Ahead of the World Chess Championship in Chennai starting Saturday, world No.1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway is wary of his opponent Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. Worried about how he will take to the variety of cuisines in India, Carlsen has brought in a personal chef from home. "I have been practising in Oman. I have brought my own chef because I don't want to fall sick. Food is not my biggest worry though, it is Anand," Carlsen told reporters after reaching Chennai for the all-important tournament.
The 22-year-old was welcomed by FIDE and All India Chess Federation officials for the much-awaited November 9-28 World Chess Championship against Anand.
Carlsen, who faces defending and five-time world champion Anand in a 12-game contest, was received at Kamaraj International Airport by FIDE vice-president DV Sundar, AICF president JCD Prabhakar and World Championship organising secretary V Hariharan.
The formal inauguration of the FIDE World Championship will be done on November 7 by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The first game is scheduled for November 9. The sponsor of the tournament is the Government of Tamil Nadu which has allocated a record budget of Rs 29 crores.
The colour for the 12 games would be known at the draw of lots which would be done by Jayalalithaa during the inauguration ceremony. The player who gets white in games 1, 3 and 5 will get white in games eight, 10 and 12. So, one player will get white in games 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11. Each player will play six white and six black games.
Although the game lasts about six hours, it can go longer as there is an increment of 30 seconds per move. The first player to reach 6.5 points wins the match. The prize fund will be about Rs 14 crores and the winner will get 60 per cent and the loser 40 per cent.
Anand, his wife Aruna and son Akhil and his team members, who will be assisting the Indian wizard, have checked in at Hotel Hyatt Regency, the venue of the World Championship last Friday itself.
There were reports in the media that Carlsen would be staying at an undisclosed resort but Sundar said, "We do not have any official information on that and that Espen Agdestein (Carlsen's manager), who had a meeting with us this afternoon had not informed us about Carlsen staying at a resort for couple of days. As far as we are concerned, he will be staying at Hyatt".
Sundar said Anand and Carlsen will address a joint press conference on November 7.
The entourage for young challenger Carlsen consisted of his father Henrik and mother Sigrun and three sisters --Ellen, Ingrid and Signe and his team members.
Meanwhile, Hyatt Regency wore a festive look with four more days to go for the start of the championship. Security has been beefed up at the venue and the 435 square metre pillar-free ballroom at ground floor of the hotel was getting the final touches before the inauguration of the event.
The 12-game championship will be held in a glass enclosure -- 35 ft by 15 ft glass partition to a height of 11 ft. There would be a separate enclosure for relaxation and refreshments area for the players and they would also have separate washrooms.
A chef -- Magnus Forssell -- accompanied Carlsen and he will oversee the Norwegian's food requirements.
In the last world championship match in Moscow 2012, Anand had defeated Gelfand 6-6, 2.5-1.5 via tie-break. Carlsen (8.5/14) qualified after winning Candidates Tournament against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in London earlier this year.
On head to head contest, the two players have not faced each other in a classical knock out match. They have faced each other in tournament games and not matches. Overall, from 2005 until now, out of 62 games, Anand has won 15 times while Carlsen was victorious on 11 occasions with 36 being drawn.
In classical chess alone, from 29 games, Anand has won six times while Carlsen was victorious on three occasions. Twenty matches were drawn. The break up reveals that Anand has won more games with black in classical chess. It also could mean that Carlsen pushes hard with white. The 33-29 lead from the 62 games for Anand is only marginal.
However, experience is behind Anand. Carlsen had not played matches. Opening is Anand's forte. Middlegame and ending will be Carlsen's strength. The longer the games are played each day, Carlsen's energy levels should start to offer him a mild edge, experts say. Quick crisp sharp play should therefore help Anand.
Incidentally, FIDE statistics say Carlsen is the number one-ranked player for the most -- 29 times. Carlsen is 2870 in ELO ratings and Anand will be 2775 in the November 2013 ratings.
(With PTI inputs)