Speculation about Carlsen being Anand's second

12/23/2009 – An article in the Indian newspaper The Telegraph set off a flurry of excitement in news pages and chess blogs. "Magnus Carlsen will be one of my seconds [in Sofia]," World Champion Vishy Anand was quoted as saying. A misunderstanding, since Magnus, who is a great friend and will surely root for Anand, will not be assisting him in at the 2010 World Championship. Details.

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The passage in the Telegraph interview that caused all the confusion reads as follows:

Whether Surya Sekhar Ganguly will be his one of his seconds this time too

[Anand]: He may be. I am not sure. Seconds are a very secretive thing. Even if I tell you that he will be one of my seconds, the rival camp will not believe me. But one thing is for sure, Magnus Carlsen (the world No. 2) will be one of the seconds.

[Late in the evening, Surya told The Telegraph that he did have a talk with Anand in the afternoon, but nothing has been finalised. “It will take some time,” he said.]

Due to time difference and social engagements we were not able to reach Anand, who is currently in India, on Wednesday evening, when the news hit the blogs. A likely explanation – which we shall confirm or correct on Thursday – for the above passage is that Anand said "Nielsen", referring to his second of many years, Peter Heine Nielsen. The journalist, whose ears have been ringing in the past few weeks with one Skandinavial "-sen" name, remembered "Carlsen", googled it and came up with the above story.

We were able to contact Magnus' father Henrik Carlsen, who like us is a creature of the night. He confirmed that his son, who has been good friends with Anand for a number of years now, and has in fact worked with him in the past, now has his own plans and schedule. These do not include working for or with Anand for his World Championship match in Sofia.

On his Facebook page the world's number one wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek: "Magnus Øen Carlsen: Is apparently not going to be a second for Anand after all. A shame, as I was really looking forward to that."

More details to follow later...


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