Reports | April 20, 2010 21:27

Anand has arrived in Sofia (UPDATE)

Vishy AnandViswanathan Anand has arrived in Sofia. In the last days he and his team travelled for 40 hours by bus, from Frankfurt to the Bulgarian capital. "You can imagine he's very tired, so at the moment he's sleeping," delegation leader Hans-Walter Schmitt told us. In the meantime FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos has spoken out. Update: the organizing committee sticks to their initial response, and refused postponement in a new statement.

Photo: Christian Bossert

After a long and tough travel, which took 40 hours, Anand and his team have reached Sofia, delegation leader Hans-Walter Schmitt told us by phone. Schmit had arrived in Sofia last Thursday, taking one of the last flights possible from Germany to Sofia, before the volanic ash closed almost all of Europe's airports.

Hans-Walter Schmitt"Going through Austria and Hungary went smoothly," Schmitt says. "However, after that the team encountered some problems with visas. And the roads in Romania are very bad, I can tell you." The World Champion's team had arranged a bus to make the long trip, for which the theoretical 18.5 hours of travelling time given by Google Maps proved much too optimistic, especially when the whole of Europe is travelling by train or car. "The organizers said it was easy to reach Sofia, but I can tell you that it was not, under these circumstances," Schmitt added.

The Bulgarian organizers were surprised that they were informed only on Sunday about the travel problems of the Anand team. "But you have to realize that on Friday and Saturday it was completely unclear what the volcano was going to do," says Schmitt. "At first we decided to wait, but then on Sunday morning we decided to go over land. Then we immediately informed them and FIDE."

Schmitt added that he couldn't say too much yet, because Aruna Anand was preparing an official statement which would be published on the All Indian Chess Federation's website later today. This has been published by now:

World champion Viswanathan Anand has reached Sofia, the Bulgarian capital after a 40-hour road journey from Germany as flights were cancelled due to the volcanic ash floating across European airspace resulting in cancellation of flights.

The 40-year old world champion and his wife are obviously very tired after such a long journey by road and hoped the organisers would accept their reasonable request of postponement of the game by three days. Anand is not used to travelling such distances on road and not giving a three day postponement could give challenger Veselin Topalov a significant advantage.

Anand had planned to reach the venue on April 16 which is one week before the first game on April 23. Now he arrived four days behind due to factors beyond his control and has wanted a three day postponement.The road route selected to reach Sofia was done after a look into the visas they had on their passport.

Anand might miss the press conference but will attend the opening ceremony according to his wife Aruna Anand. Not rescheduling the games will mean Topalov could have the same advantage which Anatoly Karpov enjoyed in the World Title match at Lausanne in 1998.

"The news from us is that we reached here safely," said Aruna Anand on the phone.

Had Alexander Alekhine been in Anand's place, he would have sought a postponement of atleast a week as world champions ruled and challengers were at the mercy of champions. Such natural calamities had not occurred during world championships.

Sometimes a handicap is a better way to start a match and Anand can turn the disadvantage into a driving force in the 12-game series.

Yesterday FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos spoke to Chessdom about the recent developments. On Anand's travelling problems, and request for a postponement, Makropoulos said:

Of course, we understand that this creates big problems for his preparation because in such matches you need to be there several days before the start. You cannot just go the day before and start playing. You come with your people, you start to adjust to the conditions, and you try to be organized in order to play the match. I understand this very well, he needs several days, therefore in the contract it says that he can come 7 days before (last Friday). And he was preparing to come last Friday via Madrid - Frankfurt - Sofia flight. He could not get the connection from Frankfurt because it was cancelled.

I believe we have very good understanding, with all sides helping resolve the situation. Sergiev is very cooperative, Danailov as well, Aruna and Anand too. Everybody understands and cooperates. They see the problems of the other side. The one of Anand is obvious, this is force majeure. But on the other side, to postpone the match for three days will create very big problems for the organizers because they already have their contracts with TV, people that are involved with the organization, hotels, transportation agencies and they have already published the brochures and posters, the original schedule is everywhere. The politicians and everyone who want to attend the opening ceremony or will come for the first move of the first round, knows the schedule, they have arranged their time, so everybody will be forced to make radical changes if we go for postponement. All of us understand very well what is going on and we have good communication.

Having “good communication” is something, but what really becomes clear is that FIDE is reluctant to take a decision on the postponement at this point. We’ll have to await further developments.

Update 17:19 CET: the organizing committee sticks to their initial response, and refused postponement in a new statement:

Communication from the Organizing Committee

The Organizing Committee responsible for the organization of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match in Sofia got acquainted with the arising situation regarding the beginning of the match, because the world champion Mr. Anand arrived late in the city.

During the official FIDE congress in Kallithea (Greece) in November 2009, the World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov was scheduled for 5th of April 2010. At the instance of Mr. Anand the starting date was changed to 21st of April 2010.

This chess event has exceptional meaning not only for the chess community all over the world but also for Bulgaria as a country. Therefore the whole organization of this event is under the direct leadership of the Bulgarian Prime Minister - Mr. Boyko Borisov who is also the Chairman of the Organizing Committee.

All official guests and sponsors of the event have made their travel arrangements and plans so they can participate at the official Opening Ceremony on April 21st, 2010 and also at the first game on April 23rd, 2010. Possible change of these dates would deprive them of this opportunity.

For those reasons, is unacceptable to us to make any postponement of the match and change the program for its implementation.

20 April 2010 Organizing Committee
Sofia

In the mean time we'll embed an interview Anand gave last year to Al-Jazeera's Riz Khan, in the April 10, 2009 show One on one.


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

Mejnour's picture

Good he did it.

Now he can have his 3 days postponed!

Cheers.

SXL's picture

I think the date on YouTube is wrong, as Anand makes references that leads me to believe it was taped last year. But it's well worth watching.

sporty's picture

Sergiev statement http://reports.chessdom.com/news-2010/anand-topalov-live-sofia and thanks for the videos:)

Peter Doggers's picture

@SXL In fact the YouTube date is probably right, which means the interview was conducted exactly a year ago. I've mentioned that in the article.

VB's picture

Make the openning ceremony in order to execute the main arrangements and then give Anand a full week.

Sherman's picture

Why not full year?

Paul's picture

what a joke! Why on earth did he travel by bus?

test's picture

@Paul

Anand likes a challenge. He likes to give himself as big a disadvantage as possible. On the day before the first game he will run a marathon.

Marcos's picture

Haha. What a joke and what extent the cheats at Bulgarian Chess Federation will go to make the field uneven.

What "understanding" is Georgios Makropoulos talking about? All so very bureaucratic -
"Ah, you see we understand, but we cannot . . ."
"Ah, you see we can really understand, but we really cannot ...."
"Ah, you see we can really, really understand, but we really, really cannot ...."

What a joke.

So they would'nt postphone, right. Losers.

@Paul

"Why on earth travel on bus?" - What size if the team accompanying him?

@Sherma

"Why no full year?" - Yeah, right, it might well be with the volcano spitting up, only this is not your backyard game of chess.

Sanjeevi's picture

I believe he traveled by bus so that he could accommodate the entire team of seconds, Aruna, baggage, computers etc. to arrive in Sofia as a single unit and also the bus probably gave him sufficient space to sleep and also do some practice!.

Mejnour's picture

Bus ride is a way to remembering his root and like "test" says, give him a big challenge!

After this saga, we may concluded that this volcano story was a great marketing tool. Who know!?

P.S. I heard that Topalov will play with sunglasses. lol

chessfan's picture

now anand have a full 3 days for rest so everything will be ok for the first game on 23-th. i wish to him and to topalov good luck and let we see a gret fighting chess from them!

xtra's picture

they just didn't provide any reasons in that extra letter. It basicly says that, yeah, the event is planned to this date, we don't want to change it, and we are writing some other stuff here so we seem to say something new and relevant but in fact we aren't. What super frustrating people to have to deal with.

But, the decision must be FIDE's and not the bulgarians, or am I missing something?

rajeshv's picture

I was waiting to see how much more graceful their Prime Minister is compared to the others in the Org committee who have been issuing statements left and right on this issue. Now we know the answer. At least they spared us remarks from the head on the reasons why the postponement could not be done. So, it is all clear - they will take whatever benefit they can out of the situation. Time to see if FIDE will show some spine. Going by their track record it would be a huge surprise if they did.

pk's picture

Well, if FIDE now postpones the match, what happens if the organizers call for reimbursements? If this goes to a court, and since Anand has arrived in Sofia, can force majeure be claimed?

Tony's picture

FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos:
Point 1- " Everybody understands and cooperates. They see the problems of the other side. The one of Anand is obvious, this is force majeure. "
Point 2- "You cannot just go the day before and start playing. ... in the contract it says that he can come 7 days "

The overseeing body (FIDE) publically admitting that the situation is a Force majeure AND that he has contractual right to arrive 7 days before the match was a legal mistake. This is one reason lawyers tell people to say nothing.
It seems to me that the control now is totally in Anand's court.
He could claim breach of contract if the organizers refuse his request for a delay and walk away, probably with the minimum fee for playing to boot.
Anand has shown good faith by taking the bus to complete the contract. I suspect a court would side with Anand in any legal proceeding so now the organziers have to make a sacrifice too.

Castro's picture

"not giving a three day postponement could give challenger Veselin Topalov a significant advantage"

This is a huge exageration, and just re-shows, by one of the parts involved, the undesirable acceptance of a "war on nerves", which the other part also showed, of course.

Children not behaving. Chess will continue elsewhere :-(

chessfan's picture

hah "extra", why you continue to speak about the bulgarians?? anand is already in sofia, so he have 3 days for rest befere the first game. the organizing of the worlf championship match is difficult challenge and the dates and contracts are strict. if anand was goes to travil by car (or bus) on 16th or 17th he were come in sofia on 18th or 19th, which means 4-5 days for rest before the first game. this is problem of his own team, not for the organizers! nevertheless he still have 3 days before the first game, so this is enough!

Im Not dead yet's picture

Is anyone else feeling like this is the start of a Monty Python skit...?
Organizing committee as the Knights who say Ni!
FIDE as the Brave Sir Robin

chandler's picture

"All official guests and sponsors of the event have made their travel arrangements and plans so they can participate at the official Opening Ceremony on April 21st, 2010 and also at the first game on April 23rd, 2010. "

Anand should (would?) probably refuse to play the first game on principle (if not postponed) and let the "official guests" enjoy their "participation".

chandler's picture

These people who say "3 days is enough".... how do they know that?? Have they ever played a 12 game match (let alone the World Championship match)?

Thomas's picture

BTW, have the official guests actually arrived? According to an interview with Makropoulos, even Ilyumzhinov may or may not come (in time).

chessfan's picture

please stop to cry for anand. in whole europe all sport games and tournaments are not change the dates, and the players travel with a bus. who ask them? they play for money, they are profesionals, anand too! he is already in sofia, he have a 3 full days for rest, so he can prove that he is great player and champion. so stop to cry and ask for more days (why not years...) they play for 2.000.000 EUR, everything is fixed and there are not problem the first game to start on 23th

Guillaume's picture

Impressive, they actually managed to issue a statement without directly insulting Anand. However, I fail to see how they answer in any way to the issue raised by Anand. They're basically saying:

"We heard that Anand was late. We have already accepted a postponement of the game from the 5th to the 21st earlier this year. Our boss for this important even is really an important person himself. Everything has been tightly scheduled and therefore we cannot postpone anything."

Vesco's picture

Oh, a lot of people here behave like kids! Even Anand understands the situation! This chess event means a lot to Bulgaria, i.e. it means more than a mere WCC. Now imagine you are having important political delegates, artists, etc, that confirmed their presence at the opening ceremony and first game. How do you tell these VIP that they can just go to a restaurant instead? Especially having all the players in the city?! It´s a disrespect to the VIP´s! I´m sure Anand understands this as well. The "bulgarians" (please stop calling them like that, is an insult to the whole country) are being perfectly reasonable and FYI life has its own difficulties and just because you had some trouble doesnt means the whole world must stop to try to make you feel comfortable.

john's picture

If the organizing committee considers the Bulgarian Prime Minister, guests and TV are more important than the player, what kind of organizing committee is this? Their statement is looking like a child's cry, repeating the same thing again and again without understanding the situation. I wish Anand should not play if they don't consider his request.

sulotas's picture

I have this feeling that this is just the beginning. The closer the time approaches for the first game, the more I understand Kramnik, who said he would never play with Topalov in Bulgaria.

Vesco's picture

I´d say the president or prime minister of any country, especially if of the host country, is indeed very important! But your blinded biased minds do not see it.

Simmillion's picture

I'm with Tony, and I see in the makropoulos statement more than enough reason to postpone (or force it afterwards in a court)

Now we see 'the bulgarians' raising the stakes by namedropping their national president. Every chess player should have enough poker knowledge to see the losing hand bluffing towards an all-in. My advice would to Anand would be, just call.

Vesco's picture

To most of ya... keep dreaming about the court! What a ridiculous statement! ROFL!

Simmillion's picture

Its not the court Vesco, that would be afterwards and compkletly administrative anyway.

Its the mere fact that lawyers start sensing where the pain is centred, which will do the damage for the bulgarian site.

Aingle Pack's picture

We don't give a **** about the schedule of the Bulgarian PM. Let him come some other time. He anyways seems to have no work other than organizing a Chess Tournament. And who cares about the Bulgarians coming up with the bid for the match because without their bid Anand would continue to be the champ without a match :)

Simmillion's picture

(I was not intending to shout at chessdom offcourse, but at the bulgarian side, pardon my dunglish)

Aingle Pack's picture

All the Bulgarians are active on Chessvibes. Actually some 200 of them who have Internet connection, including their PM :) :)

Thomas's picture

@Vesco: I guess the first game would be postponed if both players managed to arrive as planned, but the prime minister is late or cannot make it?

The issue isn't whether he is (very) important, but whether he is more important than one of the players. In other words: making a symbolic first move seems more important than playing an entire high-quality and high-stakes game?

Alexander's picture

"How do you tell these VIP that they can just go to a restaurant instead? Especially having all the players in the city?! It´s a disrespect to the VIP´s!"

Considering the fact that no sane man, with an exception of chess players themselves, would rather watch two adult men moving wooden figurines about than eating in a fine restaurant, the VIPs would be delighted, if not delivered.

cheesfan's picture

If Anand refuse to play Kramnik get his spot.

Guillaume's picture

This argument about VIP's is really quite ridiculous. Whoever are these VIPs, they should really be able to stay a few days more in the wonderful city of Sofia; enjoy the week-end, the spring, the great architecture and the many great restaurants there. The only Very Important Persons that should matter are Anand and Topalov.

The job of competent organizers is to deal with the unexpected and re-organize things so that the event can run smoothly. Now it looks like they have achieved the exact opposite. The World Championship is seriously compromised. They should be sacked.

cheesfan's picture

"If Anand refuse to play Kramnik get his spot."

That means that Anand soon as possible will play.

zee's picture

Anand is too nice. He should have stopped on the border of Bulgaria, taken a couple of days rest, and rolled in on the last day.
Heh heh, give Topalov something to stress about.

KingTal's picture

I don´t understand why you all make stress out of this situation, Anand is there now let´s enjoy the games. Anand should not feed the Bulgarian trolls, otherwise toiletgate II will happen. He should just play, yes... PLAY. That´s why he is there and i think he´s very motivated to play Topalov otherwise i wouldn´t understand why he got there with bus.

Let´s hope for some epic games! :D

John's picture

If Anand refuses to play, Topalov can play with the VVIPs because they have allotted their valuable time, that should not go waste.

Eiae's picture

Its force majeure, people. Anand will just have to accept his bad luck and give his best shot at beating Topalov.

What I'd liked to have seen was a more active organizing commitee from the start. They should have contacted Anand day one and offered to help him.

jjs's picture

"During the official FIDE congress in Kallithea (Greece) in November 2009, the World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov was scheduled for 5th of April 2010. At the instance of Mr. Anand the starting date was changed to 21st of April 2010."

What an incredible statement! How in the world is this related to the current situation? This is totally ridiculous and shows how they will treat any problems that may arise during the match.
I can understand that the OC doesn't like the idea of postponing. If I was the organizer it would certainly give me nightmares. But what a completely out of context nonsense. Are these really the people who are making decisions?

The whole organizational situation has given me the feeling that Anand is up against the Bulgarian OC and FIDE, because the Topalov camp has excellent connections to both. The official website shows nothing but Topalov and his friends. And I am sure that the OC does absolutely nothing that has not been approved by mr. Danailov.

By the way, why did Anand not inform the world about his problems earlier? Well, I was in a similar state of mind: I learnt that my flight was cancelled, but that it was expected that on Friday the 16th the airport would be opened again by noon. Then on the Friday morning, it was expected that the airport would be opened again by 8 pm, etc., etc. In other words, I was made believe that I would be able to travel with less than half a day delay. Four days later, we're still not flying.

Lone-Tiger's picture

Who is more important, the organisers who bring up money to sponsor an event and pay the players; or the players (World Champion) who come to make money.

Until chess has the same corporate association like Football, tennis or golf; Beggars cannot be Choosers.

Let's remember, chess is a non-profitable sport!?

Jeffrey "notyetagm" Hall's picture

Why are the Bulgarians such ---deleted---?

Sorry for my language but that is really the way I feel.

Lone-Tiger's picture

Who is more important, the organisers who bring up money to sponsor an event and pay the players; or the players (World Champion) who come to make money.

Until chess has the same corporate association like Football, tennis or golf; Beggars cannot be Choosers...

Let's remember, chess is a non-profitable sport!?

Sherman's picture

@Peter Dodgers: Would you do something with previous post? Or words like these are normaly when refer to Bulgarian nation?

bayde's picture

Because all the important cronies there are typical post-Soviet corruptocrats. Same thing all over the fSU.

Aingle Pack's picture

1. Logic does not work with Bulgarians.
2. All junior politicians are coming for the opening ceremony to develop some network with the senior politicians. The Senior politicians coming to stand next to the Bulgarian PM and appear in the evening news. The Bulgarian PM is coming because he has no work. He is organizing a Chess Match. Never heard US President is the head of World Basketball Champ or UK Pres organizing Cricket World Cup or French Pres organizing Football World Cup :)
3. In a Bulgarian movie, the hero always knows that the Villain has hidden transmitters in his toilet.

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