Phenom forsaking usual title route
Saturday, November 27, 2010 02:53 AM
The Columbus Dispatch

Chess and other competitive heroes often fight their most difficult battles away from the playing area.

So it might be for Magnus Carlsen, whose ascent to the top of the chess pyramid has been seemingly effortless – until now.

The 19-year-old prodigy has publicly waded into the murky realm of chess politics.

He has announced in a formal letter that he won’t take part in the upcoming world championship cycle of matches, to be played during a five-year period.

The format, he says, is onerous, favoring the world champion. He also takes issue with the seeding procedures and the length of the cycle.

He emphasizes that “The proposal to abolish the privileges of the world champion in the future is not in any way meant as criticism of, or an attack on, the reigning world champion, Viswanathan Anand, who is a worthy world champion, a role-model chess colleague and a highly esteemed opponent.”

Carlsen intends to continue to hone his skills on the tournament trail.

But, because of his decision to skip the championship cycle, he will lose at least five years in his quest for the world title – whatever the long-term result of his call for reforming a selection system that is widely acknowledged as cumbersome.

Shelby Lyman is a Basic Chess Features columnist.


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