The players' contracts for the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand need to be signed within a week, but Carlsen wants to postpone his decision until after the Sinquefield Cup, which starts today.
“The deadline is 31 August 2014. A signature on September 1st or 2nd is tolerable, but we cannot wait longer,” FIDE spokesman Israel Gelfer told Chess.com.
[Update: at the bottom of this article, comments from the Anand team have been added.]
At a press conference last week, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said that FIDE had denied a request from Carlsen to postpone his world championship match with Anand. Carlsen's manager, Espen Agdestein confirmed to Chess.com that a letter was sent to FIDE asking for a postponement.
A few days later Agdestein made another request to FIDE: he asked if Carlsen could 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 NRK.
However, FIDE is unlikely to accept that.
“The players' contracts for Anand and Carlsen have a deadline of 31 August 2014, because FIDE is also under a contract with the sponsor,” FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer told Chess.com. “The company has the obligation to send a first transfer to FIDE by September 1st. It's logical that they want to have the signatures of the players first.”
Gelfer couldn't share any more information about this company: “All I know is that AGON helped finding the company. They were involved.”
AGON is a company that 2.5 years ago obtained the rights for events in the world championship cycle. At the moment, it is unclear who owns the company; a statement from AGON/FIDE about the situation was supposed to be made at the end of last week.
Another uncertainty about Sochi seems related to AGON: two months ago Ilyumhinov stated that an agreement was made with the governor of the Krasnodar Region, Alexander Tkachev, who is now on the EU blacklist.
Gelfer: “I don't know this name. The sponsor is a company.”
Gelfer doesn't think Sochi is a problematic location. “If it was on the border of Ukraine/Russia I could understand it's not a proper place right now, but Sochi is out of it," said Gelfer. "Russia is not a problem. We don't want to make this political.”
Anand and Carlsen at the 2013 world championship match in Chennai, India (via Chess.com).
Yesterday, GM Emil Sutovsky, the president of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), published an open letter in which he expresses his conceirn about the Anand-Carlsen match:
“Unfortunately, I have to admit, that even being a member of the Commission for World Championships and Olympiads of FIDE (hereinafter referred as WCOC), yours truly is not updated with the real situation, and greatly concerned about the lack of transparency and the possible consequences," wrote Sutovsky.
The match between Carlsen and Anand is scheduled for November 7-28 of this year. Whereas top events were often moved or cancelled in the past, this time FIDE is holding firm to the dates.
“FIDE was criticized many times for changing dates, venues, et cetera and not keeping its cycle,” said Gelfer. “Magnus's team was also criticizing this, and in fact in 2010 he withdrew from the cycle because of this. FIDE is now trying to have a very stable calendar.”
If Carlsen won't play, he will lose his FIDE world title as Sergey Karjakin of Russia will play Anand instead. Something similar happened in 1993, when Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short played the world championship outside FIDE.
Update August 28, 08:30 CET: Chess.com received answers from Aruna Anand, the wife & manager of Viswanathan Anand:
Have you signed the match contract already?
“Yes, we have signed the contract and sent it to FIDE as per the regulations stipulated in the contract.”
How do you feel about playing in Sochi? Do you share Carlsen team's worries about the many uncertainties?
“Like we have said before, a world championship match in Russia always has a special place. In 2012 the RCF treated Anand with the respect befitting his status. We should place on record our gratitude to the Government of Sochi for sponsoring the match. The RCF under the Presidentship of Mr. Filatov and his team which comprise of the captains of Russian industry and government will ensure the smooth functioning of the championship.
We would certainly look forward to the match and I am sure the organisers will ensure that the the conditions of the match are commensurate with the prestige of the title that is being contested. The logistics and venue are being worked out and we hope that as per the contract we will have a clear picture by the time of the team inspection.”