FIDE Candidates to resume in November, with plan B

It has long been unclear whether the remaining seven rounds of FIDE Candidates tournament can continue. But today, the world governing body is expected to reveal exactly what is happening with its flagship event. UPDATE: FIDE has now confirmed all the details reported. 

FIDE, chess24 understands, will announce the event that decides Magnus Carlsen’s challenger for the World Championship title will resume with the 8th round on November 1st in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

However, there are also plan B and Cs to move the event out of Russia.

The FIDE Candidates tournament was halted abruptly due to the pandemic on March 26 when 7 out of 14 rounds had been completed. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi are currently in pole position with 4.5 points, a full point ahead of Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wang Hao and Alexander Grischuk on 3.5.

The event is expected to formally resume on October 28th with the 8th round to be played on November 1st in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The players will be required to appear at least two days before the start. According to chess24’s sources, no quarantine by the players will be required in principle.

The President of the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation, and event sponsor, Andrei Simanovsky, told Russian news agency TASS:

I am in constant contact with [President of the International Chess Federation] Arkady Dvorkovich, he received a paper that we are ready to hold [the Candidates Tournament] from October 28 to November 11, provided there is a stable epidemiological situation safe for the players.

Andrei Filatov, the President of the Russian Chess Federation told its official website:

We support the idea and think that the epidemiological situation allows to finish the event safely for the players. It should be finished in Yekaterinburg.

However, the global pandemic is still out of control and daily cases have set records on many continents. In Russia, there have been more than 1 million positive cases with almost 18,000 deaths, according to Worldometers, but many have cast doubt on the official numbers

If the pandemic situation doesn’t allow it, FIDE does have a plan B to move the event to Tbilisi, Georgia. There is even a plan C, according to chess24’s sources.

FIDE General Director Emil Sutovsky told chess24 in June that the event was planned for September or October and that it potentially could be moved to a different country. The timing turned out to be slightly optimistic, but the event could still be moved out of Russia if things don’t go according to plan.

UPDATE at 15:00 CEST: FIDE confirm their plans, adding that the players have been consulted

FIDE has now published the following statement: 

After consultation with the players and organizers, FIDE is pleased to announce the resumption of the Candidates tournament. The 8th round has been scheduled for November 1, 2020.

According to the contract Yekaterinburg, the city that organized the first round of the Candidates Tournament at the highest level in March 2020, is still considered as the hosting city. However, considering the epidemiological situation, FIDE has designated a reserve venue: The city of Tbilisi, in Georgia, has been officially approved as an alternative, and it is ready to host the tournament in the same time frame. We are also in touch with other potential host cities from several countries where the event could be moved to, in case additional restrictions reappear in Russia and Georgia.

FIDE considers the resumption of the World Championship cycle as one of the main tasks. As one of the oldest sports traditions in the world, it is our duty to protect it and ensure its continuity. The World Championship cycle is also a crucial event in order to increase the popularity of chess around the world. FIDE is aware that millions of fans are looking forward to seeing the best chess players on the planet back at the chessboard, and we have spared no effort to make it possible despite the challenging circumstances.

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