World chess bat­tle heads for tiebreak endgame

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK:

The bat­tle for the world chess crown heads into a four-game tiebreaker yes­ter­day, af­ter 12 reg­u­lar rounds failed to separate reign­ing cham­pion Mag­nus Carlsen and his Rus­sian chal­lenger Sergei Karyakin.

Af­ter a win apiece and nine draws, the pair head into the chess equiv­a­lent of ex­tra time in soc­cer, be­gin­ning a se­ries of four quick­fire games in New York at 2pm (1900 GMT). Un­like the ear­lier rounds, which lasted an av­er­age of six hours, the rapid play rules mean the play­ers have just 25 min­utes each, so each game will be over in an hour. If they are still tied after­wards they will play a se­ries of blitz games, played at the rate of five min­utes per player at the start, with three sec­onds added af­ter each move.

“If there is still no winner, Carlsen and Karyakin will play an Ar­maged­don game in which white has five min­utes and black has four, but black only has to draw to win the match,” the World Chess Fed­er­a­tion said. The ac­cel­er­ated games leave plenty of op­por­tu­nity for har­ried mis­takes, and while pre­dic­tions are dif­fi­cult, Carlsen-a king of the blitz for­ma­tremains favourite.

The Nor­we­gian, who turned 26 yes­ter­day, has played sev­eral blitz tour­na­ments this year, beat­ing US grand­mas­ter Hikaru Naka­mura in one in Oc­to­ber.

But he has oc­ca­sion­ally shown flashes of los­ing his cool, as when he slammed the door of the press room af­ter de­feat in the eighth round, earn­ing a fine of five per­cent of his prize money.

‘CA­PA­BLE OF UP­SET’

Karyakin, a child prodigy who be­came the youngest ever chess grand­mas­ter at the age of 12, has known Carlsen for years and has lit­tle to lose, with no-one even ex­pect­ing him to reach the fi­nal.

“Sergei has im­pressed ev­ery­one with his tenac­ity these last few weeks so he is per­fectly ca­pa­ble of pulling an up­set,” said So, who trav­elled to New York from Min­nesota to watch the clash.

Much has been made of the clash as a reprise of the great Cold War chess bat­tles of the 1970s, but Karyakin, who is from Crimea and sup­ported Rus­sia’s 2014 an­nex­a­tion of the penin­sula, has played down po­lit­i­cal over­tones.

But he knows that a hero’s wel­come will await him in Rus­sia-where chess was el­e­vated to the sta­tus of na­tional in­sti­tu­tion in the Soviet era-if he wins the crown. The last Rus­sian to claim the ti­tle was Vladimir Kram­nik in 2007.

In a sign of the fi­nal’s sig­nif­i­cance to Moscow, Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dim­itry Peskov was in New York to see the start of the head-to-head.

As well as the ti­tle, the winner will also take home 600,000 eu­ros ($637,000), while the loser will walk away with a con­so­la­tion prize of 400,000 eu­ros. — AFP

In the lat­est rev­e­la­tion, a week­end re­port by Ger­many’s ARD tele­vi­sion and France’s Le Monde news­pa­per said the wanted son of ousted IAAF pres­i­dent Lamine Di­ack took mil­lions of eu­ros from Rus­sian com­peti­tors in re­turn for “to­tal pro­tec­tion” from failed dop­ing tests.

Six ath­letes each paid be­tween 300,000 and 700,000 eu­ros ($318,000-$740,000) to top of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Papa Mas­sata Di­ack who is wanted by French au­thor­i­ties but in hid­ing in his na­tive Sene­gal, the re­port said.

His father, Lamine Di­ack, who was charged af­ter stand­ing down as IAAF pres­i­dent in Au­gust 2015, is un­der house ar­rest in France.

“The or­gan­ised cover-up of sus­pected dop­ing in the world of track and field has as such as­sumed a pre­vi­ously unimag­ined scale,” said ARD. “And once again, it is pri­mar­ily ath­letes from one na­tion un­der scru­tiny: Rus­sia.”

Sand­wiched be­tween the two IAAF meet­ings come the IAAF Ath­let­ics Awards, which were can­celled last year in the wake of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Paris.

Fresh from se­cur­ing an un­prece­dented third con­sec­u­tive tre­ble of Olympic golds at the Rio Games, Usain Bolt is hot favourite to walk away with the men’s Ath­lete of the Year award from Mo Farah and Wayde van Niek­erk.

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