Anand-Carlsen Match Only a Week Away

Anand-Carlsen Match Only a Week Away

| 60 | Chess Event Coverage

In a week from now the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand will be opened in Sochi, Russia.

The first game will be played on Saturday, November 8. Here is a preview!

Last year, Magnus Carlsen gained the world title after beating Vishy Anand 6½–3½ in Chennai, India. Four months late,r Anand won the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, thus qualifying for another title match.

In just eight days from now, Carlsen-Anand Part 2 will start: the opening ceremony is scheduled for November 7th, 2014 and the first game is scheduled for the next day.

The match will be held in the Olympic village close to Sochi, Russia. With a population of 350,000, the country's biggest resort city is located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia.

In February, Sochi hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Winter Games in 2014, and three weeks ago the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix. It will also be one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The main locations of the match in a Google Map.

The venue for the match is the Sochi Media Center. Its website mentions that “[d]uring the Winter Olympics, non-accredited journalists from 245 Russian and 259 foreign media outlets worked around the clock at the Sochi Media Center.

An impressive press room for chess journalists.

“This building served as the main media hub during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and hosted over 8,000 journalists,” is how the official website of the Carlsen-Anand match describes the venue. 

The site, which was launched a few days ago, has a design that reminds of the 2013 Candidates’ Tournament (the one won by Carlsen, in London) and that's no surprise: after a long absence, the Agon company is back in business — now together with a new company called World Chess Events Corporation. 

A design of the playing hall? | Image courtesy of Agon.

The website also shows the image above, which is very similar to design images from Pentagram who designed the playing halls for the 2012 London Grand Prix and the 2013 London Candidates’. We'll have to wait and see whether the playing hall will really look like this. This is a pic from the official Instagram account:

The playing venue under preparation #CarlsenAnand #sochi #chess

Een foto die is geplaatst door World Chess Championship 2014 (@worldchesschampionship) opOkt 10, 2014 at 8:27 PDT

The chess set that will be used is also the one designed by Pentagram.

The official chess set for the 2014 World Championship Match, designed by Pentagram's Daniel Weil. | Image courtesy of Agon.

As always, the match will be played over a maximum of 12 games, and so whoever reaches 6.5 points or more will be crowned world champion.

In case of a 6-6 tie, a playoff with rapid and possibly blitz games will be held on November 27. If the winner scores 6.5 points in fewer than 12 games, the closing ceremony will be rescheduled for an earlier date.

Match Schedule

Day Event Day Event
7 November Opening ceremony 18 November Game 8
8 November Game 1 19 November Rest day
9 November Game 2 20 November Game 9
10 November Rest day 21 November Game 10
11 November Game 3 22 November Rest day
12 November Game 4 23 November Game 11
13 November Rest day 24 November Rest day
14 November Game 5 25 November Game 12
15 November Game 6 26 November Rest day
16 November Rest day 27 November Tie-break
17 November Game 7 28 November Closing ceremony


Time control

The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61.

In the playoff, four rapid games will be played with 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move. If the score is still level, up to five 2-game blitz matches (5 minutes + 3 seconds) will be played, before a final sudden death game. In that game, White gets 5 minutes, Black 4 minutes (with draw odds) and a 3-second increment after move 61 for both.

Prize fund

The prize fund is 1 million Euros. This is the minimum prize fund stipulated by FIDE in the offical regulations:

The prize fund of the match, provided by the organizer, should be a minimum of 1,000,000 (one million) euros, net of any applicable taxes. The prize fund will be divided 60 percent to the winner and 40 percent to the loser if the [match] ends within the 12 regular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55 percent and the loser 45 percent.”


There are 100 seats available in the playing hall, and a few days ago the tickets for attending the match went on sale. It is not cheap: a tournament pass for watching the whole match costs 35,000 rubles (€664 / $837). All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the FIDE "Chess in Schools" program.

In the media

Recently comments from both Anand and Carlsen have appeared in mostly Indian and Norwegian media. Here's an overview of the most interesting quotes.

In an article from NRK Carlsen reacts to playing Anand again: “It's surreal. It feels strange to meet him again... At least it felt that way immediately. Now I've really gotten myself over it, and it feels completely fine that it is Anand. He has qualified and deserved it.”

The article boldly calls Anand's win at the Candidates’ “an unprecendented comeback,” and also quotes Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen. He suggest that some changes in Anand's team (both he and Rustam Kasimdzhanov stopped working for the Indian) maybe have had a positive effect. “At the Candidates’ tournament this year it seemed as if he had worked a lot with new plans, and it went better again.”

Viswanathan Anand.

“There is a new match, which is going to live its own life. But if someone has a psychological advantage, it is undoubtedly me,” Carlsen says at the end of the article. That seems to be a response to what Anand said to the Times of India in April: “I got my confidence back and I am very optimistic now. I know even if I face the same mistakes, I will act now differently.”

In another article for the same newspaper on October 25th Anand said: “Chennai was a low point in my career. As far as I'm concerned, I played badly and lost and then was able to win the Candidates to play a match within a year. Both in Khanty and Bilbao I was happy with my chess. So I'm looking forward to Sochi with positive feelings.”

What is his idea of a break from chess in the run-up to a big match? Anand said: “I spend time with my son Akhil. We have our pet sports of pillow fighting and jumping into a tree house. Watching Terminator never fails to fire me up.”

The Hindu also spoke with Carlsen, who said about Anand's recent play: “I think it’s a good thing for him that he has been playing well. I am happy for him. I have known him for many years; we have good relations. But obviously I don’t wish him well when he is playing me.”

Magnus Carlsen.

Carlsen revealed that he “has been studying a lot of games from the past,” and to the question of in whose tradition he sees himself, Carlsen replied: “Without any false modesty, I find a little bit of myself in several of them. I have been reading about the match between Fischer and Karpov that didn’t happen. I find a bit of myself in both those players. Another I could compare myself to is actually an American: Reuben Fine, who was very strong but quit chess early on. I was just reading about him the other day and it didn’t strike me before but now it strikes me that what he was doing in chess is similar to what I am doing.”

Update, one more quote from Carlsen:

At the Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen said to TV2's Kaja Marie Snare: “My self-esteem isn't too high right now. I haven't played that well lately. It's time for me to be humble now and admit that I have to learn from others. I have had periods like that earlier in my career, and it has worked out fine.”

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