Billed as the most high-profile clash in chess history in more than 40 years between defending champion Viswanathan Anand and challenger Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Chess Championship match begins here tomorrow with the experts divided over who will walk away with the coveted title.
The hype surrounding the match between the ageing five-time champion Anand and 22-year-old world number one Carlsen, comparable to the historic clash between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972, will come to an end when the two rivals take on each other in the opening game at the Hyatt Regency Hotel tomorrow.
Carlsen has the advantage of playing white in the opener but that may not count much as both players get six white and black games in this 12-games November 9-28 contest.
Anand has seen similar situations before while Carlsen is playing his first match in a World Championship. So, while the Norwegian enjoys the tag of a favourite, his mannerisms thus far have suggested that he is gullible like any other youngster in a certain sense.
Twirling in his chair, scratching his head while answering questions during the first press conference here yesterday, Carlsen gave the impression of someone tense but exuded confidence once the tete-a-tete was over.
Anand, who has won World Championship matches in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, is used to open with black pieces in World Championship matches.
Against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in Bonn in 2008 and against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in 2010, Anand had started with black, which is known as a slightly unfavourable colour in the game, and yet won in style. In 2012 though, Anand had white in game one against Boris Gelfand of Israel.
Seeking his sixth title, Anand looked upbeat ahead of the biggest challenge of his life while Carlsen seemed to get the game going. The mind games have just begun and much would unfold once the match starts tomorrow.
Whether Anand's preparation holds him in good stead or Carlsen will play his typical long games to grind out the reigning world champion Indian will have to be seen.