World Chess Championship Sofia 2010 (Start Delay Request)
Anand stuck in Germany asks for postponement
Mark Crowther - Sunday 18th April 2010
Viswanathan Anand is stuck in Germany due to the volcanic dust causing most European flights to be canceled. Initial reports have the Bulgarian Chess Federation taking a hard stand that compromise is impossible. However a meeting at 5pm Sofia local time with FIDE didn't seem to settle anything.
The latest news is that Anand is making his way to Sofia but the mode of transport is not available.
Viswanthan Anand has, via the Indian Chess Federation, formally asked for a three day postponement to the start of his match against Veselin Topalov.
Anand's travel plans have been thrown into chaos by the cancellation of flights all over Europe due to the danger that the volcanic dust thrown into the atmosphere by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. It now looks like flights will be disrupted not only until the official opening ceremony on Wednesday but also to Friday and maybe the weekend.
Anand had already started his journey by flying from his home in Madrid to Frankfurt on Thursday where he was due to have an overnight stop over and fly to Bulgaria on Friday. However almost immediately all further flights were canceled. To travel by car from Frankfurt to Sofia would involve a 866 miles trip and 28 hours of traveling time (this figure came from a Bulgarian article, a check on google for the travel time gives 18.5 hours).
The Bulgarian Chess Federation have initially taken a tough stance. The President of Bulgarian Chess Federation Stefan Sergiev complained that they had only been informed of his travel difficulties last night (Saturday 17th April). He believed that had they been informed earlier they could have rendered some assistance to Anand in order to reach Sofia. They point out that Veselin Topalov was also based in Spain but had managed to make the trip. He made the analogy with the FIFA World Cup. Matches are not delayed when one team can't arrive on time (although I'm not quite sure when, if ever, this has happened). Also he denied the right of the Indian Chess Federation's right to have any say in the matter as they were not party to the contract.
The organisers state that they had previously believed that Anand was already in Sofia. As it turns out the suit of rooms set aside for the Indian has been taken charge of by Hans Walter-Schmidt who his part of Anand's team. However he traveled on in advance of the main party on April 15th. According to a translation of a Bulgarian article Stefan Sergiev "is clear that delay may be impossible and compromises are impossible." ChessDom is reporting that there is a meeting with FIDE deputy President Georgios Makropoulos starts at 17:00 CET.
Anand is now rapidly approaching a no-win situation, where even if he gets the postponement he's asking for, he'll be on the psychological back-foot. Perhaps a travel bus so he can sleep and work whilst traveling by road to Sofia is still the best solution of a bad situation.
Update: The latest news is that Anand is making his way to Sofia but the mode of transport is not available.