FIDE announces that the Candidates Tournament will resume on November 1st

9/8/2020 – The Candidates Tournament 2020 in Ekaterinburg was started when the corona pandemic had already spread around the world. However, after seven of 14 rounds it was interrupted and postponed to an indefinite date. In a press release FIDE now announced that the Candidates Tournament will resume on November 1, 2020, probably in Ekaterinburg, or alternatively in Tbilisi. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Press Release by FIDE, 8.9.2020

FIDE announces the resumption of the Candidates Chess Tournament for November 1, 2020

It was the only top sporting event in the world that got suspended halfway amid the coronavirus outbreak

Eight of the top players in the world compete to become Magnus Carlsen's challenger for the World Title

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) is pleased to announce the resumption of the Candidates Tournament, the event that decides who will be the challenger to Magnus Carlsen's reign. The 8th round has been scheduled for November 1, 2020. According to the contract, Yekaterinburg, the city that organized the first round 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. 

The Candidates Tournament, which gathers the best eight chess players on the planet except for the World Champion himself, kicked off on March 15 in Yekaterinburg (Russia), at a very early stage of the coronavirus outbreak. With only 8 participants, the event was deemed safe to go ahead under the condition that it was played behind closed doors, with no public present at the auditorium, and reducing staff to the very minimum. Players, arbiters, and officials were tested for COVID-19 twice a day. "The health and safety measures were very similar to the ones currently being applied at the US Tennis Open and other sporting events, but at the time, all this was uncharted territory", explains the President of the International Chess Federation, Arkady Dvorkovich.

However, the event came to an abrupt end when the worsening of the pandemic situation forced the Russian government to preventively close its borders. The uncertainty caused by this decision, and the risk of having the players stuck in Russian territory at the conclusion of the event, forced FIDE to suspend the competition and fleet a private jet to fly the chess players out of the country before the lockdown was inforced.

The tournament, played under a double round-robin format, was suspended after the 7th round, when the Grandmasters Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) were leading with 4,5 points. Since half of the games had already been played, the regulations establish that the results stand, rather than having the tournament re-started from scratch.

It is not the first time that an international chess event is interrupted in exceptional circumstances like these. In 1914 a tournament Mannheim (Germany), with 18 of the best players of the moment, was interrupted when Germany declared war on Russia. Most of the participants rushed to travel back home, with a notable exception: the Russian Efim Bogoljubov stayed behind, and after he married a German woman he would stay there permanently, never leaving the country again. Something similar happened during the Buenos Aires Chess Olympiad in 1939, when World War II broke out halfway into the event. The English team abandoned the competition immediately, but most others kept playing. Germany won the gold medal, but famously lost the war. A number of participants stayed in South America for some time, while a few of them would find a new home in Argentina, like the Polish-born Miguel Najdorf.

"Today’s announcement about the resumption of the Candidates is another positive step for chess fans and players. The World Championship cycle is one of the oldest sports traditions in the world, and it is FIDE's duty to protect it and ensure its continuity. This is also a crucial event in order to increase the popularity of chess around the world", explains the FIDE President. "We are aware that millions of fans are looking forward to seeing the best chess players on the planet back at the chess board, and we have spared no effort to make it possible despite the challenging circumstances. As we’ve stressed on several occasions, we would resume the competition only when it is considered safe to do so under the guidance of the leading public health authorities.”

"Apart from Tbilisi, 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", explains Emil Sutovsky, FIDE's Director-General.

Standings after Round 7

 

Results of Round 1

 

Results of Round 2

 

Results of Round 3

 

Results of Round 4

 

Results of Round 5

 

Results of Round 6

 

Results of Round 7

 

Pairings of Round 8

 

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fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 9/11/2020 08:23
Seems a bit early to resume the tournament.

@SunriseK, presumably they could just test each player daily. But's that an excellent suggestion.
SunriseK SunriseK 9/11/2020 02:16
"assuming that neither the players or the spectators get sick" this is the problem!
They shouldn't have interrupted it before: at that time there were virtually around zero infections (per million inhabitants) in Russia and all players, staff and other people involved were ok (big luck!).
Spectators were not allowed in the playing hall (and I believe the same will be true now).
But now there are more than 7000 cases (!) per million inhabitants in Russia (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) and the chance all will go perfectly ok... well, I hope it will happen, but I fear there are not very high. :-(
What would follow in that unfortunate case?
And the excuse to suspend it at the time were ridiculous IMHO: it was not very difficult to give to all non russian players a special VISA and a special flight to return home.

Btw, to raise now a bit the chances that no player will get infection, why not to give any player a PC?
Hardware and software can be implemented in such a way that every round any player connects his PC to a LAN (with the opponent).
This way there would be many advantages:
- no player has to touch the physical pieces together with other players;
- more distance between players can be easily set up;
- only legal moves could be played and most important any special case (e.g. draw conditions) can be automatically checked by the software;
- software can even have an anticheating plugin added;
- arbiters can follow all games at the same time from their master PCs controlling all the LAN.
As there are only 16 players, this implementation should not be difficult nor too expensive. ;-)
What do you think about that?
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/9/2020 11:48
This has been awaited for long. Good idea to organize it, assuming that neither the players or the spectators get sick.
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