Chasing an elusive win after four successive draws, world champion Viswanathan Anand will take on Hungarian Peter Leko in the fifth round of the Corus Chess tournament's elite 'A' group in Wijk Aan Zee on Friday.
The Indian ace is tied fifth in this category-19 tournament with two points. Spaniard Alexei Shirov leads the pack with four victories on the trot.
Shirov is a full point adrift of the nearest competitors Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Hikaru Nakamura of United States and Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine. Anand shares the next spot along with Leinier Dominguez of Cuba and the Russian duo of Sergey Karjakin and Vladimir Kramnik.
It has been a sedate start by Anand, contrary to what many expected ahead of his world championship match against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria slated in April this year.
Till the first rest day, the two black games have featured the Arkhengelsk variation in the Ruy Lopez and were almost easily drawn while with white, Anand was not able to press hard for advantage.
Five times winner here, Anand has a decent draw before the next rest day slated after the eighth round and the Indian will be looking forward to making the most of it.
After Leko, Anand will have white games against Carlsen and Ivanchuk and a black game against Italian youngster Fabiano Caruana.
P Harikrishna has had a remarkable turnaround after an indifferent start in this year's 'B' group. A loss at the hands of Anish Giri followed by a draw wasn't exactly the start Hari could have dreamt off but two successive victories thereafter have put him back on track for his maiden title.
The Indian is currently placed joint third, a half point behind two leaders -- Giri and Ni Hua of China. Parimarjan Negi, like Anand, has drawn his first four games but given the strong opposition, it has been a decent result for him.
In the next round, Negi will meet Varuzhan Akobian of United States, who is struggling with his form here while Hari has to compete with Wesley So of Philippines.
Former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta was seen ruing the missed chances in the round four game against Zhaoqin Peng of Holland.
The Indian stood better but an erroneous plan led to a draw. With 2.5 points in his bag, Abhijeet is also tied third in the 'C' group but the two leaders, Ray Robson of United States and Li Chao of China, are a full point ahead of him.
There is certainly a lot of catching up to do and Abhijeet will be hoping for a decent start to the next leg when he takes on local hopeful Benjamin Bok.
World junior girls' champion Soumya Swaminathan has had a forgettable start getting a lone draw in the first four rounds. In the next she meets Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine with chances to make amends.