Karjakin Cancels Norway Chess Participation

Karjakin Cancels Norway Chess Participation

| 94 | Chess Event Coverage

Sergey Karjarkin, the winner of the recent Candidates' Tournament, has withdrawn from the Norway Chess tournament scheduled for April18-30  in Stavanger. Whereas the organizers haven't given up yet, Karjakin's manager told that it's a “final decision.”

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, the two players in the next world title match, were soon going to meet at the board: at the Norway Chess Tournament in Stavanger, later this month. But it's not going to happen.

Karjakin's decision to cancel his first tournament after the Candidates' was reported yesterday by Russian site RSport, who quoted his manager Kirill Zangalis. According to him, it is all explained “quite simply” why Karjakin withdrew from the Norway Chess tournament only 12 days before the start:

“No-one could have guaranteed his victory at the Candidates' Tournament. Now the situation for Sergey is different. He has decided to concentrate fully on preparing for the match for the world crown, especially since the Candidates' Tournament took almost all of his energy.”

Zangalis: “The Candidates' Tournament took almost all of his energy.” | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

The Norwegian organizers responded on the same day by means of a press release on the tournament website. Spokesman Jøran Aulin-Jansson says they are ”surprised” about the withdrawal and calls it “disrespectful.”

“Karjakin has a signed contract with us and it does not state that he can withdraw from the tournament if he qualifies for the World Championship in November. This action feels disrespectful to us as the organizers of the event as well as the other players in the tournament, not to mention the entire chess world that were looking forward to the dress rehearsal for the World Championship match between Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen.”

The organizers haven't given up yet, and told that they remain in contact with both Karjakin and the Russian Chess Federation, who support their player's decision.

“Sergey Karjakin is a great chess player and he is still welcome as a participant in Altibox Norway Chess 2016. He has, after all, won both times he has participated. Karjakin obviously has a lot of nerves before his first World Championship match, however, we truly wish Karjakin and his advisors understand that one can not just run away from agreements because it suddenly does not fit in preparation for a match that does not start until about half a year later.”

However, today Zangalis told that Karjakin's decision is final. “Yes, it is Sergey's final decision,” said Zangalis. “He made it together with the federation and his team. Next week he is going on holiday with his wife to the seaside, as he is very tired. But he will stay in touch with his coaches via Skype.”

Karjakin talking to the media after his Candidates' victory. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Asked about possible legal action from the organizers, Zangalis said: “As far as I know the contract does not say anything about consequences if he doesn't play. I hope the organizers understand the situation. The main thing is that Sergey wants to remain friends with the organizers.”

Former FIDE world champion and former compatriot of Karjakin, the Ukrainian GM Ruslan Ponomariov, tweeted that the withdrawal might be a bad idea.

Speaking to, Zangalis noted that there's a history between the tournament and Karjakin. “In Stavanger he was twice the winner of this tournament. He was not invited for the third tournament, but he was invited to the qualifier. He still wants to remain friends, and hopes they will respect his decision because of the situation in his life.”

Zangalis congratulates Karjakin for his Candidates' victory. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Aulin-Jansson told that, while still in contact with the Russians, they have started looking at possible substitutes. “We are working on different scenarios,” he said.

Magnus Carlsen hinted that the runner-up of the qualifier, Jon Ludvig Hammer, will be playing again this year.

Hammer responded that a new qualifier would be better.

Before his match with Carlsen, Karjakin has three tournaments planned at the moment: the third Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir in May, the Russia-China match in Moscow in June and the Olympiad in Baku in September.

The other participants of Norway Chess are Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), Pentala Harikrishna (India), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Nils Grandelius (Sweden).

One chess fan suggested another reason for Karjakin to withdraw.

As it turns out, Karjakin didn't ride in the BMW at all, and isn't planning to. “He has his own car,” Zangalis duly noted.

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