Candidates Update

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  • Candidates Update

    Candidates Update

    March 28, 2020

    MVL - Made it to Paris! Weird feeling and challenging times ahead. We are in this together #stayhome

    Anish Giri - After days of contemplating I finally solved the @rajachess dilemma. In fact it is very easy. If you think he wants to play and is a hero- let him play as a reward. If you think he doesn't want to play and is a villain- let him play as a punishment. Easy!


    A letter was sent March 27 to FIDE from the Azerbaijanis - The players express their support to Radjabov and criticize the International Chess Federation, stating that FIDE "violated the principles of the standard selection procedure in sports" by separating the Candidates tournament in two parts. Furthermore, they demand that FIDE restores the world championship qualification cycle for Radjabov.

    Here's the letter in full:

    Open letter of the chess team of Azerbaijan, threefold European champions, to the FIDE management, professional chess players and all chess fans.

    As it is known, the Candidates tournament should have been held in Yekaterinburg, Russia from March 15 till April 5, 2020. On March 4, our teammate, GM Teimour Radjabov, a participant of that tournament, requested that FIDE should postpone the tournament until a later date because of the growing coronavirus pandemic, which at the time was qualified by the World Health Organization as very strong and dangerous, as well as bearing the highest possible risk level, red. Teimour explained that, besides the risk of contagion and the negative psychological environment in such conditions, the chess players, he included, would not have been able to play at their highest level, which is necessary for such a strong and prestigious marathon tournament taking 22 days. At that moment, all important events were canceled or postponed globally and in Russia, to take care of the athletes. Unfortunately FIDE, in an ultimatum, gave him one day to decide whether he was going to play or not and eventually replaced him with a reserve player.

    As it is known, the Candidates tournament got started but did not reach the end. FIDE had to stop it because of the growing pandemic in the world. It was the only event on such a high level held in the world during the pandemic, despite the ban issued by the Russian government and the Russian ministry of sport, as of March 16, 2020, which demanded full cancellation of any international competitions with participation of foreign athletes in the territory of the Russian Federation.

    We consider that, by starting the tournament and stopping it, FIDE violated the principles of the standard selection procedure in sports, because the tournament was split into parts separated by an indefinite period of time while FIDE was dismissive of concerns about the health of the players. Therefore, it should be held responsible for its inadequate steps towards the candidates and to the entire chess community. Beyond that, we request and demand that the FIDE management returns our fellow member of the national team of Azerbaijan GM Teimour Radjabov into the world championship qualifying cycle as he suffered undeservedly in the circumstances, which could have been avoided by timely postponing the tournament until better days.

    Best Regards,

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov,
    Gadir Guseinov,
    Rauf Mamedov,
    Arkadij Naiditsch,
    Nijat Abasov

    Peter Doggers in the article just quoted above:

    GM Ding Liren got on a flight to Beijing while GM Wang Hao decided to return to Tokyo, from where he intended to continue to Shanghai. GM Anish Giri and his second GM Erwin l'Ami decided to take a regular flight via Moscow to Amsterdam, not awaiting a special charter flight that was arranged by the organizers, which would fly directly from Yekaterinburg to Amsterdam (which later became Rotterdam).

    A group of six people ended up taking this (otherwise empty) flight and continued their traveling from Rotterdam to their final destinations: GMs Fabiano Caruana and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, FIDE's official photographer for the event Lennart Ootes, the chairman of the appeals committee Jeroen van den Berg, Spanish journalist Leontxo Garcia, and GM Zhaoqin Peng, who had been giving commentary on the tournament in Chinese with GM Hou Yifan.