Norway’s Magnus Carlsen was only a half-point away from victory in the World Chess Championship on Thursday, after defeating defending champ Vishy Anand at the end of a long and difficult game. That means Anand must win on Friday to keep the tournament going.
“There were some very difficult positions, and I was uncertain,” Carlsen admitted to reporters after the game in Chennai, India. But then Anand made a mistake and that secured Carlsen’s victory.
The score thus stands at 6-3 after nine games, with 6.5 points needed to claim the championship. Carlsen can get that either in another draw or another win on Friday, the 10th game in the 12-game championship.
“It’s too early to start celebrating,” Carlsen’s manager Espen Agdestein told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which has been airing all the games live from Chennai and attracting surprisingly high viewership.
“But the chances are very good,” Agdestein added.
Anand, who used more than 40 minutes on just one move on Thursday, admitted things were not going his way. “I will of course try, but the situation doesn’t look very good,” he said.
Carlsen’s father Henrik was more inclined to celebrate, while his son remain typically restrained. “This was very exciting,” Henrik Carlsen told NRK. “Both of them were fighting hard until Anand made a mistake so that Magnus won.”
The entire championship action has been going so well for Carlsen, meanwhile, that Agdestein is already planning to raise the rates for the young Norwegian chess star’s sponsorships. He currently has Nordic Semiconductor, Arctic Securities and Oslo law firm Simonsen Vogt Wiig on his jacket and shirts, with more coming.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Thursday that Nordic Semiconductor, which signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Carlsen this summer, hopes it will “open doors” to boardrooms of leading, “universal customers.” Simonsen has sponsored Karlsen since 2009 and has decided to extend its agreement and support, to the tune of NOK 1 million a year.
“There’s an incredible amount of attention around our sponsorship of Magnus, both in Norway and among overseas colleagues,” partner Espen Tøndel told DN. “It’s a fund ride to be on.”
Oslo-based Arctic Securities has also sponsored Carlsen for the past four years but the deal expires at the end of the year. Managing Director Mads Syversen seems inclined to extend it: “As a sponsor for Magnus Carlsen, Arctic is long-term. We are both proud and humble to be along on this trip,” Syversen told DN.
Agdestein wouldn’t say which other sponsors may come on board, noting that chess doesn’t involve a lot of equipment like other sports do, nor is it big on TV despite NRK’s surprising ratings success. He said he’s nonetheless “in dialogue with some big international companies, but it’s too early to name any names.”
The next, and possibly last, championship game begins Friday at 10:30am again, Norwegian time.