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He has held the world championship for six years, beating off challenges from GMs Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and, just two years ago, Boris Gelfand. He has far more match experience and will have the considerable advantage of defending his crown for the fourth time in his hometown of Chennai, India, before a rabid fan base that will be strongly pulling for him.
The vagaries of the Swiss system pairings used in U.S. tournaments often mean that the "critical" games of the event come well before the final round.
The Northern Virginia suburbs have been the focus of the U.S. chess world for the past two weeks, hosting two high-profile events back-to-back in Crystal City, including the first-ever World Open in the event's four-decade history not held in New York or Philadelphia.