Pestaño: Major chess tournaments in trouble

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Thursday, May 29, 2014


THE two biggest tournaments in chess are in trouble.

I am referring to the world championship rematch between former champion Vishy Anand of India and current world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the World Chess Olympiad this August in Tromso, Norway.

Anand won the Fide 2014 candidates’ match and the right to challenge the Carlsen. The candidates included Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov, Dmitry Andreikin, Peter Svidler, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin.

Two deadlines have passed and still nobody has come forward to host the world title rematch. The match is scheduled this November 2014, but after the second deadline on April 30, Fide has not received any bids. It’s a disturbing situation and Kasparov blames incumbent president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for his bad image due to his insistence that he was abducted by aliens.

If any of the other seven players had won the 2014 candidates, his government would surely have sponsored the estimated $5 million needed to stage the match. India hosted the 2013 series in Chennai and Anand failed to win a single game in a one-sided series. India has no interest for the rematch.

The other interested party is Norway but it will host the Olympiad and the bad news is that it is desperately short of funds with less than three months to go.

Carlsen’s manager and other chess officials asked the government to back a Carlsen vs.

Anand series in Oslo and estimated a budget of £4 million but they have refused.

I guess there will still be a match somewhere, probably in Khanty-Mansiysk, which hosted the 2012 Olympiad and 2014 candidates matches.

Kirsan also says he will put up his own money if there are no takers.

Anand had nine attempts for the world championship in the last 18 years and experts are confident that he will be better in this rematch.

Here is Anand’s world championship record: 1.) lost the 1995 PCA final vs. Kasparov, 2.) lost the 1998 Fide KO final vs. Karpov, 3.) won the 2000 Fide knockout final vs. Shirov, 4.) won in 2005 vs. Topalov and in 2007 vs. Topalov, 5.) won 2008 match play vs. Kramnik, 6.) won 2010 match play vs. Topalov, 7.) won 2012 match play vs. Gelfand, and 8.) lost 2013 match play vs. Carlsen.

OLYMPIAD. The Chess Olympiad is having serious budget problems. They still lack some 15 million kroner (1.8 million euros) and according to Norwegian media, the event might be cancelled.

“We are with our backs against the wall,” says Joran Aulin-Jansson, the president of the Norwegian Chess Federation.

In the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Norway was given the rights to organize the 2014 Olympiad. However, Norway didn’t know that it also needed to stage the 2013 World Cup.

“Fide made the World Cup an obligatory part of the bidding procedure,” said Jansson.

The other problem is they expected only 140 to 150 nations but now, 181 nations have registered for the Olympiad.

Knut Olav Åmås, the state secretary in the Ministry of Culture, isn’t optimistic about getting extra funding and said, “Once you received state support, you must adapt the event to the amount you have applied for and received.”

Fide has written the Norwegian Chess Federation, “Please confirm to us on behalf of the Organising Committee that there is no chance that the Tromso Chess Olympiad will be cancelled. Federations, delegates and commission members are not going to buy their tickets unless we get such a confirmation. So we need to put an end to all this speculation.”

(boypestano@gmail.com,www.chessmoso.blogspot.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 30, 2014.

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