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

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, 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.


KingTal's picture

People stop answering chessfans post, he is obviosuly a troll and you all know:

Harish Srinivasan's picture

The official website says "On April 21st the official Opening Ceremony will be broadcasted live starting at 17.45 EEST ",

Does anybody know if the games (video) will be live?

Will chessvibes be recording the full video of all games?

noyb's picture

On a totally unrelated note, I saw the add here on ChessVibes for the book "Play Chess Like the PROs" by Danny Gormally. ROTFLMAO! It should have been titled "How to Punch Aronian Like a Sissy Over His Girlfriend"!

cheesfan's picture

"People stop answering chessfans post, he is obviosuly a troll and you all know:

Well I cheesfan oblige to immediately stopped posting but chessfan obviously is not a troll. One bulgarian but not a troll too left the friendly "chessvibes" site.

Peter Doggers's picture

If I can fly, I'll try to create daily videos, based on the games and the press conferences afterwards and hopefully interviews with interesting people. However, it's quite unclear to what extent the media will be allowed to film during the game. E.g. during Topalov-Kamsky this was not allowed. Besides, the organizers request 15,000 Euros (!) for using the official material, including the right to transmit the games live. Yes, there we go again...

Thomas's picture

I wonder who will pay the (unprecedented!!??) 15,000 Euros, and who will transmit the live games without official permission and payment ... more scandals to come I predict.

Harish Srinivasan has a good point that others also have trouble reaching Sofia - taken from the Makropoulos interview, while the organizers for the time being pretend that Anand is the only one, hence it must be his own fault ... . But I don't see Ilyumzhinov travelling overland from Elista to Sofia.

BTW, there is coverage by Hans-Walter Schmitt (in German) at . I won't translate much, just one sentence: "They [the organizers] put economic advantages for the country and city of Sofia above the interest of the world champion and the entire chess world to see a fair match with equal conditions." He is obviously biased (so am I !?) but I agree with him.

Final point: Barcelona lost their Champions League match in Milan - will there be renewed discussions about their bus trip now?

test's picture

ChessDom will get "permission" (without having to pay the 15.000), ChessBase will not get the "permission", unless they pay the 15.000.

We went over this already on this blog. They don't have a legal leg to stand on in this regard, but most sites probably will not "dare" or prefer to avoid more "scandal", just like the last time they did this, Mtel if I remember correctly.

(I'm taking poetic license with the quotes. ;))

test's picture

Here's the link: Copyright on chess moves – shadows on the wall?

Apparently it was the Topalov - Kamsky match. But I believe they started this with the Mtel tournament.

luzin's picture

it is a pity for a great player like Topalov to be associated with such people.
leaving the OC arguments(?) aside, the mere tone of their statements and total disrespect towards the World Champion is a scandal.
no one outside bulgaria will be happy if Topalov wins the match, because chess deserves a more decent man as World Champion.

@ bulgarian friends
no one has a reason to dislike bulgarians in general, the topalov team provokes these feelings though.
just stop for a moment to think why everyone is rooting for Anand, despite Topalov being such a fascinating chess player.
i used to be a big topalov fan, but after the toiletgate and his behavior after the match i just despise the guy like everyone else.

Bert de Bruut's picture

We don't mind travelling a long distance for some weekend tournament we play in, knowing we will be exhausted before the tournament ends. But we do mind people demanding the same from a participant in a World Championship match. So the inhospitable Bulgarian organizers and unscrupulous ministers as well as the incompetent FIDE executives can kiss our asses and lick our balls, for we want respect for our game and demand fair treatment of our worldchampion. And when not, then Anand remains our champion and Topalov can go play poker.

Tikhomir's picture

Did FC Barcelona ask to postpone the game against FC Inter? No, they did not, and they took buses to go to Italy. They played the game today and they lost, but they won't blame anybody for that! All the best and hope that helps!

SanChess's picture

I wonder what the reaction would be if Topalov and Danailov -due to a an unforeseeable natural disaster- were arriving late in Dehli for a WC match organized by the All Indian Association and being refused a 3-day postponement.

luzin's picture


that would not happen.
because Anand is a gentleman and he would personally arrange that the postponement was granted

Richard Day's picture

I wonder if the hot water will be working at Anand's hotel. Seriously, is it too late to tell the organizers to stay classy? Because they really need it.

Lone-Tiger's picture

I really would like to believe you, but I am inclined to SanChess. And it's not Anand that would be making the decision but the Organisers and AICF.

Castro's picture

As an interested fan, I'd be completely satisfied if, before the first game, two "simple" things happened:

1. The two sides showed some public understanding of the other part, and apologize for any disrespectful/insulting it may have produced.

2. In spite of the inconvenients, the two sides felt in absolutely no disadvantage, and also happily made that public.

If posible, that's what I wish for both of them --- Anand and Topalov --- and for all of us.
Then we'd have chess again, not vain polemics and ashgates.
Money, childishness, fear and hate: Small dosis of those in the chess kindom, please!

rajeshv's picture

@SanChess, my guess would be that whether postponement actually happens or not, they (AICF or any other organizer for that matter) wouldn't resort to the sort of personal attacks the BCF camp so gleefully indulge themselves in.

Let us put the question a different way, with the same organizers, let us say, it was Topalov who got stuck stuck somewhere for some unforeseen reason - just imagine how they would approach the issue - regardless of the outcome.

There are 2 points that I can see that the organizers are peeved about from the Anand camp:
1. Someone from Anand's team occupied the rooms 1 day earlier than they thought.
2. A request from the organizers for the exact time/details of arrival, sent on Apr 15 did not get a response (when Anand was apparently in travel between Madrid-Frankfurt) - in their own words they received prompt and timely response 100% up until that time.

With these 2 points they have constructed a story and looked for all possible ways to indulge in personal attacks.

Make no mistake, in the "good old days" of chess, the champion would have had the organizer/challenger pay dearly for throwing such unwarranted trash at him.
We are however, thankfully in the era of gentlemen champions like Kramnik/Anand and thank goodness for that!

Phil's picture

ChessBase has a report of Anand's 40 hour trip to Sofia. Interesting preparation by Anand!

Seppe's picture

Well, I Believe Anand has to forget about this "unkind" behaviour and lack of understanding of the bulgarians, otherwise this can start influencing the match itself.
He has to rest and concentrate on his chess. His preparation has already finished in reality he starts in good conditions...

I am just finishing the book Bobby Fischer goes to war ... a fairly recent book about the 1972 match conditions ... well the behaviour of the danailov maffia gang isnt much compared to the one of Fischer haha

John's picture

It is very interesting to read the article published in the chess base about the adventurous journey of Anand's team from Frankfurt to Sofia.

Joe's picture

Let's hope now Anand crushes topalov and the sinister danailov and bag millions of $$ from bulgarian treasury!

Daaim Shabazz's picture


You read a book that was written recently. There will be few recent books about Fischer with a positive angle. All of his chess life has been covered and all that is left is negative overtones of his post-1972 life. I'll have to read my copy, but I would imagine the write may be influenced by Fischers more recent pronoucements.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

The adventurous journey was fascinating to read. Very well written as well I should say. Although they have made it sound nice, boy that must have been quite an ordeal. The number of people who had to come, so many bags, computers, and then the visa problems, road conditions... the list goes on.

But I like the way the article does not really whine so much about the difficulties but makes sure they are all mentioned and takes a liter tone mentioning the trilogy. But as a reader even to imagine such a journey and to arrive just 3 days before the match is crazy, not to mention the mental tension of getting there.

kfan's picture

Very nice report about the journey to Sofia. Anand has won the batle of the public opinion by a large margin already even if he loses the match. The organizers are cornered. A PR disaster for the organizers if they dont delay game 1 for at least one day. Anand has made a perfect opening move, lets see how team Topalov reacts.

Guillaume's picture

I bet someone in the car joked that Anand was Frodo, and that they were on a journey through Romania (almost an anagram of Moria) to cast the Ring of power into Mount Doom. Kramnik would be Bilbo Baggins, and I can very well picture Topalov shouting "Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever!" and whispering in the dark "my prrrrecious!"...

Harish Srinivasan's picture

@kfan "the organizers are cornered".

dont underestimate Danailov. He is capable of switching the story around to something like "Anand's team planned all this to corner the organizers. He had a Mercedes Sprinter already prebooked and was always planning on a road trip. The volcano worked in his favor and he has put forward his case as though everything was natural and is exerting pressure on us".

dosnt that sound so much like Danailov.

Tony's picture

LOL! brilliant! Dont forget - Danilov as Sarumon and Nazgul played by the BCF

spiderman's picture

I agree with Haris Srinivasan, that fellow is capable to switch the story around, just like what happened between Short-Chaperinov's shake hand issue.

Ha. ha. ha.

SanChess's picture

@ Rajeshv ["Make no mistake, in the “good old days” of chess, the champion would have had the organizer/challenger pay dearly for throwing such unwarranted trash at him.
We are however, thankfully in the era of gentlemen champions like Kramnik/Anand and thank goodness for that!]

You're very right. Fischer or Kasparov would have already given the organizers and FIDE a good round of blows by now. Anyway, I hope Anand doesn't tire of being bigger than those circumstances and defeats Topalov as comprehensibly as he should. No longer being the No. 1 player or the challenger Mr Topalov will save us all the crap centered in and around him for longer than we have preferred.

bhabatosh's picture

?Aingle Pack - u r too good :-)
these bulgarians doesnt understand what sportsmanship is ...
keep on harping anand will make lot of money , BCF organized this event for 3M $ etc etc .... I think this comes from pedigree .....
total lack of morality , most of the comments seems lack of understanding of the problem ...... they are hosting an prestigious event , whole world is looking at this scandal now , these people dont know how to treat your guest , specially when he is world champion .... Any other player would have refused to play in bulgaria apart from Anand, he took the challenge ..... I still dont think it is a mistake on his part ......... most of the bloggers are non indian here , and it is quiete heartening to see everyone thinks the say i do .......... it is of great satisfaction to see your idol is a true sportsperson ... whatever topalov achieves in terms of winning prizes he will never have this in his life ...................... wish u all the best vishy ..........

Oldtale's picture

The Bulgarian Chess Federation, and the organisers simply showed how ill-minded they are (sorry for chosing this word). They think that everyone is like them, and feel so free to make such ugly accusations. Someone from Anand's team got the room keys already.. and this shows that they are already in Sofia!! The journey report published on Chessbase is genious from Anand's side: It shows they have spirit, morale and humor.. and it details all the facts about the journey, so the organisers really owe an excuse now.. I wonder if they have such an understanding at least. Anyway, I wish the match will start peacefully and the better one will win. Cheers.

Dikke Deur's picture

Anand has a contractual obligation to play a match at a set time and place for which he will be very handsomely paid. A hotel room was made available for him a week before the start of the event, but how and when he travels is of course completely at his own risk and responsability.

The Dainalov-clan may not be the most sympathetic people of history, they did manage to secure funds where everybody else failed. No doubt because he will be getting a big chunk of this money Anand accepted to play in Sofia in a match organized by the Bulgarians.

Anand should now slowly count to ten, take a hot bath, a good sleep and then start playing great chess.

May the games begin!

Thomas's picture

"they did manage to secure funds where everybody else failed"

There were competing bids for the WCh match, albeit with a somewhat lower prize fund!? In any case, I don't think that providing the money gives the organizers (to avoid the term "Bulgarians") the right to (mis)behave in any way they want to ... .

Aingel Pack's picture

@Dikke Deur: “they did manage to secure funds where everybody else failed”

The point is it was "their necessity" to get a sponsor. Topalaov is a challenger. It is always the challenger's need. Anand doesn' give a damn if nobody sponsors the match. He will be happy as a World Champ. He has earned enough (and earning enough by playing in super-tournaments) to live a lavish life.

h. white's picture

hmmm “had alekhine been in anands shoes" .... harish, anands' team need not reach so far back into global chess chronicles to uncover examples of flagrant favoritism: “when world champions ruled (kasparov) and challengers (anand, shirov, kramnik)) were at the mercy (or whim) of the world champion". besides, most young chess players (people) probably never heard of alexander alekhine.
had the late great garry kasparov been in anands shoes...!? i'm curious to know gk"s take on this fiasco.
after all is said and done vishy will prevail. so all you anand fans keep the nerve, keep the nerve.

kfan's picture

Fide just announced game 1 delayed one day, to be played on Saturday. Opening ceremony does not change. Very reasonable decision.

SanChess's picture

Everybody happy now?

Zeblakov's picture

there is always something to complain about.


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