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.