Last update: 05-Dec-2013 4:26 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Will home turf help the champion?
There is a belief in sport that playing an international match at home gives one an advantage.
This feeling, of course, applies largely to spectator events where the partisan and vociferous support of home crowds may inspire their teams to greater effort. But does this factor count for anything in the world of championship chess where the activity is purely mental, the venue strictly controlled and the combatants are protected from the possibility of any spectator interference?
In the view of DR, the so-called “home advantage” should not really apply in the sport of chess, particularly in such high level duels as the world championship. Still, the issue has been raised by 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen who has expressed his “deep disappointment” at FIDE’s apparently arbitrary choice of Chennai, India, as the venue for his November title match against Viswanathan Anand, six-time world champion who has grown into an idol among his people.
In an interview published by Chess News, the Norwegian challenger roundly condemned the FIDE decision to sign a contract for the match without going through the bidding process outlined in the world championship regulations “and for not choosing neutral ground.” He considered “the lack of transparency, predictability and fairness” as unfortunate for chess as a sport and for chess players. After these adverse sentiments, there was speculation that an aggrieved Carlsen would pull out of the match. Later, however, he confirmed that he would play “under protest.”
“My team and I will now start preparing for the match,” the youthful challenger stated. “The main thing now will be to come to an agreement with the Indian Chess Federation and FIDE regarding terms and conditions before and during the match. I really hope this process will run quickly and smoothly.”
When he enters India, however, Carlsen will find himself in a different world. According to Anne Kristine Waldrop, associate professor at the University of Oslo and expert on India, the young Norwegian will have to cope with heat, humidity, crowds, spicy foods and lots of noise as he travels to his destiny in Chennai.
In addition to the climate and the culture, the food will also be a new experience for the challenger. In fact, Waldrop warns Carlsen about eating just anything. “The worst thing that can happen to him is a sick stomach,” she says. “In south India, the food is even spicier than in the north where it is not uncommon to eat peppers raw, straight from the plant. Many who travel to India experience stomach problems, and it is wise to take medication.” Her advice is that Carlsen should go to Chennai with a lot of time to acclimatise himself to India, and “that applies to any athlete who performs in a foreign location.”
The world chess championship will no doubt be held in one of India’s four-star hotels which are among the finest in the world. Once installed at the venue, “Carlsen and his team can probably strictly isolate themselves,” she noted.
It seems, in fact, that the Norwegian prodigy had been warned in advance, since he insisted on inserting into the contract an illness clause which allows two days off to either of the players if they should fall ill. It was a condition which the champion “graciously accepted.” It is reported also that Carlsen will travel with his own chef.
What some Indian commentators call “the biggest chess match of the new millennium” will be played in the ball room of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chennai, but it will be witnessed by only about 400 persons as a live audience. According to D.V. Sundar, official of the All India Chess Federation, the hall at the Hyatt can acomodate only that many spectators. The plan is to set up a brilliantly lit special dais and sound-proof glass enclosure for the players while the spectator arena will be dimly lit thus eliminating any possible interference with the drama inside.
To satisfy the global interest in the match, an exclusive world championship website will be installed, announced All-India Chess Federation CEO Bharat Singh Chauhan who is also in charge of making arrangements for showing the games online.
How does the world championAnand react to the initial “objections” of his opponent? He says, “I think I would be motivated to win if the match was played on the moon.”
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.