Former champion Viswanathan Anand will return to the World Cup by taking on 18-year-old Malaysian International Master Li Tian Yeoh in the opening round at Tbilisi, Georgia, on Sunday.

Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov, another former World champion, is the only player missing from the World’s top-20 list in this field, headed by current World champion Magnus Carlsen.

The main reason behind the presence of this creamy layer is the availability of two spots for the next Candidates tournament, an event to determine the challenger to Carlsen for the world title.

Should Carlsen and/or Sergey Karjakin reach the final, the qualifying spot(s) will be offered to one or both the losing semifinalists since the duo is already seeded to the Candidates tournament by virtue of having clashed in the last World title match.

Last month, Anand showed fine form in the classical time format in the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis and gained 11 rating to climb four places to be placed seventh in the latest World rankings.

The 128-player field has six other Indians – P. Hari Krishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B. Adhiban, S. P. Sethuraman, Deep Sengupta and M. Karthikeyan.

Each match, except the four-game final, comprises of two games, and tie-break games, if required. The prize-money is $1,600,000 with the winner receiving $ 120,000, the runner-up, $80,000. Even the first round losers will be richer $6000.

Hari plays Cuba’s Yuri Gonzalez Vidal in the opener. A victory will ensure Hari a place against compatriot Sethuraman or Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov, a former World champion.

First-round pairings involving Indians: Anand (2794) v Li Tian Yeoh (Malaysia, 2478); Hari (2741) v Yuri Ganzalez Vidal (Cuba, 2547); Vidit (2702) v Neuris Delgado Ramirez (Paraguay, 2614); Adhiban (2670) v Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Vietnam, 2629); Sethuraman (2617) v Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine, 2694); Deep (2589) v Wang Hao (China, 2701); Karthikeyan (2574) v Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain, 2717).