TBILISI: Five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand is set to return to FIDE World Cup after 15 years with an aim to seal a berth at the 2018 Candidates tournament. Anand will lead a seven-member Indian team at the 128- player Knock Out tournament, where the finalists get to play the Candidates tournament. The Candidates tournament determines the challenger for the World Chess Championship against the incumbent World Champion. The 47-year-old Indian has won the World Cup twice at China (2000) and Hyderabad (2002) respectively. He never needed to play at the prestigious tournament ever since winning the World Championships in 2007. Anand will open his campaign against Yeoh Li Tian (rated 2480) in the first round and if he can surpass the young Malaysian, Anand might face GM Varuzhan Akobian in the second round. If Anand can produce his best, his first major test will be against England No 1 Michael Adams in the third round, followed by Hikaru Nakamura in the next round. Anand had an impressive outing at the Sinquefield Cup where he finished joint second early last month. However, he finished ninth in the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz Chess tournament. Indian Grand master Pentala Harikrishna will also be raring to go as he takes on Yuri Gonzalez Vidal of Cuba in his first round game in the tournament which will be held from September 2 to 27 here. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Baskaran Adhiban, Deep Sengupta, Sethuraman and Karthikeyan Murali will be the other Indians in the fray. Among others World Champion and No.1 Magnus Carlsen, defending champion Sergey Karjakin, Ruslan Ponomariov, Vladimir Kramnik will also compete in the tournament, making it the strongest World Cup in history. World No. 20 Harikrishna said the World Cup is going to be a tough outing as it features all the best players around the globe. "All the top ranked players from around the world will be participating this year around and I know it is going to be tough," the 31-year-old, who hails from Guntur, said. "As this is a knockout event I would ideally want to take it one match at a time," he added.
Harikrishna has made a huge impact on the international front in the last year and with his performance at the Biel Chess Festival, where he finished third, would be a huge morale booster for him. Although, he is out of contention through the Grand Prix, this will be his opportunity to secure a spot at the prestigious Candidates' slated for next year. Harikrishna will look to seize all the opportunities on offer as he looks to script his first win without going into the tie-breaker. "I am excited that the tournament will start tomorrow and will look to open on a winning note," he said on the eve of his first round.