Armenian GM Lev Aronian, currently ranked #2 in the world and recent winner of the 2012 Tata Steel tournament has issued an open letter to FIDE making it clear that if Azerbaijan is chosen as the host country for the 2012 Candidates tournament, he feels unable to participate due to continuing tensions between the two countries.
So there is certainly a possibility that for the second candidates series in a row, a major player with winning ambitions will be absent from the event.
To: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
FIDE Presidential Board Members
Dear Mr. President
Dear Presidential Board Members
I learnt from the media, that the Chess Federations of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria had submitted an application on holding the Candidates Tournament of World Championship.
I’d like to inform you that general atmosphere in Azerbaijan and continuous tensions between our countries make my participation in such high ranked tournament in Azerbaijan impossible. A responsible and important event, such as the Candidates Tournament, requires peace of mind and special concentration. No circumstances, if they are not chess-related, should prevent the grandmaster from demonstrating all of his skills.
Unfortunately, at this moment no Armenian can find favorable or adequate psychological atmosphere in Azerbaijan, whereas that is something absolutely necessary. In my opinion, all the participants should be in equal conditions, which is impossible in case of holding the tournament in Azerbaijan. Security guaranties and any kind of additional support cannot be a remedy.
Taking into account the above-mentioned considerations, I inform you that I would be delighted to take part in Candidates Tournament any other country, but my participation in the candidates tournament in Azerbaijan has to be excluded.
I hope you will take into account these considerations while discussing the issue of the tournament venue at the Presidential Board Meeting.
Thank you in advance and best regards,
GM Levon Aronian
The eight players expected to take part in the 2012 Candidates tournament are:
- The loser of the Vishy Anand v Boris Gelfand world title match in 2012
- The top 3 in the 2011 World Cup (Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, Vassily Ivanchuk)
- The top 3 players not already qualified (Magnus Carlsen, Lev Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik)
- A nominee from the hosts (minimum 2700 Elo on the Jan 2012 list)
If the event is awarded to Azerbaijan and Lev Aronian declines to participate then his place will be taken by the player with the next highest average rating on the July 2011 and January 2012 rating lists, which appears to be Sergey Karjakin.
Photo by Fred Lucas.