London Calling For The Candidates?
Believing 'news' that you read on Twitter can be a foolish pastime, so despite days of speculation on the popular micro-blogging site, chess fans and press alike have understandably waited for official confirmation of a remarkable rumour.
Now it seems that the news is official (although no press release is available) - London will host the 2012 Candidates tournament between 23 October and 13 November this year.
The president of the world chess governing body FIDE, Kirsan Illyumzhinov confirmed the decision in a brief interview with the Russian daily sports newspaper Sport-Express. He also stated that the wildcard choice will be Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan. However, the deal that has been struck goes much further than that. It seems that the rights to
hold market the next world championship cycle in its entirety have been sold.
So who exactly has bought the World Chess Championship? He is Andrew Paulson, a 53 year-old US entrepreneur from New Haven, Connecticut now working in Russia. Paulson has lived in Russia since 1993 and achieved initial success with the publishing house Afisha. He is now an internet mogul with SUP Media, a giant online media company based in Moscow, which owns the Russian news site Gazeta.ru and the social media platform LiveJournal.com as well as other websites.
Andrew Paulson (picture: James Hill)
Despite the apparent confirmation from Kirsan Illyumzhinov of London as the venue for the 2012 Candidates tournament, there has not yet been an official FIDE announcement, so the position remains fluid. On the face of it, this is a very positive development. A new financial backer looks like he is ready to fund a whole world championship cycle. As ever, we shall have to wait and see if the reality meets the expectations. Watch this space, but don't hold your breath!