Chess star drops World Championship

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Magnus Carlsen, the teenage Norwegian chess whiz, won support on Friday for his decision to drop the chess World Championships, even though it means he’ll lose his chance at the title and at least NOK 10 million in earnings. Norway’s chess association thinks he did the right thing.

Carlsen told newspaper VG on Friday that he had sent a letter to the international chess federation FIDE, explaining that he intended to drop qualification rounds for the World Championship next year.

He’s unhappy over the way they’re organized, writing that he had decided, “after careful consideration,” not to take part in Candidate Matches between March and May 2011 because the “ongoing 2008-2012 cycles does not represent a system, sufficiently modern and fair, to provide the motivation I need to go through a lengthy process of preparations and matches … to perform at my best.”

Carlsen told VG the championship cycle has gone on for five years, with constant rule changes. “It takes too much strength to keep up with the political part of the process,” he told VG. “I want to focus my energy to develop myself as a chess player and defend my position as number-one in the world.”

Carlsen informed FIDE that his “current plan is to continue to participate in well-organised top-level tournaments and to try to maintain the no 1 spot on the rating list that I have successfully defended for most of 2010.”

He said he couldn’t let money guide his decision. Other players said the World Championships will lose their meaning without Carlsen’s participation.

Carlsen’s agent, Espen Agdestein, noted that Carlsen is still valued very highly as a chess player and “such a big star that he will interesting” (in the chess world) regardless.

FIDE officials had no immediate comment on Carlsen’s withdrawal.

Read Carlsen’s letter to the FIDE here. (external link)

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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