Going by the turnout on the first day of the FIDE World chess championship, it can be said that the interest shown by the fans is encouraging. “We issued 146 tickets to those who booked through the internet. The rest were all donors, corporates and other sponsors. There was no sale of tickets at the counter on Saturday. There were 100-150 people who stood and watched the match without paying.
At the lobby of Hyatt Regency, you could spot people aged between eight and 50 years solving chess problems on a piece of paper. Designed by the popular C.G.S. Narayanan, the problem-solving contest had to be completed within 90 minutes.
The contest will be held on all match days. The winner will take home Rs.2000, the runner-up Rs.1500 and the third-placed finisher Rs.1000.
Asking specific chess-related questions, and mixing in some light-hearted ones comes easily to the press officer for the World championship Anastazia Karlovich. A woman Grandmaster — current rating of 2230 — Anastazia has been in this role for the last three years. The Ukrainian was the press officer for the previous World championship between Boris Gelfand and Viswanathan Anand as well.
Does she get the time to play in tournaments while doing her job as press officer? “It is difficult,” she replies. “I have done the job in 40-50 tournaments around the world in the past three years. I squeeze in time to play at tournaments. In December.”
‘Carlsen played passive’
Young International Masters Karthikeyan Murali and Ramnath Bhuvanesh were surprised at Magnus Carlsen’s approach in the first game. “We thought he played passive. There was no venom in his game. Anand found it easy to equalise with black pieces,” they said.
It’s not about the ballroom
Before the start of the championship match, the VIP seats at the ballroom of Hyatt Regency were almost full. One of the first to occupy the seats was Andrew Palson, president of the English Chess Federation, who was seen having an intense discussion with Javier Ochoa de Echaguen, his counterpart from Spain.
When asked about his views on the ballroom, he said: “It’s not about the facilities. This championship is more about how good and how close it will turn out to be. It is easily one of the best since the Boris Spassky-Bobby Fischer World championship match in 1972.”