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.

 

Beginner’s corner

Hint explanation:

Get two for one.

Solution to Beginner’s corner:

1. Rxf8! Kxf8 2. Bxd7. If instead 1. Bxc6, 2. dxc6! with a new queen in the offing.

 

How the masters play

Below is a win by Alexander Rustemov against Bogdan Grabarczyk from the German Bundesliga team
tournament.

 

 

Black resigns