Anand To Start World Championship Match With White Pieces

Anand To Start World Championship Match With White Pieces

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

Viswanathan Anand will be playing with the white pieces against Magnus Carlsen in game 1 of the World Championship match in Sochi, Russia.

This was the result of the drawing of lots, performed during the opening ceremony held on Friday at the Radisson Blu Paradise Resort & Spa Sochi.

Tomorrow, the first game starts 15:00 local time.

The opening ceremony included a personal message from Russia's President Vladimir Putin and other speeches, and then FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov officially declared the World Championship as opened.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Chief Arbiter Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland, who has done world championship matches before (e.g. Kasparov-Kramnik in London 2000 and Kramnik-Leko in Brissago 2004), performed the drawing of lots together with a magician.

As the world champion, Carlsen got to pick first from a black case, and showed a black balloon, after which Anand picked a white balloon. The magician pricked both balloons, and a white and dark-grey dove magically appeared.

Before the opening ceremony a press conference was held, and lasted almost an hour. It was attended by a few dozen journalists, and so it was much less hectic than last year in Chennai. In fact, it's not clear if any Indian journalists have come to Sochi yet.

The opening press conference in Sochi.

Among the many special guests were FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Russian Chess Federation President Andrei Filatov, and world champions Boris Spassky (!), Anatoli Karpov, Alexander Khalifman, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Zhu Chen, and Antoaneta Stefanova.

77-year-old Boris Spassky still happy to give signatures!

Karpov got a seat on stage, together with Ilyumzhinov, Filatov, organizer Ilya Merenzon of Agon and the players. Everyone made a first statement, and here's what the players said:

Carlsen: “Thanks for having me here in Russia. I’m looking forward to start the match and thanks to all the people who are here for being here.”

Anand: “I’d like to thank everyone who made this event happen here in Sochi. I’ve enjoyed the week here and I’m looking forward to the match starting.”

Watch our first video, with a summary of the press conference and the opening ceremony, here:

Then, just like last year, the first question was about the teams. Anand didn't mind revealing his seconds, and two names were familiar: GMs Krishnan Sasikiran of India and Radek Wojtaszek of Poland. However, the third was new: GM Grzegorz Gajewski, also of Poland.

Anand reveals a new second: GM Grzegorz Gajewski.

Carlsen did not want to reveal his seconds last year, but this time he replied: “The Dane and the Hammer, and that’s about it,” referring to Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark (who used to be in Anand's team until 2013) and Jon Ludvig Hammer, who also helped Carlsen last year from Oslo.

Carlsen: “The Dane and the Hammer, and that’s about it.”

To the question of whether he thinks he's the favorite, Carlsen first answered: “What do you think?” with a big smile, and then continued: “Seriously, it doesn’t really matter for the players. You can only do your best and as soon as the match starts it doesn’t matter whoever was the favourite. If you play badly you’re not going to win. Last time I didn’t play very successfully at the start and I could have been severely punished for that in a couple of games. Obviously it’s important for me to get off to a better start.”

Full press conference video

Full opening ceremony video Coverage of the World Championship will provide daily “recap” shows after each round! This is the ONLY place (that we know of) offering in-depth, SportsCenter-style breakdowns of what happened in the games. 

Not able to watch the games live? Don't worry, you won't miss anything with's highlights showsStay tuned to the calendar page for updates as we assign many of our great broadcasters to daily shows. will also host highlights shows on the rest days from Sochi! 

IM Danny Rensch will be hosting the first highlights show with top GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on Monday, Nov. 10!

Further shows will feature none other than top GM Hikaru Nakamura on Nov. 13 and 16. 

Look for more updates on the calendar or follow @chesscomtv on Twitter!

Previous reports

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

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