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

Aingle Pack's picture

4. One can hardly distinguish Topalov's Team from Organizing Committee and Oraganizing Committee from Bulgarian government (I stole this comment from Chessninja board)

Aingle Pack's picture

@Sherman: How long would take Peter's help. I think you should stop and think why 99% people outside Bulgaria don't agree with Bulgarian's behaviour. I still how Cheparinov had to apologize to Short and re-play the forfeited game on a rest day. Bulgarians like Danailov and Cheparinov have brought bad name to all Bulgarians.

john's picture

I wasn't convinced Anand deserved a 3 day delay of the games, becasue he is actually there and it was all agreed a long while ago.

He should have left more room in his original timetable if he absolutely needed to be in Sofia 7 days before the first game. Fair enough he could not predict a volcano erupting but with frequent terror alerts going by plane is no longer as certain as it was.

Besides, he has the moral high ground now whatever happens.

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!?

cheesfan's picture

@Sherman Why? Let desicion to mr Doggers. Some coments is like monument of human stupidity :)

cheesfan's picture

Moral is no legal category. That is nonsense in that case. This WCC match and not meeting of old friends. There is contract. If Anand prove that his official statements & legal notice(not moral) has ground then ok.

rajeshv's picture

If FIDE doesn't do anything about this, I would think it would be a good idea for Anand to play Game 1 "under protest" exactly like Kramnik did, i.e. if he can't drill sense into the FIDE heads. That would at least highlight to the world that this match is getting underway under unfair conditions to one competitor (the defending champion, to boot), how one-sided the organizers are, and how spineless FIDE is as an organization to keep up anything, including their word.

If Elista06 provides any lessons, it is that fighting with a bunch of unreasonable people isn't always fruitful at least in the near term. So, while Anand may have all the legal pluses on his side, it would be an ordeal to get through the near term. Plus he would have to put up with "oh, you are scared!" high-school bullying nonsense.

some wise ones on these boards already commented "what a sissy" etc.. as if he could've started jogging frankfurt-sofia, no sweat.
before someone starts repeating "oh, he has 3 days!", first of all it is 2. He arrived on tuesday, game 1 starts friday. Next, it is the World Championship (not one of those weekend tournaments you go to, assuming you actually do play in some), and the 7 days clause is there in the contract for a reason.

Aingle Pack's picture

@Lone-Tiger: "Until chess has the same corporate association like Football, tennis or golf; Beggars cannot be Choosers.."

Well for that specific reason only in Chess its the WC who is in a stronger position for challengers, you can say that Beggars cannot be Choosers. We all know how FIDE danced around Kaspy and Kramnik for a WC match over last 15 years. History of Chess is actually one example where the World Champ has always had the upper hand in all negotiations.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

@Guillaume
I agree, the BCF managed to deny the request but at least without any insults this time. They are learning, thats something positive.

FIDE is trying to play the safe game and not committing at all. Finally for the first time Anand's team has shown some aggression in attitude
"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."

I am happy to see that, otherwise the BCF will just take you for a ride and will treat you as though Topalov is the current WC and Anand is the challenger. There seems to absolutely no difference between the organizer and Topalov's team. Where is neutrality? , surely a clause that must have been signed in by all somewhere in the contract.

cheesfan's picture

@Aingle Pack 99% people outside Bulgaria don’t agree with Bulgarian’s behaviour.

You did a sociological poll or just talking?

xtra's picture

@chessfan, and anyone else defending the organizers for no reason:

the point is not wether or not the match should be delayed. In fact, it might not be that nessecary, I guess. Im sure Anand has played under far worse conditions. The point is that the organizers are, simply put:
-unpolite
-seemingly very biased toward one of the particippants (immidiately accusing the other side, on very loose grounds, of "playing head games" and such)
-incapable of arguing for what they think should be done (not delaying anything), and putting forth arguments that are simply irrelevant and weird.

So, Bulgarians in the chess world are showing themselves (again, sadly) to be very beurocratic and very annoying having to deal with. It is just so very unnessecary since they could have easily handled the situation with the same end result but not having their already doubtful reputation dragged in the dirt. But what do they do? They start by accusing the world champion of head games and dishonesty, then continue with idiotic arguments about everyone knowing when the event begins and "everyone else managing to get there on time just fine", and finish it off with with an incoherent statement that says almost nothing (certainly nothing new, and nothing to answer the point from Anand that conditions are unfair). It is actually a little surprising how bad they are at handling relations and making sound arguments. But just a little.

VladR's picture

They keep saying: "This match is very important for
Bulgaria..." Who cares?!
It's not about Bulgaria at all! It's about the world chess community.
The organizers need to know their place, they were gracefully allowed to be hosts, so do whatever you can to accomodate players. And FIDE must take the lead, this is ridiculous. Karpov must be smiing now.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

@john "He should have left more room in his original timetable if he absolutely needed to be in Sofia 7 days prior..."

Be aware of the contracts before you speak such things. It was because Anand and his team wanted time to acclimatize, the organizers agreed to give him accommodation 7 days prior to the start. It was Anand's choice to have the 7 days, otherwise he would have had none and would have to arrive just a day or so before the match.

The 7 days does include some room for flight delays and cancellations. It was wise on Anand's team to have the 7 days at least. But nobody can plan a timetable with room for a volcano in it. Why dont you try planning a simple vacation assuming that there will be volcano erupting.

chessfan's picture

Lone-Tiger: Stop to ask who is more importanat, players or the sponsors and VIP persons. Don't forget that the prize pool is 3.000.000 EUR, so if there was no sponsors and VIP's the match will be not possible. Anand play for money, not for smile, so the people which give a money must be have our respect! Because in these iconomical crisis it's very hard to find people which give a 3.000.000 EUR for chess and wthis was the hard work to tha manager Danailov and all organizers so, please shown some respect! Anand is already in Sofia, he have almost 4 days for rest, so stop ty cry for him. At the end of match he will be with 1.000.000 EUR mire rich! He is profesional player, not kid.

Aingle Pack's picture

@Cheesfan: For your sake, you can do a simple count on this forum (and others if you want), how many people are posting in favour of Anand and how many in favour of BCF.

And you should not even think of a survey. it will be a major embarrassment for you.

Jost's picture

Topalov will probably write a new book: 'ashgate', which again no one wants to read

cheesfan's picture

Yesterday i proposed. Why USA or Netherlands don't put money on the table and prove his high moral value in organizing of WCC. No one don't answered. For example i don't like president Obama but I don't insult citizens of USA because of their president.

cheesfan's picture

"how many people are posting in favour of Anand and how many in favour of BCF."

What this prove? That bulgarians are many or that is a indian are many?

raj's picture
VladR's picture

the best argument ever: they can't postpone the first game, because His Highness President of Bulgaria has to make the first move.

This is not illogical. This is INSANE.

xtra's picture

again at chessfan, of course morality is to be taken into consideration. This is not an economic transaction, this is a sports event. In a sports event, one of the important things that makes it legitimate is fairness, equal conditions (or rather, not conditions that aren't veryunfair). And this match is in the end also about being the world champion of chess, it is not just a match about winning 60% and not 40% of the prize fund. Fairness matters. (Then if the conditions are fair is another questions. But you should agree that things should be fair, no?).

I have a question for you, do you think that the organizers are handling this situation in a professional way?

cheesfan's picture

INSANE is not communicate to organizers and tell them that there was a problem. German manager of Anand was in Bulgaria but no commenting that Anand's team is in Frankfurt.

Aingle Pack's picture

@Cheesfan: Forget about the WC match and Chess for a second. Objectively I think its not the right use of funds (3 mil Euro) by the Bulgarian sponsors in such an Economy. A professional sports event should run purely on its market value and returns that it can offer. I don't care where FIDE would have gone to find sponsors. At least Brissago and Bonn WC sponsors had an aim at publicity and brand building. I don't think the Bulgarian sponsor can hope to generate enough returns (in increased business, for example) from this match. At best they can try to get some government business because PM is in the loop. Well that essentially means corruption and a waste of public money. For this simple reason governments usually don't get into professional sports organization.

Well when you brag about 3 mil Euro, you can keep doing that but the WC does not lose anything if BCF does not organize a WC match. It's the challenger who loses. May be you should some History of Chess WC Matches starting from Steinitz.

Think about it.

chessfan_'s picture

people, are you crazy to think that the organizers and VIP's which give 3 millions Eur for this match are not important?? do you blind to see that anand is already in bulgaria and have almost 4 days for rest before the first game? he have a contract and he will win a big money from this match. he have excellent hotel, playing hall and great securitym the cheating is not possible, so where is the problem to play after 4 days???? stop to crya please. let we see a great fighting chess.

cheesfan's picture

I have a question for you, do you think that the organizers are handling this situation in a professional way?

Yes

Harish Srinivasan's picture

@chessfan "Yesterday i proposed. Why USA or Netherlands don’t put money on the table and prove his high moral value in organizing of WCC"

Bulgaria organized this WCC because Topalov was the challenger. Its very simple, otherwise why does it care. But it has to bear in mind that Anand is the world champion and his demands be respected and in a time like this to administer fair conditions of play. If the BCF wants to keep a name for itself, then it better provide fair conditions of play. We are no one to say Anand is or is not tired after his journey. Only he knows that.

test's picture

Most of the "dignitaries" attending the first game are local, they don't have to come across Europe to attend. What do they care when the first game is played?

And for those who DO have to come from across Europe (like Ilyumzhinov), they would probably be happy with a postponement.

cheesfan's picture

@Aingle Pack Thanks for briefly economical education. I started thinking. FIDE choose BCF for organizing the match. Ask FIDE for answers that's no my call. BCF wants organize the match. And raise that fund. There many richest countries and companies but they just not willing to pay the price. Americans loving to say - show me the money.

Coco Loco's picture

Let's draw a parallel to boxing, which to me looks like the closest kin to chess as far as the WC match is concerned: only two "players" engaged in an exhausting fight.
Mike Tyson (sorry, I'm not up to date) arrives to Las Vegas only four days before the title bout at the MGM grand and requests to postpone the fight for another three days because he needs a full week in Vegas to be fully fit for the match. What do you think should/would occur?
Feel free to throw a prime minister of sorts in the mix too.

cheesfan's picture

@chessfan I fully agree

Harish Srinivasan's picture

I have a feeling the organizers have sort of decided to postpone the match by a couple of days, but they are just trying to keep up the tension in Anand's team by saying no and would reveal it as late as Thursday. I mean the BCF knows there are several FIDE officials who are yet to arrive. The second arbiter, appeals committee, President nobody is in Sofia yet. Amongst those who are stranded/yet to come, Anand has been the first and has gone through an ordeal.

cheesfan's picture

In boxing was many verses titles. And there we talk for branding , money and management. In chess situation is much diferent.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Aside from these, will chessvibes be providing videos of the opening ceremony? Could we expect some links here by end of tomorrow ?

VladR's picture

@ Coco Loco

if the contract contained:
1) arrival 1 week before the first game clause
and
2) force major clause,

then it doesn't matter what you or I "think should/would occur".

VladR's picture

now that cheesfan fully agrees with chessfan, the discussion is closed

cheesfan's picture

I have a feeling the organizers have sort of decided to postpone the match by a couple of days, but they are just trying to keep up the tension in Anand’s team by saying no and would reveal it as late as Thursday. I mean the BCF knows there are several FIDE officials who are yet to arrive. The second arbiter, appeals committee, President nobody is in Sofia yet. Amongst those who are stranded/yet to come, Anand has been the first and has gone through an ordeal.

There are reasonable thinking and not just insults to organizers from readers.

Aingle Pack's picture

@Cheesfan: "FIDE choose BCF for organizing the match. Ask FIDE for answers that’s no my call. BCF wants organize the match. And raise that fund"

Dude, when I said waste of public money, I meant Bulgarian public's money. Why would FIDE care, where the money is coming from? They are actually earning from this match! Anand and Topa will also earn from this match.

As far as, "richest countries and companies not willing to pay the price..." is concerned, how should I make you understand that they don't think 3 mil Euro is the marketable value of a Chess WC Match. Its the truth, even if its harsh for us Chess followers. As a matter of fact, England didn't have any super-tournament for last so many decades until London started in Dec, 2009.

Even great Kasparov could not find sponsors for his matches. Simply because the market-value of these Chess WC matches is very low and 3 mil is definitely seems just "an inappropriate use of public money by the Bulgarian Govt, where only Anand, Topalov and FIDE will earn".

cheesfan's picture

@VladR Why??

cheesfan's picture

"Dude, when I said waste of public money, I meant Bulgarian public’s money. Why would FIDE care, where the money is coming from? They are actually earning from this match! Anand and Topa will also earn from this match."

Dude I aware of all that and I a Topalov's fan. That not me scares.

Aingle Pack's picture

@VladR: "now that cheesfan fully agrees with chessfan, the discussion is closed"

:) :) :)

Aingle Pack's picture

@cheesfan: "Dude I aware of all that and I a Topalov’s fan. That not me scares."

It was not to scare you but to educate you about a brewing corruption by your Government.

And you forgot your own question, 'Why FIDE gave the contract to BCF' and my answer was 'because they are making from you guys' Got it!

cheesfan's picture

Your goverment is not corrupt and i happy for you!

cheesfan's picture

But you wish see match that was sponsored by goverment's corruption :)
And educated me of course. Let me to be straight - funds a no public and from private sponsors. See logos on pictures from the venue. My goverment only garanties prize fund ,dude.

Aingle Pack's picture

Well one thing is for sure. In future, nobody is ever going to agree to play a WC match in Bulgaria again.

cheesfan's picture

@Aingle Pack You must bett on this dude :)

Aingle Pack's picture

@cheesfan: You seriously think, that the Private Sponsor ever hoped to get returns from this match more than he is spending. Why the PM has to guarantee this match? So much for trustworthiness of the private sponsor. Professional sports are not organized with guarantee from the government.

nn's picture

aingle, why??? the organization of the match is excellent! do you see tha playing hall, hotels and all other thinks live or just speak yourself aboute bulgaria??? the conditions are the best and never been better in the previouse matches. the security for the cheating also are the best in the world - every single visitor will be checked (as in the match Kamsky-Topalov), no mobile phones or electronic devices, the blind glass between the players and visitors etc. so the organization is the perfect for the playerstto do the best in his games. so after almost 4 days we will see a great chess i hope. 4 days are enough for anand to take a rest and play for his fans and to take 1 milion eur...

cheesfan's picture

In Chess that is fact. For example Elista 2006,2007, chess olimpiads.

Peter Doggers's picture

The discussion has become quite unfriendly and hasn't got many participants left. So I'd suggest you guys call it a day too, or start discussing chess mov(i)es, to keep this forum nice and clean.

noone's picture

Chill. Anand can rest enough. There is nothing he needs to do anyway. He has done all his preparation.

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