March 31, 2010 17:19

MTel Masters cancelled

There will be no MTel Masters this year. The sponsor is not willing to support both the tournament and the upcoming World Championship match in Sofia, between Anand and Topalov. This was revealed already five days ago by Silvio Danailov in an interview with Bulgarian newspaper Trud, but only emerged in the chess media yesterday.

TrudOn March 26th Bulgarian daily Trud published an interview with Silvio Danailov, organizer, manager of Veselin Topalov and executive director of the Grand Slam Chess Association. Yesterday Chessdom published a full English translation. The most newsworthy is the final part:

It is already clear that there is not going to be a supertournament Mtel Masters?
We discussed extensively the idea with the sponsor, since the deadlines did not allow us to organize two big tournaments for such a short period of time – the match with Anand and Mtel Masters.

One of the explanations was that the match with Anand will generate great interest and the tournament will fade away. I did not share this opinion and believe that it is quite the contrary – the popularity of chess after the match would have been greater and the tournament could only benefit from it. Nevertheless, the sponsor decided and they chose not to have Mtel Masters this year, they will only sponsor Topalov personally during the match.

Isn't this going to eventually have a repercussion on the reputation of the tournament for the coming year?
It will have a repercussion, but in history there have been such cases with other tournaments – both with Corus and Linares.

But also you are falling in a uncomfortable situation as ideologist and creator of the Grand Slam, part of which is Mtel Masters.
Yes, it is not pleasant. But, regretfully, now there is nothing more to be done. There is a temporary crisis, the same in the rest of the world. Chess, after all, is not such an expensive sport and I hope that next year there will be no longer problems.

The main sponsors of the Anand-Topalov match are the Bulgarian government, MTel (the largest GSM mobile phone operator in Bulgaria)

Update: it seems that despite having their logo on the official website, MTel isn't sponsoring the match either. According to Silvio Danailov, the company was invited to become a sponsor of the match, but has been denied. "However, we put their logo on the official site of the match for the world crown of gratitude." This was reported by Dnevnik.

...and Spectrum Net (a Bulgarian internet and telecommunication company). A total sum of 3 million Euros has been collected: 2 million for prize fund, 400,000 FIDE taxes, and 600,000 for organizational costs. The match will take place April 21-May 12, with the first game being played on April 23rd.

The cancellation of the MTel Masters can be considered a major blow for both Silvio Danailov and the Grand Slam Chess Association. As a Presidential candidate for the European Chess Union, Danailov has something to explain during his campaign. Besides, he has some problems to solve with his Grand Slam colleagues.

For the 2010 Masters Final (this year scheduled to be held in both Bilbao and Shanghai), only Magnus Carlsen and Veselin Topalov qualified so far. Carlsen won both the Nanjing tournament and Corus, Topalov Linares. But to our knowledge no other Grand Slam tournament will be held until September; the Bazna tournament in Romania still hasn't been officially included in the Grand Slam.

On a final note, we discovered that the domain, where the official websites of the first five MTel Masters tournaments were stalled, expired...


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


unknown's picture

All money was eaten by World Championship match. Pity... it was always interesting and strong tournament.

Are there any tournament to follow before WCh match? And when after WCh match will be next strong tournament?

VietLion's picture

Maybe, as no one else will qualify to the Grand slam, let it be a match between Vesko and Magnus. That would be cool!

ebutaljib's picture

"Are there any tournament to follow before WCh match?"

Not on the highest level, no.

"And when after WCh match will be next strong tournament?"

Last grand prix tournament in Astrakhan starts towards the end of World Championship match (May 9th or something like that)

Thomas's picture

@VietLion: In jest, I wrote the same on Dailydirt ... . While it may be "cool" it would also be rather ironic: Bilbao going from six players in 2008 to four in 2009 to two in 2010, what's next? And one could also suggest that three runners-up would deserve a Bilbao invitation: Kramnik and Shirov for Corus, Grischuk for Linares - Danailov may no longer be in a position to avoid one of those names!?

@ebutaljib: At Chessmind, Jeffrey "notyetagm" Hall mentioned the 'very strong Russian Team Championship' starting around April 2.

BTW @Peter Doggers: How do you know about sponsors of the WCh match? Has this been officially announced anywhere? I also ask because in an interview by Jury Vasiliev for SportExpress (translated on the match homepage), Topalov denied that there is government money involved. He only said that prime minister Borisov guarantees the prize fund, whatever that means - tax money or from his own pocket??

unknown's picture

Yes, I just found on chessdom site info about Russian Team Championship:

Games will start tomorrow (hope it's not Fool's Day's joke):

Antichrist's picture

Guys, chill out, it's an early joke!

Oh...well I don't think Bulgaria celebrates April Fool's on March 26...unless I'm fooling myself

April Fools everyone! :)

Peter Doggers's picture

@Thomas These three sponsors are shown clearly on the official website.

Thomas's picture

Ah yes, "Ministry of Physical Education and Sports" to be precise. So there seems to be tax money involved after all - indirectly yours and mine as Bulgaria receives subsidies from Brussels?

And Topalov is wrong, the full quote is
"Q Does the prize fund consist of government money?
Topalov: No, those money are from private sponsors, but the guarantee from the prime minister of Bulgaria Mr. Boiko Borisov, whom I am very grateful, was very important."

BTW Peter, sleepless night or currently in another time zone? :)

Peter Doggers's picture

'None of the above'. That's what happens when you attend a Dvoretsky training held in a... cafe.

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