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World Chess Championship 2012 (Moscow)

Moscow's winning World Championship bid

Moscow will host the World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand in May 2012. A premature FIDE press release that appeared on Monday was not signed by Kirsan Ilyuzhinov and there are claims that the final decision wasn't made until Tuesday. It does seem that the final specific venue is a source of dispute. Ilyumzhinov insists upon Skolkovo a small Moscow Science Park whilst the major sponsor Andrey Filatov and the Russian Chess Federation say that it should be the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Chennai are offered first refusal for the match for 2013. There is plenty of material in the Russian press, I review it below.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has given an interview in Russian to Yuri Vasilyev in Sport Express http://others.sport-express.ru/reviews/15654/ his normal outlet when making FIDE pronouncements. In addition there have been stories in the Russian press with additional information http://www.izvestia.ru/news/496913 and http://news.mail.ru/sport/news/chess/6533449/

The announcement that Moscow would host the World Chess Championship first came via an official FIDE press release on Monday. However this was not signed by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and seems to have jumped the gun somewhat and a few hours later this was withdrawn. It is claimed that the decision hadn't conclusively been made at that point. A revised press release appeared on Tuesday on the FIDE website.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov stresses in his Sport Express interview that the match will take place in Skolkovo, in Moscow, a place that has been described as Moscow's Silicon Valley by some and as a joke by others. The best information we have is that it is known for having as few as 365 residents and a lot of unfinished plans. It is clear that if the match is to take place there then there will have to be construction work, as there was for the recent chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov visited Chennai on July 13th and encouraged the Tamil Government to bid for the match with an amount in excess of the already submitted bid from Moscow. As one observer pointed out this process should be a tender process with confidentiality attached. Instead it turned out to be an auction. Once the Chennai bid was on the table Moscow was then forced to come back with a bid that equalled or exceeded the new Chennai amount. The Istvestia article claimed that as recently as two weeks ago the Chennai was in the lead with $ 2.25 million ahead of the initial proposal of Russia of $ 2 million. So Moscow had to find another $500,000 and this now comes from Skolkovo bringing the total to $2.55 million. Malcolm Pein asserts that this amount still does not match the $2.88 million that was on the table from London at the start of the year.

It is to be hoped that the FIDE President didn't encourage the Chennai bid merely to push up the value of the Russian bid, or even worse to inject Skolkovo into the bid in order to get some construction work done.

Ilyumzhinov states that Chennai has first refusal for the next world title (up to three months after the conclusion of the Anand-Gelfand Match) which will take place in 2013. It does seem that the Indians think they were misled into believing that because their bid was the highest at that time they had effectively secured the match.

The main and initial sponsor of the event is Andrey Filatov a billionaire who co-owns railway and port operator, N-Trans group. Born in Ukraine, graduated from physical culture and sports Academy in Belarus as a chess teacher and coach. He has known Boris Gelfand and Ilya Smirin from the time he was a student at the above Academy.

The chairman of the Russian Chess Federation Ilya Levitov made it clear in an interview with RIA Novosti that he doesn't agree at all with the idea of holding it in Skolkovo.

"Information about Skolkovo (as the venue of the match) is a bit untrue, We will work with Skolkovo - it will close the tournament and maybe host some additional activities. But the match, as previously planned, will take place in one of the famous museums of Moscow. " Ilya Levitov Chairman of the Russian Chess Federation.

..."one of the goals of the tournament is to promote chess, and place the match should be as accessible to all fans of this game." According to him, "the best venue for the match may be one of Moscow's major museums, which will contribute, including promotion of Russian culture abroad, given the huge international interest in the event." Mr. Filatov

Sources: http://news.mail.ru/sport/news/chess/6533449/ and even more clearly here (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc-y/1693976) where he says that Skolkovo just doesn't have the infrastructure for the match.

It seems that the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is their favoured venue. With Ilyumzhinov coming out so strongly for a new venue and the major sponsor for another there seems to be a major source of disagreement. He spoke of further negotiations. This story doesn't seem finished.

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