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2018 World Chess Championship To Be Held In London
Ilya Merenzon and Andrey Guryev after signing their contract. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

2018 World Chess Championship To Be Held In London

London will be the location of the next world chess championship match. This was announced at a private party in Kensington, London on Wednesday night where Magnus Carlsen was the special guest.

World Chess hosted the party at the Kensington Roof Gardens, along with the London Evening Standard, a local daily newspaper that has its office across the street. 

The Evening Standard's editor George Osborne, a former U.K. chancellor and avid chess fan, was the first to speak in front of about 80 guests. FIDE's deputy president Georgios Makropoulos also spoke briefly, and then Andrey Guryev, CEO of PhosAgro, which is sponsoring World Chess events.

The special guest was Magnus Carlsen, the world champion who will be defending his title in a year from now in the UK capital.

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Carlsen giving his speech. |  Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen said that the first world title match he closely followed was the one in 2000 in London between Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik, but then added that he "realized this one wasn't organized by FIDE," which put a smile on Makropoulos' face.

Most of the guests, who were not chess insiders, probably didn't follow Carlsen's next little joke: "I want to become the first world champion since '93 to actually win a game in a world championship in London." (In that year Garry Kasparov beat Nigel Short, but seven years later, in the same city, he couldn't win a single game against Vladimir Kramnik).

The match is scheduled for November 9-28, 2018, and will once again consist of 12 classical games and, if needed, a rapid/blitz tiebreak. A location for the match hasn't been announced yet.

"We have a shortlist of venues and we have a preferred choice," Ilya Merenzon of World Chess told Chess.com. "We have an option for the venues we like."

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Left-right: Ilya Merenzon (World Chess), Andrey Guryev (PhosAgro), Magnus Carlsen, Georgios Makropoulos (FIDE) and George Osborne (London Evening Standard). |  Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

For now the list of sponsors is identical to the 2016 match. Besides PhosAgro there's Kaspersky Lab, S.T. Dupont and Isklar. The prize fund is again the minimum possible: €1 million ($1.19 million).

The driving force behind getting the match to London was PhosAgro's Guryev. "First of all our company is listed on the London stock exchange, so we have a lot of business partners and investors here," he said. "Many of those people are involved in chess. And I also studied in London; I like it here."

FIDE's Makropoulos told Chess.com he is happy with the choice, but he has a wish list. "I would like the local federation to be very much involved. Besides, I want to see a parallel program with side activities before, during and after the match. Maybe they can get some support if they approach the municipality."

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Makropoulos during his brief speech on Wednesday. |  Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Although FIDE has had financial issues with Agon/World Chess this year (and before), Makropoulos still his faith in Merenzon's company. "They were paying late, the money, their obligations with FIDE, but they gave a reason. They claimed that by having a FIDE president which is under U.S. sanctions, they cannot get sponsorship from the West.

"We have now reached an agreement with Agon, which was approved by the Executive Board in Antalya [in October - PD] that they should pay on specific dates. Now, the day they are late, they lose the contract."

Carlsen will be playing his next match in the city where he won the Candidates' Tournament in 2013. Looking back at that, he told Chess.com: "That was very tough. It's still the toughest event I've been a part of."

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Guryev, Carlsen and Osborne posing for some more photos. |  Photo:Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The Norwegian is in London of course for the London Chess Classic, which has its first round on Friday. Looking forward to that, he didn't seem overly confident: "I don't expect to be crushing it from the start, to be honest. I don't feel so fresh. But I hope to get in form and to be able to contend in the end; especially if Maxime [Vachier-Lagrave] decides to do well, I will have to win a few games."


Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Magnus Carlsen was the last person to come on stage.

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