It is nothing new, but chess and other sporting heroes often fight their most difficult battles off the playing field.
Magnus Carlsen, whose ascent to the top of the chess pyramid has been seemingly effortless, has publicly entered the murky realm of chess politics.
He has announced in a formal letter that he will not take part in the upcoming world championship cycle of a series of matches played over a five-year period. The format, he says, is onerous. He also takes issue with procedures for seeding players into 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.”
It is the 19-year-old super-prodigy’s intention, to continue via the tournament trail to hone and strengthen his skills.
But Carlsen will lose at least five years in his understated quest for the world title, whatever the long-term result of his call for reform.