Magnus in Chennai – all set for the Championship

8/25/2013 – Magnus Carlsen seems to have found everything at the Championship venue in order. We have a new video with HD footage of the 2000 screaming girls (and Carlsen's reaction to them), as well as the toughest simul of his life! There is also an interview with Anand, who, asked whether the home turf provides special motivation, replies: "I would be motivated to win if the match was played on the moon."

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The biggest chess match in the new millennium — the world chess championship between Viswanathan Anand of India and Magnus Carlsen of Norway starting from November 7 — will be witnessed by only about 350 to 400 people as live audience. According to world chess governing body (FIDE) vice president D.V. Sundar, the playing hall at Hyatt Regency can accommodate only that many people. The games are scheduled to start at 3 pm unless the two players want to change it.

The organising committee will set up a special glass dais for the event. The audience will be able to watch Anand and Carlsen play as there would be good lighting inside the sound-proof glass enclosure. On the other hand, the spectator arena would be dimly lit, so that the players wouldn’t be disturbed by what is happening there.

According to All-India Chess Federation CEO Bharat Singh Chauhan, an exclusive world championship website would be launched soon. He is also in charge of making arrangements for showing the games online. “The interest for the match would be immense on the web. We have to ensure that there is no breakdown,“ he said, adding that the AICF is trying to bring leading commentators such as Susan Polgar and Daniel King to Chennai.

Meanwhile, Fide vice-president Israel Gelfer conducted a final inspection of the venue. He said the illness clause – which allows two days off if either of the players falls ill – was added to the contract after Anand “graciously accepted“ Carlsen's suggestion. “We are 100 per cent satisfied with the venue. Anand's manager Aruna was here on Thursday to inspect all facilities and she was happy with the venue. Carlsen's camp has also expressed satisfaction after spending three days here,“ Gelfer added.


D V Sundar, an official of the All India Chess Federation, said elaborate arrangements will be made to publicise the event and since it will be held for the first time in India, the federation expects a huge response from fans. “Anand has a great following in the city and in the country. But everybody can’t be accommodated in the hall. About 350 to 400 can sit and watch the match. Entry will not be free and tickets will be sold. Schoolchildren can watch the match for free,” said Sundar, who is also a vice-president of FIDE. The public and players will be separated by a glass wall. We are also planning to show the games live on giant screens in prominent places in the city in order to popularise the game.”

No fuss, no frills

E-mail interview with Anand by Ashok Venugopal

How are your preparations going on?

It’s difficult to assess, until you actually start playing the match. So now we are just trying to cover as much ground as we can.

Having won five World Championship titles, do you think you enjoy an edge over Carlsen?

Surely, the matches have taught me something. But each match for me is a new challenge. I close the chapter on the previous match and approach this as a new challenge.

How motivated are you to win this one as it is being played at your home venue?

I think I would be motivated to win if the match was played on the moon. Being in Chennai, your heart and head keep telling you to win.

How do you fancy your chances to win as pressure and expectations would be sky high?

This is not the first time that I am playing a big event in India. Dreev, New Delhi and then World Cup were all big events that went well for me. I understand the pressure. In the end, only good moves will win the match so that’s the only thing I would want to think about since that’s what I can control.

Does it worry you that in recent tournaments you have not been up to your best?

Surely it does. But I have had worse results before previous matches. I would say except for Tal, I actually did play reasonably well. But now it’s only the 12 games and Magnus that matters.

Will the fact that Carsen beat you at Tal Memorial have a bearing on the World Championship?

I have been there before ... in Chennai the score starts at 0-0.

Your views on Carlsen as a player?

He is tenacious. Lots of talent and extremely ambitious.

Did you get distracted by Carlsen’s Chennai visit as there was a lot of hype, as he even brought his own chef?

I am not aware of the details of his visit. I don’t follow chess news when I train. He has been at our home in Spain a few times and always enjoyed the food it seemed.

Do you think apart from the game, adapting to various conditions and environment, is a hallmark of a chess player or any sportsman?

As a sportsperson you have to put your sport first. I don’t really think about the venue, food or air. Give me a board and I will play. For a match you look for a degree of comfort but I can tell you during a match only the opponent is in your thoughts. Where you sleep, what you eat fade out after a day.

Your view on the illness clause...

The contracts have been signed, I don’t want to dwell on it. I don’t doubt Carlsen’s integrity as a sportsperson and I am sure neither party will misuse it.

You will be preparing for three months. Do you miss your family and your son?

Sure I do. He (Akhil) is at an interesting stage and each day he does so many new things. Aruna sends me a picture and video each day and I wake up each morning to my Akhil of the day. We do Skype a lot too. His latest is to make music with vessels, so I miss the Philharmonic Orchestra.


Video report on Carlsen in Chennai by Vijay Kumar

This is a truly watchable report by the Indian TV reporter. Switch to HD (using the little cogwheel symbol at the bottom right of the Youtube player) and enjoy the spectacle of 2000 schoolgirls screaming a reply to Magnus' "Hello everyone" (one minute into the video). Must-watch is also the section, starting at around three minutes, where Carlsen playes a simul against twenty Indian juniors – many of them pre-teens (one is interviewed at 6 min 20 sec). The score of +10 =6 –4 clearly impressed Magnus tremendously – he even concedes (at 8 min 15 sec) that the final result could have been worse. "There were a few of my opponents who repeated moves in better positions – please don't so modest next time!"

Meanwhile Times Now, the broadcasting service of the Times of India, is initiating hostilities between the players. Watch this video report:

"The World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand is still three months away, but the battle for the crown between World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand and Mozart of Chess from Norway Magnus Carlsen is heating up," they write. "Viswanathan Anand's camp has hit out over the controversial illness clause inserted into contract of the world championship match against Magnus Carlsen. Sources have told TIMES NOW that they are hopeful that match will be played in right spirit."


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