Friday, 15 March 2013

... And They're Off! Candidates 2013

Round 1: Levon Aronian has white against Magnus Carlsen
Play has started at Savoy Place in one of the most eagerly-awaited chess tournaments for years. This could be the start of Magnus Carlsen's inexorable rise to the world title. That is, if the other seven players haven't read the script. Teimour Radjabov is quoted as saying "there are no favourites" and, while I wouldn't agree with that, it has to be said that the 'Seven Samurai' that Magnus faces - Levon Aronian, Vlad Kramnik, Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk [edit -Oops! I left Ivanchuk out of my original list - JS] - all have a realistic chance of success.

Play has been in progress for just over an hour as I write and, of course, nothing of significance has happened at the board. All four boards look level (ish). So, instead of commentary on the play, I'll share a couple of amusing incidents with you.

The first was when arbiter Werner Stuebenvoll introduced the FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to the audience and said that he was about to make the traditional opening move of the game "Anand-Radjabov". This elicited a laugh from the audience, and the arbiter quickly corrected it to "Gelfand-Radjabov". Perhaps he had forgotten that Vishy Anand had succeeded in retaining his title against Boris Gelfand last year.

The second was when Vlad Kramnik took out his pen from his inside jacket pocket. He fumbled with it for a  few moments but an amused expression on his face was the clue to a serious pen malfunction. Calamity! He got up and went offstage for a few moments but, luckily, he was back at the board with a new pen before the arbiter called 'play'. (We wouldn't want any 'zero tolerance' defaults, would we?)

One more serious bit of gossip: FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been quoted as saying in a press interview today that the next world title match, in which Vishy Anand will meet the winner of the London tournament, will "probably be in India".


  1. What about Mr. Ivanchuk? None of the seven Samurai?

  2. Good point! I have failed to count up to seven. Apologies to you and to him...