Considered the favourite to lift the title, world champion Viswanathan Anand has been given the top billing at the Grenke Chess Classic and will take on Michael Adams of England in the first round in Baden-Baden, Germany.
After his third place finish in the Tata Steel Chess tournament, Anand will look to get back to winning ways. The six-player double round-robin tournament has Fabiano Caruana of Italy as the second seed and only one who looks capable of giving the world champion a run for his money.
Besides Adams, the German trio of Arkaditsch Naiditsch, Daniel Fridman and Georg Meier complete the line-up.
There will 10 rounds in all in the tournament with February 12 being the sole rest day.
The time control will be under classical chess rules with 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 for the next 20 followed by 15 minutes to both players with 30 seconds increment from move one. The draw agreement is not allowed before move 40.
Anand, 43, will be the oldest participant ahead of Adams, 41. Caruana is the youngest in the lot at 20 and has a lot to prove after a dismal show in the Tata Steel tournament.
The Italian in fact slipped from an all time high world ranking of fifth to 13th after just one tournament and would be looking forward to an improved performance.
With 2714 as the average rating of the participants, the tournament is pegged at category-19 according to FIDE charts.
Incidentally, it is just one category higher than the sole super tournament organised in India last December which was category-18.
The indications are high that should the trend continue in India, chess buffs might see Anand in action on home turf more often.
Anand is no stranger to the southern German spa town of Baden-Baden as he has represented the local club for many years in Bundesliga -- the German Chess league. The Indian is also known to speak fluent German.
He will look forward to avenge his defeat at the hands of Adams in the London Classic last December.
Anand will start his campaign with black pieces.
In the other first round matches, Caruana will meet Meier while Naiditsch will take on Fridman.
Pairings (Round 1): Michael Adams (Eng) v/s V Anand (Ind); Arkaditsch Naiditsch (Ger) v/s Daniel Fridman (Ger); Fabiano Caruana (Ita) v/s Georg Meier (Ger).