From a great beginning to some cautious play, Anand, with four points in his bag from six games, enjoys a half point lead over nearest contender Levon Aronian of Armenia. (Agencies)
It's a closely matched field as almost everyone except the lowest seed Dmitry Andreikin of Russia seems to be in the race for the challenger of the next world championship match against Magnus Carlsen to be played later this year.
The eight-player double round-robin tournament has seen a lot of excitement and there are no clear favourites as yet but surely Anand has an edge thanks to his half point cushion.
The stakes are high as apart from a match against Carlsen, the winner will take home 135000 Euros (a little over Rs one crore) as cash prize.
The Russian duo of Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler, Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan follow Aronian a half point behind on three points apiece and they all have reasons to fancy their chances as the tournament nears the completion of the first half.
Not far behind is Sergey Karjakin on 2.5 points who can not only play the spoiler but also has it in him to pull a few victories to match leaders.
Anand has been in lead from day one. It was the day when Anand showed to the world that he is not finished yet. No one could have asked for a better start than a victory over Aronian.
Next followed a draw with Topalov with the Indian ace in absolute control and in the third round was an inspiring performance when Mamedyarov was crushed in all departments of the game.
However, since then it has been a cautious approach by Anand. In the fourth round Kramnik played the Vienna variation wherein the Indian would fancy his chances on another day. The Russian showed better preparation and got an easy draw.
From a great beginning to some cautious play, Anand, with four points in his bag from six games, enjoys a half point lead over nearest contender Levon Aronian of Armenia.