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World Chess Championship Candidates 2011 (Opening Ceremony)

World Chess Championship Candidates are under way

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov lays the foundations to a new chess centre.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov lays the foundations to a new chess centre. |

The World Chess Championship Candidate finals take place in Kazan starting 5th May and running through to 26th May. 8 players compete in three rounds of knockout chess matches that will produce a single challenger for World Chess Champion Viswanthan Anand. Whilst Levon Aronian starts as favourite there isn't a player here without a realistic chance of progression. The foundation stone for "A Palace of Chess" (the first World Chess Academy) was laid by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

The FIDE World Championship Candidates have started in Kazan, Russia. This event was initially scheduled for Azerbaijan but that venue proved problematic for favourite Levon Aronian as Armenia and Azerbaijan don't have diplomatic relations and he refused to play there. Kazan and the Russian Chess Federation really wanted the event and virtually forced through the change last year.

There was heavy security for the opening ceremony as it was attended by Mintimer Shaimiev, the first President of Tatarstan (1991-2010) who like Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (in Kalmykia) was forced to retire by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

An hour before the opening ceremony there was a foundation stone laid by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyunzhinov for "A Palace of Chess" (the first World Chess Academy). This is clearly the same project the FIDE President has been touting for some time and suggested should be on the site of ground zero in New York. Supposedly this will be a 25 story building with a hotel complex, 22,500 square meters of floor space and costing $52 million. The ground has been donated by the Tatarstan government and construction will be controlled by Shaimiev. The building is expected to be completed in 18 months and will be a training base for the preparation of players, coaches, referees, and as a platform for major tournaments. This whole project begs so many questions it is really hard to know where to start. But "Where is the money coming from?" is as good as any. (It usually one way or another turns out to be the Russian Central Government)

Opening Ceremony. Photo © Alex McFarlane.

"The opening ceremony started with traditional folk singing followed by a speech in which the building of a chess palace was announced. The Candidates matches are being seen as the start of a period of international events to be held in Kazan including the Student Games in 2013 and some FIFA World Cup matches in 2018."

We did a final inspection of the playing area this morning. The film cameras have now been positioned with one per board. As a result of the filming the presence of the arbiters on stage will be kept to a minimum though we will be able to see everything from our position in the wings.

Alex McFarlane

Security. Photo © Alex McFarlane.

There are three arbiters for the event Ignatius Leong (Singapore), Franca Dapiran (Italy) and Alex McFarlane (Scotland). Jorge Vega from Mexico is the Chairman of the Appeals Committee. There was a meeting with the players to discuss any issues. The players will not be in direct view of the audience, instead they will be seen via mirrors but they won't be able to see the audience. There is also plenty of electronic security.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov with the time capsule buried in the foundation stone of a new chess academy. Photo ©

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