Caruana vs Carlsen in St. Louis?

by ChessBase
3/31/2018 – Fabiano Caruana’s victory in the Candidates series in Berlin has sparked rumours that November’s world title contest may switch from London to the United States and offer a larger financial prize to the winner. Billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has made St Louis a renowned global chess centre, and who has supported Caruana's chess career, might bid to host the match against Magnus Carlsen in the US. Leonard Barden, chess correspondent of The Guardian, shares his view.

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By winning this week’s candidates tournament in Berlin, the 25-year-old American Fabiano Caruana has qualified for a 12-game world title series against Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in November. It was going to be in London with a € 1m prize fund, but now there are rumours of a much higher bid, a venue switch to St Louis and tricky negotiations.

The first American-born challenger since Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in 1972 lives in St Louis, which has become a renowned global chess centre hosting inter alia the US championship and an annual elite event in which both Carlsen and Caruana compete. The billionaire Rex Sinquefield bankrolls it all and was financially responsible for Caruana, who has dual nationality, electing to represent the US rather than Italy from 2015.

Caruana was born to Italian-American parents in Miami, was home schooled, learned his chess skills in Brooklyn, and at 14 broke Fischer’s age record as the youngest US grandmaster. He moved to Europe in search of the best tournaments and coaching, living in Madrid, Budapest and Lugano and representing Italy. As an American again, he led the US team in 2016 to their first ever gold medals at the biennial 150-nation Olympiad.

Sinquefield is a long-time Fischer fan, who once met his idol on a plane trip, and a few years ago bought up Bobby’s personal library. Four-time US champion Yasser Seirawan, a Sinquefield confidant, said that a St Louis bid would be “significantly higher” than the € 1m in London, which may be in some doubt anyway, since it was raised from primarily Russian sponsors before the Berlin result was known.

For the embattled and financially stretched global chess body FIDE, St Louis could prove a lifeline. Its president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has been sanctioned by the US Treasury for allegedly aiding the Syrian government, and Fide’s Swiss bank will shortly close its account. A successful high profile partnership with Sinquefield, who contributed to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, could restore credibility for FIDE in Washington. However, FIDE’s commercial partner Agon, based in Moscow but probably planning a move to London, holds the rights to the match and is sure to fight its corner.

FIDE will also remember how in 1993 its then president awarded the world championship to Manchester without consulting the players. Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short took their match outside FIDE, and the resulting schism lasted thirteen years. Carlsen has played several times in St Louis, captured his crown against Vishy Anand in India in 2013, and beat his Russian challenger, Sergey Karjakin, in New York in 2016, so he will be relaxed about playing away again if the prize money jumps.

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amarpan amarpan 3/31/2018 10:39
I think holding it in St Louis will only add more pressure for Caruana, who is playing in a WC for the first time.
kyi kyi 3/31/2018 06:59
I believe that most of the chess fans would like to watch more than 12 long classical games in WC match. If so, why not re-introduce long classical 24 games ? I also like Fischer's idea of draw does not count. Only the wins will count. Out of 24 games, the one who scores 3 wins first will be crowned king. In case of tie after 24 games, there should be tie-break games with shorter time control. Citing Karpov- Kasparov WC match, some may argue that if Fischer's system is re-introduced, the games will stretch too long and people may lose interest in chess. Moreover, it will put too much stress both mentally and physically on the two chess players. I will not dispute the fact that chess is stressful but it is the name of the game to be stressful and most chess players endure and enjoy this kind of challenge. Otherwise, we will not play the stressful chess.

When more games are played, there will be more time needed to complete the games. To cut the number of days played, two classical games can be played in a single day and even 3 or 4 games a day can be played with shorter time control. We use to play 3 to 4 games a day, weekend Swiss chess tournaments without any problems at all. Therefore, I earnestly urge the authorities to re-introduce Fisher style WC match rules in order to revive the popularity of chess.
flachspieler flachspieler 3/31/2018 02:43
A switch from London to St. Louis would be very expensive.
At least, if I were Carlsen, I would let them pay heavily
for such a transfer. (I mean, really heavily.)
cashparov1 cashparov1 3/31/2018 11:47
Championship match should be at least 16 games long. Candidates are 14 rounds, so why is the WC match shorter with only 12 games? Makes no sense. Make it 16 games, Rex!
benedictralph benedictralph 3/31/2018 07:15
I'm hoping the purse is at least $5 million this time.
dysanfel dysanfel 3/31/2018 06:21
I will be hoping Fabby wins as well.
deepz99 deepz99 3/31/2018 06:06
it will be terrific if championship match be held in St. louis and I hope caruana wins
Claudioarrau Claudioarrau 3/31/2018 05:13
As an added attraction, Rex, having contributed to Trump's campaign, might prevail upon the President to make the ceremonial first move in St Louis.

Particularly if the players could be persuaded to play a Berlin wall, or Mexican wall, or something like that.
floyd Boudeaux j floyd Boudeaux j 3/31/2018 04:51
Leonard Barden error: Carlsen captured his crown from Vishy Anand in Chennai, India in 2013 not 2014. He successfully defended it a year later in Sochi, Russia.
dysanfel dysanfel 3/31/2018 03:38
This would be amazing for US Chess. It might even get in the news, unless Stormy Daniels does an interview.
Bobbyfozz Bobbyfozz 3/31/2018 02:50
All for it coming to St. Louis. For one thing, London has had a significant share of significant events over the last (almost) 20 years. Let the reporters come over here for a change. Sinquefeld has put his money where his mouth is without behaving like Ilyumzhinov. Now if it could just be fore 16 games and an extra "rest" day or two. Then this part of "Make America great again" could happen.