Grandmaster and Asian champion Parimarjan Negi will meet Polish GM Bartosz Socko in the sixth round of the Leiden International chess tournament.
Negi is poised for a podium finish but for that the Indian star will have to tackle strong opponents in the remaining four rounds of this tournament.
For Negi, it has been a mixed ride with bumps en route. The Indian stands joint second on four points and has thus far conceded two draws besides winning three games. The big games however are yet to come and that's where the young gun from Delhi [ Images ] is known to excel.
Meanwhile, after an initial setback, M R Lalith Babu has won four games in a row and the former champion can look up to the remaining games.
In the next round, Lalith Babu will take on Predrag Nikolic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it will be a test of time for the talented Andhra Grandmaster.
Grandmaster S Arun Prasad spoiled his chances in the previous round when he went for unwarranted complications against Socko and that now leaves him with some ground to cover in the remaining rounds.
As it turned out after that game, Socko became the sole leader on 4.5 points and there are now nine players following him a half point behind.
The other Indian, S Kidambi ran out of luck in the previous round against lower ranked Etienne Goudriaan of Holland and to make an impact now it will be essential for him to win the next three games.
The task will not be easy as Kidambi is not playing in his best form.
Socko took a very safe road to draw when he met David Howell of England [ Images ] in one of the earlier rounds. A clear indication that he did not wish for a complicated struggle against youthful opponent and Negi also falls in similar category.
It will be worth a watch to see Negi look out for complications while Socko might just look to make another draw. That said, Socko is a seasoned campaigner who has stayed above 2600 rating for quite some time now and with white pieces he has an immaculate record.
Lalith Babu has very tough task on hands as he has been playing lower opposition right from the opening round and this will be a big shift in gear when he meets Nikolic.
However, doing well against higher ranked players comes naturally to Babu and on his day he can beat the best.
Arun Prasad will have to re-do the hard work after the debacle in the previous round and much would depend on how he fares in the next two rounds. His immediate opponent is Peter Ypma of Holland who is rated more than 300 points below the Indian.