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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen: The Debate on World Chess Title Format Resumes

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013

Hi everyone, 

The Indian media is flooded with reports on interviews by World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand after World No. 1 won the Candidates 2013 in London recently to become Anand's challenger later this year. Here's an article with interesting analysis about the format,

PUNE: "I can spend a lot of time on these sort of things looking at them from the side. For me, it's essentially... you go to the match, and you try to play the best moves you can. That's it really. I will go to the match and try to do my best and leave it at that." It was India's multiple World chess champion Viswanathan Anand reacting to his challenger Magnus Carlsen's impressions about their impending match.

"The difference is, I'm winning tournaments and Anand is holding on to this title," Carlsen had told reporters in London after winning the Candidates meet. "It will be an interesting clash between these two ideas as to what constitutes the best player in the world."

Carlsen is world No. 1 with highest-ever Elo rating of 2872, while Anand is at No. 6, with Elo 2783. The Indian's peak rating was 2817 in September 2011. Chess has a tradition of champion taking on the challenger directly in the title clash without having to play early rounds or qualifying tournament. Anand had been at the wrong end of this privilege from 1995 to 2008 until he defeated Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn. "It's nice...wonderful privilege," said Anand. "I'm not (denying it). In a sense, I earned it by winning it in Mexico and then defending it a few times...Those eight guys (in Candidates tournament) really put in the hard work (to play against me)."

When Carlsen pulled out of the last World Championship cycle in 2010, he wrote to Fide: "In my opinion privileges should in general be abolished and a future World Championship model should be based on a fair fight between the best players in the World, on equal terms. This should apply also to the winner of the previous World Championship, and especially so when there are several players at approximately the same level in the world elite.

(Why should one player have one out of two tickets to the final to the detriment of all remaining players in the world? Imagine that the winner of the 2010 Football World Cup would be directly qualified to the 2014 World Cup final, while rest of the teams would have to fight for the other spot.)

"The proposal to abolish the privileges of the World Champion in the future is not in any way meant as criticism of, or an attack on, the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who is a worthy World Champion, a role model, chess colleague and a highly esteemed opponent."

When Fide vice president Ali Nizhat Yazici visited Pune for the Chess in Schools programme, he said: "Though Anand is dear friend, in my personal opinion, World Champion should start from the qualification. But at the moment, Fide has the best system."

When Anand tried to win the 1997 Fide knockout title in Groningen and Lausanne, Anatoly Karpov was sitting at the perch without having to qualify. The Russian wasn't the higher-rated player than Anand at the time. The situation is reversed now with Carlsen better player on rating. However, unlike Anand against Karpov, the Norwegian will get enough time to prepare for his match.

Despite Carlsen benefitting from 'more wins' rule against Vladimir Kramnik at the Candidates matches, both Carlsen and Anand agreed on one thing: in case of a tie, the champion should be decided by tiebreaks on the board.

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