Chennai: Impressions from the World Championship

by ChessBase
11/18/2013 – Senior ChessBase editor Frederic Friedel, who is a personal friend of both the World Champion and the Challenger, has undertaken a trip to South India to attend at least part of the World Championship. In a series of special reports he will provide us with his impressions of Chennai and the venue of this spectacular event. Part one is about getting there and settling in.

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Impressions from Chennai

By Frederic Friedel

We are getting wonderful material from the World Championship. The moves are being broadcast live, there is HD video broadcast on the official site, on Playchess we have live GM commentary in multiple languages (English, German, French and Spanish). But of course there is nothing like actually being there, and especially in view of my personal connections to the players and the people around it, I decided to undertake the 19-hour journey and spend a week in Chennai, absorbing the atmosphere of what is the biggest chess event in Indian history.

Boarding in Hamburg, Germany, on the first leg to Dubai, in an impossibly large 777-300 ...

... with a wing span that defies the imagination (and yes, the contraption does actually fly!)

Dubai International Airport, the third busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic. The new $4.5 billion Terminal 3 opened on 14 October 2008, and was built exclusively for the use of Emirates Airline. It is the second largest building in the world by floor space and the largest airport terminal in the world, increasing the total capacity of DIA to over 75 million passengers. Terminal 3 is a mile long, or feels that way – I had to walk from one end to the other. It is filled with ponds, rocks, restaurants, shops, shops, shops – and more shops. You have to spend three hours in the middle of the night at this airport, and on the final leg to Chennai, which takes off at 02:45 a.m. the only reason for complaint on the entire journey: they switch on the lights two hours into the flight to serve a meal – late dinner or early breakfast, I didn't really find out.

Welcome to Chennai – the hotel is just fifteen miles from the airport, or 45 minutes in Chennai traffic...

... which winds its way through the constrution of the new rapid transit system

The players and guests are in the Park Hyatt Chennai, where the event is being staged.
Panorama pictures of the hotel and its facilities are available here.

My room and workplace, with everything you need in genuine five-star comfort

The view from my window, with the beautiful outdoor leisure and sports pool. On our first excursion we encountered Henrik Carlsen, the father of the Challenger, who stuck a foot into the pool and found the water too cold. Cold? He is Norwegian.

Here's how real chess players handle cold water (thanks to Henrik for pointing us to this video)

Henrik decided instead to bask in the mid-day sun (we thought only Englishmen and similar creatures do that). In all fairness – in the end he and his daughter Ellen did join me and swam a number of laps.

The lobby of the Hyatt, which is currently completely chess themed

There are large screens show the chess action in the lobby...

... for a permanent crowd of chess enthusiasts

The press room, with the official broadcast and commentary projected on a large screen

After the games the players come to the press room to face the TV cameras and journalists

Ken Thompson, a friend of the World Champion, watches the games in HD from his Pacific Coast home in California and wrote us after game six: "Making Vish go to the post-game press conference was cruel and unusual punishment."

– More impressions around the match will be provided by Frederic Friedel in Chennai in the next days –


Here's a report on Frederic that has appeared in one of India's largest newspapers

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site, with special coverage on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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