Moscow: Rejuvenated after his third victory in the previous round, former world champion Viswanathan Anand will take on Fabiano Caruana of United States in a crunch game in the tenth round of the Candidates Chess tournament in Moscow.
With just five rounds remaining, Anand will play as black against Caruana and the game is tipped as most crucial of this round.
As things stand, Anand and Karjakin share the lead on 5.5 points apiece while Caruana and Aronian are on the heels of the two leaders a half point behind.
While the rest of the contestants have little chance at this stage, one cannot rule out Anish Giri of Holland who has 4.5 points in all having drawn all games thus far.
Peter Svidler of Russia on four, Hikaru Nakamura of United States on 3.5 and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria on three are virtually out of contention for the coveted top spot that will guarantee a match against Magnus Carlsen of Norway for the world title.
The first tie-breaker being the individual encounter here, Anand is worse on tie-break as he lost to Karjakin earlier in the tournament. However, Anand still has a return game left against the Russian in round 11 where the Indian will play with white pieces.
For Anand personally, the game against Nakamura will also be crucial as he does not enjoy a good record against the American. However, given the form that Nakamura is in, that might not really turn out to be a real worry.
A victory against Caruana can definitely seal the tournament for Anand. However, it is not a must-win game for the American who still has two more white games to play post the encounter against Anand. It is expected that 'cautioned aggression' will be the name of the game for Caruana.
Pairings Round 9: Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 5) vs V Anand (Ind, 5.5); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 5.5) vs Anish Giri (Ned, 4.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 4) vs Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 3.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) vs Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3).