Monday, May 20, 2013

WC match expected to draw the biggest online crowd in history

By Cecil Rosner
Posted: 05/18/2013 1:00 AM

THERE isn't much that happens in the arena of world championship chess that is devoid of controversy, so the battle over this year's title match was predictable.

Viswanathan Anand, the reigning world champion and a popular figure in his native India, will meet challenger Magnus Carlsen of Norway in November. At 43, Anand is nearly twice the age of his upstart opponent.

Carlsen earned the right to challenge for the world championship by winning a nail-biting Candidates tournament in London. Though he is the top-rated player in the world, Carlsen had to rely on tie-breaks to squeak through the field.

Still, the oddsmakers are giving the advantage to the youthful Norwegian, who developed extraordinary chess skills at an early age and has just been getting better and better. Even Anand calls him "the greatest talent I have seen."

As the excitement was building for the upcoming match, FIDE (the world chess federation) unveiled a controversial decision. It awarded the tournament to Chennai in India, Anand's home turf.

Ever since Iceland hosted the iconic Cold War match between Soviet Boris Spassky and American Bobby Fischer, it's been taken for granted that neutral ground is important in world championship encounters. But FIDE is a highly politicized organization where favours and patronage can often trump common sense.

Carlsen wasn't happy with the decision, and he said so. "The lack of transparency, predictability and fairness is unfortunate for chess as a sport and for chess players," he said in a statement. Many feared the worst. After all, Carlsen had dropped out of the previous championship cycle over what he felt was unfairness in the rules.

Soon after Carlsen's statement, the mayor of Paris submitted a bid to hold the tournament, offering 2.65 million euros and another 800,000 euros as a contribution to FIDE, a cheeky 10,000 more than the Chennai bid. "Paris is the city where FIDE was born and ever since, chess has been part of our cultural heritage," the mayor said.

The Norwegian Chess Federation added its voice by protesting the process. But FIDE was not inclined to budge. Faced with the possibility of a world championship match without the world's top rated player, FIDE called Carlsen's bluff.

And faced with the prospect of perpetual political in-fighting preventing him from ever winning the world championship, Carlsen gave in. He agreed to Chennai, and has set about preparing for the match.

The tournament will be played Nov. 6-26, and is expected to draw the biggest online crowd in history. Though Anand has despatched Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand in the last five years, he realizes this will be his toughest challenge ever. It's going to be an entertaining match.

More here.


Anonymous said...

Carlsen is robbed of a good payday.

Anonymous said...

is gelfand Anand's chief second?

Anonymous said...

Nakamura vs Nakamura would cause the internet to crash and cease functioning for 20 years due to heavy traffic

Satya said...

This will turn out to be one of the best WC matches in the past decade, probably. In my honest opinion,
1. Carlsen will definitely have the edge because of his super-accurate middle and end game play.
2. But expect Anand to train on his weaknesses in the coming months and work on his technique
3. Anand's opening preparation is far superior (Carlsen is best to avoid side lines since Anand will have some novelties prepared for the opening)
4. Anand's end-game play was outstanding in the past, not anymore, seems to have lost his touch completely in the past 2-years
5. Carlsen has shown to succumb under pressure, as seen in the Candidates matches

Overall, It's 65-35 in favor of Carlsen at this stage, seeing the current form of both players

Anonymous said...

Carlsen gets better daily (it is now a major story if he loses a game). Anand isn't even close to being the player he was 5 - 10 years ago.

Frankly, I don't think it will be all that close. Maybe a couple of draws till Carlsen gets comfortable that he can outplay Anand. Followed by a couple of wins. Carlsen can then draw out the rest or even win one or two more as Anand will need to go for broke. Anand may win a game, I suppose (that could be an interesting proposition/bet - odds might be 50/50 for Anand to win a game during the match).

I doubt that the venue will bother Carlsen that much (he's young)

Unsui said...

While I am a Carlsen fan and backing him to win the title from Anand. However, I would like to point some inaccuracies in the post about the "neutral ground" that Cecil has written about. If one reviews recent past, Anand played Topalov and Gelfand on their home turfs. In case of Gelfand, Russia was Gelfand's choice.
FIDE was in bind, since they had already committed to the Indian venue, since India had lost the previous bid to Russia and FIDE is merely keeping its commitment.

Magnus is an amazing talent and he should focus on what happens on the sixty four squares and not let his management team distract him from that and everything will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Both Carlsen and Anand had lost to Wang Ho in the recent Norway Chess.
I wonder whether we will see some inferior or evn poor games in the WC.After the 2010 WC match against Topalov, Anand seems to be out of form completely. So it is 70-30 against him now in favor of Carlsen.