Vienna vies for 2020 World Championship

by Conrad Schormann
9/13/2018 – The World Chess Championship 2018 is still two months away but some federations are already looking ahead to 2020. Depending on the winner of the forthcoming World Championship match in November in London, the USA or Norway may, of course, want to host the next edition. However, the Austrian Federation would also like to celebrate its 100-year jubilee with a very special event and recently received an official visit. | Pictured: Central Vienna | Photo: Public domain via Creative Commons

The Vienna Variation - a reliable and ambitious weapon against 1.d4 The Vienna Variation - a reliable and ambitious weapon against 1.d4

The Vienna Variation is a particular and independent system of the Queen's Gambit. It arises after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4, when Black's capture on move 4 is strongly reminiscent of the Queen's Gambit Accepted.


Vienna has the culture, now it needs the money

Norway would love to host the World Championship 2020, the USA as well, and apparently Monaco too. These countries were discussed during a visit of a FIDE/Agon delegation in Vienna. FIDE treasurer Adrian Siegel and Agon chief Ilya Merenzon visited the Austrian capital which is officially in the running to host the World Championship 2020.

"The chances are getting better to bring the World Championship match to Austria", the Austrian Federation announced on the occasion of the top level chess visit. But the strong competition suggests that the opposite might be true. Moreover, it is not yet certain if the two visitors to Vienna, Siegel and Merenzon, will even be in a position to decide where the World Championship match 2020 will take place.

Vienna Volksgarten

Vienna Volksgarten With Roses | Public domain

Siegel's future as a FIDE official depends on the fate of Georgios Makropoulos, a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. If the Greek is voted out on October 3rd, Siegel will be gone as well. After the elections, the debate inside FIDE will likely heat up over the future of the Agon / World Chess partnership, no matter the outcome.

After the World Championship match Carlsen vs Caruana in November a Norwegian or an American will be World Champion. Either way, a bid of the home country of the World Champion will seriously come into consideration, much more so as both possible bids will be backed up by considerable financial power. In his time as World Champion Carlsen has built a chess empire supported by Scandinavian chess sponsors, while Caruana is backed by multi-millionaire Rex Sinquefield who dreams of organising a match in St. Louis. 

The Americans last month unveiled a banner commemorating the World Championship match of 1886!

There are also arguments in favour of Vienna as host of a World Championship match but they tend to be based on (chess) culture. There is first of all the rich chess tradition of the Austrian capital. In 2020 the Austrian Chess Federation celebrates its 100-year jubilee and as this would be a fantastic reason to bring the biggest of all chess events to Vienna, Christian Hursky, the president of the Austrian Chess Federation visited the Candidates Tournament in Berlin in March to discuss this idea with Ilya Merenzon.

Christian Hursky and Prof. Kurt Jungwirth

Christian Hursky and Prof. Kurt Jungwirth | Photo: Austrian Chess Federation

Hursky's arguments must have been strong enough to convince a chess delegation to come to Vienna to look for a possible venue of the World Chess Championship match 2020. Merenzon, Siegel, and Nadia Panteleeva — Agon's marketing chief — reportedly took note of the many suitable venues in this picturesque city on the Danube river. Not to say anything against St. Louis or Oslo but as far as spectacular buildings are concerned they just cannot compete with Vienna. The Museumsquartier turned out to be the tentative favourite of the delegation.


Art museum in the Museum Quarter | Photo: Greymouser CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Currently, chess is experiencing a surge of popularity in Austria (not long ago the Austrian Federal President sent well-wishes to the national team that will play the Olympiad in Batumi) but apart from that Hursky and his fellow campaigners have another argument in favour of Vienna: their bid is concrete while their rivals have, to-date, made only declarations of intent.

Now, it's all a question of money. "Chess as an investment into the future", Merenzon expects for the city to host the World Championship 2020, hoping to build larger global audiences.

Hursky, for one, heard him. On top of the agenda of the World Championship 2020 planners is now the search for sponsors.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

Conrad Schormann, skilled newspaper editor, runs an agency for editing and communication in Überlingen, at Lake Constance. But he lacks time to play chess which is partly due to the fact that he very much likes to write about it, for Chessbase, in the Reddit chess forum, or for his chess teaching blog Perlen vom Bodensee...


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