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FIDE World Chess Championships 2010 (One day delay)

Start of the World Chess Championship postponed by one day

Georgios Makropoulos and Viswanthan Anand together at the Press Conference.

Georgios Makropoulos and Viswanthan Anand together at the Press Conference. | http://www.theweekinchess.com

As a result of the travel problems of Viswanathan Anand (and of FIDE officials) the start of the match has been moved back one day until Saturday. There was a FIDE press release first thing Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile details of their travel problems have been published on the Indian Chess Federation website. Also the players and organisers have spoken at a press conference.

Press Conference on 21st April. Right to Left: Veselin Topalov, R Atanasov, S Sergeev, Georgios Makropoulos and Viswanathan Anand. Photo © http://www.chessdom.com/ and they have more photos from the Press Conference and Anand testing the playing conditions.

With the arrival of Viswanathan Anand in Sofia there has been some movement on the issue of the start date for the World Chess Championships. There has been a press release from Georgios Makropoulos FIDE Deputy President and FIDE Supervisor for the World Championship Match 2010 this morning.

With his travel problems due to the cancellation of flights over Europe Anand had requested a three day postponement. The tightness of the schedule did not permit this but a one day postponement from Friday to Saturday has been allowed. The whole schedule has been pushed back one day.

One thing that made a three day postponement undesirable, and this would be true where ever the match was held, is the inconvenience to spectators with tickets and travel arrangements to see only a few days play. The whole schedule has been pushed back one day with all the rest days in place.

Everybody now seems as satisfied as they can be.

The players inspected the playing hall and tested the chairs and conditions.

Some quotes from the Press Conference (http://reports.chessdom.com/news-2010/world-chess-championship-postponed) who will update throughout the day.

Press Conference on 21st April. Right to Left: Veselin Topalov, R Atanasov, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation Stefan Sergiev, Georgios Makropoulos and Viswanathan Anand.

Press Conference 21st April 2010

Georgios Makropoulos: "I explained to Vishy that it is a shock for the organization to postpone 3 days, and I said to the organizers that the situation is force majeure. After many discussions I talked to the Presidential Board and the FIDE President and we decided to postpone the start of the match one day. I expect from the organizers understanding for the one day postponement and understanding from Anand's team that 3 days was also not optional,"

.Anand inspecting conditions. Photo © http://www.chessdom.com/

Viswanathan Anand: "I am very happy to be here, it was a longer trip than we expected. The main thing I came here for is to play chess. Mr. Makropoulos described very well the situation. I want to thank FIDE for the understanding and I hope the chess fans will see a good match."

.Topalov testing the chair. Photo © http://www.chessdom.com/

Veselin Topalov: "This is an historic event for Bulgaria, we are a small country. We cannot organize Olympic games and this championship is a very effective way of promotion for the country." "For 5 years with Anand and I have dominated the chess world, and this match should have happened long time ago."

Playing hall where the press conference took place. Photo © http://www.chessdom.com/

The opening ceremony takes place today Wednesday 21st April as scheduled.

FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DES ECHECS

Recognized by the International Olympic Committee 9 Syggrou Ave., 11743 Athens, Greece Tel.: (+30) 210-921-2047, Fax: (+30) 210-921-2859, Email: office@fide.com

http://www.fide.com

Hon. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

Chairman of Organising Committee of FIDE World Championship Match 2010 Sofia Bulgaria Sofia, 21 April 2010

Dear Hon. Prime Minister,

In my capacity as FIDE Supervisor for the World Championship Match 2010, I have consulted with all the parties to try and resolve the "force majeure" situation which has arisen these last few days. It is clear that we have reached an impasse in the discussions and a decision must be made. I also requested a meeting with you, but I was informed, that unfortunately this was not possible. After reviewing the World Champion’s request for a three day postponement, I understand that this would create enormous difficulties for the Organisers. Similarly, starting the match on Friday 23rd would cause enormous difficulties for the World Champion. I appreciate that whilst the one day postponement may cause some problems, it is justified by the circumstances that the whole world faced last week and ensures a fair play situation for both players.

Therefore, in accordance with chapter 7.4 of the match regulations as well as article 2.4 of our 2010 World Chess Championship Agreement, I would like to inform you that the 1st game of the match will be postponed by 1 (one) day to start on Saturday, 24th April 2010, for the following reasons:

a) As a result of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland which caused the cancellation of thousands of flights from most European airports, including Sofia, we faced serious problems, not only with the late arrival of World Champion Vishy Anand in Sofia but also with the late arrival of FIDE officials and principals of the match. It is obvious that this is an "Event of Force Majeure" [pages 2 and 12 (article 11) of our 2010 World Chess Championship Agreement] which has resulted in an unfair position for World Champion Vishy Anand as he has not taken full benefit of the seven-days period (article 8.2 of our 2010 World Chess Championship Agreement) in order for him to acclimatize to the conditions and ensure that all his team will be organised to support him logistically and technically in the match.

b) According to the 2010 World Chess Championship Agreement, the final inspection of the match was to be held on the 18th April 2010, five (5) days before the 1st game (article 3.9). This deadline was not followed due to the Organiser’s delay and it has been agreed by all parties that the final inspection will be held on the morning of the 21st April 2010. Therefore a postponement is also needed in order to secure that all organisational requirements will be met in the remaining three days before the start of the match in lieu of the five days originally envisaged for such compliance. The opening ceremony will not be postponed and will be held on 21st April 2010 as originally planned. The whole world will undoubtedly appreciate the efforts that Bulgaria has made not only to organize such a prestigious match, but also to find a fair and equitable solution to this problem.

I would like to thank you for your understanding and all your commitment for this match to be organized at the highest level possible.

Yours sincerely, Georgios Makropoulos

FIDE Deputy President

FIDE Supervisor for the World Championship Match 2010

Meanwhile details of the travel problems the Anand team had in reaching Sofia have emerged via the Indian Chess Federation. http://www.indianchessfed.org/News/2010/April2010/worldchampionship2010/TravellingtravailsoftheWorldChampion.asp. I quote the text below but the above article also has photos.

Travelling travails of the World Champion

A report from team Anand

Five countries, 2000 kilometres, about a million potholes, an unexpected ferry and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. A report of a crazy roadtrip through Europe.

Months of careful planning for the chess world championship in Sofia by the Anand team were disrupted by a volcano in Iceland, located under Eyjafjallajökull, one of the smaller glaciers of the North Atlantic island. Tens of thousands of people were stranded on airports in Europe. One of them was Viswanathan Anand, who had travelled with his wife and manager Aruna from Madrid to Frankfurt on Thursday April 15th. They planned to continue their journey to Sofia on Friday April 16, together with three other travellers. Two more seconds were to fly from other airports in Europe to the Bulgarian capital on Friday to join the team there.

On Thursday April 15, Hans-Walter Schmitt and another helper of the Anand team flew to Sofia to prepare the arrival of the team Friday. The plan was good and well thought through. But then, on Friday, the bad news was that the ash cloud from Iceland had reached Frankfurt Airport and the airport had to be closed at 09.00 a.m. This meant that the planned flight to Sofia, LH3484, which was scheduled to depart at 10.05 a.m., was cancelled, just like hundreds of other flights. It was quite unclear how long the airport would remain closed, therefore Aruna Anand and the team decided to rebook for the evening flight, LH3488, which was scheduled for 19.45 p.m.

Anand’s baggage was checked through to Sofia. Since it was not clear, however, if the evening flight would depart on time, or depart at all, Aruna thought that it wise to collect the checked-through baggage from Madrid, just to have everything under control in case of another cancellation. She was in close contact with Lufthansa, who were very cooperative, and picked up the baggage herself on Friday afternoon. You should know that finding four pieces of luggage in a major airport like Frankfurt is not an easy task, especially when there are heavy disruptions. Only in case of an emergency, e.g. if somebody has life-saving medicine in his suitcase, an airline is willing to make baggage available for the passenger.

After solving this problem, it soon became clear that the evening flight to Sofia would not depart as well, since Frankfurt airport would be closed until Saturday morning at 02:00 a.m. Once again the tickets were rebooked, and despite a long waiting list, Anand and his team were accepted and even got boarding passes for the first flight on Saturday, April 17, LH3484, at 10.05 a.m. However, on Friday, when it became clear that the situation at all major airport was becoming more and more critical, Aruna Anand and her team had already started searching for alternatives. Plans were made to travel to Vienna, which had one of the airports that was still open at that time, to get a flight from there. However, Vienna also closed down on Friday evening.

Aruna began to study other train schedules in detail, but it soon became clear that everything was booked out and it was absolutely impossible to get a ticket. Team Anand also had to bear in mind, that travelling to Sofia by a land route was also problematic, since not every country on the way would accept transit travellers from India without a valid visa! The shortest route is via Serbia, for that Anand and his wife would need a visa, which was impossible to at such a short notice.

There were some very generous offers from Anand supporters, who wanted to help get the world champion and his team to Sofia as quickly as possible. Wolfgang Grenke, one of the main sponsors of the Chess Classic, and sponsor of the Bundesliga team Baden Baden, in which Anand plays, offered Anand the use of his private jet. However, German authorities could not give him permission to fly, since the airspace in Germany was now completely blocked. Even German chancellor Angela Merkel had to take an overland route when she arrived from San Francisco on Friday and was not allowed to enter German airspace.

On Saturday, after another cancellation of all flights from Frankfurt and other airports in Germany, including all flights to Sofia, it became obvious that there was only one final possibility to reach Sofia: by car. However, most car rentals, taxi companies and other VIP services simply had no cars and staff available, while companies that did simply refused to drive all the way to Bulgaria. Finally, after many hours of trying, team Anand managed to find a VIP service by Taxi Lagerberg, located in Amstelveen, The Netherlands. They contacted two of their best drivers, Paul Oostheim and Peer Reintjes, on Saturday, and asked them to stop their shift immediately, in order to be able to drive to Bad Soden on Sunday. This is 500 kilometres from Amstelveen, a five hour drive.

In the meantime, two more seconds of Anand arrived, very late on Saturday, in Bad Soden to join the team. They had originally intended to fly to Sofia on Friday, but after the closure of the airspace, they had redirected to Bad Soden. To do so they had to travel more than twelve hours by train on Saturday, coming from different countries. But they made it somehow – what other choice did they have?

On Sunday morning, at 11:00 a.m., the Mercedes Sprinter, equipped with all kinds of amenities like a fridge, two TV screens and a DVD player, arrived in Bad Soden and after picking up the team in the hotel, the journey started at 11.28h. The drivers had prepared the route for Sunday: we would cross the Germany border in Passau, drive through Austria and continue to Budapest, to spend the night there. That was a 1000 kilometre trip, and after a smooth drive with a lot of sunshine the team arrived in Budapest at 22.30 p.m. Bear in mind that the drivers had started their trip in Amstelveen at 06.00 a.m.

On Monday, the journey continued at 08.00 a.m. with a morning traffic jam in Budapest. But the drivers managed to get the team out of the city pretty fast, and the drive to Szeged was easy, despite the heavy rain. The Rumanian border was reached at 13.30 p.m. The team had to transfer to Bulgaria via Rumania, because this country will accept Indian passports without a visa. The border was crossed near Arad, the federal border police recognised Anand. After crossing the border we started to watch the first film of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the extended version to be precise.

We had to drive 480 km through Rumania to the city of Vidin at the Bulgarian border. If you use Google Maps you may find it a bit strange that we had to reckon with 9-10 hours for this fairly short distance. But when you actually have to drive this route you understand why it takes so long: there are numerous construction zones, about every ten kilometres, dead dogs and cats on the road have to be avoided, and there are about a million potholes. To make the situation even more difficult for the drivers it was raining continuously – a miracle that the car survived these extremely bad road conditions. Even the two very experienced drivers had never seen such bad roads.

In the car however, the atmosphere was very good, there was food and drink, and the second "Lord of the Rings" film, "The Two Towers", helped us pass the time. After more than twelve hours driving through Romania, at 22.35h, we finally reached Calafat in Romania to cross the border to Bulgaria. That was when we saw a long queue and a ferry, and it dawned upon the passengers that there is no bridge across the river "Romania" and we would have to use the ferry. That meant waiting until enough cars had arrived for the ferry to cross the river. After over an hour, just before midnight, the ferry started, and twenty minutes later, on 20 April at 12:05 a.m., Anand finally reached Bulgarian territory. One of the Bulgarian border officers checked the passports in the bus. When he read "Anand" aloud he realized that he was checking the passport of the chess world champion and started laughing: "Ah, Anand!" Without any further checks we were allowed to pass.

Only 250 km left to Sofia, with about four more hours to go, but the story is not completely over. In the meantime, the last part of the Ring-trilogy, "The Return of the King", was running in our Sprinter DVD, and we were confident that we would reach Sofia at about 04.00 a.m. that night. And, dear readers, when the streets are empty, when you have driven 36 hours and your destination is within reach, you want to get there as quickly as possible. With only 100 km to go, at 02.15 a.m. on Tuesday morning, April 20, the Bulgarian police noticed a dark Mercedes Sprinter with a Dutch license plate, driving a just a little too fast. You guessed right: we had to stop and the driver had to explain why he was speeding (74 km instead of the allowed 50) – and what he was doing in Bulgaria. However, when the driver told the very friendly police officer that Vishy Anand and his team were on board, the officer smiled and said: "Ok, take him to Sofia, but not too fast, ok?!"

Without a fine we continued the last leg of the journey to Sofia, although we were stopped again by the police, this time just for a routine traffic check. Finally, at 05.30 a.m. after travelling for more than 40 hours, we arrived at our destination – just in time to have an early breakfast. There was only one problem: we arrived at the Hilton Sofia still a little too early and had missed the last hour of "The Return of the King". We will have to watch that on our way home…

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