The biggest chess match in the new millennium — the world chess championship between Viswanathan Anand of India and Magnus Carlsen of Norway starting from November 7 — will be witnessed by only about 350 to 400 people as live audience.
According to world chess governing body (Fide) vice president D.V. Sundar, the playing hall at Hyatt Regency can accommodate only that many people. The games are scheduled to start at 3 pm unless the two players want to change it.
It is true that chess is not like cricket or football in fan appeal.
The game is, however, a huge hit online. But then, the organisers could be taking a risk as ‘Tiger from Madras’ Anand is playing in his hometown after a long time.
People who are not even connected with chess may want to catch some action. “I know only the basic moves of chess. But I will definitely visit the venue to soak in the atmosphere. The world championship is a great opportunity to watch Anand in action,” said M.V.Sundararaman, former external affairs ministry official.
Similarly, Ashok Thomas, who runs a PR company, said that even though he wouldn’t attend any sports event that he is not interested in, he would still go for the Anand-Carlsen match as the five-time world champion Anand studied in his school — Don Bosco.
Sundar said that FIDE would be delighted to be proved wrong. “If more people start coming to the venue then that would mean the event is a success,” he added.
The organising committee will set up a special glass dais for the event. The audience will be able to watch Anand and Carlsen play as there would be good lighting inside the sound-proof glass enclosure. On the other hand, the spectator arena would be dimly lit, so that the players wouldn’t be disturbed by what is happening there.
According to All-India Chess Federation CEO Bharat Singh Chauhan, an exclusive world championship website would be launched soon. He is also in charge of making arrangements for showing the games online.
“The interest for the match would be immense on the web.
We have to ensure that there is no breakdown,“ he said, adding that the AICF is trying to bring leading commentators such as Susan Polgar and Daniel King to Chennai.
Meanwhile, Fide vice-president Israel Gelfer conducted a final inspection of the venue. He said the illness clause -which allows two days off if either of the players falls ill -was added to the contract after Anand “graciously accepted“ Carlsen’s suggestion.
And for the first time there was an official announcement in Chennai that Hyatt Regency would be the venue for the big match. “We are 100 per cent satisfied with the venue. Anand’s manager Aruna was here on Thursday to inspect all facilities and she was happy with the venue. Carlsen’s camp has also expressed satisfaction after spending three days here,“ Gelfer added.