Ivanchuk and wife robbed in Sao Paulo (UPDATE)

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

Just outside their hotel in Sao Paulo, Vassily Ivanchuk and his wife were robbed yesterday. "The robbers were armed with a gun", Leontxo Garcia told us on the phone, "and took two suitcases." The Spanish journalist had contact via email with Ivanchuk, who is leading the Grand Slam Masters Final at halft-time. In the Brazilian part of the Masters Final, the participants stayed in hotel Meliá Sao Paulo.

Ivanchuk and his wife during the Amber tournament in 2009

Earlier today, in his daily column for El País, Garcia wrote:

What had been a great success for the Masters Final in Sao Paulo on Sunday, was marred by an unfortunate event. Ivanchuk and his wife were robbed at gunpoint when, twenty meters from the hotel, they were about to enter a taxi that would take them to the airport.

Somehow the stolen bags included the passport of Ivanchuk's wife, and so the couple suddenly had problems leaving Brazil. Communicating with Leontxo Garcia, the super grandmaster's first reaction was that he didn't want to continue his tournament if his wife couldn't be with him from Thursday on. On that day play resumes in Bilbao.

On the phone, Garcia said to us:

Now the situation is under control. The authorities issued a 'salvoconducto' [emergency travelling pass - CV]. They will fly together to Munich, from where his wife will return home and apply for a new passport. Ivanchuk will arrive in Bilbao on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Ivanchuk is scheduled to play White against Hikaru Nakamura. The American grandmaster tweeted today:

Quite disappointed to hear the news from São Paulo about Ivanchuk being robbed. Hopefully we can postpone the game till the 9th.

It's possible that the robbers somehow knew who they were dealing with; maybe they thought that the tournament was over, and Ivanchuk had collected his prize money. It seems more likely that the robbery was a case of extremely bad luck. Garcia:

They have been very unlucky. The area is one of the best and safest of Sau Paulo, with a, for Brazilian standards, high level of security. I have been walking around at nights and haven't seen any signs of danger during the whole week.

UPDATE: We were told by a journalist present in Sao Paulo that the organizers wanted to stress that Ivanchuk and his wife were not left to their own devices to find a taxi. The robbery actually took place in the hotel's driveway, in a taxi the hotel scheduled for his departure. This actually suggests that the robbers had access to their departure information. In the mean time Ivanchuk has told Leontxo Garcia that he doesn't want to postpone his game against Nakamura; he prefers Thursday, 'without privileges'.

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