Magnus Carlsen will play with the white pieces in his first game of the World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand on Saturday in Chennai, India. This was the result of the drawing of colors performed by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms J Jayalalithaa at the opening ceremony, on Thursday afternoon at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. Earlier, during a press conference, Anand had revealed that this seconds are Krishnan Sasikiran, Chanda Sandipan, Radek Wojtaszek and Peter Leko. Carlsen did not want to name his helpers.
On Thursday the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms J Jayalalithaa inaugurated the World Chess Championship Match at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. The ceremony took less than two hours (one journalist was somewhat relieved as he rememberd the 4.5-hour ceremony of the Anand-Kamsky's quarter-final match in July 1994!) and included a long speech by Jayalalithaa as well as cultural shows.
Both players were cheered upon by about five thousand spectators (the official press release remarkably speaks of twenty thousand but the stadium can only hold eight thousand, and it wasn't sold out) as they entered the stage, where a speech was given by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who also handed over a certificate of Honorary Member of FIDE to the Chief Minister.
Jayalalithaa was a popular film star in Indian cinema before her entry into politics in the earlu 1980s. She is in her third term as Chief Minister for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). In her speech she welcomed both players and praised Anand as "the biggest sportsman of India", but most of the time was spent on mentioning all the funds she had created for chess thus far.
Jayalalithaa, who was responsible for the 29 Crore rupees budget for the match, was also involved in the most important moment of the ceremony as far as the chess players were concerned: the drawing of colors.
She picked a photo of Anand from one box (causing another big cheer from the crowd, especially the many children)...
...and a black piece from the other.
This meant that Anand will start as Black and play with this color in games 1, 3, 5 in the first half. From games seven the colours will reverse, so in the second half Anand will be playing White in games 7, 9 and 11. The match will be a 12-game contest with the first player to reach 6.5 winning the title. In case of 6-6, a tiebreak with a shorter time control will decide.
The bigger part of the ceremony consisted of cultural shows by Indian Bharathanatyam dancers and musicians and also by five Norwegian theme dancers. Carlsen was not showing too much interest as he was mostly reading a book on the match that was handed out at the start of the event.
Earlier on Thursday the players attended the opening press conference in the Hyatt hotel. It was a brief and quite chaotic affair, as about 150 media representatives had come and dozens of photographers were blocking the view of several video cameras.
Anand revealed that his seconds are Krishnan Sasikiran, Chanda Sandipan, Radek Wojtaszek and Peter Leko. The latter, who has worked with Anand before, lost the 2004 world title match to Vladimir Kramnik.
Carlsen kept his cards close to his chest, and did not mention any names. "I appreciate my opponent's openness, but alas, I am not going to return the favor." Anand then hinted that his list of names was not conclusive. "I can answer a question honestly and you will never know if it's the full truth or not." Rumour has it that the World Champion is also helped by Kramnik via Skype.
Below is our video of the events on Thursday.
And here is a brief clip by Jason Stoneking, who asked Anand about the match back in April at the Alekhine Memorial in Paris.
Below you can watch the full press conference:
GM Jonathan Rowson is among the minority of people who think that Anand will win the match. In his column he reflected on the press conference:
Magnus looked uncomfortable to me. I know it’s his first World Championship match, and only his second time in India, but he seemed slightly distracted, periodically defensive, and generally lacking in self-possession. I felt there were insufficient butterflies in his stomach, as if he saw this as just another press conference, before just another tournament.
In contrast, Vishy looked great. He was relaxed and charming, but also seemed concentrated, like he was fully prepared, and was already enjoying the prospect of the tension ahead. Unlike Carlsen, he seemed to have plenty of butterflies, and they were flying in formation.