Carlsen signs for Sochi; will defend title!

by Alejandro Ramirez
9/7/2014 – After a tumultuous process to decide if the World Championship was or was not happening, it is now official. Magnus Carlsen has finally signed his contract and is scheduled to defend his title against contender Viswanathan Anand. Today was the World Champion's final day to decide whether he was agreeing to FIDE's terms or not, and for the good of chess he officially has.

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Carlsen signs for Sochi; will defend title in Russia

The announcement came this morning, short and terse on the FIDE web site:

The story was picked up by Norway's TV2, who interviewed Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein:

The report in TV 2 Sport said that the reigning world champion had now decided to sign the contract, with the FIDE deadline running out on Sunday. After much confusion they finally got their answer from Carlsen: yes!

Carlsen's manager Agdestein said he wanted to play and had a very good experience in Chennai. "It became clear only after the elections in the Olympics that the championship would be in Sochi. We did not feel it was the ideal place for the match," said Agdestein. "But we decided to postpone the debate move on." Regarding American and EU sanctions on Russia Agedestein said they had discussed the matter with the Norwegian government and were told that sporting events were not affected.

The venue for the World Championship in the volatile southern-most part of Russia

A power struggle in FIDE, with Carlsen supporting the losing party of Garry Kasparov in the presidential election against Putin-friendly Kirsan Iljumzjinov, combined with a reluctance to play in the Russian town of Sochi while Russia is practically at war with Ukraine, were the main reasons for the hesitation to sign contract.

Now Carlsen is making his plans for the match. He will spend a week in the USA, then a short trip to Norway, before he goes into training camp. At the same time he must find the right facilities in Sochi.

The 23-year-old World Champion recently came second in the Sinquefield Cup, behind a spectacular performance by Fabiano Caruana. Some speculated that his poor start was partly due to the pressure of deciding wether to play in Sochi or not, while some just thought it was simply the Italians' genius that overshadowed everyone else in the event.

Carlsen made his announcement on twitter:

The twitter caption: "It has been a pleasure signing autographs
for the fans in St. Louis. After the tournament I found one more".

The title match this year has a budget of US $3 million, with $1.5 million reserved for the prizes. This is one million dollars less than the funding of the 2013 match in Chennai.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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Joseph Goldstein Joseph Goldstein 9/12/2014 01:14
@Leporello Well actually i'm not and quite far from it, but by taking such a handle its always fun to drag antisemitic people like you out of the cupboard. "Goldstein" its basically the same as holding a red cape in front of people like you. It's hilarious.
AreYouReady AreYouReady 9/11/2014 09:22
It's good to see that Magnus Carlsen made the right decision. I have no doubt that the duel between two chess giants will be a very important and significant event in the chess world and beyond it.
FoxForceFive FoxForceFive 9/11/2014 04:38
I was hoping for another schism in the chess world since the FIDE election was rigged. I think we would get more corporate sponsors if Gary Kasparov and and Rex Sinquefield were in charge. Nobody thinks Kasparov and Kramnik were not the real classical world champions when there was a break between F.ID.E and the PCA. Carlsen has real clout with his #1 rating. However I still think Anand won the right to challenge to Carlsen again though Nakamura, Caruana and Grischuk were not playing in the candidates. Too bad a contract has been signed...
Leporello Leporello 9/10/2014 12:18
@Joseph Goldstein: Yes, you are wrong. And it's not because you're a J*A*
Joseph Goldstein Joseph Goldstein 9/9/2014 03:33
It's a mistake on several levels. Regarding political issues with crimea crisis of course because no one can really predict what status the conflict will be in time for the match, but also economically and last but not least for persoonal safety issues. I hope im wrong.
DPLeo DPLeo 9/8/2014 06:45
Seems a little reckless. I don't see how either one can play their best chess if they are worried about their safety. Maybe they can wear bullet proof vests while they play.
Mattangriff Mattangriff 9/8/2014 05:52
It is good thing that Magnus will play. I certainly don't want Karjakin as world champion.
Pionki Pionki 9/8/2014 12:43
I briefly hoped that Magnus and Garry will challenge the corruption. What a shame. Carlsen is just another chess champion. Money solves a lot of problems.
algorithmy2 algorithmy2 9/8/2014 12:15
Carlsen should really declined to play, it's a trap, and he is gonna lose his title.
Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 9/8/2014 10:45
Anand, prepare to take the Beat.
iSeeThis iSeeThis 9/8/2014 08:41
I bet the ones who condemn Carlsen will watch his match again. C'mon, let's be fair to him. Kasparov showed chess world some lessons he'd learnt and Carlsen should not need to repeat it. If we want to fight with Lord Kirsan, there are many other ways ahead. Not this!
Omoplata Omoplata 9/8/2014 08:29
Good luck with the match Magnus!
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 9/8/2014 04:34
nice to hear that the WCC has been confirmed!
PAT P PAT P 9/8/2014 03:00
I knew it was coming. He had no other option. Just a tactic to put little confusion in Anand's camp and probably deny some preparation time for Anand.
vincero vincero 9/8/2014 01:37
chess does not need FIDE

why the top players simply do not form another organization for chess tournaments is a mystery.

except when you realize the world champion has not the intelligence to understand Russia and Putin are NOT the aggressors nor are they responsible for the war and destruction the ukraine has started and seeks to expand with support of the usa and the eu.
VGerber VGerber 9/8/2014 01:07
What a pity. Magnus has spoiled the chance to become a real personality in the world of chess and beyond. Now he is only an ordinary young man who helps Putin to pep up his reputation for the sake of money.
Together with the re-election of Ilyumzhinov it becomes more and more clear, at least for me, that organized chess is no longer worthy of interest. We should even take our children away from it. The royal game has become the game of the Russian warlords and money-grubbing teenagers without character and without any sense or responsibility for their duties as citizens of the democratic world.
thereader01 thereader01 9/7/2014 11:16
Signing in the deadline is an optimal choice . Pressure on Kirsan and Anand not knowing against whom to prepare: Carlsen or Karjakin.
Richard Flacco Richard Flacco 9/7/2014 11:10
Former FIDE president Campomanes said it best: "Ha ha!, you sheep need wolves like us." Due to the fact that we apparently can't get by without (chess) politicians, they can actually laugh in our faces about their corruption. But I almost respect Campo for having said this. Such a forthright statement being unique to _chess_ politics, one can wonder whether only a _chess_ politician would be so truthful about the matter. Anyway, Magnus, dispatch Anand again: he can have another million dollars or whatever and live a happy life as a former chess genius.
Entrenous Entrenous 9/7/2014 10:58
Good news for Mr. Poutler. Shame on you, Mr Carlsen.
VoodooJazz VoodooJazz 9/7/2014 10:04
It's clear that Kirsan's election was a dark day for chess. Manipulating the chess tournament to bring it under the sway of dark political elements and serving the needs of Putin is disgusting. I hope that Carlsen finds a way to express his feelings on this without having to censor himself. When you fear the president of FIDE even as a chess champion something is deeply disturbing about the system.
cptmajormajor cptmajormajor 9/7/2014 09:23
Good to see it has been finalised. If it is financially possible, I think it should be held every year. Fans love it plus more players will get the chance to be crowned the best of all. Carlsen knows he is not 'bigger than chess' ... one thing for sure, he is bigger than Kirsan. It seems in other sports the governing bodies pander to their most talented of players. Help them entertain and do not fight them.
TMM TMM 9/7/2014 08:20
Earlier there were some comments that Carlsen is "bigger" than chess and that he doesn't "need" this title as much as chess needs him. Maybe the latest beating at the Saint Louis tournament has also shown to Carlsen that he still has some work to do to show that he is really as dominating as he would like to be. Beating Anand by a similar margin as last time would certainly help with that.
Bostonian Bostonian 9/7/2014 07:33
I appreciate Carlsen's decision. I look forward to the championship match! As someone with some level of insider information, I assure you that comparatively this time the fight will be a lot more interesting!
Karpablanca Karpablanca 9/7/2014 07:26