FIDE Candidates: Alekseenko, Carlsen, Giri, MVL Speak Out
The 2020 FIDE Candidates tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE Candidates: Alekseenko, Carlsen, Giri, MVL Speak Out

| 215 | Chess Event Coverage

While the FIDE Candidates tournament was stopped at the halfway point and almost all players are now back home, the situation surrounding GM Teimour Radjabov is still the talk of the town. In this report we've collected comments in other media sources from GMs Kirill Alekseenko, Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Under normal circumstances, the 11th round of the Candidates tournament would be played today. Instead, seven of the players are already back home. GM Fabiano Caruana had the longest trip; after joining the special charter flight to Rotterdam, a few hours later he hopped on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit and after that continued to St. Louis.

One player wasn't so lucky. GM Wang Hao, who wished to fly to Shanghai via Tokyo, had to make new plans when it became clear that Japan had changed its policy towards air traffic from abroad. Wang decided to fly to Beijing but as that airport was overloaded, he was quarantined in Qingdao.

Meanwhile, four players have given comments in the media about the cancellation of the second half of the tournament, and Radjabov's claim that he should be put back into the tournament.

Vachier-Lagrave: 'We can't restart a cycle now.'

Vachier-Lagrave was interviewed by the Times of India and asked his opinion about the idea to make the tournament a nine-player event.

"I think it's just too late. I understand his situation and I understand his frustration. It's very unfortunate for him, but we can't restart a cycle now."

Although he thought the opening ceremony was a mistake, MVL says he understands that FIDE decided not to cancel the tournament, taking into account that only eight players were playing and that strict health and safety measures were taken. He seems to agree with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, who noted that, short term, Yekaterinburg was a safer place than many other places in the world.

"Obviously, the conditions were not ideal for anyone," said Vachier-Lagrave. "But from a strict health point of view, there were no more risks for the players during the tournament than elsewhere. I'm even taking much more precautions now in France!"

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FIDE Candidates press conference
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Giri: 'One way or another, someone will be mistreated.'

In a lengthy interview by MatchTV, Giri said that the tournament "ended surprisingly chaotically." The players were told at noon that the tournament was stopped, four hours before the eighth round was supposed to start.

"I had to look for tickets. I was afraid that they simply wouldn't be available, but we were lucky. I managed to buy them right away, 2.5 hours before the flight. It was necessary to quickly pack things and take a taxi. Then it turned out that others did not have time to buy tickets, and a charter night was organized. We decided not to rely on fate and bought everything ourselves."

According to Giri, the "Radjabov situation" is not easily solved because there is no real way to include him without harming (some of) the other participants:

"Teimour believes that his rights have been violated. If he is put back in and someone else is removed, then we will violate the rights of someone else. If everyone will play, the question arises: how many points to give to Teimour? If you give many points then the rights of other players are violated and if you don't give him enough, then his. If you start the tournament all over again, it is unfair to the current leaders and it helps those who are at the bottom of the standings. One way or another, someone will be mistreated."'

Anish Giri FIDE Candidates press conference
Anish Giri. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Alekseenko: 'Now, you cannot include him'

For Alekseenko, who was interviewed by Sport Weekend, the health and safety measures during the tournament were not a problem:

"I can't say that it distracted me from chess. Everyone understood that precautions were necessary."'

About Radjabov, he said:

"One of the options is that Radjabov receives a wildcard for the next Candidates Tournament, which is due to take place in 2022. In general, this is logical. Now, you cannot include him instead of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for the second half! The Frenchman, along with Nepomniachtchi, leads halfway the tournament."

Kirill Alekseenko FIDE Candidates press conference
Kirill Alekseenko. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen: 'Having completed seven rounds has some merit'

The world champion himself has spoken out as well. Appearing on the Chess24 broadcast last Friday, Carlsen saw value in the fact that the first half of the tournament has actually been played:

"I think they'll work hard on finding a solution there, and I think, maybe this is just my take at the moment, and I'm sure not everybody will agree, but to me I feel like having completed seven rounds has some merit. At least we tried, which I think in these days should not be discounted as nothing! I feel as though obviously this situation is chaotic and all those people who called for the tournament to be postponed from the start are going to say, 'I told you so' at this point, but I do feel as though they tried what they could and now it's just not possible so they have to get the players out safely."

Carlsen does not agree with Alekseenko that it is logical to give Radjabov the wildcard for the 2022 Candidates Tournament:

Obviously the situation we have now is not ideal, but I think giving Radjabov the wildcard for 2022, that I would find just ridiculous. You could make the case that he should actually play in this one now that it's been postponed and the situation is different. I don't feel that way, I don't know the law, I don't know what is supposed to happen there, but to me, it doesn't feel justified that he should play even if it resumes, but I would understand it. But 2022, no!

Carlsen and Radjabov, in fact, discussed the issue on Twitter a bit more, shortly before the Azerbaijani grandmaster gave his interview on the broadcast.

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