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The Couch Potato's Guide to Anand- Carlsen World Champs Print E-mail
By GM Ian Rogers   
October 30, 2013
AnandCarlsen.jpg
Photo Cathy Rogers

On Saturday, November 9 in the southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras) Viswanathan Anand will begin his world title defence against world number one Magnus Carlsen.

43-year-old Indian hero Anand has been World Champion since 2007, surviving title defences against Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand.

Carlsen has been world number one almost continuously since January 2010 but the 22-year-old Norwegian only earned the right to challenge Anand by the narrowest possible margin - a controversial tiebreak after finishing equal with Kramnik at the London Candidates tournament in March.

Carlsen enters the match as a heavy favorite - he has a Federer-like streak of 2800+ performances which began three years ago and has achieved the highest rating in chess history (ignoring rating inflation).

Ladbrokes betting agency currently lists Carlsen as a 3 to 1 on favourite but given his extensive match experience many pundits are expecting a spirited title defence by Anand against a player little more than half his age.

Both players are popular with chess fans, so neutral observers will be torn; it seems that younger players want the Norwegian to usher in a new era while older aficionados are hoping for an Anand win.

The match is a best-of-12 contest, with tiebreakers if a 6-6 score is reached. The winner will earn $1.45m and the loser just under $1m, though the sums will be closer together should the match go to tiebreakers. Carlsen has already pocketed $137,000 of the prize fund for agreeing to play on his opponent's home turf, spending the money bringing his own bodyguard and his own chef to Chennai. (No doubt Carlsen is aware of the view of one of Chennai's leading sports editors that "Anand can't beat Carlsen, but Chennai might."

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Magnus in 2005 in Wijk aan Zee, Photo Cathy Rogers
Since only a tiny percentage of chess fans will be travelling to  Chennai - and the playing hall at the Hyatt Regency holds less than 500 people -  this Couch Potato's Guide is designed for the many millions who will choose to watch the match from home or office, via the wonders of the internet.

In recent years, some of the most interesting coverage of the match has sprung up from unexpected sources, so keep your eyes open for the Twitter account of a chambermaid in the Hyatt Regency ("Caught trying on Mrs Anand's clothes. Mistaken for Mr Anand's secret second Tania Sachdev and told to prepare the Hennig-Schara Gambit. Surely that just loses a pawn?") - or a Chennai taxi driver ("Just drove a tall Danish chessplayer from the airport to the Hyatt. Says he is helping Carlsen and Anand on alternate days.)

Before the Games


Games begin at 4.30am New York time - winter time will have kicked in the week before the match - so US fans will need to be extra-dedicated to see all the action from Chennai.

A healthy supply of comestibles will be essential and what better to get into the Indian spirit than some potato dosa - crunchy patties with a bit of bite.

You will need a couple of potatoes, two green chillies, coriander plus oil, salt and rice flour (though Indian maida flour would be ideal). Just grate the potatoes, add two tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt. Mixed with a small amount of water, plus the chopped chillies and coriander this will make a thick batter.

Prepare the mixture overnight and, once the games have reached the boring part just after the opening, pour blobs of batter into a hot pan and fry until both sides are brown.

If you are an Anand supporter, serve with mango chutney, while a Carlsen supporter should garnish the dosa with sour cream and pretend you are eating lefse.

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Photo Cathy Rogers
During the Games

Audio and video commentary has come a long way in recent years.

The official site, http://chennai2013.fide.com/ , should be the first port of call, if only for the video of the players. The Chennai organisers have gone with Susan Polgar and Laurence Trent as their primary commentators. While obviously less able to comment on the subtleties of the game compared to the star English language commentators of Moscow 2012 - Kramnik, Svidler and Leko in particular - these two showed at the recent Tromso World Cup that they were genuine chess fans and worked well together.

Expect the always-entertaining Garry Kasparov to drop by for a chat when he visits Chennai.

Playchess, will offer commentary in four languages, with the most experienced commentator in the world, Leontxo Garcia, as the Spanish host. As expected, easy-listening GMs Yasser Seirawan and Daniel King will be the trans-Atlantic anchors for Playchess's English language commentary, with guests including Alejandro Ramirez and, notably, French star Maxime Vachier Lagrave for game 10.

Internet Chess Club, at one time the undisputed king of chess commentary and still a reliable option, will be covering the World Championship games in English and Spanish and using a wider variety of commentators than Playchess. Most are from the US - including veterans Christiansen, Yermolinsky and Fedorowicz. However the line-up also includes one-night-only appearances by The Week in Chess' Mark Crowther and other Englishmen Jon Speelman and Daniel King. (Yes, King and Seirawan will moonlight for ICC on an off day from Playchess!). Sadly Peter Svidler's Russian team commitments in November do not allow him to join the ICC team.

The Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan is planning to cover every playing session in full on its sports station, DD Sports. It is unclear whether they will relay the official commentary or create their own programming. DD Sports can be watched via various web sites including http://www.turbotv.in/dd-sports-live/ .

Text commentary

Sergey Shipov has always been regarded as the king of text commentators (primarily working for Crestbook), and Google Translate enabled many non-Russian fans to follow him. However Shipov has recently been working for Chess.tv - a non-stop chess television station, primarily in Russian, so only fans with Russian skills can now enjoy Shipov's thoughts. If Shipov returns to Crestbook for this match, he is always worth a look, given his wilingness to look beyond computer assessments and trust his own judgement.

Chessdom have gone for some surprising annotators - Sachdev, Gujrathi and Hambleton, the first two of whom may have some useful local knowledge. Chessdom will also be a site to watch throughout the match because it is the global news partner for the organisers.

The real development for text commentary in 2013 is likely to be via live blogging and tweeting. Finding the right person to follow  may be a matter of luck, but there are sure to be plenty of interesting Indian sites, while German readers can be sure that Stefan Loeffler will never shy away from a controversy.

After the Games


As soon as the games finish, the two players will be ushered into a press conference, which should be viewable on the official match site as it happens.

Chess.com are expecting few US fans to watch the games live from early morning and so have planned a 2 hour post-game show, using the  skills of Chess Vibes' Peter Doggers to provide video and other colour.

One site always worth a visit is The Week in Chess. Apart from having every recent top game available for easy download, TWIC has started providing quality baseline annotations, often using quotes from the players.

A few hours after the game is completed, there should be plenty of material on Youtube - game videos from ICC and Chess.com, plus plenty of contributions from enthusiastic amateurs. Chess Vibes, soon to be part of Chess.com, usually has the best edited highlights package.

Post-game text annotations - often near identical thanks to the all-powerful Houdini - will soon start to spring up. ChessBase continues to find young and entertaining annotators for big tournaments, while Denis Monokroussos provides a worthy symbiosis of man and machine.

Another blog to follow will be Eric van Reem's Mate in Chennai. Van Reem is part of the Anand team and, though he tries not to give too much away, is a good barometer of the spirit in the Anand camp.

Of course Chess Life Online will also cover the match, with regular reports by this writer from Chennai.

Once you have endured a week of waking at 4am, following the games online, eating the dosa, watching the post-game press conferences and the post-mortem shows, you will probably be sacked for being constantly late for work.

However that will give you extra time to fully enjoy the final fortnight of the match, reading all the articles about the match perhaps learning to cook some other - healthier - Indian dishes in the process.

Then, whether Carlsen triumphs or Anand confounds the pundits, you can go out and find a new job - Indian chef, perhaps?

2013 World Championship Match Schedule


Game 1 Saturday  November 9 (All games at 3pm Chennai time = 4.30am EST)
Game 2 Sunday  November 10
Game 3 Tuesday November 12
Game 4 Wednesday November 13
Game 5 Friday November 15
Game 6 Saturday November 16
Game 7 Monday November 18
Game 8 Tuesday November 19
Game 9 Thursday November 21
Game 10 Friday November 22
Game 11 Sunday November 24
Game 12 Tuesday November 26

Playoffs (if needed) Thursday November 28

Note: The schedule may change by up to four days if players take their medical time-outs.

 
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