The FIDE World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen is going to be held in the city where the Winter Olympics took place earlier this year: Sochi, Russia. This was announced by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov today at a press conference for Interfax in Moscow.
Photo: Russian Chess Federation
The FIDE website reports today that, at a press conference for Interfax in Moscow, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced that the match between World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and the Challenger Viswanathan Anand (India) will be held in Sochi. The dates are 7th November to 28th November of this year, and it will take place on the territory of the Olympic village. Ilyumzhinov also announced the budget: US $3 million.
The website of the Russian Chess Federation gives more details: an agreement was made with the Governor of the Krasnodar Region, Alexander Tkachev and in the next week or two all formalities will be taken care of: FIDE expects to receive a bid to host the match and bank guarantees from sponsors.
It was also mentioned that from the $3 million budget, “one to one and a half million” will be used for the prize fund. However, the Rules & Regulations in the FIDE Handbook (in PDF here) speak of a minimum prize fund of one million euros, so right now we're talking about a smaller margin: US $1.35 - 1.5 million. This is one million dollar less than the prize fund of the previous match, which was 1.85 million euros (US 2.5 million).
Andrei Filatov, the President of the Russian Chess Federation, reacted as follows: “Holding in the Russian Federation the most important chess events such as a match for the world title is becoming a good tradition and is evidence of the revival of Russia's status as a chess power. I am grateful to the governor of the Krasnodar Region, Alexander Tkachev, for his willingness to take responsibility for organizing and carrying out the most important event in world chess calendar in Sochi. The Russian Chess Federation is awaiting approval from the sponsors to submit a bid to host the match.”
Anand & Carlsen last November in Chennai
The announcement by Mr Ilyumzhinov makes an end to a period of uncertainty around the upcoming world title match. As reported by Chess.com last month, the World Chess Federation had not received any bids by the extended deadline of 30 April, 2014. The Norwegian Chess Federation had made some attempts to try to get the match to Norway, but no official bid emerged.
Jøran Aulin-Jansson, the President of the Norwegian Chess Federation, said to to Norwegian newspaper VG that, because this is about Russia, nothing is certain yet: “As far as I know they are still negotiating with the players, which can be of influence on this. The situation we have in Ukraine now makes that things may escalate and that for political reasons someone cannot participate. It depends on what sanctions Norway and the EU will impose against Russia.”
The choice of Sochi might be related to a visit to the city by Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, earlier this month. At the Belaya Ladya children's chess tournament Mr Putin met with Mr Filatov and Mr Ilyumzhinov. In his speech he said: “There was a time when chess lessons were held in every school at every district. It is great and pleasant that this tradition is being revived. Chess is the most intellectual sport; we always took the leading positions in all international ratings.”
After announcing the location for the World Championship, Mr Ilyumzhinov used the press conference to speak about the upcoming FIDE Presidential elections. As the website of the Russian Chess Federation mentions,
In particular, the question was raised about potential violations of the Code of Ethics of FIDE and the United States and the laws of Singapore in connection with the infamous agreement between Garry Kasparov and FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong. According to Ilyumzhinov, this issue is currently studied by the independent Ethics Commission of FIDE, which is soon to deliver a verdict.
Apparently Mr Ilumzhyinov said that the Commission may prohibit Mr Kasparov from participating in the presidential elections, which would mean an automatic re-election for himself. Mr Kasparov's aide-de-camp Mig Greengard tweeted (referring to this leaked document):