WCh Sochi: personalities, players and seconds

by Sagar Shah
11/8/2014 – Yesterday we reported on the official FIDE press conference and the opening ceremony for the 2014 World Chess Championship. In a second installment we introduce some of the personalities that were present and, as a special treat, tell you about the seconds of both teams, something that was revealed for the first time on Friday. Also once again our team of expert commentators on Playchess.

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The match between Carlsen and Anand begins today at 15.00 hours local time. And Anand will have the White pieces. This is what Magnus Carlsen had to say about it.

As you all would remember, in the 2013 match it was Carlsen who had the white pieces in the first game and began with 1.Nf3. What will be Vishy’s first move today is the question on everyone’s mind. But before that let’s transport ourselves to Radisson Blu Resort and Spa where the press conference and the opening ceremony of the match were held.

As always the charismatic World Champion drew towards him loads of reporters

Anand was seen quite relaxed talking to his wife Aruna

In the press conference, Anand was asked an interesting question by a journalist: Your charming wife accompanies you to every tournament. Is she a talisman or your inspiration? Anand in excellent spirits replied with a smile, " Well, she is kind of wife! Obviously we are close. She has been accompanying me to tournaments ever since we got married. Recently our son was born and she doesn't come more often now!" When Magnus was asked about his talisman or inspiration, he simply shrugged off the question saying that he was not such a spiritual person!

The million dollar question asked at the press conference was who were the seconds of the two players. There was a silence for a few seconds as both waited for the other one to speak. But finally Anand revealed his. And apart from the old ones, there was a new addition.

On the right we have the usual suspects: Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Krishnan Sasikiran. But the big surprise
was the man on left: Grzegorz Gajewski. He is a country-mate of Radoslaw (Poland) and he has an Elo of 2643.

As for Magnus he revealed his seconds in the following manner: “There is the Dane and there is the hammer.” The Russian translator was confused and refrained from translating this sentence. But of course what Magnus meant were these two guys.

The Dane is Peter Heine Nielsen and the hammer is Jon Ludvig Hammer!

Carlsen was asked at the press conference whether he thought himself as the favourite for the match. He put a question back to the reporter in typical Carlsen fashion asking, “What do you think?!”

FIDE President Kirsan Illyumzhinov and the President of the
Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov at the press conference

Also present on the dais for the press conference were former World Champion
Anatoly Karpov and Ilya Merenzon, organizer from AGON

The Opening Ceremony followed the press conference. It was so less elaborate than the opening ceremony held at Chennai in 2013.

The Masters of Ceremony were former World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk
and People’s Artist of Russia S. Makovetsky

The Masters of Ceremony spoke in Russian but their words were translated on the live stream into English. That was a very thoughtful gesture on the part of the organizers. As they rightly said, for the next three weeks the experts and amateurs of the world will be mesmerized by the duel of the two best grandmasters of today! They are not just very different players but very also different personalities which makes their battle really intriguing.

Igor Levitin, assistant to the President of Russian Chess Federation,
read out the words sent by Vladimir Putin

The Russian women’s team that had won the gold medal at Tromso 2014 was honoured by the Russian government. From upper left in clockwise: Kosteniuk, Pogonina, Olga Girya and Sergei Rublevsky, who was the coach of the team

Olga Girya and forme Women's World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova

There followed a spectacular performance by elegant and beautiful dancers

Tina Kuznetsova, who was the finalist of the TV show Golos,
mesmerized the audience with her singing

The two players with chief arbiter Andrzej Fillipowicz for the drawing of colours

Magnus drew the black colour and hence the black pieces in game one

The opening ceremony ended with the performance of famous
Russian Jazz artist Igor Burtman with his quartet

Live comments on playchess.com

Our team of commentators will analyse and comment the games of the match live on the playchess.com server. In four languages: English, German, French, and Spanish.


Saturday 08.11.2014 Round 1 Daniel King, Parimarjan Negi
Sunday 09.11.2014 Round 2 Simon Williams, Nicholas Pert
Monday 10.11.2014 Rest day  
Tuesday 11.11.2014 Round 3 Daniel King, Loek van Wely
Wednesday 12.11.2014 Round 4 Daniel King, Rustam Kasimdzhanov
Thursday 13.11.2014 Rest day  
Friday 14.11.2014 Round 5 Simon Williams, Irina Krush
Saturday 15.11.2014 Round 6 Daniel King, Yannick Pelletier
Sunday 16.11.2014 Rest day  
Monday 17.11.2014 Round 7 Simon Williams, Loek van Wely
Tuesday 18.11.2014 Round 8 Daniel King, Loek van Wely
Wednesday 19.11.2014 Rest day  
Thursday 20.11.2014 Round 9 Simon Williams, Irina Krush
Friday 21.11.2014 Round 10 Daniel King, Simon Williams
Saturday 22.11.2014 Rest day  
Sunday 23.11.2014 Round 11 Chris Ward, Parimarjan Negi
Monday 24.11.201 4 Rest day  
Tuesday 25.11.2014 Round 12 Simon Williams, Rustam Kasimdzhanov

All playchess.com premium members have free access to the live commentary.

Schedule of live commentary, TV shows, training and tournaments

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Our team of World Championship commentators (English)

Irina Krush: The female in the commentator team, several times US Women's Champion.
Daniel King: Well known, popular, experienced, and very good. Author of many Fritztrainer DVDs

Simon Williams: Englisher grandmaster, author of two popular ChessBase King's Gambit DVDs.
Chris Ward: Dragon expert and chess commentator at the London Chess Classic.

Niclas Pert: Grandmaster, trainer, and author of a number of excellent Fritztrainer DVDs.
Loek van Wely: Several times Dutch champion and quick-witted chess commentator.

Parimarjan Negi: Once the world's youngest grandmaster, author of books and DVDs.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov: The FIDE-World Champion 2004, former second for Vishy Anand

Live commentary on Playchess is also available in other languages:


  • Klaus Bischoff: German Champion and Anchor of the German chess commentary on Playchess
  • Oliver Reeh: Also known as "Tactics Reeh" for his regular column in the ChessBase magazine and the ChessBase website
  • Dr. Karsten Müller: Graduated mathematician and chess grandmaster. His works on the endgame changed endgame training completely.
  • Thomas Luther: Several times German champion. Active in the FIDE commission for the handicapped.
  • Merijn van Delft: From the Dutch dynasty of the van Delfts. Lives in Hambug and in Holland.
  • Yannick Pelletier: Several times Swiss champion. With a linguistic gift he can provide commentary in a number of languages.
  • Markus Ragger: Grandmaster and Austria's number one.
  • Harald Schneider-Zinner: Chess trainer and moderator of ChessBase TV Austria.


  • Christian Bauer: Grandmaster, several time French Champion and member of the French national team.
  • Fabien Libiszewski: International Master and member of the French national team.
  • Romain Edouard: Grandmaster, European Junior Champion and Vice-World Junior Champion, member of the French national team.
  • Sebastien Mazé: Grandmaster and French national coaach


  • Ana Matnadze, Marc Narcisco, Sergio Estremera


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com with full GM commentary. If you are not a member of Playchess get instant access, but you can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to log on.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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