is the one expected to upset the plans of Anand and Kramnik. The Armenian, a former World junior champion, has remained upwardly mobile on the rating charts. Armed with all-round skills, Aronian will be watched with keen interest.

Though the recent forms of Svidler, Morozevich, Gelfand, Leko and Grischuk does not promise much, these players have the capability to spring surprises.

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