Breaking news: World Championship 2014 in Norway

by ChessBase
4/1/2014 – They waited to see who would be the challenger. When it became clear that it was Anand the Norwegian government made an express bid to FIDE to stage the event in World Champion Magnus Carlsen's home country. The dates are not fixed, but the venue is – and it is spectacular: the match will be played on oil rig in the North Sea! We have an interview with the Norwegian Oil and Energy minister.

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Announcement on the Norwegian Government page

Interview with Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Erik Blodøks

When did the Norwegian government make a bid for the World Chess Championship 2014?

The idea was originally born after Carlsen won the World Championship title last autumn. It is a very plausible plan. Actually to be precise it was not the Norwegian government but the oil company Statoil who is the sponsor.

Statoil is a government company...

That is true. Anyway, after the Candidates Tournament in Khanty Mansiysk we made contact with FIDE. We had to wait and see who would be the challenger. If it was Aronian, Kramnik or Mamedyarov then we would have to compete with Armenia, Russia or Azerbaijan. But when it became clear that it would be Anand the ball was in our court. India has just staged a World Championship, so it was logically our turn.

Do we know when and where the match will be held?

The date is not yet fixed, but the location is. Since the main sponsor is an oil company it is logical to hold the match on an offshore oil rig. Magnus has said he thought it was a great idea and has already agreed to it. He is connected with the chess organisers in Stavanger, and the first idea was to hold the match on the Preikestolen Cliff. But the connection to the sponsor was too tenuous, and so it was natural to choose an oil platform in the vicinity. We want to advertise an important national product: oil and gas. The Grane oil field was a plausible choice.

But the platform is pretty remote, it is 185 km (115 mi) west of the city of Haugesund on the western coast of Norway. Is that not too out-of-the-way?

It is quite normal in chess. Look where the Candidates tournament was held: in Khanty Mansiysk, which is also not easy to get to. Khanty is surrounded by forests and tundra, while the oil rig is surrounded by water. The difference is not critical. And in both cases the event is sponsored with oil money.

How do the players get to the platform?

There is a helicopter shuttle to and from the platform. The distance is covered in less than an hour.

What about the spectators and journalists?

They are also welcome, though they will have to bear the transfer costs themselves. The price for the helicopter shuttle includes orange suits and swim vests.

And where does everyone stay?

The two players get cabins in the Captain's quarters, and there are individual cabins for the FIDE officials. For the press and spectators there will be hammock bunks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is made up of fresh seafood, which is available in excellent quality and great abundance.

What about the weather? Is that not a problem?

Not at all. Grane is located in 128 m (420 ft.) of water and has operated without serious danger to its crew since 1991. The Autumn may look daunting, but they are quite romantic.

How about entertainment and diversion during the match, especially on free days?

There are many interesting things to do. We will provide boat tours to neighbouring platforms, and diving expeditions to view the platform operation under water. And people will also be able to travel on the fishing boats and see how their meals are caught. There will also be a permanent exhibition of oil themed chess pieces, including the ones that will be used during the match – which will be available in a limited edition for the visitors to buy.

What about the prize fund?

That will be similar to previous matches: 20 million Norwegian Krone, which is 2.4 million Euro or 3.33 million US Dollars. The winner gets 60%, the loser 40%. But in addition the winner will get 100 barrels of crude from Statoil, as an additional premium.

The interview was conducted by Eirik Rødskjegg

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