Will the Icelandic volcano affect the World Championship?
Last Thursday World Champion Vishy Anand took a flight from his home in Madrid,
Spain, to Sofia, Bulgaria. He and wife Aruna had a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany,
with an ongoing flight to Sofia the next day. No sooner had they landed in Frankfurt,
however, than word went out that all further flights in and out of that airport were
cancelled. This was due to an ash cloud which emanated from an Icelandic volcano
and had drifted into European airspace. Slowly one airport after another was
closed down, until on Friday all the major European airports (and all in Germany)
had come to a complete standstill.
The volcano causing all the trouble is located under Eyjafjallajökull,
one of the smaller glaciers of Iceland. The volcano itself is 1,666 metres (5,466
ft) in height and has erupted relatively frequently since the Ice Age. There
have been three previous major eruptions in olden times: in 920, 1612 and
from 1821 to 1823. Previous eruptions
of Eyjafjallajökull have been followed by eruptions at its larger neighbour
For the bravest of our readers, here is how to pronounce the name of the glacier
The pronunciation was
explained to ABC New’s host George Stephanopoulos by Erla Skuladottir
of Iceland. You can hear how other Icelanders and international reporters pronounce
it here. There are
some really spectacular images of the volcano erupting on this
Satellite photo of the volcano in Eyjafjallajökull erupting [courtesy
NASA satellite image of the ash cloud drifting eastward towards Europe
The explosive eruptive phase of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano began on
April 14th, with a new set of craters opening up under the volcano’s ice
covered central summit caldera. The ash-loaded eruption plume rose to more than
eight km in height, and was deflected to the east by westerly winds. Since the
eruption occurred beneath glacial ice the volcanic lava was chilled quickly,
causing it to fragment into small glass particles which are carried into the
eruption plume. The glass-rich plume is now floating in the upper atmosphere
at up to 50,000 feet, exactly in the airspace used by commercial aircraft. It
is very hazardous for these planes, since the particles are melted in the jet
engines and tend to clog the blades. In the past a number of aircraft have lost
power when flying through such volcanic clouds. Most of the nearly 30,000 flights
which normally take place on a Friday or the weekend were cancelled, causing
absolute mayhem across the continent. All 16 German airports were closed.
the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic ash cloud on April 17, 2010
Naturally with hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded it is almost impossible
to make alternative travel arrangements. We tried calling Lufthansa, and just
the wait on the phone was over an hour. Even when you reach the carrier little
can be achieved. If you are lucky you are put on a later flight, but of course
that is usually cancelled. One of our family members is stuck in Ireland, and
it looks as if the delay will be from Friday until Wednesday at least; Garry
Kasparov and his wife are in New York, unable to return to Russia (the flight
route would take the plane through the cloud); the German national chess team
is stranded in Vietnam, and even Barack Obama is unable to attend the funeral
of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the 95 other victims of last weekend’s
plane crash in Russia.
Travelling from Frankfurt to Sofia by other means is hardly less daunting.
Car rentals are completely booked up, as are trains, which are totally packed.
A train journey from Frankfurt to Sofia would take 28 hours. Anand’s wife
Aruna has spent considerable time trying to find a reasonable way to reach
the Bulgarian capital. These efforts continue, as there seems to be no end to
the crisis in air traffic.
Latest situation (Sunday, 11:00 a.m. CEST)
The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is still erupting, and possibly intensifying,
with the ash plume rising to 30,000 feet. Evidence of ash dust over the UK is
being detected by Met
Office observations and there are reports of dust reaching the ground. The
Met Office commissioned NERC research flight flew over the North Sea on Friday
afternoon and detected three distinct layers of ash, from fine particles at
low levels to large particles around 8,000 feet.
Volcanic ash dispersion up to 20,000 feet, issued at 7 am on 18 April. Advisory
charts are issued
every six hours, for up to 18 hours ahead, by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.
In the meantime the Indian Chess Federation has issued the following statement:
AICF Seeks Postponement Of Anand-Topalov Match
By Arvind Aaron
The All India Chess Federation has sent an urgent message to FIDE seeking postponement of the Anand versus Topalov World Chess Championship match, which is scheduled
to start from April 23, 2010 in Sofia.
The AICF Honorary Secretary D.V. Sundar has sent an urgent message requesting
the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to intervene and postpone the World Title
match to allow time for the defending champion Viswanathan Anand to reach the
venue. Anand is unable to fly to Sofia as flights in Europe are cancelled. The
ash from the volcanic activity in Iceland has stranded passengers all across
Europe and Anand is stranded in Frankfurt.
The AICF letter requests the intervention of FIDE President and requests the
match be put off by at least three days. The match is a best of 12 and in case
of a tie it will be decided in a rapid playoff by May 12, 2010.
Anand was scheduled to reach on April 16 but has not been able to fly due to
closure of the airport in Germany. He needs time to make alternate booking and
the AICF has officially asked for a postponement of the match.
Below are the Anand statement, Legal Notice and AICF Letter to FIDE:
"In view of the extreme force majeure situation we are facing, it has
become difficult and near impossible to travel in Europe. We are working with
the FIDE supervisor to see how we can travel at the earliest. Given these
circumstances it has been agreed, keeping in mind Vishy's arrival in Sofia
the schedule could be moved accordingly. We wouldn't want to speculate on rumours
at this point and will try and arrive at the earliest." – Aruna
Anand, wife and manager of World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
AIFC letter to FIDE
His Highness Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV
Sub : - Request for postponement of the first round World Championship match
between Grandmaster Vishy Anand and Grandmaster Topalov of Bulgaria
Greetings from the All India Chess Federation. We write to seek your kind
intervention in postponing the Match between Grandmaster Vishy Anand and Grandmaster
Topalov by at least three days. As you are aware, the Volcanic Ashes across
Europe has rendered many passengers sulking in various Airports across the
Globe, more particularly in and around Europe. Anand and his team could not
reach Sofia on 16th as planned and are in transit & held up at Frankfurt.
I understand that they are frantically trying to reach Sofia as early as possible
so that the schedule is not disturbed. However, this being an important match
it will only be fair to Anand that he is not made to play the first round
amidst such tension. He needs at least three to four days of acclimatization
before he starts his defence of his title. I understand that Anand has already
appealed to the authorities as per the Rules Governing this historic Match.
I am sure you will see reason and take a proper and just decision in the
matter and help to bring in equal playing conditions to the player. We await
your immediate action and response in the issue.
With kind regards
All India Chess Federation
See also: Anand's
Schedule of the World Championship in Sofia
The time controls for the Anand-Topalov match are 120 minutes for the first
40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the rest of
the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
GMs Yasser Seirawan and Daniel King will be
the ChessBase commentators covering the match.
You can listen to their commentary on the the chess server Playchess.com.
If you are not a member we adivse you to download the free
PGN reader ChessBase Light. This program also gives you immediate
access to Playchess.