The Bulgarian organisers have refused the request from reigning champion Vishy Anand to postpone the start of the World Chess Championship match with Veselin Topalov (pictured) in Bulgaria.
It is incredibly unfortunate for the chess world that relations between the Indian and Bulgarian delegations have been soured so badly by recent events before the match has even begun.
How ironic that the source of problem is a volcano in Iceland - a country with particularly strong chess associations thanks to the 1972 Fischer v Spassky match in Reykjavik!
What were the chances of such travel disruption happening right now? Why can't the chess world have some good luck for a change?
The Bulgarian organisers' official response is below, followed by a further more detailed statement. Both are taken from news section of the official website.
The official response is perfunctory and factual, but the unguarded language used in the additional statement is confrontational and accusatory to put it mildly.
The virtues of having a neutral venue and organisers for a world championship match have never been clearer!
Chess fans can only hope that the match will go ahead as soon as possible and that the focus switches to the games themselves and away from the hot air being generated off the board.
Official answer of the Bulgarian Chess Federation
TO MR. GEORGIOS MAKROPOULOS
DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF FIDE AND SUPERVISOR OF THE MATCH FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ANAND – TOPALOV
Copy Mr. V. Anand – World champion
Copy Mr. V. Topalov
Dear Mr. Makropoulos,
The Organizers committee of the match for world championship 2010 between V. Anand, world champion and V. Topalov has been informed with the e-mail of Mr. Anand dated 17.04 and your verbal request from 18.04.2010 to postpone the match with 3 days.
We would like to inform you that this is not acceptable for us.
1. We can postpone the press conference.
2. Unfortunately we can not postpone the opening ceremony scheduled on April 21st at 6 pm. according to the contract. The invitations to all the official guests, sponsors, politicians, TV stations and all the media was already sent long time ago. We have signed a lot of commercial contracts with serious penalties for us in case of some changes.
3. The possibility to postpone the first game of the match for one day to Saturday April 24 need to be discussed with the Chairman of Organizing Committee– Prime Minister of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borissov. This will take some time. We will inform you regarding our decision not later than latest afternoon of 20 April /Tuesday/
Statement of the organizing committee
In relation to the letters of the World Chess Champion V. Anand and the Indian Chess Federation spread through the media, in which they request the match for the world title in chess 2010 to be postponed with 3 days, we have to state the following:
* During her visit in Sofia from 8 to 12 February 2010, Mrs. Aruna Anand, wife and manager of the world champion, reserved two apartments and 4 rooms in “Hilton” Sofia from 15th of April until 14th of May 2010. These were paid for in a timely manner by the Organizing Committee and are at the disposal of the team of V. Anand. On the 15th of April Mr. Hans-Walter Schmitt, member of the team of V.Anand checked in the hotel in Sofia and took the keys of all rooms designated for the delegation of the World Champion. From this follows, that Mr. Anand and his team have checked in the hotel.
According to the Contract (art. 8 “Privileges of the players”), FIDE asks from the organizers to give them, with their good disposition, 7 (seven) days before the beginning of the match for getting accustomed to the new location. This privilege the player uses depending on his judgment. According to the contract, the player is obliged to be present at the mandatory press conference before the inauguration of the game, which is scheduled for the 21st of April this year.
* On the 15th of April this year the Organizing Committee of the match asked in writing Mrs. Anand about the time and number of the flight that will carry the delegation of the world champion, so they can be greeted as it is accustomed, the same way all World Champions have been greeted upon their arrival in Bulgaria. Up until that moment Mrs. Anand had always answered all letters sent to her correctly and in a timely manner. This time there was no answer. A written request to the FIDE Central in Athens was sent immediately, and the answer received was the following: “Mrs. Anand is probably in an airplane and has switched off her cell phone.” The organizers and the journalists in Bulgaria were bitterly disappointed of the attitude of the world champion V.Anand, but we accepted it as a part of the “playing on the nerves game”.
* For the fact, that Mr. Anand could not arrive on time in Sofia, the organizers bear no fault. The fault is to be placed on him and his team. Even more, according to art.11.2 from the contract (on which Mr. Anand is placing his statements) “If one of the parties meets an obstacle in fulfilling one of the parties duties according to this Contract due to a Force Majeure occurance, this party should, at the first reasonable possibility, inform the rest of the parties for the nature and span of the circumstances that caused the Force Majeure occurance.” The organizational Committee, as well as the team of V. Topalov up to 11:00h at the 18th of April 2010, was not aware of the troubles of Mr. V. Anand. For those we learned first from the press and then from the supervisor of the match, Mr. G Makropoulus.
* According to art. 11.3 from the contract, the party, which states that due to a Force Majeure situation had made impossible or has delayed the fulfillment of one of the party’s duties according to this contract, should use all available means to put an end to the fmajore situation and to find a solution that allows the fulfillment of the contract at hand. If the organizing committee was informed, in a timely manner, for the problem with the arrival of Mr. Anand and his team, we would have given him full assistance to resolve the problematic situation.
We understand the problem of Mr. Anand, but we are bitterly disappointed by his derogatory actions and attitude towards the organizers. All problems that emerge should be resolved in dialogue with shown understanding from all sides, and not in the form of pressure.
As much as we are aware, there is no official sports event (World or European championship) that has been postponed due to the inability of one of the teams (players) to arrive on time. The party that does not show up carries the sanctions accordingly. For your information, for the last games the Champions League in Football, every team should find a way to be present on time for the given competition. In the given case, if Mr. Anand had used the alternative means of transportation between Frankfurt and Sofia (train, bus, private car, etc.), he would have arrived to the latest 6 (six) days before the start of the first game, scheduled for April 23rd, which is enough time for getting accustomed and rest.
Postponing the match will result in losses of tens of thousands euro for the organizers, the disturbance of the schedules of politicians, sponsors and official figures taking part in the event, the obstruction of contracts with the television and other media and many inconveniences for the numerous international guests, who have already reserved their accommodation in Sofia.
Therefore, we consider the request for postponing the game as unacceptable.
The Organizational Committee