April 18, 2010 20:55

Anand stranded due to volcanic ash, asks for 3-day match postponement

ashViswanathan Anand and the All India Chess Federation have requested a 3-day postponement of the World Championship match, which is scheduled to start Friday, April 23rd. Due to the volcanic ash from Iceland, which has closed most of Europe's airspace, Viswanathan Anand is stuck in Frankfurt at the moment, as reported by Chessbase.

Ash plume from Eyjafjallajökull Volcano over the North Atlantic | Photo courtesy of NASA/GSFC

Millions of travellers are stranded in locations all over Europa as the ash of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland continues to erupt. One of them is World Champion Viswanathan Anand, on his way to Sofia, Bulgaria, where he's due to play the World Championship match against Veselin Topalov. The opening ceremony is scheduled for next Wednesday, and the first game next Friday. However, it's highly unclear whether Anand is going to make it in time. Chessbase reports:

Last Thursday World Champion Vishy Anand took a flight from his home in Madrid, Spain, to Sofia, Bulgaria. He and wife Aruna had a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany, with an ongoing flight to Sofia the next day. No sooner had they landed in Frankfurt, however, than word went out that all further flights in and out of that airport were cancelled.

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has requested FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to intervene and postpone the match at least three days, to allow time for Anand to reach the venue. The official documents were posted at the AICF's website:

Anand Official Quote
"In view of the extreme force majeure situation we are facing, it has become difficult and near impossible to travel in Europe. We are working with the FIDE supervisor to see how we can travel at the earliest. Given these circumstances it has been agreed, keeping in mind Vishy's arrival in Sofia the schedule could be moved accordingly. We wouldnt want to speculate on rumours at this point and will try and arrive at the earliest", said Aruna Anand, wife and manager of the world champion Viswanathan Anand.

Anand Legal Notice


All the concerned parties
Sub: Notice of Force Majeure Condition.

We were due to arrive at _13.05 on 16th April by Lufthansa LH 3484 from Frankfurt to Sofia. We were in transit from Madrid. Unfortunately from 16th April all flights have been cancelled as is the case in most European countries due to the volcanic eruption. Therefore due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to reach Sofia as scheduled on 16th April, 2010.

We are in close consultations with Lufthansa and if the airspace in Germany does open we will fly to Sofia.

Meanwhile have been checking on alternatives of going to airports that are reachable by train. However, trains are overbooked and further the Airports seem to be shutting down. Rebooking on flights seem very difficult and we have used considerable influence in getting ourselves rebooked at the earliest.

Trains to Sofia would take about 28 hours to reach and I would not be in a mental state to play immediately after travelling such distance. Further to play immediately would be unfair and unjust due to the fatigue given that the opponent has arrived a few weeks back. Under these circumstances the contest would not be equal and fair.

This letter may be treated as notice under clause 11(2) of the Agreement of intimation of Force Majeure condition. I will immediately intimate you on finalizing an alternate arrangement to reach Sofia.

In this current scenario I request you to postpone the First round by three days


Yours faithfully,

Viswanathan Anand


His Highness Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV
FIDE President:

Sub : - Request for postponement of the first round World Championship match between Grandmaster Vishy Anand and Grandmater Topalov of Bulgaria

Greetings from the All India Chess Federation. We write to seek your kind intervention in postponing the Match between Grandmaster Vishy Anand and Grandmaster Topalov by at least three days. As you are aware, the Volcanic Ashes across Europe has rendered many passengers sulking in various Airports across the Globe, more particularly in and around Europe. Anand and his team could not reach Sofia on 16th as planned and are in transit & held up at Frankfurt. I understand that they are frantically trying to reach Sofia as early as possible so that the schedule is not disturbed. However, this being an important match it will only be fare to Anand that he is not made to play the first round amidst such tension. He needs atleast three to four days of acclimatization before he starts his defense of his title. I understand that Anand has already appealed to the authorities as per the Rules Governing this historic Match.

I am sure you will see reason and take a proper and just decision in the matter and help to bring in equal playing conditions to the player. We await your immediate action and response in the issue.

With kind regards

All India Chess Federation

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland has caused massive disruption to air traffic across Northern Europe. After a milder eruption on March 20 this year, a much stronger eruption started on April 14. This time it was from the top crater in the centre of the glacier, causing meltwater floods to rush down the nearby rivers, and requiring 800 people to be evacuated.

Dangerous Beauty by Iriya

This second eruption threw volcanic ash several kilometres up in the atmosphere which led to air travel disruptions in northwest Europe starting on April 15th 2010, including the closure of airspace over most of Europe.

Image courtesy of the CIMSS Satellite Blog

Yours truly has a flight next Wednesday to Sofia, which will probably be cancelled as well. I'm looking into alternative ways to reach the Bulgarian capital, but at the moment the best seems to keep fingers crossed and wait until flights resume.


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


standardbenutzer's picture

spreading rumours and not confirmed 'facts': 'There is confirmation from Hilton Hotel in Sofia that all rooms of Anand's team are already inhabited."
a typical trash report over there on CD.

Thomas's picture

For once, the Bulgarians are presumably innocent - this is Bobby Fischer commenting on the World Championship! [not my own idea, previously posted in the comments at Susan Polgar's blog]

But how does this compare with Chessdom reporting that Anand and his team have already arrived in Sofia?

Nick's picture

Rolling on the floor laughing, indeed !! Sergio's comment is the first, and unlikely to be improved upon as an amusing observation on the Topalov Team's usual method of operation...I hope FIDE responds to Anand's situation in a practical and fair manner.

Sergio's picture

I do have to prais the Bulgarian team, for all tricks they used, the vulcano is by far the best.

Zeblakov's picture

I expect that the Bulgarian team will demand that the first games MUST be won by forfeit if Anand will not manage to reach Sophia.

FP's picture

Yes, I didnt know Danailov had such powers.

Seriously, I wouldnt be surprised though if the bulgarians will not accept this request by Anand.

liubitel's picture


A meeting with FIDE deputy President Georgios Makropoulos starts at 17:00 CET

Chessdom.com journalists in Sofia immediatelly got in touch with the organizers, which were also surprised by the letter. They commented, "We have information from Hilton Hotel that Hansd Walter Schmitt has the keys from all room and that all rooms are actually being used. AICF themselves do not play a role in this championship and we have to consult FIDE immediatelly.

gazpacho's picture

Sergio is right. This is the "Bulgarian dragon".

gazpacho's picture

@FP. Surprised at Danailov's powers? The dark side is a path to many powers some consider...unnatural.

bolsky's picture

This is an interesting scenario. Yes Im also not surprise, there's a posibility the Dainalov's team will capitalize the situation, anyway this is their oppurtunity to score!!!!

Mauricio Valdes's picture

Danailov is the Devil, he provoked the eruption of the Volcano so Topalov wins the match!
This could be the new Danailov´s Inmortal Match!

Michael X Tractor's picture

If we are really lucky, the match will be postponed sine die.

Deep Mikey's picture

Stefan Sergiev, President of the BCF said for media in Sofia, "We believe Anand's team is here. If Anand had called or warned about the possibility, or at least for the time of his arrival, earlier, we would have made everything possible to arrange alternative transportation to Sofia. I have a feeling the Schmitt coming earlier and checking in all rooms could be a trick." Sergiev continued, "Topalov was also in SPain on an island, but managed to come on time, Anand is looking for excuses and reasons. No World Championship has ever been postponed."


Alexander's picture

I don't think Danailov is behind is. Do not forget that it is Bobby Fischer who lies buried in Iceland's soil; this eruption is his last, but by no means the most fiery, claim to the throne.

But seriously, wasn't there a news piece earlier this week about Anand already being in Bulgaria?

WGIFM's picture

This final seemingly will not be a fair and just encounter between the two parts.

I find especially annoying the way Bulgarian side reacts on Anand's request. Naturally they have all the right to refuse it, if they decide to do so, but accusing Anand to reside in fact in Sofia, and composing such ignoble requests in order to get advantage on Topalov is just loathsome.

The whole issue is actualy very depressing. Instead of a festival of chess now we will have again a trial in which many of us is probably not interested at all.

Thomas's picture

@Alexander: It's already in Deep Mikey's quote - apparently Hans-Walter Schmitt, who is part of Anand's team, arrived early in Sofia and took the keys of all reserved rooms.
The rest of Sergiev's statement isn't quite reassuring that the "neutral" Bulgarian organizers won't try to benefit from the force majeure situation .... .

MamedyarovFan's picture

It is essential that Peter get to Sofia because of his outstanding reports and videos. He should therefore consider hiring a sleeper van with chauffeur, and if he sets up a donation site where chess fans could chip in towards the expense, I would contribute something. (On a lighter note, Peter could pick up GM Anand and his entourage if he sees them hitchhiking outside Frankfurt ;-) )

Sherman's picture

Any delay should not be done. Anand was in Germany from April 16. By car to travel to Bulgaria for less than 24 hours. The opening may be omitted from Anand, but the first party should begin on the date - April 23.

Harrie Boom's picture

The Bulgarians are not alone in their claim that Anand is already in Sofia:


Scroll down for the "previous story".

Ben J's picture

You are the WORLDCHAMPION Chess.
You are in Frankfurt art 16 april and you find out that your flight is cancelled ?

What do you do ?

Call a cab like John Cleese did.
Only a WC Chess cannot think of that

And otherwise contact the organization.

If Anand takes a cab now mondag he will be in Sofia and can play on friday no problem.

Ridiculous request

Thomas's picture

@Harrie Boom: That Indian source obviously got confused, stating that "Anand and his team had trained in Sandaski, Bulgaria before the match". That's where Topalov and his team spent the last days before travelling to Sofia ... it is possible but VERY unlikely that team Anand chose the exact same small Bulgarian place.
Altogether, it looks like sloppy copy-pasting from Bulgarian sources, certainly not like independent evidence.

ron's picture

I live in Frankfurt and may be willing to drive Anand to Bulgaria. How to arrange?

gg's picture

It's five days before the first game, ridiculous to talk of postponements, Anand could take a bicycle to Sofia and be there in time.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Its one thing to be there in time to play and another to play with fatigue. The talk of postponement is only to consider the fatigue factor.

zee's picture

Sorry Anand, but if a person can't get from country A to a neighboring country B when it's a 24 hour drive away, they don't deserve the world crown.

sulotas's picture

Given that the FIDE president is a multi-millonaire guy, I guess he has his own private plane... Why doesn't he send it to Frankfurt to pick up Anand and have the flight make it to Sofia airport via an alternative route? Wouldn't he give the message to every one else who wonders about the upcoming FIDE elections, saying that mones matters at the end of the day?

Alexander's picture

Lol, zee, in what sense is Bulgaria neighbouring Germany? Trip is harder than it seems on map. You have to travel half the Germany and then across Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia. A train trip would probably take almost two days, plus necessary delays in last three countries (trip from Ljubljana to Belgrade takes roughly 16-18 hours, for comparison). World Champion should spend last days before match resting and mentally preparing and not waiting on train stations. It is a huge drawback.
A car drive is another option, but an uninterrupted 24-hour drive, without chance for sleep? We are talking WC match here, people, not some random tournament.

KK's picture

Mr Sergiev says "Anand is looking for excuses and reasons". He doesn't
say what excuses or reasons. Is Anand afraid to play Topalov, especially
during a volcanic eruption which might enhance Topalov's magical and
mystical powers? What a foolish comment to make.

One thing is obvious, the entire Bulgarian chess organization has left
no stones untouched to show their contempt and disrespect to Anand,
the current reigning world chess champion. It is sad to see this
disgusting attitude from the entire Bulgarian team, right upto Topalov.

Mejnour's picture

"Trains to Sofia would take about 28 hours to reach and I would not be in a mental state to play immediately after travelling such distance."

This kind of sentence are for looser.

If Anand is not willing to sit on his butt for one day in first class, I will say that it is a excuse to don't miss his appointement for "manucure" in Frankfurt.

Sissy Anand shame on you

xss's picture

Funny, the travel by car is less than 24 hours. And there are better vehicles than a mere car. Renting the vehicles + drivers should be a no problem to him (less than 1k5-2k euro)

Requesting a postpone is a lame excuse. A bet all the journalists would make their way to Sofia.

zee's picture

OK, I am a big fan of Anand and wish for him to win the match, but I am also a fan of logic and a missed flight is really not an excuse.

He can rent a giant tour bus and get there without fatigue. He doesn't have to travel in the cramped backseat of a BMW. Also, he won't be driving. He will just be eating and sleeping, in air conditioned luxury, with a fridge and a phone and a laptop.

He can take a couple of short hop flights. I understand those still work. Heck, he has so much time, he can float down the Danube.


raj's picture

I agree with Sergio. This time "Volcano- scandal" by Bulgarians

Alexander's picture

@mejnour: Have you ever travelled through Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia? A lot of trains do not have first class compartments and delays are rule, and not exception (this is not slander: I live in the region). Plus the fact that it would take at least five train changes to reach Sofia. Anand would most certainly need a day or two to recuperate to his mental strength after a 30-hours trip of sleeplessness and waiting on stations.

CAL|Daniel's picture

No offense... but isn't there anyone on Anand's side that could proof these official letters for him? The amount of typos, spelling errors and grammar mistakes are on par with an elementary school boy. Fare instead of fair?

Harish Srinivasan's picture

I am not sure if those commenting here are aware of the number of people who are stranded at Frankfurt or whether they have idea any idea of how overbooked the trains, cars and buses are. It is definitely a hassle to get out to Sofia. How much of a hassle it is, only Anand would know and not others who are not in his shoes.

jaideepblue's picture

The Bulgarians should immediately declare Topalov "Volcano champion", he would have earned it!

Arne Moll's picture

@Alexander, I grant you trains in Serbia are not too great, but in Croatia I traveled largely without problems and Slovenia actually had the nicest trains I've seen anywhere in Europe! :-)

john's picture

He's playing for over $1million so he can afford to hire a car and driver. What a wet blanket, I expected more from the Champion of the World...

Harish Srinivasan's picture

@CAL, I cant see any errors or typos on Anand's letter. May be you are talking about the AICF letter (fare / fair ). And if you are talking about the spelling of "travelling", in Anand's letter, In British English (and this is what is followed most of the world except the u.s.) it indeed has 2 l's instead of of 1 l.

Bert de Bruut's picture

The Bulgarians have again disgraced themselves.

Coco Loco's picture

The world champion is the most important person taking part in the world championship, but hardly the only one.
Think of any other sports event - soccer, boxing, whatever. Would the event be postponed because one of the participants (individual or the whole team) could only make it to the event 6 days (or 5 or even 4, if you wish) before the start? What is this "play immediately after travelling such distance" BS?

Jens Kristiansen's picture

They have just opened the airtports in the southern Germany. Vishy will be there in due time. Do not worry.

Henk's picture

Topalov refusing to postpone the date would at least give Anand the moral high ground. I would also strongly advise them to check their rooms for bugs, knowing Danailov et alia are closely involved in this match, he has to be the biggest rat in chess management history.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

".....Think of any other sports event – soccer, boxing, whatever. Would the event be postponed because one of the participants.........."..

Lets consider the situation in soccer. Say for the soccer world cup all but a single team (host team) has made it to the venue (analogous to the current situation). And every single person in the other team has to go through an ordeal to reach the destination and they request for a postponement ............ Well now the two situations are comparable. Now you can ask the same question, will it be postponed. May be...........such a thing has never happened in, but if it happens its something to give a thought.

If you start to compare two different things, make then analogous first and then compare, if not dont compare apples to oranges. Just look at this particular situation to draw conclusions.

Bobby Fiske's picture

There is only one thing which is for sure in the Anand - Topalov match: José Diaz gonna feature a volcano in his first cartoon from the match!

pk's picture

FC Barcelona deciced to travel by car to Italy for the football match (on Tuesday I believe) for Champions League

Mauricio Valdes's picture

Fischer will rise from the grave to reclaim his title!
Volcano-gate will be continued....

Eiae's picture

"His Highness Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV"

Vote for Karpov, lol. Can't get any worse than this.

Amy's picture

"His Highness Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV"

Vote for Karpov, lol. Can't get any worse than this.

Nemozyne's picture

Over at CG I see that Ilyumzhinov, in the rules, is assured of First Class Travel no matter what method of travel he chooses. Rule 11.11.1.

Your Highness, we are not worthy! We are only chessplayers groveling in your magnificent shadow.


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