Columns | December 24, 2009 8:12

'Anand to have Carlsen as a second'

Two interviews with World Champion Viswanathan Anand have appeared in Indian newspapers this week, and in one of them he makes a remarkable statement. To the question whether GM Ganguly will again be in his team of seconds for the match against Topalov, the World Champion answers he's doesn't know yet. "But one thing is for sure, Magnus Carlsen (the world No. 2) will be one of the seconds." Ehm... say again?

After he defeated Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn in 2008, Viswanathan Anand hasn't had a great 2009. In Linares he finished 4th, behind Grischuk, Ivanchuk and Carlsen. At Amber he finished behind Aronian and Kramnik. In Mainz, for the first time in many years he didn't win the rapid title and at the Tal Memorial he ended 5th, behind Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Aronian. These are not the kind of results Anand can be satisfied about, and certainly not as a reigning World Champion. In an interview with The Times of India, Anand says he needs to play more aggressively to become successful again in 2010:

"I need to up my game and play aggressively. Veselin Topalov is very aggressive player. Vladimir Kramnik is a tough opponent as well. The preparations are on." (...) This year has been a mix of fortunes. But compared to 2007-08, it has been a bad year. There were quite a few ups and downs. I will have to raise my game to compete against the best."

A honest statement by the World Champ, and also an ambitious one. And in an interview with Calcutta newspaper The Telegraph published just two days later, Anand seems to make clear that he's taking the match against Topalov very seriously.

Whether Surya Sekhar Ganguly will be his one of his seconds this time too
He may be. I am not sure. Seconds are a very secretive thing. Even if I tell you that he will be one of my seconds, the rival camp will not believe me. But one thing is for sure, Magnus Carlsen (the world No. 2) will be one of the seconds.

Well, what to think of that? Anand and Carlsen have worked together before, during the preparation for the 2008 match, but things have changed considerably since then. In just a week from now Carlsen will be the official number one on the rating list, and he's rapidly becoming the favourite to win next year's Candidates matches, and with that to become the challenger of the winner of... Anand-Topalov. By now, the Norwegian is a clear competitor to Anand, and so the affair reminds us of another World Championship match where Anand was involved, and his opponent, Garry Kasparov, worked together with... a young Vladimir Kramnik.

Vishy AnandIn fact, we find this hard to believe. It could be possible that Anand is toying with his opponent and the media, but it's even more likely that he was misquoted. Before the match against Kramnik he refused to mention the names of his seconds until the last day, so it's hard to believe that he would want to do it differently this time. And in the mean time, Henrik Carlsen has apparently stated that his son "has his own plans and schedule". That sounds more like it. If the two would work together, we'll probably find out during the match, but not before.

To end this column, let's do a poll. (We might repeat it after Corus.)

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


aun1's picture

less than 30% of chessvibes readers are picking topalov? what has convinced them anand is in any form to beat him over the past year?

Suneet S Mausil's picture

I asked question about the team of seconds to Anand in the press conference on 20th Dec, in Bangalore. He gave a smart answer and named NEILSEN not Carlsen. Some journalists with little knowledge of chess general news would have assumed and printed Carlsen (or maybe just to generate more eyeballs)

I am uploading a video of the press conference, will post link here.

I played with Anand as well!

CAL|Daniel's picture

Chessbase already ran an article confirming Carlsen won't be seconding Anand. They contacted his father Henrik directly.

Suneet S Mausil's picture

Anand speaks very highly of Magnus Carlsen. And I think there is lot of mutual respect. though carlsen beat Anand twice in the blitz world ch. recently, I am sure Carlsen will understand that the misunderstandings created had nothing to do with Anand. He is rather supportive of Carlsen.

Ark's picture

A Clear Insult to The Child Prodigy, if anything The Dark One should be volunteering his services!

pat j's picture


read the article on

Tony's picture

How I am breaking down the match
Both players will come in healthy.
Skill wise they are clearly both very good and have bounced around the top spots off and on but the rating difference is something that is created from playing against multiple ooponents not single matches.
As a result there are some very important components to match play that is not as important as when playing multiple opponents
Opening prep is 'easier' players at this level have clear experience in particular openings. you can play a new opening but this takes time to establish. (ie kramnik-kasparov and Anand - kramnik matches were won this way)
mental strength is CRITICAL
topalov has a strange tendency to try and come back from a bad start something that is not good in matches where you are not conserned about being caught by someone behind you when your in the lead.
Anand has more match experience. Clearly (and sadly) anand is on the decline but I give him the edge due to mental strength.

dlugosz's picture

Carlsen, Carlsen, Carlsen

mehul's picture

Chessvibe, you are not bright. With the number of indian-origin chess playing surfers prowling the main chess sites likes your Anand will win ANY poll. Even something like "Who will be more comfortable in Bulgaria? Anand or topalov?". Go check poll results on other websites over the last two years. 90-95% of the time Anand has won the polls.

Mads's picture

It is nice to (almost) see a Dane in the upcoming WCM!

Held og lykke til hele holdet, Peter!

ceann's picture

I would doubt it, but if it gives Fishy a better chance to beat the cheat then by all means hire the runts services...

Lauri's picture

Yeah I get the impression the journalist didn't get the quote right. I have the feeling he was trying to make a joke: "Seconds are a very secretive thing. Whatever I tell the opponents camp won't believe me. By the way, it's Carlsen."

Deep Mikey's picture

Finally you are right, Peter! Carlsen is OF COURSE not Anand's second! Anand said NIELSEN to the interviewer and not Carlsen!

How could they work together and then travel to Wijk aan Zee and play each other??

Arne Moll's picture

Maybe he said Nielsen (Anand's former second) and the journalist misheard it?

Deep Mikey's picture

Exactly! Anand said Nielsen, the interviewer just understood "...lsen", googled it and found Carlsen ... :-D

jeelsg's picture

why does Carlsen miss LINARES?

Deep Mikey's picture

Maybe he is just too expensive ...

Barthod's picture

I dont think Carlsen will be with Anand as a second. But he will surely help Anand beføre the matvh with joint analasys. Peter H. Nielsen among others will we in Bulgaria alongside Anand.

Trannek's picture

According to the Times of Bulgaria Topalov will hire Aronian as a second!

Willem's picture

Very smart of Anand. Now he is hiring Kasparov as well.

Muadhib's picture

I doubt Anand said any names and answered any questions about his seconds with firm yes or no. For the last World championship match against Kramnik he explicitly stated that he will neither confirm or deny anything, because he wants his opponent to think about that.

Buri's picture

Wow, Anand is killing Topalov in votes! lol

Dude's picture

...which was mentioned in the text.

Philippe's picture

Anand could just have meant that the games and the style of play of Carlsen will be very instructive and helpfull in his preparation for the match.

An Afghan's picture

I think Anand will beat Topalov very easy, because Anand has played against the best. (Kramnik and Kasparov)

Jagdish Dube.'s picture

Chessdom News says,
Anand not to have Carlsen as a second for the World Championship with Topalov (updated)
Anand and Carlsen will not be on the same team for WCC 2010 in Sofia

Update: (23.12.2009) Magnus Carlsen was supposed to be part of Anand's team, as reported by the Indian Calcutta Telegraph earlier this week. However, alarms sounded as several other sources quoted Peter Heine Nielsen as the "sure second" for Anand.

After the Times of India report was published with the different team setup, Chessdom journalists contacted Magnus Carlsen himself for confirmation via Facebook. "I will make my own statement regarding this matter soon," commented Carlsen and a few minutes afterwards changed his status to, "Magnus Øen Carlsen: Is apparently not going to be a second for Anand after all. A shame, as I was really looking forward to that."

Earlier the Calcutta Telegraph reported the following information:

(Info from 21.12.2009)

The World Champion Viswanathan Anand will have the Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen as second for the upcoming match with Topalov. The news was announced by Anand himself in an interview during the visit at the East Zone NIIT Mindchampions Academy — Chess Master. Anand shared, "Surya Sekhar Ganguly may be. I am not sure. Seconds are a very secretive thing. Even if I tell you that he will be one of my seconds, the rival camp will not believe me. But one thing is for sure, Magnus Carlsen (the world No. 2) will be one of the seconds."

The World Champion added, "There’s a fight for the No. 1 spot. I rate Carlsen very highly. He’s had a memorable second half in 2009 and has improved by leaps and bounds."

Suneet S Mausil's picture

Here you go....

A video from the press conference where Anand answered the question about team of Seconds I asked him.

He gave very smart reply actually, and there was NO mentioned of Magnus Carlsen. He mentioned NEILSEN, which was misinterpreted by some journalists I guess.

I hope Magnus sees this before making any statements.

Suneet S Mausil's picture



Now guys don't make fuss over this anymore... needless controversy.

Its funny how all chess sites are jumping to this rumor...


ArkHole's picture

Ark is a stupid jerky arkhole! yes sir why all the name calling ? is it anand's fault if he is misinterpreted by some overzealous journalist ?

Peter Doggers's picture

Suneet's comment now has the video embedded.

@mehul Assuming your question is directed to ChessVibes: our visitors statistics don't show an extraordinary big number from India. And I don't think this poll has been embedded on some Indian website. (But if it was, let me know.)

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