For those, who follow Vishy Anand, the FIDE World Chess Championship encounter at Sochi between Magnus Carlsen and the Chennai Tiger is very eagerly awaited. It has been one year since the Norwegian outsmarted Anand at Chennai with a relatively heavy margin of 6½–3½ and displaced the Indian to become the new World Chess Champion. Anand was disappointed but he didn’t give in. Since that defeat, Anand has improved his standing and after winning the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, he bounced back in the reckoning to qualify for the title re-match with Carlsen. Now in less than a week’s time, the two greats of the game will arrive in the Russian resort town of Sochi to fight for the world championship title yet again. After the opening ceremony on November 7, the first game between Carlsen and Anand will be played on Saturday November 8, 2014 and these games will continue at least until November 25. In the event of a tie-break, the contest will stretch to November 27 and the event will formally come to end on November 28.
Sochi has been in the news throughout the year beginning with the hosting of Winter Olympics in February 2014. Later, the resort city also hosted the 11th Paralympic Winter Games during March 7-16, 2014. About three weeks ago, Sochi was in news once again as the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix was held there. The city has also been earmarked as one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The media center of the Olympic Village will host the Championship matches during November 8-28, 2014 as the current World Chess champion, FIDE rated No.1 Magnus Carlsen and 5 times World Champion, Vishy Anand occupy their chairs in the building. Sochi is Russia’s biggest holiday city and it is absolutely perfect for the upcoming event. During the Winter Olympics, the Sochi Media Center building hosted 8,000 journalists from around the world and it is now the official website of the Carlsen-Anand duel.
The two chess greats will play 12 games on November 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23 and 25. There are several days of rest in between. If required, a tie-break will be played on November 27 and the tournament will have a formal closing ceremony on November 28. FIDE has announced a time control of 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the match with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move no. 61. The winner will be the player, who scores 6.5 points or more. As per FIDE, if the scores are level after 12 games, a fresh drawing of colors will take place and four tie-break games will be played. For these games, electronic clock will be employed starting with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move. In case the match is still drawn, 2 more games will be played with a time control of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment after each move. If the scores are still level, another 2-game match will be played to determine a winner. In case the winner is still not decided after 5 such matches (total 10 games), one sudden-death game will take place to decide the champion.
The prize money for Sochi is lesser than that prevailed in Chennai last year because no bids could be received from sponsors. Chennai and Oslo couldn’t manage the necessary funds this year. Chennai exhausted its funds after hosting last year’s coveted world championship event and Oslo had similar issues after hosting this year’s Chess Olympiad. The prize fund at Sochi is 1 million Euros, which will be shared by the two contenders in the ration of 60:40 if the match is finished without the tie-break. In case the tie-break becomes necessary, the fund will be appropriated in the ratio of 55:45.
As the tournament draws nearer, speculations and mind games have already begun. In addition, the pre-match war of words is on. Carlsen believes that he will be a heavy favorite at Sochi despite Anand having won the world championship 5 times. The Norwegian doesn’t give any credence to Vishy Anand winning many tournaments in 2014 and he feels that he would rate his opponent only based on Anand’s show in the Chennai world championship last year. Carlsen’s team expressed their surprise at Anand qualifying for the rematch against the Nordic prodigy. Carlsen is one of the youngest ever to become a Grandmaster. He has been dubbed as the “Mozart of Chess” by fans and media having displayed amazing chess skills in endgames. Vishy Anand is a 5-time World Chess Champion and he is gifted with a versatile game. He holds the distinction of being the only world champion, who has won titles playing in every format. Only time will tell as to who out of these two is crowned as the new world champion.