Breaking news: World Championship in Sochi

6/11/2014 – In April FIDE announced that it had received no bids to stage the 2014 World Chess Championship in November. Today news broke that the city of Sochi, where recently the Olympic Winter Games were held, would host the event. It is assumed that the deal was hammered out between Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIDE chief Ilumzhinov during a children's chess tournament.

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Breaking news: World Championship in Sochi

On March 30 former World Champion won the Candidates Tournament in Khanty Mansiysk to become the next challenger of the current World Champion, Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen, in November this year. The bidding process for this for all intents and purposes very attractive match, however, brought no bids, in spite of the fact that FIDE extended the by seven weeks. On April 30, 2014, at 13:05 (just five minutes after the deadline for bidding had elapsed) FIDE announced that it had still not received any bids. Chagrin followed and explanations were sought – we reported on the matter extensively at the time.

Well, today FIDE has announced that a venue and a sponsor has been found:

So Sochi it is, on the territory of the Olympic Village, in the period from 7th November to 28th November, with a budget of US $3,000,000. Of this "one to one and a half million" will go to the players as prizes.

Of course you will know that Sochi, a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia, was the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics in February this year. That was a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking at the Belaya Ladya children's chess tournament,
flanked by Russian Chess Federation President Andrey Filatov and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Clearly Putin is involved in the decision to stage the 2014 World Championship in Sochi. Earlier this month he visited the Belaya Ladya children's chess tournament, where he expressed interest in chess: "There was a time when chess lessons were held in every school at every district. It is great and pleasant that this tradition is being revived. Chess is the most intellectual sport, we always took the leading positions in all international ratings."

In the audience: GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Anatoly Karpov, Dmitry Peskov, Gennady
Timchenko, Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

At the event Karpov held a simul on 73 boards, and the FIDE President was asked to make the first move in one of the games. "Kirsan Nikolayevich, as a well-known chess player, will play e2-e4," Putin laughed.

According to Chess News RU, who supplied all the above images, "the president later had a talk with FIDE president behind closed doors." We cannot know for sure, but we are going to assume that that is where the deal to have Sochi host the 2014 World Chess Championship was made.


The Norwegian portal VG is reporting that the President of the Norwegian Chess Federation Joran Aulin-Jansson has expressed doubts about the decision: "I am not sure about it, and as far as I know the negotiations with the players are still ongoing." Aulin-Jansson drew attention to the fact that the European Union has imposed sanctions against Russia [because of the Ukraine crisis] and noted that Carlsen may not be able to visit Russia for political reasons. "We are still unaware of how the situation with Ukraine develops, but it's clear that if EU applies sanctions, both the players and the federations of the EU will have to follow them."

Aulin-Jansson said that Sochi is a nice, modern city with good conditions for holding the Winter Olympic Games. However he hoped that the match would take place somewhere else, not in Russia.

Dagbladet Sports, on the other hand, spoke to Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein, and published the following excerpts:

What is your first reaction?

It's good that it is movement in the World Championship match. But there are challenges if it should go to Russia.

What kind of challenges?

We have spoken to the Foreign Ministry, and the situation is tense in Russia. But currently there is no question of a sports boycott. We will keep talking to them.

Sochi is not the first choice for Magnus?

I don't want to go into specfics. Sochi could be a very nice venue, and there is nothing wrong with that. It Winter Olympics were held there.

What does Magnus think about Sochi?

Magnus is only concerned with the tournament in Stavanger. There will be an exciting finish there. He does not have time to think about anything else, nor does want to.

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firestorm firestorm 6/12/2014 05:10
Rules comment that "chess players don't mind where to play ... important to be paid" is disrespectful and twists the point I was making. Of course chess players can and do care about where they play, but the point is, it is not for politicians to say "hey, we're engaged in a political stand off here, so to make a point ... you, chess player, don't go there ... (although we'll continue to trade with them) ....." as happened, for example, in the former Yugoslavia in the nineties. It is for the professional to square the situation their particular profession brings about with their conscience/moral viewpoint.

And I'm still looking forward to the FIDE elections ...

Let's hope change is coming. Long overdue.
Anandkumar Anandkumar 6/12/2014 10:31
We expect too much from athletes and sportsmen. The concerned governing body should decide whether a "contentious" place is suitable for hosting a tourney or not.

Now Kasparov's two rivals are united! While the actual impact it may have on the elections still remains to be seen, it definitely is a psychological move against the master of psychology over the board!
Rules Rules 6/12/2014 12:03
So, chess players do not mind where to play- Sochi 2014 or Munich 1939 - important to be paid..
Najdork Najdork 6/11/2014 08:09
They're selling for much less than what originally asked for a bid. They should lower the base requirement and have bidders fight on who offers more.
ktm5124 ktm5124 6/11/2014 07:56
firestorm is right.

I don't know why everyone is leaping to the conclusion that this affects Kasparov's chances. I think that one person drew this conclusion, and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.
firestorm firestorm 6/11/2014 07:33
If you want to deploy sanctions, then deploy economic sanctions. Politicians are very good at telling sportsmen and women and chess players where they can and can't go, but not so good at doing it themselves. Carlsen and Anand are engaged in a world championship match, not pawns for politicians, with regards to sanctions and protests comment.

Regarding the comments that this scuppers Kasparov's chances- really?

1) Are supporters of Kasparov going to change their vote because the world championship now has a sponsor (which it should have had anyway)?

2) If Kasparov is elected, do you seriously think Putin would score a political own goal by withdrawing support for the Sochi World Championship (and give Kasparov the chance to rescue it)?

Or, for that matter, that Putin doesn't have more serious matters to think about ....
ktm5124 ktm5124 6/11/2014 06:31
AdobePlayer, you're pathetic, first for being an anti-semite, second for disrespecting a World Chess Champion.
AdopePlayer AdopePlayer 6/11/2014 06:05
Kasparov nothing more than a Jew pawn.
Barking around against Russia, Ukraine and China is like attacking the top-3 federations worldwide!
There was _zero_ chance to get elected from the very beginning, just a useful front man for a few bitter dollars..
So pathetic.
ktm5124 ktm5124 6/11/2014 06:04
Do you really think this will affect the FIDE elections? If Kasparov wins then I'm sure he can arrange to stay in Russia for a few weeks. If he really can't stay in Russia then whoever is second-in-charge could go for instead.
alnoth alnoth 6/11/2014 05:24
after months of no sponsor, kirsan goes and closes the door behind himself and putin and voila... the sponsor and venue have been found!

these are exactly the non-transparent post-communist antiques of the untouchable oligarchs that fide cannot be further associated with! fide so needs a new president... 6/11/2014 05:23
I agree with the other comments - with Putin and Kirsan being on good talking terms plus the difficulty of being FIDE president without going to Russia I can't see any realistic hopes for Gary.
Rules Rules 6/11/2014 05:10
This is against sactions I believe..
EC where both players are residents should protest strongly
fcolonna fcolonna 6/11/2014 04:21
I was looking forward to Kasparov winning the election. Chess has had enough of Kirsan. After this move, I don't think Kasparov has a chance.
althus althus 6/11/2014 04:12
A tactical stroke by Kirsan! Kasparov has just lost the election. Now Kirsan just says, "You can't vote for Kasparov now, because you know he and Putin are enemies and if he wins, this World Championship I worked so hard to arrange is in danger."

Brilliant. Solves problems for both Putin and Kirsan at once. That is, if you ignore the whole holding-the-WC-hostage thing.