Magnus Carlsen's first move: checkmate illness

ChennaiWorld No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, here in India as part of a recce trip ahead of his world title bout against Viswanathan Anand in November. (IE Photo)

It is not like someone who can see and plan several moves ahead — albeit on a chessboard — to leave too many things to chance. World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, here in India as part of a recce trip ahead of his world title bout against Viswanathan Anand in November, has insisted that an "illness clause" be introduced into the terms and conditions of the final. It is the first time that such a clause has been introduced in a world championship match.

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Defending champion Anand and Carlsen signed the contract last week and it is learnt that it was this specific issue that had drawn the process out. "The illness clause means if a player falls sick during the match, he can take two days off," said V Hariharan, honorary secretary of the All India Chess Federation (AICF). "We tried convincing Carlsen (of the excellence of the facilities and preparatory arrangements), but he was insistent. There was nothing we could do."

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In fact, even on this trip of two days, Carlsen's three-person entourage includes a Norwegian chef, along with his manager Simen Agdestein and father Henrik.

Carlsen has been vocal about his disapproval of the world body FIDE's decision to grant Chennai the title bout without going through a bidding process, which is de rigueur. Apart from his unfamiliarity with the place — Carlsen has never visited India before — the Norwegian has voiced his concern over the food here, especially the possibility of him falling sick.

"Carlsen likes Indian cuisine just as much as traditional Norwegian food, but we are concerned about foreign bacteria. We have to be careful and we have to make sure he doesn't risk getting sick," his manager Agdestein had told The Wall Street Journal earlier.

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