Preparations for Anand-Gelfand under way

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

In exactly eight weeks from today, the official opening of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match between World Champion Viswanathan Anand (India) and Challenger Boris Gelfand (Israel) will take place in Moscow – on 10 May 2012, to be precise. This week Mark Gluhovsky, editor-in-chief of chess magazine "64" and press chief for the Russian Chess Federation, informed chess media about the ongoing preparations.

Anand and Gelfand drew their last direct encounter, at the Tal Memorial in November 2011.

Gluhovsky started by noting that the preparations for this most important chess event, which has a prize fund of US $2,550,000, have entered "the concluding stage".

The experience of the Russian Chess Federation, one of the organisers of the tournament, enables me to express my confidence that the match will take place at a high level of quality and will be one of the best sports events of the year.

As we've reported before, the chess crown will be contested in one of the biggest national museums in Russia – the State Tretyakov Gallery. The idea of staging the tournament in the museum came from the sponsor of the match, the Russian entrepreneur Andrey Filatov, who believes that chess is not only a sport but also a part of world culture. In Filatov’s opinion, the synergy between chess and fine art is set to become an additional tool for popularising chess.

The Tretyakov State Gallery | Photo Andrey / Wikipedia

The State Tretyakov Gallery is one of the most unusual museums in the world, says Gluhosky. In the middle of the nineteenth century it began as the private domestic collection of the merchant Pavel Tretyakov, and in 1892 the collector made a gift of the collection of pictures, which by now had grown significantly, to the city of Moscow. Today the State Tretyakov Gallery’s collection numbers more than 1,700 masterpieces and is one of the biggest collections of Russian art. It includes masterpieces of ancient Russian icon-painting, Russian realism, Impressionism, Avant-Garde, Socialist Realism and other schools of Russian art.

According to Gluhovsky, the contenders in the match were enthusiastic about this idea. Viswanathan Anand said he was 

very glad to have the opportunity to play in Moscow: there is always a special chess atmosphere here. Boris Gelfand and I have visited the tournament venue, the Tretyakov Gallery, and once again we were convinced that it’s a very beautiful place. I have a very strong opponent and I’m expecting the match to prove interesting.

Boris Gelfand in turn noted:

It’s a great honour for me to play in Moscow. We played our first game against each other in 1989. Twenty-three years later, we’ll be meeting again in May 2012.

In the opinion of the challenger, chess is not simply a sport, it is an art. Perhaps being close to the pictures will enable them to play games that go down in chess history.

Mark Gluhovsky emphasized that the combination of chess and painting will promote the use of new tools to popularise chess and to attract the attention of a new audience. During the traditional video relay on the Internet, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of viewers every day, the commentators and guests of the match will discuss not only the positions on the board but also the history of Russian culture. The in-house video relay, which has been improved over several years by the Russian Chess Federation at the Mikhail Tal Memorial, will move to a new level: for the first time it will be done in two languages – Russian and English – so that chess fans all over the world will be able to fully appreciate the level of the match and feel that they’re at the centre of chess events.


At the 2011 Tal Memorial there was live commentary by GM Emil Sutovsky (Russian only), who had different non-chess guests each day. For round 1 this was the famous author and satirist Victor Shenderovich. Photo © Macauley Peterson

Gluhovsky also made special mention of the guests at the match. Those who have already agreed to be guests of honour of the tournament include the brilliant Russian musicians Nikolai Lugansky, Vadim Repin and Alexander Knyazev and other prominent cultural figures, writers, scholars and art critics. This way the Moscow match in 2012 will be a hymn to culture and to chess as an important part of world culture, and the attention of the public and the media will be focused on it.

Besides, the best young chess players will come to the match from all over Russia, and they will be able not only to watch the play of today’s outstanding chess players but also to become acquainted with Russia’s cultural heritage. The Russian Chess Federation is organising for these children not only a chess programme but also a cultural and educational programme. It is also planned to include an extensive programme of educational events within the tournament.

The match sponsor, the Russian businessman Andrey Filatov, sees cooperation with museums as a way of developing chess. An extremely experienced and successful entrepreneur, he is looking for the economic logic that can take chess to a new level. Filatov’s view is that at the beginning of the twentieth century chess developed thanks to resorts: the majority of competitions took place in small towns that became known throughout the world thanks to chess tournaments. Filatov feels that in the new conditions that pertain today, it is necessary to seek new economic tools which will give chess the opportunity to develop. The classic methods of sports marketing in chess are struggling, and chess players are not succeeding in attracting corporate sponsors on a large scale.

Mr Filatov believes that cooperation with world museums could open a new page in the history of chess. Museums are not only repositories of the masterpieces of human thought, but also complex economic institutions. Staging the world championship match in a museum is a great way to advertise the museum on a world scale. The match in one of Russia’s biggest national museums will enable other museums and chess organisers to evaluate the advantages of such cooperation. If the first experience proves successful, it will give a new boost to the development of chess.

Irina Lebedeva, Director of the Tretyakov Gallery, noted during the press conference on the signing of the agreement to stage the match that the proposal by the Russian Chess Federation and the match sponsor Andrey Filatov is in line with the trend of development among modern museums. The modern museum is a meeting place for people with the most diverse interests. Mrs Lebedeva expressed the hope that the world championship chess match would generate additional interest among the public, including admirers of this most intellectual type of sport, in the State Tretyakov Gallery and Russian museum traditions.

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