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FIDE World Chess Championship Anand-Carlsen 2013 (Opening Ceremony)

Anand-Carlsen World Championship match opens in 8000 seat stadium

Opening press conference. Photo ©

Opening press conference. Photo © |

The opening ceremony for the 2013 FIDE World Chess Championship in Chennai, India took place in the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in front of a capacity 8000 audience on Thursday 7th November 2013. The Inaugural address was made by Ms J. Jayalalithaa, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who also conducted the drawing of lots the outcome of which was that Magnus Carlsen will have white against Viswanathan Anand in the first game on Saturday 9th. The ceremony took the best part of two hours also featured dancing and music from India and Norway. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov also made a short speech in English outlining his gratitude for the hosting of the match. Earlier there was a 20 minute press conference in the Hotel Hyatt whose main revelation was that Peter Leko is working for Anand. Details below. You can replay both the press conference and opening ceremony.

Opening Press Conference

Start of Press Conference

Start of Press Conference. Photo ©

The opening press conference was a brief but lively affair with a large number of photographers present. FIDE Press Officer Anastasia Karlovich did a great job in establishing some order. The players, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and World Chess Championship Director D.V. Sundar attended.


Anand at home

Anand at home. Photo ©

Anand said he was happy to be playing in his home town of Chennai and made a point of thanking Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu saying that he really didn't think it would have happened without her. As the day went on it became clear just how much this match is about her. You can read Jayalalithaa's Wiki Entry, and a 2009 BBC Profile: Jayaram Jayalalitha.

Anand's team of seconds?

Anand and Carlsen laugh

Anand and Carlsen laugh. Photo ©

Carlsen seemed somewhat surprised that Viswanathan Anand revealed his team of seconds as Krishnan Sasikiran, Sandipan Chanda, Peter Leko, and Radoslaw Wojtaszek although three were already definitely known and apparently it wasn't a secret Leko worked with Anand in Moscow last year. Whilst this may be the entirety of Anand's team in Chennai there will no doubt be others he and his team are working with via Skype. Carlsen screwed his face up on hearing the names, probably not in surprise but more wondering what he was going to say.

"I appreciate Mr Anand's openness about his team and alas I'm not going to return the favour" - Carlsen.

"Since you can't believe the whole truth about anything either of us says it doesn't really matter. I can answer a question honestly and you'll never know whether that's the full truth or not and the same goes for him so it doesn't really matter too much." - Anand

Chennai events

There was talk by World Chess Championship Director D.V. Sundar about Chennai being the centre of Indian chess and the festival alongside the championship. These include seminars, junior events and a women's GM Open.

Hyatt Regency Hotel Chennai

The Hyatt Regency Hotel has its own wikipedia page.

The players are staying in the playing venue, the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Anand thought this meant he would not have to take into account traffic in arriving on time for the games, Carlsen said he was generally happy with this upside but thought it might be mentally tough at some point to stay in the same place for such a long time.

Tough crowd


Media. Photo ©

I think this is going to be a taxing match for the players as the Indian journalists are looking for good stories, Anand sidestepped a Carlsen quote about him liking food and perhaps being a bit lazy sometimes put to him by the Indian media that might have been seen as insulting but this is just day one.

Opening Ceremony in the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium

Huge Crowd


Wide shot of the stage. Photo ©

I can't have been the only person astounded to see what much have been close to a capacity 8000 crowd that attended the opening ceremony that took nearly two hours to complete. The main attendees were the players Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen, FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov and Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu. In fact one might have been forgiven for thinking the ceremony was all about Jayalalithaa with her name being by far the largest on the banners and her portrait also being the largest photo.



Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Photo ©

Following the introductions and anthems Jayalalithaa gave a long speech starting with a talk on chess but turning to her political achievements and spending. I did somehow get the feeling that this was a political rally in support of her own re-election and that most of the 8000 crowd were her supporters.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov thanked her for agreeing to host the event this time after being outbid at the last minute for the Gelfand-Anand match. There followed a film on chess and Chennai.

Carlsen gets white in game one

Carlsen gets white

Carlsen gets white. Photo ©

Jayalalithaa then drew the lots to decide who had white in game one. Two large golden bowls were presented to her. In the first were pictures of the players, she drew Anand's photo, then in the second were two boxes, she drew a box with a black king which meant Anand had black in game one. She then drew the second photo, of Carlsen, and second box, a white king, to show all options were available.

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like

There then followed a very long musical and dancing extravaganza whose merit depended on whether you like this sort of thing or not.

Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium


Crowd. Photo ©

The event took place in the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium with a seating capacity of 8000 and normally hosts volleyball, basketball, table tennis etc.. in front of what looked like a capacity audience.

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