Anand stranded due to volcanic ash, asks for 3-day match postponement

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ashViswanathan Anand and the All India Chess Federation have requested a 3-day postponement of the World Championship match, which is scheduled to start Friday, April 23rd. Due to the volcanic ash from Iceland, which has closed most of Europe's airspace, Viswanathan Anand is stuck in Frankfurt at the moment, as reported by Chessbase.

Ash plume from Eyjafjallajökull Volcano over the North Atlantic | Photo courtesy of NASA/GSFC

Millions of travellers are stranded in locations all over Europa as the ash of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland continues to erupt. One of them is World Champion Viswanathan Anand, on his way to Sofia, Bulgaria, where he's due to play the World Championship match against Veselin Topalov. The opening ceremony is scheduled for next Wednesday, and the first game next Friday. However, it's highly unclear whether Anand is going to make it in time. Chessbase reports:

Last Thursday World Champion Vishy Anand took a flight from his home in Madrid, Spain, to Sofia, Bulgaria. He and wife Aruna had a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany, with an ongoing flight to Sofia the next day. No sooner had they landed in Frankfurt, however, than word went out that all further flights in and out of that airport were cancelled.

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has requested FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to intervene and postpone the match at least three days, to allow time for Anand to reach the venue. The official documents were posted at the AICF's website:

Anand Official Quote "In view of the extreme force majeure situation we are facing, it has become difficult and near impossible to travel in Europe. We are working with the FIDE supervisor to see how we can travel at the earliest. Given these circumstances it has been agreed, keeping in mind Vishy's arrival in Sofia the schedule could be moved accordingly. We wouldnt want to speculate on rumours at this point and will try and arrive at the earliest", said Aruna Anand, wife and manager of the world champion Viswanathan Anand.

Anand Legal Notice

From Anand

To All the concerned parties Sub: Notice of Force Majeure Condition.

We were due to arrive at _13.05 on 16th April by Lufthansa LH 3484 from Frankfurt to Sofia. We were in transit from Madrid. Unfortunately from 16th April all flights have been cancelled as is the case in most European countries due to the volcanic eruption. Therefore due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to reach Sofia as scheduled on 16th April, 2010.

We are in close consultations with Lufthansa and if the airspace in Germany does open we will fly to Sofia.

Meanwhile have been checking on alternatives of going to airports that are reachable by train. However, trains are overbooked and further the Airports seem to be shutting down. Rebooking on flights seem very difficult and we have used considerable influence in getting ourselves rebooked at the earliest.

Trains to Sofia would take about 28 hours to reach and I would not be in a mental state to play immediately after travelling such distance. Further to play immediately would be unfair and unjust due to the fatigue given that the opponent has arrived a few weeks back. Under these circumstances the contest would not be equal and fair.

This letter may be treated as notice under clause 11(2) of the Agreement of intimation of Force Majeure condition. I will immediately intimate you on finalizing an alternate arrangement to reach Sofia.

In this current scenario I request you to postpone the First round by three days


Yours faithfully,

Viswanathan Anand

AICF Letter TO FIDE His Highness Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV FIDE President:

Sub : - Request for postponement of the first round World Championship match between Grandmaster Vishy Anand and Grandmater Topalov of Bulgaria

Greetings from the All India Chess Federation. We write to seek your kind intervention in postponing the Match between Grandmaster Vishy Anand and Grandmaster Topalov by at least three days. As you are aware, the Volcanic Ashes across Europe has rendered many passengers sulking in various Airports across the Globe, more particularly in and around Europe. Anand and his team could not reach Sofia on 16th as planned and are in transit & held up at Frankfurt. I understand that they are frantically trying to reach Sofia as early as possible so that the schedule is not disturbed. However, this being an important match it will only be fare to Anand that he is not made to play the first round amidst such tension. He needs atleast three to four days of acclimatization before he starts his defense of his title. I understand that Anand has already appealed to the authorities as per the Rules Governing this historic Match.

I am sure you will see reason and take a proper and just decision in the matter and help to bring in equal playing conditions to the player. We await your immediate action and response in the issue.

With kind regards

D.V.Sundar Hon.Secretary All India Chess Federation

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland has caused massive disruption to air traffic across Northern Europe. After a milder eruption on March 20 this year, a much stronger eruption started on April 14. This time it was from the top crater in the centre of the glacier, causing meltwater floods to rush down the nearby rivers, and requiring 800 people to be evacuated.

Dangerous Beauty by Iriya

This second eruption threw volcanic ash several kilometres up in the atmosphere which led to air travel disruptions in northwest Europe starting on April 15th 2010, including the closure of airspace over most of Europe.

Image courtesy of the CIMSS Satellite Blog

Yours truly has a flight next Wednesday to Sofia, which will probably be cancelled as well. I'm looking into alternative ways to reach the Bulgarian capital, but at the moment the best seems to keep fingers crossed and wait until flights resume.

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