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Showing posts with label magnus carlsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magnus carlsen. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fide Defends Chennai Choice

Baku 06.05.2013 Press release

Since the Candidates’ Tournament ended, and GM M. Carlsen became the challenger of the coming World Championship Match there have been several developments, mails exchange between all parties (Carlsen, Anand, FIDE), questions asked, and also speculations.

FIDE would hereby like to put forward the current situation regarding this event.

Directly after the 2012 match was awarded to Moscow, FIDE agreed to grant an option to Chennai. The PB and its meeting in Armenia in January decided that FIDE and AGON, who holds the rights for organizing the whole cycle of the World Championship, were advised that India would take up its option organize the World Championship match. This was done on January 24 in Athens, where both parties agreed not to open a bidding procedure, but to grant an option to India, as requested. We should emphasize that according FIDE rules the World Championship cycle is not included in the list of events, for which FIDE is obliged to do so (like Olympiads, for instance). This has been deliberately done, because in many cases FIDE, having the priority in mind to secure the match and the cycle, was ready to give an option or even to grant the match if the proposal was attractive enough.

Consequently three of the last matches were given to an organizer without a bidding procedure.

On March 15th India asked to extend the option until April 10th and FIDE agreed to it because it was clear that the bid would be accepted and just needed an approval of the Tamil Nadu State Parliament, a session which took place on April 8th. One could ask why was the extension given to a date when the name of the challenger will be known already, and the simple answer is that FIDE, being convinced that the positive answer was just a matter of technicality, did not want to lose this bid for an alternative that gave no guarantee for a better result or any result at all.

When the approval of the bid by India was published and FIDE representative was called to formalize it, on April 8th, GM Carlsen’s manager contacted FIDE and asked to have a meeting to discuss this matter before a formal move is done with India.

Carlsen and FIDE’s representatives met in FIDE office on April 15th, when all claims were brought up by Carlsen’s representatives and were answered by FIDE. Among the points raised and answered we would like to emphasize one and this is the issue which was also raised in media – the question of neutrality. Unfortunately it has always proved difficult to find a sponsor to such a match when the name of the challenger is not known yet. Therefore most of matches in the past were organized in one of the participant’s countries. Consequently both World Champions Anand and Topalov played in their opponent’s country – a natural result of the situation.

On that day both parties signed a paper whereby it was agreed to give Norway an option to come up with an organizer for half of the match, provided that India would accept such a solution.

FIDE tried its hardest to convince India to split the match, but they refused India wanted to fulfil what has been approved by the government of the Tamil Nadu State and FIDE had to keep its obligations, and consequently an M.O.U was signed in Chennai on April 19th. One day later, the FIDE President visited France, where he got a proposal to organize the match in Paris. Mr Ilyumzhinov promised to bring the proposal before the Presidential Board. The French proposal was higher than the Chennai one, with more contributions offered. However, the Board decided (unanimously with one abstention) that FIDE must respect its obligation and thanked the French federation and the city of Paris for their proposal, hoping that there will be another opportunity to have a big event in Paris.

FIDE has acted with full transparency during the whole process, trying its best to secure the match and standing by its obligations and reputation. FIDE will do everything to secure equal conditions for both players and also will try and still trying to increase the prize fund for the match.

FIDE wishes these two great players a successful match, and is sure that India, the homeland of Chess will bring to the world a fascinating event.

Gens Una Sumus.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Carlsen Redefines Chess Appeal

STAVANGER: He does fashion shoots with Liv Tyler, enjoys soccer-style sponsorship deals and was recently named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people. Who is this superstar? The world's top-ranked chess player.

With his trendy look and athletic physique, Norway's Magnus Carlsen has brought an injection of cool to the normally sedate world of global chess — extending its popularity beyond its niche following. The 22-year-old's home country is buzzing with excitement as he competes in a tournament here just months before he tries to crack the greatest prize in the game: the chess World Championship.

In November, the young Norwegian challenges the reigning world champ, Viswanathan Anand, for the title, which typically is contested every other year. The inaugural Norway Chess competition in Stavanger, starting Tuesday, is being widely touted as a dress rehearsal for the championship that is tentatively slated to be played in Chennai, India, where Anand enjoys home court advantage.


FILE - In this photo taken Monday April 29, 2013 Norwegian chess champion Magnus Carlsen smiles during a press conference in Oslo. Carlsen has brought an injection of cool to the normally sedate world of global chess. And the 22-year-old’s home country is buzzing with excitement as he competes in a tournament here months before he tries to crack the greatest prize in the game: the chess World Championship.

With the lure of Carlsen and the 43-year-old Anand, and the 275,500 euros prize money, the competition has attracted one of the strongest lineups ever assembled for a chess tournament. Even with the withdrawal in April of world No. 2, Vladimir Kramnik, the 10-man competition will feature seven of the world's top 10 players, and nine of the top 16, all vying for the 100,000 euros top prize.

"It is very good timing for us. It is very big for Norway that Magnus is doing so well and this probably wouldn't have been possible without him," said Norway Chess chairman Kjell Madland. "We hope it will be the first of very many big chess moments in Norway."

The competition is the first example of oil and gas-rich Norway, today one of the most successful welfare states in the world, leveraging Carlsen's brilliance to try to earn a place alongside more traditional chess superpowers like Russia, Armenia and the United States.

"It is right to say that when nations are in good shape, they tend to throw up good chess players," said Simon Terrington, a British chess writer, evoking Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov's observation that every world champion is a representative of the geopolitical age.

Russian mastery in the shape of Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in the 1980s helped prop up an otherwise creaking Soviet ideology. Later, Viswanathan Anand's triumph in the World Championship in 2000 and his reign as world champ since 2007 has coincided with the re-emergence of India as a great world power. Carlsen took Anand's place at the top of the monthly world rankings in July 2011. Anand has since slumped to 5th.

Now Carlsen's prodigious brilliance is seen by some as bringing intellectual and cultural heft to the social welfare models of Nordic Europe, particularly Norway.

"Chess is connected to what you can call a kind of prestige in the sense that many people look upon the best players as very intelligent and many countries would like to be associated with this," said Joeran Aulin-Jansson, president of the Norwegian Chess Federation. "We hope that the next Magnus Carlsen will come from Norway, though the chances in such a small country are fairly slim."

If not a necessarily a geopolitical shift, the tournament here certainly represents chess' generational shift bringing into sharp focus the edge afforded by youth.

In a game rarely associated with feats of physical endurance, Carlsen prepares for tournaments by mentally revising openings while pounding a treadmill. He will be the youngest competitor at Norway Chess. But he is among six of the world's top eight, all competing here, who are still under 30.

"These long tournaments are quite tiring and long games are very tiring, especially at the end," he told The Associated Press. "If you are in good shape and can keep your concentration you will be the one who will profit from your opponents' mistakes. In general towards the end of the tournaments younger players have that advantage so the other players will have to try to equal that by having good fitness as well."

His fitness matches his unusual style of favoring the middle and long game over obsessive strategizing about opening exchanges.

"I do focus quite a bit on the opening," Carlsen said. "But I have a different goal. Some people try to win the game in the opening. My goal is to make sure I get a playable position and then the main battle is going to happen in the middle game and the later game."

The strategy has worked. Earlier this year, he passed Kasparov's record to attain the highest chess rating ever in the world governing body FIDE rankings. With his modeling contract alongside Liv Tyler for fashion label G-Star Raw, soccer-style sponsorship slogans on his clothing and unnervingly fast and aggressive decision making, the emergence of this telegenic young chess superstar has also helped spur interest in the game not seen since the '70s and '80s — the heydays of the Russian masters and the American Bobby Fischer.

Norwegian grandmaster Simen Agdestein, who will provide commentary on the Stavanger tournament over the Internet, says the interest in Carlsen has been astounding.

In April's Candidates tournament in London, in which top players faced off for the right to play Anand in November, Agdestein's Internet connection became patchy whenever Carlsen was competing.

"All of the top players around the world, and lots of other interested people, were watching him. I don't think the bandwidth could handle it," Agdestein said.

In Stavanger, the round-robin format, in which each of the 10 players will accumulate points by competing against every other competitor, ensures Carlsen will face Anand.

"I don't think it really matters which of us wins that game in Stavanger," Carlsen said. "The kind of momentum that I have going into the November match will be decided by the tournaments I play. I can disassociate the earlier match whatever the result."

Aulin-Jansson is not so sure.

"Whoever wins that game, going into the World Championship, it will be like having a 1-0 lead in a soccer match," he said. (AP)

Carlsen Disappointed, but Determined

Here is World No. 1 and Challenger Magnus Carlsen's official statement regarding Fide choosing Chennai as the venue of the World Chess Championship 2013 to be held from November 6-26.

After qualifying for the World Championship match by winning the London Candidates I have been highly motivated for, and looking forward to the World Championship match against reigning champion V. Anand.
I’m deeply disappointed and surprised by the FIDE decision to sign a contract for the 2013 match without going through the bidding process outlined in the WC regulations, and for not choosing neutral ground. The bid from Paris clearly showed that it would be possible to have more options to choose from.The lack of transparency, predictability and fairness is unfortunate for chess as a sport and for chess players.
My team and I will now start preparing for the match. The main thing now will be to come to an agreement with the Indian Chess Federation and FIDE regarding terms and conditions before and during the match. I really hope this process will run quick and smoothly.
Lastly, I will not let the news from Baku diminish the joy and excitement derived from playing the top level Norway Chess tournament starting tomorrow.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen: Fide says Chennai

NEW DELHI, MAY 5: Viswanathan Anand will defend his World Chess Championship title against world number one Magnus Carlsen in his home city as FIDE today chose Chennai as the venue for the prestigious match. Even as it has been reported that Carlsen was not keen to play in Chennai and instead preferred Paris as the venue, the FIDE Presidential Board confirmed Chennai as the venue during a meeting at Baku, Azerbaijan today.

The match between the Indian and his Norwegian opponent will be played from November 6 to 26. “The agreement was signed today at Baku by Bharat Singh, Hony Secretary All India Chess Federation and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov,” a press release stated. Anand had defeated Boris Gelfand of Israel to retain his title in 2012. (PTI)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

World Championship 2013: Paris Offer

The French Chess Federation has approached Fide to host the World Chess Championship Match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen in November, 2013. The French Chess Federation website states: 


"FFE, in collaboration with the City of Paris, on behalf of a group of private companies, is a candidate for organising the World Chess Championship 2013. The presidential office of FIDE, which will meet this weekend, should address the problem of opening a tender for this match. In fact, after the Match was given to Chennai (India), Carlsen and the Norwegian Chess Federation have officially requested that the game takes place in a neutral country."

The Federation site offers for download the following letter from the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE president and the original press release by Philippe Mouttou. 



Press Release
Paris is ready to organize Anand-Carlsen World Chess Championship


Paris – 3rd of May 2013. The city of Paris, France, is ready to host the World Chess Championship Match between GM Viswanathan Anand, from India, and GM Magnus Carlsen, from Norway.

In a letter to FIDE, the Mayor of Paris Mr. Bertrand Delanoë, expresses full support to the French Chess Federation in its aim to organize the final match to take place in November 2013.

The Paris Mayor states in his letter to FIDE that “the city of Paris welcomes the French Chess Federation initiative” to organize the Anand-Carlsen Chess World Championship, and “is happy to give its whole hearted support to the French Chess Federation to successfully carry out this project.” 

The offer sent to FIDE includes a € 2.65 Million- Prize fund and a € 800 000-contribution to FIDE in accordance to FIDE regulations. It also offers a specific budget allocated for media coverage.

“Paris is the city where FIDE was born and ever since, chess has been part of our cultural heritage. Our Capital is looking forward to organize and welcome in the best possible conditions this Championship” concludes Mayor Delanoë’s letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilymzhinov. 

FIDE, the World Chess Federation, was founded in Paris in 1924. A world Chess Championship in Paris would be a prelude to FIDE’s 90th anniversary.

Philippe Mouttou 
WWC in Paris

-----------------------
Dear Mr President,


I have learnt with great interest of the French Chess Federation project to organize in Paris the upcoming Chess World Championship in later in November this year. This Championship is very exciting with the match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

The city of Paris welcomes this initiative and I am happy to give my whole hearted support to the French Chess Federation to successfully carry out this project.

Paris is the city where FIDE was born and ever since, chess has been part of our cultural heritage. Our Capital is looking forward to organize and welcome in the best possible conditions this Championship that will enable Paris to profile itself internationally.

Yours sincerely,
Bertrand DELANOE

Monsieur Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV
President de la Federation Intemationale d'Echecs
9 Syggrou avenue
11743 ATHENES GREECE

Friday, May 3, 2013

Anand-Carlsen Match: Norway Protests

Norwegian Chess Federation president Jøran Aulin-Jansson has sent an open letter as a "formal complaint" to World Chess Federation (FIDE) on the selection of Chennai as the host of the 2013 World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. The letter calls for a "fair and transparent procedure and competition for the selection of the organizer" while emphasising that the letter is not a campaign against Chennai organisers. 


Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov / Presidential board 
 

With reference to the discussion that for some time has been going on between FIDE and Magnus Carlsen’s representatives with regard to the venue for the upcoming FIDE World Championship Match, the Norwegian Chess Federation finds reasons to intervene in this dialogue with a formal letter to FIDE.

As you are aware of Mr. Magnus Carlsen has expressed dissatisfaction with the plans to arrange the World Championship Match in Chennai, India without having any formal competition on the venue for this match. Mr. Carlsen’s view has been presented to FIDE both in emails and in a meeting in Athens with his manager and his lawyer.

It is our understanding of the rules and regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match 2013 that any federation or sponsor may bid for being an organizer. We strongly urge FIDE to facilitate a procedure that enables other interested parties to bid for the event. Furthermore FIDE must, based on the regulation consider all bids before making a final decision.

From the regulations, it is not clear that FIDE has the right to grant Chennai an option.We maintain, as expressed by Mr. Carlsen, that it will be an advantage both for the players and FIDE to have a fair and transparent procedure and competition for the selection of the organizer and also for the reputation of chess in general.

Since the Championship is to be held in November, there will be acceptable time to consider other bids and make a qualified decision in due time prior to the event.

The Norwegian Chess Federation expects that FIDE will follow its own regulation for the World Championship Match enabling others to bid for the event as was the procedure for selection of the organizer for the 2014 Chess Olympiad.

We would like to emphasize that this is not a campaign against Chennai as an organizer; it is merely a request to follow the rules and principles of transparency and fairness.

This letter should be regarded as formal complaint on the process for selecting the organizer for theWorld Championship Match 2013.

Sincerely,
Jøran Aulin-Jansson
President
Norway Chess federation

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Carlsen with Gershenberg Video

World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen video first published on November 21, 2012: Twenty-one-year-old Magnus Carlsen is travelling across America to inspire students to play the game and develop the skills necessary to make them successful in the science, math, and technology fields. He stopped in Silicon Valley to chat with SVB Managing Partner Aaron Gershenberg, about what the game has taught him.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

'Not bothered about Carlsen's Trainers'

by Zainab Raza Undulusi

World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand has said he would try to understand how his next challenger World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen is going to play, but is not bothered about who is going to train Carlsen for the upcoming World Title match even if it is legendary 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. 

Viswanathan Anand was speaking in a special interview given to Russian news site RIA Novosti's Viktor Ivanov. Anand said, "I believe that my opponent - a strong chess player, his results speak for themselves. I will train very seriously before our meeting with him and will do everything possible to win."

Anand also said, "My match preparation would cover Carlsen's games and I am trying to understand my opponent. After that I will decide how to proceed. Of course, there will be a team that will help me prepare for the match though I cannot yet tell you about my second."

In reference to rumours about 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov training Magnus Carlsen, a confident Anand said, "Both of us will naturally have a team to help us prepare for the match, but I am not paying all that attention to who is in which team."

Regarding the venue being Chennai for the World Chess Championship 2013, Viswanathan Anand said, "I was very happy even last year when there were prospects of Chennai being the venue for my previous (World Chess Championship 2012) match against Boris Gelfand. This time, if Chennai is the venue, I think it will be a powerful incentive for the development of chess in my state and my country. Personally, first of all it is important just to feel comfortable and to be able to fully concentrate on chess."

When asked about what could be the deciding factors in the forthcoming match particularly considering Carlsen has less experience at that level than Anand, the World Chess Champion said, "In theory, such an experience can really help in an important game. Each of us have our advantages. But not enough just to have them, you should be able to use them. I have experience, I've played these games before, but now the problem is different: to apply them correctly and that would help."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World Chess Match Venue Undecided

CHENNAI: There is some uncertainty over Chennai as the venue for the eagerly-awaited World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen after the World No 1 player from Norway expressed unhappiness with the FIDE's choice of venue.

The FIDE has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with All India Chess Federation and Tamil Nadu state association for holding the World Championship match in Chennai, the home city of Anand.

However, it has been learnt Carlsen's team is apprehensive about playing in Chennai given unfamiliar food and weather condition as the Norwegian has no experience of competing in hot climate.

The fallout could be Carlsen's refusal to sign the contract as both players are needed to sign the agreement despite FIDE's MoU with the TN state association.

According to Carlsen's agent, Espen Agdestein, what irked the 22-year-old challenger was the way the MoU was signed without following a bidding process as described in the FIDE regulations for the World Championship match.

Agdestein said there should be an open bidding process and a neutral venue for the match and that the world body should have a dialogue with both players before arriving at a final decision.

The MoU, uploaded on the FIDE website, says that the match could be held in Chennai from November 6 to 26.

Chennai had lost out on the last World Championship match between Anand and Boris Gelfand after Moscow offered a higher prize fund of USD 2.55 million to the organisers.

At that time, the FIDE president, Kirsan Ilymzhinov had promised the Tamil Nadu government that the state will get the first preference for the next match.

It has also been learnt that the earlier preferred locations for hosting the match were New York, Miami, St Tropez, Paris and Tromso. The Norwegian town is already hosting the 2013 World Cup and the 2014 World Team Olympiad.

If Carlsen insists on a neutral venue, FIDE may have little option but to move the game out of Chennai. (PTI)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kasimdzhanov Not to Be Anand Second

By Zainab Raza Undulusi

It was this January that the Norwegian newspaper VG reported that Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen (39) who has worked with World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand for almost 10 years would be working with World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. Nielsen joined Carlsen in February to help Carlsen with the Candidates Tournament in March in London. Carlsen duly won the Candidates. 

On Saturday, another of Viswanathan Anand's seconds, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, said at a press conference at the Renova Group Grand Prix press conference that he has decided not to continue as Anand's second. 

“I think three World championship matches are enough for me. There were all very tough – one tougher than the other. At the end I think I deserve some rest (smiles). I’m a bit worried if the match is going to take place because it was announced to be held in India and Magnus is seriously opposed to the idea to play there. If they push it and Magnus gets nervous we can have the situation when the Norwegian will just refuse to play, as he had done with previous candidates tournament. It’s a great match and it would be a pity if something happens. I will be happy if they find some neutral ground. On the other hand India deserves to host the World Championship match because Anand has been holding the title for many years. So the situation is difficult,” said the former world chess champion. 

Earlier, after Nielsen joined Team Carlsen, the World No. 1's manager Espen Agdestein had said, "We cannot use Peter after he has worked so long with Anand. That would not be good, morally, even if there are no problems legally. Peter is therefore not going to work with us in preparation (for the World Chess Championship 2013 match) if Magnus qualifies as World Championship challenger."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

World Chess 2013: Is it Chennai 100%?


As a chess fan, I am totally confused. Is the World Chess Championship 2013 Match between reigning champion Viswanathan Anand and challenger Magnus Carlsen really going to be held in Chennai this November? Should I book tickets and hotel room?

In the popular 1988 Movie 'Young Guns', actor Emilio Estevez playing 'Billy the Kid' tells his band of outlaws in response to their concern of potential hanging, that if they are caught that they will most certainly get hanged, and then utters the phrase but "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip".

In 2012, Fide told All India Chess Federation (AICF), after the latter lost to Moscow as host for World Chess Championship 2012 (between reigning World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand) that AICF would get the first chance to host the World Chess Championship Match 2013, supposedly without any regular bidding procedure...! But... "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip".

April 19, 2013: Fide site reads: Today, FIDE Vice President, Israel Gelfer signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the All India Chess Federation in Chennai regarding the World Championship Match 2013. Next are photos:

Photo: (From left) AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, Fide vice-presidents Israel Gelfer and DV Sundar.


The document states that the organiser is responsible for the conduct of world championship match in Chennai from 6 to 26 November 2013. The AICF will send a working version of the contract and will sign the contract within seven days of its receipt; organiser shall provide the sum of $3,367,250 - 50% percent of which must be transferred to the Fide account by May 20 and the remaining amount by 31 August 2013.


Magnus Carlsen has already called for a "neutral venue" and he has not confirmed the venue yet!

But, what does all this mean? Is Chennai the venue, or is it not yet decided? Is the Indian media and chess fanbase going euphoric for something that might not be? 

Frankly, no one seems to know the answer. Detailed reports are posted at chess news sites like Chessbase, ChessVibes, ChessblogChess-News.ru and the AICF and, of course, Fide websites. But, really, what does it all mean? Is Chennai really 100% the venue? We have to wait, at least until May 20.
  • What happens if some other bids come in for the World Chess Championship 2013? Will Fide not accept them? 
  • What exactly does this MoU mean? Is it a final declaration?
  • If Fide does not intend to accept any other bids, then why not immediately announce that there would be no bidding procedure and indeed Chennai is the venue of the World Chess Championship 2013?
  • Is it legal to have no bidding procedure for an event like the World Chess Championship?
  • Chennai is in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the Tamil Nadu Government that is offering the bid amount. So, the match cannot be shifted to any other city in India. Except Chennai, parts of Delhi and Kolkatta, the rest of India is at present watching cricket - the IPL T-20. They might not find other sponsors in India.
  • There is no direct word via Fide about Challenger Magnus Carlsen's acceptance of the venue and match conditions.
The most detailed analysis is at Chessvibes which goes: "It could also mean that FIDE is keeping its options open. In general a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expresses a convergence of will between two parties, indicating an intended common line of action. A MoU is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement.It's well possible that the match will eventually be held somewhere else. At the moment all parties involved have reasons to be not too happy about Chennai: Anand because there might be too much home crowd pressure, Carlsen because the different climate might involve risks, AGON because a different city might be more interesting for sponsors and FIDE because a higher bid also means a higher income for them."


Legendary 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov has reacted strongly: It is a scandal. I've never heard of anything like this. I really hope that this is not the final decision, because it would be illegal.
To Chennai, or not to Chennai is the Big Question.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

MC on 'TIME 100' Influential Icons List

US based news magazine -TIME's annual survey of the 100 most influential people in the world for the year 2013 is out and guess who has made it to the list: World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen and Indian star Aamir Khan! TIME selects 100 most influential people in the world and gets them profiled by equally influential celebrities for their worldwide list. The full list with features will appear in the April 29 / May 6 issue of TIME that would go on the newsstands on April 19. 


None other than 13th World Chess Champion 

Garry Kasparov has written the feature on Magnus Carlsen for the 'Time 100' list 2013 of the world's most influential people.


The TIME 100 features often-surprising pairings of the influentials and the guest contributors TIME selects to write about them. The tenth-annual list includes, among others, President Barack Obama on Tom Coburn, Justin Timberlake on Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Winfrey on Shonda Rhimes, Michael Bloombergon Jay Z, Hillary Clinton on Barack Obama, Chelsea Clinton on Malala Yousafzai and more. 

Magnus Carlsen
Chess wunderkind, 22
By Garry Kasparov April 18, 2013



Chess history is best viewed through the game’s evolution: the Romantic Era of the 19th century, the Hypermodernism of the early 20th, the post–World War II dominance of the Soviet School. The elite chess players of today are of no school. They hail from all over the world, as illustrated by current world champion Viswanathan Anand of India and young Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, who is due to challenge Anand for the championship this year. I had the opportunity to train Carlsen in 2009, and his intuitive style conserves the mystique of chess at a time when every CPU-enhanced fan thinks the game is easy. Carlsen is as charismatic and independent as he is talented. If he can rekindle the world’s fascination with the royal game, we will soon be living in the Carlsen Era.
Indian movie star Aamir Khan is on the list as well. Billed as a film star and activist by the magazine, the Bollywood actor and host of the television show 'Satyamev Jayate' has been profiled by world celebrated music composer A.R Rahman.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Neutral Venue Please, Carlsen to NRK

by Zainab Raza Undulusi



"In principle, I think it (World Chess Championship 2013) should be held on neutral ground. It has been the tradition in the past, and that is what seems most fair to me," says World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. He was speaking to Norwegian website NRKThe Indian media has announced that the match will be held in Chennai this November. However, no formal confirmation has come in from the World Chess Federation (Fide). There is usually an open bidding for the match. 

Magnus Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein, said, "It is strange that this time they should skip the bidding process. There is great interest in this game and now they have the opportunity to really get very exciting organizer cities. I find a 
deal under the table strange and silly."

He also told NRK, "This is not a neutral ground, and in addition it will be abnormal for Magnus to play in India, including different climate and food." 

Carlsen is still unsure of how much the choice of location will influence the outcome of the match. "I can not say anything until I have seen the playing conditions," he said.
Joran Aulin-Jansson, chess president of the Norwegian Chess Federation is also not thrilled by the news. He said the association stood by Carlsen's decision to play at a neutral venue. But, he said, if Fide approves Chennai, there is not much that can be done.

India is getting the opportunity to hold the match because they lost out on the bid last year (Ref: Anand vs Gelfand World Championship in Moscow, 2012)

Next week a representative from Fide will visit Chennai to assess the venue and speak with the Indian government and the Indian Chess Federation. Fide member Nigel Freeman says, there is no problem if the match is held in one of the finalists' home countries. "There have been games that have been held at non-neutral sites before... when Anand played against Veselin Topalov in Bulgaria." (Photo: Norwegian chess president, Joran Aulin-Jansson, believes such a big event like the World Cup match in chess should be put out to tender.Photo: Junge, Heiko / NTB Scanpix)

Meanwhile, we are yet to hear from Agon which is contracted to hold the complete World Chess Championship cycle.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WCCh: Carlsen yet to Confirm Chennai

by Zainab Raza Undulusi in New Delhi


World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen is yet to confirm what the Indian media and chess association have already announced! World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand will get to defend his world title in his home city of Chennai this year from November 6-26. The Tamil Nadu government has agreed to sponsor the event.

The world chess body (FIDE) will finalise the venue after Carlsen agrees to it. If Carlsen wants to avoid playing Anand in Chennai, he will have to find a sponsor and a place who would out-bid the one put up by Chennai. Anand will be playing in India for the first time in more than a decade. He instantly welcomed the decision. All the Indian chess fans are jubilant about the decision. The announcement was made in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly on Monday morning. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa declared that her government would sponsor the match which is estimated to cost around Rs 29 crore.

“I welcome the Chief Minister’s initiative and interest in promoting chess in the country. It’s a high for Indian chess. I’m looking forward to playing at home. The dynamics of the match will surely be different for me playing at home. It will be a new experience but I’m ready for the challenge. Pressure will be there anyways. This, after all, is a World Championship match," Anand told the media.

India lost the World Chess Championship bid last year to Moscow for Anand's match versus Israel's Boris Gelfand. The AICF had time up to April 10 to submit its bid failing which FIDE would have opened up the bidding process. DV Sundar, a vice-president with FIDE, earlier secretary of the AICF, said the proposal had been submitted in time.

Anand, a five-time world champion, last played in India in 2000 when the World Championship was organised in Delhi and Tehran in a knockout format. Anand went on to win the title beating Alexei Shirov in the final in Iran. The Indian super Grandmaster has been the world champion since 2007.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Carlsen Wins Chess Candidates 2013


Magnus Carlsen won the FIDE Candidates' Tournament in London on Monday after a bizarre finish of what has become a historic event for chess. Both the Norwegian and the other leader, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, unexpectedly lost their game in the final round, and so they remained tied for first place and Carlsen won on the second tie-break rule: higher number of wins. This means that in the next title match, World Champion Viswanathan Anand will face Carlsen. On the last day Levon Aronian of Armenia beat Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan while Boris Gelfand of Israel and Alexander Grischuk of Russia drew their game.

A Hollywood blockbuster couldn’t have had a more dramatic scenario with the hero of the story going down just before the end, only to emerge as the winner after all. This is what happened in rounds 12-13 with Carlsen losing his lead to Kramnik on Friday and then recovering on Sunday, and it also happened in a thrilling final round. The Norwegian unexpectedly lost his white game against Peter Svidler, but because Vladimir Kramnik also went down against Vassily Ivanchuk, Carlsen won the tournament anyway. It was quite a fitting scenario for April 1st, except that this is what really happened!

The day started quietly with a draw between Boris Gelfand and Alexander Grischuk. Facing the Grünfeld, which he included in his own repertoire last year against Anand, Gelfand tried the 5.Bd2 variation. Grischuk was “surprised by 11.Bc4” but reacted well and about the position after 17.f4 he said: “White at maximum can get a very slight advantage but Black can get a winning position if something goes wrong for White.” Already with 18…b4 Black “more or less forced the draw”, according to the Russian. Joining the live commentary, Grischuk said: “I’m quite happy to finish my game early so that I can enjoy this!”


Then, the game between Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov finished in favour of the Armenian. “In general after the opening I got a big advantage and it was very difficult to play for Black,” said Aronian. Radjabov, who finally went for a proper King’s Indian – the defence with which he has had so many successes – managed to trap the white queen in the early middle game, but Aronian got two rooks for it and combined with the presence of opposite coloured bishops, his attack on the king was just too strong.

But, of course this last round was all about the other two games: Vassily Ivanchuk versus Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen versus Peter Svidler. Because Carlsen was leading on tie-break, Kramnik basically had to outperform him in the final round to emerge as the winner: he needed a win if Carlsen drew, or a draw if Carlsen lost. It all went quite differently. Kramnik, playing black, got under serious pressure right out of the opening, while Carlsen didn’t get much of an opening advantage playing white.
To keep all options open, Kramnik played the Pirc Defence, and Ivanchuk responded with simple, healthy developing moves. However, the Ukrainian (again!) needed quite some time to make his moves in this game, so even though he was building up an advantage, the Carlsen fans weren’t sure at all about the situation. Would Ivanchuk lose on time again...?

Meanwhile, Carlsen himself was using lots of time himself – too much time. After making his 27th move, the Norwegian had only 5 minutes left for 13 moves, and 2 moves later his clock was down to 1 minute and 20 seconds. It was a situation Carlsen hadn’t been in before in all previous rounds! It must have been around this time that the home page of Norway’s biggest newspaper online, vg.no, crashed (like several chess servers) due too the high number of visitors trying to follow the games.

Carlsen only barely made the time control – he made his last three moves in about nine seconds, knocking over some pieces in the process and losing precious seconds there. After the dust had cleared, he found himself in a completely lost ending. Svidler had simply played an excellent game, while Carlsen had succumbed under the pressure and the tension. “I was trying to equalize and then Magnus perhaps overestimated his position,” said Svidler.

“I was spending too much time in the middle game on reasonably good moves but also on not too difficult moves. (…) I definitely overestimated my position. Additionally, I just couldn't calculate very well today and then you have to spend a lot of time, that’s the way it is. Obviously not as much time as I did, because it became a serious liability at the end, but it's not easy. From early on there were lots of things to calculate on every move,” said Carlsen at the press conference, while Ivanchuk and Kramnik were still playing.

Before leaving the press room, Carlsen asked whether he could get the position of that last game on the laptop that was available. By that time Ivanchuk had made the time control, and he had a winning position. Carlsen said: “I think this cannot possibly go wrong,” and right at that moment Kramnik resigned his game, and with it his fight for first place. Carlsen was congratulated by his manager and by Svidler, and immediately gave a few interviews to mostly Norwegian press.

Meanwhile, Ivanchuk and Kramnik arrived in the press room to comment on their game. “I had to play for a win, to burn bridges in a way, because of course I didn't think that Magnus was going to lose. I thought I got what I wanted at some point. It was an interesting position but terribly complicated. Somewhere around 20…Nhf4 I liked my position and then somehow I lost a bit of concentration because I didn’t know what to do,” said Kramnik, who also kept an eye on the other game.

“The problem was that Peter [Svidler]’s position was already promising but not yet so clear so I didn’t know what to do, whether to play for a draw… Somehow I got a bit lost between watching that game and trying to understand what I should do. Then I made a few awful decisions and I was unlucky that I had to make a tough decision on move 40, not 41.” In time trouble the Russian missed an important tactic, and then his position was lost. Ivanchuk agreed that the position was at some point drawish. “But I noticed that my opponent started to play a bit risky and he gave me chances.”
Carlsen then returned to the press room to answer questions in his new status as tournament winner. He said: “I never expected to lose and I didn't really have any expectations for the other game. That didn’t make sense to me since I couldn’t do anything about it. (...) I didn't really want to resign before I was sure that Ivanchuk would win!”

The tournament winner felt that until the 11th round he “played the best chess for sure”. “At the end everyone got tired, the quality got lower and anything could happen. But overall I think I did pretty well and I deserve to win.” Carlsen said he was “very impressed” by Kramnik’s comeback in the second half of the tournament. About his match against Anand, he said: “I think it’s going to be very interesting, a great event but it’s a long time ahead so we’ll see what happens.”


The final standings are as follows: 1. Carlsen 8.5 points (5 wins), 2. Kramnik 8.5 points (4 wins), 3-4. Svidler and Aronian 8 points, 5-6. Grischuk and Gelfand 6.5 points, 7. Ivanchuk 6 points and 8.Radjabov 4 points.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament took place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It was sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

(Report by Peter Doggers and Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Candidates R13: Carlsen, Kramnik Lead

In yet another truly dramatic 13th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament Magnus Carlsen (Norway) caught Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) in first place. Carlsen, who ground down Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in 89 moves, is now first on tie-break because of his higher number of wins. Kramnik had a promising position against Boris Gelfand (Israel) but couldn't get more than a draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Levon Aronian (Armenia) drew as well, while Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) lost yet another game on time against Peter Svidler (Russia).


In the 13th round “giant killer” Vassily Ivanchuk returned to his bad habit in this tournament of handling the clock terribly. It’s hard to believe but it’s true: the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit for the fifth time. It must be said that this time his position was lost. “It was a new experience for me. When he played 27…Rd7 he looked away, and after I played 28.a4 and pressed the clock, he lost about half a minute trying to figure out which move I made,” said Svidler.

The game was a French Advance, and the Russian grandmaster played concrete moves from the start. “If I do nothing Black will develop very naturally so I went 11.Bg5 and 12.Be3 asking questions with every move.” Then, on move 15, Svidler went for pawn sacrifice. It was “one of those moments” where he thought: “If I don’t play this I will kind of regret it forever.” After 23.Re1 he was “very happy for a while” until he realized that Black has 23…Nd6 there. Svidler then showed an amazingly complicated computer line which his seconds told him about after the game. “Good luck finding that. There’s absolutely no one who can find that out at the board!”



Ivanchuk didn’t spot it, again spent too much time and after White’s 37th move his flag fell. “I saw White’s ideas but I didn’t know what to do. From the opening my position wasn’t very comfortable,” the Ukrainian said. At the press conference GM Danny King asked him the question that needed to be asked: how can you explain to yourself the masterpieces you played against Radjabov and Carlsen, and at the same time losing on time in five games? Ivanchuk: “Everything has happened. I don’t like to focus too much on my lost games. I’d like to forget them as quickly as possible and soon start a new tournament.” On his game against Kramnik tomorrow, he said: “For me it’s not important, it’s just a normal game.”



Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian drew a Slav/Catalan in 38 moves. “I think I got a comfortable advantage out of the opening. Black has of course decent chances to equalize but he has to play very accurately because White has a positional advantage in the centre,” said Grischuk, who thought that Aronian’s 12…a5 was “very ambitious”. White got a nice endgame advantage with the bishop pair and more active rooks, but somehow Grischuk misplayed it. “White has to be precise and it will be long suffering for Black,” he said. A tactical phase followed and Aronian could save the half point. At the press conference Grischuk said that he did play for a win: “Of course I lost a big part of my motivation but it’s not every day that I can play against such a brilliant player like Levon!”

Moving on to the two key games of the round, Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand were the first to finish. This encounter started as a Fianchetto Grünfeld and the former World Champion came up with a new idea as early as move five – something that’s very rare in chess. “It’s amazing how many ideas he’s introducing, maybe more than all of us together!” said Gelfand. “At least I got a game, I got a game,” said Kramnik, who needed to keep all options open: going for a solid draw or playing for a win, depending on the developments in Radjabov-Carlsen.

After move 17 White seemed to have nice pressure and with giving up his dark-squared bishop Black appeared to be walking a tightrope. Kramnik: “One little mistake and everything starts to collapse!” About the position after 21.Qd3 he said: “Black cannot even create a threat. I think I’m clearly better, strangely enough.” The critical moment of this game was perhaps at move 30 where with little time on the clock Kramnik might have missed a stronger continuation. But, throughout the game Gelfand defended fantastically, and the Israeli fully deserved the half point he got.

About his game in the last round, against the unpredictable Ivanchuk, Kramnik said: “It doesn't matter with whom you play. The last game is the last game. I played many decisive games already, it doesn’t matter. I’m not nervous, I’m OK.”

For Magnus Carlsen the big question was how he would cope with what was his first loss since September last year. According to commentator IM Lawrence Trent the Norwegian’s strategy was basically “not to go crazy”. Against Teimour Radjabov, Carlsen played a rare line of the Nimzo-Indian in which he had to give up the bishop pair at an early stage. With simple developing moves Radjabov got a slight edge, but the Azerbaijani missed a tactic and Carlsen grabbed the initiative.

Avoiding further mistakes, Radjabov managed to reach an ending that was only slightly worse for him, and which should have led to a draw. However, as he has down so often lately, Carlsen just kept on trying and trying and eventually, after 89 moves, he managed to “squeeze water from a stone”, as one chess fan put it, and win the ending. Knowing that he was leading the tournament again, Carlsen entered the press room relieved and excited, doing a joyous and explosive high-five with his manager Espen Agdestein.

At the start of the press conference Radjabov put a smile on everyone’s face, including Carlsen’s: “I prefer to lose today than all my previous games because at least there is an intrigue in the tournament and it might be one historical loss for me!” Carlsen: “It was tough. I was really upset after the last game, I couldn’t sleep and I was not feeling so great today. I think I got a pleasant position at some point but then I couldn’t make any of it and then we got this endgame which is basically equal but I felt because of the tournament situation I have to try and take whatever little chance I might have. (…) Probably it was a draw right till the end, I don't know, I couldn’t calculate. But I managed to keep the game going and he made enough mistakes so that I could win. I’m back in the running and after my last game that’s all I can ask for!”

After thirteen rounds Carlsen is tied for first place with Kramnik. Both have 8.5 points, but the Norwegian has a higher number of wins. This means that Kramnik needs to outperform Carlsen in the last round to win the tournament. Aronian and Svidler are shared third with 7 points, Grischuk and Gelfand shared fifth with 6 points, Ivanchuk is seventh with 5 points and Radjabov is in last place with 4 points. The 14th round and final round will be played on Monday, April 1st at 14:00 BST with the games Carlsen-Svidler, Ivanchuk-Kramnik, Gelfand-Grischuk and Aronian-Radjabov.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com. (Report by Peter Doggers/Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carlsen, Ivanchuk Press Conference

This is it: Vassily Ivanchuk and Magnus Carlsen press conference video after the World No. 1's loss to the Ukrainian Grandmaster.









Candidates R12: Carlsen-Ivanchuk 0-1

In a dramatic 12th round Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) took over the lead from Magnus Carlsen (Norway) at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The former World Champion beat Levon Aronian (Armenia) while Carlsen suffered his first loss against Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine). The other two games, between Boris Gelfand (Israel) and Peter Svidler (Russia) and Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia), were drawn. With the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament entering its decisive phase, chess fans from all over the world will focus on London this Easter weekend. So far the tournament website has been visited by over half a million fans, even before the start of the 12th round! And every day the organizers are receiving dozens of emails. Christian from Germany wrote on Friday morning: “All of you are doing a marvellous job! Thanks to Socar, thanks to you, and thanks to Laurence and Nigel and everyone else making this fantastic event.”


In what was a truly dramatic round, for the first time all games went beyond move 40. Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler, however, agreed to a draw immediately after the time control. Gelfand was happy with his position out of the opening, an Anti-Grünfeld. He said he knew that it’s “difficult to defend for Black”. Svidler agreed: “It’s a structure I’m not comfortable playing.” Making matters worse with the inaccurate 20…Red8 and 21…Bg7, Svidler was looking at an unpleasant position around move 30. “I’m kind of running out of moves. To call it a Zugzwang position is an overstatement but it’s very difficult for me to make moves.” Gelfand, however, missed a tactic with his 32nd move (he should have played 32.Qb3) when the worst was over for Black. “I thought I was winning a piece,” said the Israeli grandmaster.

Aronian-Kramnik, on paper the Big Game of this round, became an absolute thriller, an “epic battle”, as Kramnik called it himself. It started as a Semi-Tarrasch and Aronian, who had to play for a win in this game, chose the modest 6.e3. It could have transposed into a Panov Caro-Kann, but with 10…f5 Kramnik took a different and quite original path. About this move, commentator IM Lawrence Trent said: “It’s like marmite, either you love it you don’t like it at all!”


On move 16 the game became extremely sharp, and every move was crucial. As became clear at the press conference, the players evaluated the position after 17.Rc5 quite differently. Aronian: “Honestly speaking I thought I was close to winning.” Kramnik: “Really? I thought I was close to winning!” The Armenian actually saw the line 21.Rh5 Rac8 22.Ne5 which draws (missed by Kramnik) but thought he had more. In that phase, according to some pundits Aronian “self-destructed”.

Kramnik then missed the strongest continuation (21…Qf4). Instead he went for a promising ending, which he said was “technically winning of course”. However, by exchanging rooks at the right moment, Aronian found a way to draw it, based on the fact that he could exchange all the pawns on the kingside after which Black would end up with a bishop of the wrong colour. This was a “cold shower” for Kramnik, who said it was “a miracle” that he still had a chance to play for a win with 41…Kf8.

The drama wasn’t over yet as Aronian then missed “quite a simple draw” (Kramnik) at the end when he went for 50.g6 instead of 50.h6 g6 51.Kb5, as the Russian demonstrated at the press conference. “Throughout the game I couldn’t calculate one line. Of course it’s embarrassing to lose a game like this but I’ll have to deal with it”, said Aronian. Kramnik: “I’m happy with my play because of course everybody is very tired already and I’m also not totally fresh, especially because it was the third game in a row. If you consider this, I think my level was quite high for this state of mind which we’re all experiencing now!”


The next game to finish was Radjabov-Grischuk, which, because of the dramatic affairs on the other boards, didn’t get a lot of attention in the commentary. It started as a Ragozin and the Azerbaijani (finally!) got an advantage out of the opening with the white pieces. Grischuk: “I thought I had a very promising position but then I realized that [after 16…Ne6 17.Qe5 Be4] White just has 18.Nd2 so I had to switch to defence.” The Russian praised his opponent’s play: “I think Teimour played very well. I completely underestimated the dangers in the endgame.” Radjabov, who probably missed a chance on move 56: “I don’t know if I’m winning but it should be close.” About defending the infamous f+h rook ending, Grischuk said: “I had quite some experience. In one month I had two games with Pavel Eljanov. Both times I had the pawns myself; I drew the first one and won the second. And I read some articles about it.”


And then, after seven hours of play, the chess world was shocked as Magnus Carlsen lost his first game of the tournament, and with it his lead in the tournament. But if anyone could beat him it was the erratic Vassily Ivanchuk, who had the upper hand in their first mutual game as well. In a Taimanov Sicilian, the Ukrainian quickly got a pleasant ending. “When 10.Nb3 appeared on the board I understood that this structure resembles the French Defence and it’s interesting to play. Objectively it’s not better for him but there were many tricks and traps,” said Ivanchuk.

Quite upset about his loss, Carlsen did attend the press conference and was very critical of his play. “First of all I think I played absolutely disgracefully from move 1.” He admitted that it was Black who had an edge in the ending, but after the weakening move 18…a5 he started to play for a win again. But then his 24.Nb5 was "extremely stupid”. “I can do anything. Probably I'm actually not better but I should never lose it.” About the position after move 30, the Norwegian said: “I think there's still not too many problems for me but I just kept on missing more and more stuff.”
Ivanchuk kept pressing, but even the rook ending should have ended in a draw, e.g. with 71.c6. However, there Carlsen made the decisive mistake: “Here I was actually pretty sure that I would draw, which is why I played so carelessly. I hadn’t seen 71…Ke4 at all.” Although he wasn’t sure about his technique, Ivanchuk didn’t make a single mistake, converted the full point and made Kramnik the new sole leader.

The Ukrainian repeated what he said the day before: he sees the rest of the tournament as “preparation for the Russian league” (his next event). He didn't want to admit that he found extra motivation in playing the world’s number one. “Of course I wanted to do my best today. I didn’t have a goal to specially win this game but I was thinking after the 23rd move the position is objectively equal. If Magnus wouldn’t have taken risks, I wouldn’t have had chances to win.”


After twelve rounds the standings are as follows: Kramnik leads with 8 points, followed by Carlsen with 7.5. Aronian is third with 6.5 points and Svidler fourth with 6. Grischuk and Gelfand are tied for fifth place with 5.5 points, Ivanchuk has 5 and Radjabov 4 points. Saturday, March 30th is a rest day. After the clock is set one hour forward, the 13th round will be played on Sunday, March 31st at 14:00 British Summer Time (BST) with the games Radjabov-Carlsen, Grischuk-Aronian, Kramnik-Gelfand and Svidler-Ivanchuk.

(Report by Peter Doggers/Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Candidates R11: Kramnik Trails Carlsen

In Thursday's 11th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament 2013 Vladimir Kramnik moved to second place. Russia's number one beat Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), while Levon Aronian (Armenia) lost to Peter Svidler (Russia). Drawing his black game with Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Magnus Carlsen (Norway) kept his half point lead in London with three rounds to go. Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) played a very quick draw. 


Designed by world-renowned Pentagram Design, the playing zone in the IET’s Lecture Theatre has a lower middle area and a higher area at the back. It is there where the arbiters stay and where the players are getting their food and drinks during the game. As became clear at the start of the 11th round, chess players aren’t really used to such a split-level room. Vassily Ivanchuk slipped and almost fell down, hurt his left ankle and had to treat it with some ice. (Now he’s fine.) At the press conference his opponent, Boris Gelfand, said that he too almost fell down in one of the previous rounds, plunged in thought about his position!



The encounter between Ivanchuk and Gelfand was in fact the shortest game of the tournament so far. In a Grünfeld, the two started repeating moves right after the opening, and agreed to a draw at move 17. It was a bit of a theoretical duel, as Ivanchuk repeated his Bf4 system which he adopted against Carlsen in the fifth round, Gelfand deviated on move seven and then the players followed the game Fridman-Kramnik, Dortmund 2012 until move 11. “It’s not easy to play if you don’t know it because it’s a very sharp position and both pawns are hanging. I think Vassily found a good solution to be safe,” said Gelfand. Ivanchuk: “I remember that Fridman played 12.Qb3 but I didn’t analyse it.”


Gelfand showed a few variations on the laptop in the press room, and said about the final position: “White can never be worse here. I think as a player who played Catalan all my career, I like generally White’s possibilities with this bishop on the big diagonal.” Asked about the historical importance of this Candidates’ Tournament, Gelfand said: “Tournaments like these are a milestone. Unfortunately recently I feel that the respect to the players is dropping, maybe because of computers. People think ‘OK, he didn’t see this move, the computer shows 0.65’, and they tend to respect players less. But of course such a tournament is fantastic. It’s wonderful to play here.”

Candidates R10: Carlsen in Sole Lead

Magnus Carlsen kept his half point lead in Round 10 of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in London. On Wednesday the Norwegian ground down Boris Gelfand (Israel) with White in a Rossolimo Sicilian. His main rivals also won: Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) admitted that he was lucky as in a drawish Berlin Endgame Alexander Grischuk (Russia) blundered in time trouble, while the opponent of Levon Aronian (Armenia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), overstepped the time limit for the fourth time in this tournament, after playing well in a Budapest Gambit. Dejected about his score with White so far, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) went for a quick draw against Peter Svidler (Russia) in a Grünfeld. 
 

An hour and a half into the 10th round, the game between Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler was already over. It’s about time to quote commentator Nigel Short’s description of such games: it was a damp squib. Having repaired his Grünfeld after his loss against Kramnik (“It wasn’t that broken, to be honest” – Svidler), the Russian grandmaster again went for his favourite defence but his opponent did manage to surprise him with his 16th move. This “either caught me by surprise or I simply couldn’t remember what my notes say,” commented Svidler, who continued playing sensible moves.
 

All of a sudden Radjabov started repeating, as early as move 19. At some point Svidler walked away from his board in his own time to get himself a cup of tea. “The longer he thinks, the more likely he’ll agree to a draw!” said Nigel Short. And indeed, Svidler did accept Radjabov’s silent draw offer, arguing: “I don’t believe I’m better, I couldn’t find any advantage after both 21…Qc3 and 21…Qa3.”

Radjabov: “Considering my amazing score with White in this tournament (…) I decided that a draw is a very nice result. I am not the guy who is here to lose all my games. I thought that if Peter would play for a win I would also play for a win because there would be no other chance. There were times in my life when I was very unsatisfied with a draw but now I think a draw is an amazing result sometimes!”

Another hour and a half later, Alexander Grischuk resigned his game against Vladimir Kramnik, who again brought back memories from his match against Kasparov in London by playing his favourite Berlin Ending. “The openings I played back in 2000 are working very well for me,” Kramnik said, “but although I score well in this Berlin, in fact I hadn't won a single classical game in it, only rapid and blitz.”
 


The 14th World Champion reached a comfortable position by “playing just theoretical moves”, and around move 25 it was “quite drawish”. Kramnik: “27…Bf5 was a clever move, there were a few traps.” Meanwhile Grischuk, who described his position after the opening as “awful”, was getting into time trouble. “I was not happy to get this position and just defend. I didn’t know what to play.”

30.Bxd4 was “an awful blunder” said Kramnik: “In general I was quite lucky; it should have been a draw. It’s quite unusual for me to score half a point more out of nothing. Usually I give up points. For me it's rare that somebody blunders. It was just a present. I am not used to these kind of things. There are some players who are receiving this kind of presents quite often, but not me.”

Vassily Ivanchuk was also bringing back memories, but of a totally different kind. Against Levon Aronian the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit, for the fourth time already this tournament. By now we just have to mention German grandmaster Fritz Sämisch (1896-1975), who at the age of 73 played two tournaments, one in Büsum, Germany and another in Linköping, Sweden, where he lost all games (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter) on time.

Ivanchuk’s opening play, however, is still as unpredictable as ever. “[He’s] known to play any kind of opening so I just decided not to prepare much, keep my head fresh,” said Aronian, who faced the rare Budapest Gambit this time. The Armenian felt he played “a bit imprecise” in the early middlegame, but after he found a double pawn sacrifice (going from one up to one down), the tables turned. “After 26.g4 I have very good compensation. I was actually quite happy with my position,” said Aronian.By then Ivanchuk was yet again in horrible time trouble: after his 27th move he had two and a half minutes left, and then his moves just didn’t get through anymore. With playing 29…gxf5 (a losing move anyway) he left himself with just one second for eleven moves! Aronian: “I’m happy to kind of recover after a loss against Boris. Let’s see, let’s see. Still many round to go!”

Magnus Carlsen then became the third winner of the day, slowly grinding down Boris Gelfand from a Rossolimo Sicilian. According to the Norwegian, after the opening “White is slightly better but it's of course very playable for Black.” After some forced moves Gelfand went for the manoeuvre Qd8-b6-b3-c2 where computer engines prefer the passive 20…Qf8. “What computers are missing is that the whole concept was to get the queen active and to keep the white pieces paralysed. But I just missed one thing,” said Gelfand. That thing was a deep tactic which forced the Israeli to change his intended plan (Ra8-a1) and find something else at move 25. There were many ways to defend in that phase, and after the press conference Gelfand stayed around for about ten minutes, analysing blindfold with Jon Speelman and some journalists.

Carlsen said that after his neat 28.Qa5! “it’s clear that I’m playing for two results” and he was happy with his 37.Qe2! as well. “I’m happy to still be leading so I think I’ll just try do more of the same. I wasn’t thrilled that the other two guys won their game but there’s nothing you can do about that. And… I wasn’t sure that the Budapest Gambit was what I wanted to see but I think I can only change what I do myself! I just try to play and that’s what I’ll do for the rest of the tournament.”

After ten rounds Carlsen is leading with 7 points. He’s followed by Aronian (6.5) and then Kramnik (6). Then there’s a gap with: Gelfand, Grischuk and Svidler who have 4.5 points. Ivanchuk and Radjabov are in last place with 3.5 points. On Thursday, March 28th at 14:00 GMT with the tenth round: Grischuk-Carlsen, Kramnik-Radjabov, Svidler-Aronian and Ivanchuk-Gelfand.

(Official website report by 
Peter Doggers and Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich)

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