The hosts of the next match for the crown: Expo 2020 in Dubai

by ChessBase
2/3/2021 – The International Chess Federation recently announced the new dates for the next World Championship match, in which Magnus Carlsen will face the winner of the Candidates Tournament. It was confirmed, as well, that the match will be held at Expo 2020 in Dubai. What is this event all about? Let us recap how we got to this point.

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Unique circumstances

Expo 2020 DubaiAbout a week ago, the International Chess Federation announced the new dates for the World Championship match in which Magnus Carlsen will face the winner of the Candidates Tournament. With a prize fund of 2 million Euros, the event is scheduled to kick off on November 24 and last until December 16.

It was confirmed, as well, that the match will be held at Expo 2020 in Dubai. The World Expo, which was originally scheduled to start in October 2020, decided not to change the name of the massive event (to 2021) for marketing and branding purposes.

The press release by FIDE states: “The FIDE World Chess Championship will take place at the state-of-the-art Dubai Exhibition Centre, co-located at Expo 2020. The Championship will also include a series of side events, including exhibition matches and appearances by former champions and celebrity fans.”

After the Netflix series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ prompted a surge in the popularity of the royal game, it is expected for this match to be particularly well-received.

Even before the worldwide sanitary crisis shocked the whole world and the aforementioned Netflix series had a major influence on the world of chess, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich stated that the main motivation to hold the match as part of the World Expo was to reach a large audience currently not hooked on chess.

Fittingly, the main theme of the world exposition is called “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. Close to 150 countries announced their participation, with Spain choosing chess as one of the main themes for its pavilion.

About Expo 2020

In a general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), held in Paris on 27 November 2013, it was decided that Dubai would organize the 2020 World Expo.

The main site will be a 438-hectare area (1083 acres) near Dubai’s southern border with Abu Dhabi. The master plan, designed by the American firm HOK, is organized around a central plaza, enclosed by three large thematic districts. Each one  of these districts is dedicated to one of the sub-themes of Expo 2020 — Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Mohamed Al Ansaari, Vice President of Communications at Expo 2020, declared:

Expo 2020 Dubai will be a global celebration of the very best of humankind, held in one of the world’s most welcoming and ambitious nations — what better place to host a thrilling showdown between the brightest minds in chess?

World Expos 

In 1851 the Crystal Palace was the centrepiece of London’s Great Exhibition – the first World Expo. It celebrated the man-made industrial wonders of a rapidly changing world. Architecture, contents and a theme, ‘Industry of All Nations’, were combined to create a big idea of nations meeting nations in shared technological and commercial progress.

In more recent years, participants in World Expos, including governments, international organizations and companies, have gathered to find solutions to universal challenges and to promote their achievements, products, ideas, innovations, their national brand, and their nations as destinations for tourism, trade and investment. 

Today, four types of Expos are organized under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions: World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.

Universal Exposition, Paris

The Universal Exposition of 1889

The chess match

This will be Magnus Carlsen’s fifth participation in a World Championship match — previously he defeated Viswanathan Anand (twice), Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana. For the Norwegian, playing in Dubai will certainly bring back pleasant memories, as it is the place where he won both the World Rapid and Blitz Championships back in 2014, thus getting the Triple Crown for the first time in his career.

Carlsen will face the winner of the Candidates Tournament, which kicked off on March 16 last year in Yekaterinburg, Russia, but was postponed exactly midway, when the Russian government announced that air traffic to and from other countries would be interrupted.

Curiously, during the bidding process for hosting this edition of the World Expo, the last location to be eliminated from contention was precisely Yekaterinburg.

In September, FIDE announced that the Candidates would resume on November 1, but then had to postpone the resumption of the second half once again as the second wave of the pandemic hit a number of European countries. For the time being, it is not certain when will the seven remaining rounds will be played, although it has been mentioned that efforts are being made to resume the event in the spring.

After seven rounds, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are sharing the lead on 4½/7. Four players stand a full point behind with a fifty-percent score.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlen during the closing ceremony of the 2014 World Rapid and Blitz Championships held in Dubai


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