Carlsen pressured to defend title

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Russian officials are threatening to effectively strip chess world champion Magnus Carlsen of his title if he fails to defend it in Sochi in November. Carlsen, exhausted after this month’s Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, is already on his way to another tournament in the US and hasn’t committed to play in a new world championship as well.

New Chess World Champion Magnus Carlsen with all the symbols of his victory in India on Monday. PHOTO: Erlend Aas/NTB Scanpix

Chess World Champion Magnus Carlsen, shown here with all the symbols of his victory in India last November, is now being threatened with losing his title if he doesn’t show up in Sochi, Russia in November for a new world championship. PHOTO: Erlend Aas/NTB Scanpix

“Magnus has now traveled to the US and will play in a very strong tournament in St Louis,” his manager Espen Agdestein told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday afternoon. “For him, it’s critical to focus on this tournament. The question of another world championship will be taken up later.”

Agdestein has been trying to get the international chess federation FIDE to postpone a rematch against Carlsen’s defeated world championship rival from last year, Vishy Anand of India, until after New Year. FIDE, whose Russian leader Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was re-elected at the Chess Olympiad in Tromsø earlier this month, has refused.

Russian officials appear intent on organizing another world championship after just one year, back at the site of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. FIDE has thus planned to mount another world championship in November, but Team Carlsen of Norway has objected, not least because of the current political situation in Russia.

The chess federation may go ahead and hold a world championship without the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen. NRK cited a Russian Itar-Tass bulletin that the chess federation has threatened that Carlsen can lose his world championship title in a walkover, if he fails to show up in Sochi.

The tournament that Carlsen is now committed to playing in won’t end until September 7, just two months before a world championship in Sochi is set to begin. Agdestein sent word to the FIDE on Monday that Carlsen won’t make a decision on committing to play in a new world championship until after the St Louis tournament is over.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund