Sao Paulo (Brazil): World champion Viswanathan Anand would look to bounce back after his shock loss in his last match when he takes on lowest ranked Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain in the fourth round of the fourth Bilbao Final Masters here. (Agencies)
Anand's performance has been lacklustre in the tournament so far having played draws in his first two matches before slumping to defeat in the third round at the hands of Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine.
The Indian is now languishing at the bottom of table along with world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway which is a rare sight even for the chess pundits who are though still predicting a comeback for both.
It, however, remains to be seen whether that happens here or in the second leg of the category-22 super tournament which will be held in Bilbao in Spain from October 5.
Indeed, a loss is shattering enough and when it comes with white, which Anand had against Ivanchuk, it is demoralising.
Anand, however, has proved more than a few times that he can produce his best when looking down and out.
The onus is also on world number one Carlsen who will have white pieces in his game against Hikaru Nakamura of United States in the fourth round.
It has also been a lacklustre start for Carlsen. After an unexciting draw against Anand in the first round, Carlsen played out another draw before losing his third round match.
With seven rounds still to come in the unique event that has a soccer-like scoring system, Ivanchuk has come out as the early leader with seven points from two wins and a solitary draw against Nakamura in the first round. What was essentially a sedate start for Ivanchuk has turned into a rocking one after he beat Vallejo in the second round and went on to beat Anand in the third.
The fact that the victory against Anand came with black and in a less-played Jaenisch Ruy Lopez would only rub salt on the wounds of the world champion.
It is the same for Carlsen who has the penchant of winning games like no one else. Against Vallejo, the Norwegian was in complete control and close to winning before he dropped a piece.
A cool customer has been Levon Aronian who beat Vallejo in the first game and then drew the next two to be in sole second spot on five points. The third place is shared by Nakamura and Vallejo on three points apiece while Anand and Carlsen share the last spot with just two points.
After the sole rest day in this leg here at Sao Paulo, two more games will be played and there will be a four-day break before the event recommences at Bilbao. This is a cue from the famous Linares tournaments in recent years which were held in Mexico and Linares in Spain.
Round Four Pairings: Francisco Vallejo Pons (Esp, 3) vs V Anand (Ind, 2); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2) vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 3); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) vs Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 7).
Sao Paulo (Brazil): World champion Viswanathan Anand would look to bounce back after his shock loss in his last match when he takes on lowest ranked Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain in the fourth round of the fourth Bilbao Final Masters here.