The World Championship 2018 begins

by Macauley Peterson
11/9/2018 – Thursday afternoon, the two players of the World Championship, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana took questions in London from a roomful of journalists from various chess and mainstream media outlets. World Chess broadcast the press conference live on its Facebook page and subsequently added it to YouTube. We have highlights, or you can replay the whole event, plus all the details of the match and how to watch. | Photos: Nikolai Dunaevsky / World Chess

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Details of the match and what you need to know

The match will be a maximum of twelve classical games, played at The College in Holborn, in central London, and begins on November 9th with Game 1. At the opening ceremony's drawing of lots on Thursday, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was assigned the black pieces in the first game, which means that Fabiano Caruana will have white in Games 1 and 12 and (to compensate) Carlsen will have two whites in a row in Game 6 and 7.

opening ceremony

After the opening ceremony, time to get down to business | Photo: Nikolai Dunaevsky / World Chess

Schedule

Every two games will be followed by a rest day until Game 12 (if necessary) on November 26th which will be preceded by an additional rest day. All rounds start at 15:00 UT (London time) / 16:00 CEST / 10:00 EST. If needed there would be a rapid tiebreak match on Wednesday, November 28th.

Calendar

Click or tap to expand calendar | World Chess ticketmaster

Live games

The players receive 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and finally 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus a 30-second bonus per move starting from move 1.

ChessBase is an official partner of the organiser, World Chess, and ChessBase Premium Membership gives you access to watch the live games, either via your Fritz program on the playchess.com server or on live.chessbase.com.

Join any time for as little as €5.

Premium

ChessBase readers can also get 25% off the official World Chess Premium Broadcast by using this promo code at checkout:

WORLDISWATCHING

World Chess Premium Subscription Includes:

World Chess

  • Official Broadcast
  • Exclusive Live Video from the World Chess Championship
  • Commentary by GM Judit Polgar, IM Anna Rudolf as well as other guests
  • Multi-camera view
  • Advanced chat capabilities
  • 20% of the subscription fee goes to increase the prize fund of players

GM Daniel King has been appointed FIDE Press Officer for the match

Match commentary

ChessBase will be publishing extensive annotations, both in video and written form. For our popular daily video round-up shows, we have three of our regular commentators lined up with Yannick Pelletier taking games 1-5 and Lawrence Trent and Erwin l'Ami taking turns on games 6-12.

For the News page and ChessBase Magazine, we've assembled an all-star cast of grandmasters to bring you the highlights of each game:

  • Game 1 through 3: Jan-Krzysztof Duda
  • Game 4: Michael Adams
  • Game 5: Aryan Tari
  • Game 6: (TBD)
  • Game 7: Daniel Fernandez
  • Game 8: Wesley So
  • Game 9: David Navara
  • Game 10: Sam Shankland
  • Game 11: Boris Gelfand
  • Game 12: (TBD)

They will be providing lights notes in our daily articles and more in-depth commentary analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Carlsen and Caruana

Carlsen is 27 years old and has been the world's number one player continuously since 2011. He became World Champion in 2013, taking the title from Viswanathan Anand, a feat for which Caruana congratulated him at the time:

Caruana is 26 years old and is the first American to challenge for the undisputed World Championship since Bobby Fischer in 1972. He qualified back in March by winning the Berlin Candidates.

This is an historic match, as Carlsen himself noted last month, due to the fact that the two players are number one and two on the World Rankings list. The last time that happened was in the 1990 World Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. But then the rating disparity between the two players was much greater. As of November 1st FIDE ratings it is less than 3 Elo points! That's new, and it's a primary reason why this match is so highly anticipated in the chess world. 

GM Daniel King previews the contest on PowerPlay Chess

Prize fund

The prize fund of €1 million will be divided 60 / 40 between the winner and loser of the match unless it goes to a tiebreak, in which case the winner will receive 55 per cent and the loser 45 per cent.

The press conference

At the opening press conference on Thursday afternoon, a colourful mix of questions were posed by members of the chess press and numerous non-chess media outlets. Questions ranged from whether chess would ever be "cool", to what sort of routine the players would follow each day.

CarlsenCarlsen was particularly charismatic and provoked laughter on several occasions:

"Personally I’ve found chess the coolest thing in the world since I was 8 years old, so I think it’s always been that way!"

On the question of whether psychological warfare was in play in this match, the World champion said that while psychology is always a factor it certainly will not play a special role here:

"I think most of all it matters what moves you play and what you do on the board, but there is an element of psychology, an element of bluff in chess. It’s not as prevalent as it is in other games or sports but I think people are aware of it, but it’s not going to be the main story I think this time. I think we’re just both pretty much focused on making the best moves and take it from there."

ChessBase contributor and El Pais journalist Leontxo Garcia recalled that Carlsen said after the last World Championship match against Karjakin that he needed to better control his emotions and wanted to know if Carlsen had improved in this area: Carlsen feigned indignation and got the biggest laugh line of the day when he replied, "Well, I mean your question is very upsetting to me, so apparently not!"

The next question Carlsen could not quite answer seriously: Whether he sees himself as an underdog or a favourite against Caruana:

"If you’ve been the number one ranked player in the world for seven years and you’ve won three World Championships in a row, and you consider yourself an underdog, then there’s something seriously wrong with your psyche, I think. Having said that, obviously Fabiano is a tremendous player, his results this year speak for themselves and I know that if I continue to play in the same vein that I have been recently then I will probably not win, so I need to step it up, but I have great confidence in my powers to do exactly that."

CaruanaAs for Caruana, he dispelled the odd notion featured in a Guardian preview that he is "an aspiring filmmaker who has studied screenwriting" (he's not and he hasn't), but he also took several serious questions and answered adroitly.

One journalist wanted to know whether Caruana had identified certain weaknesses in Carlsen:

"I don’t think that Magnus has any clear weaknesses. Usually the mistakes he makes are very individual and they don’t have a clear pattern to them, and I think this also goes for most of the players at the very, very top, but that being said, he still makes mistakes, we all do, and the only challenge is to be ready to take them when they come."

Naturally, the perennial questions about Caruana representing Italy for a time before returning to the USA where he was born came up, as did the tired trope invoking a feeling of walking in Bobby Fischer's shadow. Caruana deftly handled both; he has dual nationalities — his mother is Italian, his father American — and moving to Europe was his parents' choice, while moving back to the USA as an adult was his own.

As for being the "new Bobby Fischer", Caruana isn't looking at it that way at all:

"I think that the comparison is still early. If I become World Champion then the comparison will be more apt, but in terms of chess style and the course of our lives, I hope, I don’t think that the comparison is quite true, but of course, it’s very flattering to be compared to such a great player."

Carlsen was asked how the preparation for the match looks tomorrow. Answer: "Nothing special: sleep well, eat well, prepare well, play well."

Finally, there was a question about wether the players had "female support" during the competition.

Carlsen again got a laugh with the simple ironic response: "Women hate me. I repel them!"

Caruana went for the safer option: "My mother supports me and I have many friends, including women."

Replay the press conference beginning with the Q & A | World Chess YouTube channel

Also on stage (at left): PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev and World Chess CEO Ilya Merenzon | Photo: Thorsten Cmiel

After the press conference, World Chess CEO Ilya Merenzon admitted that preparing for the tournament has not been without its challenges:

"Central London has so few venues that could have housed the Championship for the month. It was almost an impossible task. We are very lucky to have found the College here — and the funny thing is that the building was built as an art school, and chess and art are seen as being together so it is a very special arrangement."

In Britain, chess is not always seen as a sport but Merenzon is sure that this Championship can help change peoples perspectives and simply said. "I am completely sure that once the event is over, chess will be recognised as a sport."

Andre Schulz contributed to this story
Robert Wheeler contributed reporting from London

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Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.