FIDE Candidates Tournament Postponed Until Spring 2021

| 103 | Chess Event Coverage

The second half of the FIDE Candidates Tournament has once again been postponed per an announcement today by FIDE. The event was planned to resume November 1, 2020, but the second wave of the pandemic has made it impossible to organize the event now.

On September 8, FIDE announced that the tournament was going to resume on November 1 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, was named as a reserve hosting city in case the coronavirus pandemic situation in Yekaterinburg prevented the tournament from being held there. 

Today, it became clear that the tournament cannot take place in November after all. According to FIDE, the concern about the well-being of the players during the pandemic is the main reason for the postponement. However, another bottleneck is the situation with the Chinese participants.

Wang Hao Publishes Emails

On October 5, GM Wang Hao published on Facebook some of the e-mails he exchanged with FIDE's legal advisor, Alexandr Martynov, and with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. One of these was then spread further via Twitter.

In the other emails, it was clear that the players had been offered a charter flight (business class) to Yekaterinburg, and, in case the tournament would be moved to Georgia, a VIP transfer and lounge for transit through Germany. FIDE also stated it was "ready to pay all medical bills" if the players should catch COVID-19.

In emails from October 4, Wang stated that flights from China to Munich were "very limited" and that he wouldn't feel safe to transfer through Europe, where the coronavirus is on the rise again. The Chinese GM asked for a larger compensation in case a player contracts the virus and needs to stop playing and said he hoped FIDE would come with "a better proposal."

Chinese authorities

In today's statement, FIDE reveals that there was another bump in the road: two players have still not received clearance to travel abroad and play.

Till now, we have not received clearance for all players to participate in the tournament. Two players from one country are awaiting permission from their national authorities. While having full respect for the respective national procedures, FIDE will take further decisions about both the location and timing of the event based on our organization’s internal rules.

FIDE doesn't say that this refers to China, but it is the only country that has two participants in the tournament (Russia has three.). Besides Wang, there is also GM Ding Liren. FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky was not available for a comment.

The second half of the Candidates will now be played in the spring of 2021. There is still some flexibility regarding the exact dates as the world championship match is now scheduled for November-December 2021. FIDE plans on announcing the new dates for the Candidates two months in advance.

The first half of the tournament was played March 17-25 in Yekaterinburg. FIDE interrupted the event halfway, postponing the second half when an interruption of air traffic between Russia and other countries was imminent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To be honest, I think we should have just finished the tournament when we were all there," said GM Fabiano Caruana at the start of the Norway Chess tournament.

Currently, GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia are both on 4.5/7 points.

Round 7 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score SB
1 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2767 2876 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/7 15.25
2 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2774 2875 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/7 14.25
3 Caruana, Fabiano 2842 2764 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 3.5/7 12.25
4-5 Giri, Anish 2763 2775 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/7 11.25
4-5 Wang Hao 2762 2775 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.5/7 11.25
6 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 2773 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 12.25
7 Ding Liren 2805 2667 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.5/7 8.25
8 Alekseenko, Kirill 2698 2683 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/7 9.25

The FIDE Candidates Tournament is one of the most important events of 2020. Eight players are fighting for a chance to play GM Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship. That title match has been postponed to 2021.

No World Rapid & Blitz, London, Gibraltar

The postponement of the Candidates comes in a week when three other major events were canceled or postponed.

Yesterday, FIDE announced that the World Rapid & Blitz, which is traditionally held right between Christmas and New Year, has been postponed until the spring of 2021.

"Holding the World Rapid and Blitz Championship during Christmas, as it was initially planned, is not feasible," wrote FIDE in a statement. "The pandemic situation poses health and logistic challenges that can not be easily solved for an event of these characteristics." 

Meanwhile, both the London Chess Classic (normally held in December) and the Gibraltar Chess Congress (January-February) announced that their events for this year have been canceled. The Tata Steel Chess tournament is still planning to go ahead.

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