According to its president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE has denied a request from Magnus Carlsen to postpone his world championship match with Viswanathan Anand. Carlsen is not happy with the match taking place in November in Sochi, but Ilyumzhinov, who spoke at a press conference yesterday, expressed a firm “no.”
Yesterday, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported on a press conference given by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The FIDE president stated that FIDE had denied a request from Magnus Carlsen to postpone the upcoming world championship, scheduled for November this year:
“I received a letter from the manager of Carlsen, asking if it is possible to postpone the match. I want to emphasize that the issue raised is not about the venue, but simply to postpone the date, so I don't believe this issue is a political one. However, FIDE has already made an official response that the transfer is not possible, because this match has been part of the official calendar since last year, and a postponement can lead to problems with the running calendar.”
Ilyumzhinov also stated that if Carlsen doesn't play the match, he will be forfeited. When this happens, Anand might be facing Sergey Karjakin, who finished second behind him at the 2014 Candidates tournament.
Carlsen's manager, Espen Agdestein, confirmed to Chess.com that a letter was sent to FIDE asking for a postponement. He plans to come with an official statement on Friday afternoon, which will be added to this article when it is available. Yesterday he was quoted by NRK:
“There are several factors that make us want to delay the match. There is much uncertainty about it and it is not a good solution to play in Sochi in November.”
One uncertainty Agdestein seems to be referring to is the company AGON. As reported earlier by Chess.com, AGON still has the commercial rights to events in the world championship cycle, but at the moment it is not clear who owns the company. A statement from AGON/FIDE is expected to appear today.
Another uncertainty is related to the governor of the Krasnodar Region, Alexander Tkachev. At a press conference early June, when Ilyumzhinov made his announcement about Sochi, he stated that an agreement was made with Tkachev.
Later this summer, Tkachev was included in the European Union's blacklist of tycoons close to the Kremlin, to pressure against President Vladimir Putin backing for separatists in east Ukraine.
Back in June, Ilyumzhinov also said the match would “take place on the territory of the Olympic village,” but that doesn't seem to make the choice of Sochi more attractive. Just weeks after the winter olympics, severa journalists spoke of a “ghost town” as they picked up Alexander Valov's pictures. In March, Sochi was full of empty hotels, some construction was still unfinished, and the stray dogs had returned.
The match between Carlsen and Anand is scheduled for November 7-28 of this year. Under the current agreement, the budget is U.S. $3 million, and the prize fund will be roughly U.S $1.5 million. This is $1 million less than the prize fund of the previous match.
Update August 25, 16:08 CET: NRK reported that Espen Agdestein has notified FIDE on Monday that Magnus Carlsen wants to postpone the decision to sign the contract or not until after the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. “We think it's silly to force such a decision, because there have been so many uncertainties around Sochi and the match,” Agdestein told the Norwegian tv channel.