The Candidates and the Eclipse

by Frederic Friedel
4/10/2024 – It was all so nicely planned: during the Candidates Tournament a total eclipse of the sun was scheduled to pass over the venue in Canada, and FIDE scheduled the tournament to have a free day exactly when this happened. And they arranged a yacht cruise for players and visitors to witness this rare occurrence. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, clouds got in the way. Still, it was a lifetime experience for so many. | All images by Michal Walusza for FIDE

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The first free day of the FIDE Candidates Tournament was very deliberately scheduled to coincide with a unique event in North America: the April 8th solar eclipse.

The April 8 total solar eclipse was visible across a band covering Mexico, Eastern United States, and just grazing Canada. In Totonto  [red arrow – click all images in this report to enlarge] 99.9% of the sun was occluded. Here's a full video description of the eclipse by Celestron.

The International Chess Federation provided tournament participants and guests of the Candidates with an unforgettable yacht cruise to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event.

GMs Irina Krush and Anna Muzychuk preparing for the celestial event

Notably, players Nijat Abasov and Anna Muzychuk participated in the cruise, savouring the stunning views of the Toronto skyline. Tournament commentators Viswanathan Anand and Irina Krush, along with Vidit’s team, organizers, and officials, also joined in the festivities.

The celestial spectacle began under partly cloudy skies, and everyone, equipped with special glasses, watched as the Moon gradually obscured the Sun.

Unfortunately, the unpredictable weather of Southern Ontario soon intervened, and the sky was completely overcast.

The opportunity to clearly see the Sun or its satellite was lost, but suddenly, darkness descended, and night fell over the city and the lake in the middle of the day.Yep, that's Vishy, with his camera, fretting over the cloudy sky.

As everyone watched in awe, light burst forth swiftly and powerfully, as if the long anticipation had never occurred. Within minutes, even with the sun still partly obscured, it was bright daylight again, and that’s when the skies began to clear as well.

In the evening, as the Candidates’ players relaxed before Round 5, Toronto’s chess enthusiasts gathered at the Annex Chess Club on Bathurst Street for a grand blitz tournament, a side event of the FIDE Candidates 2024.

The event attracted 126 players from 19 federations, boasting an impressive line-up.

The tournament featured nine grandmasters, two Woman grandmasters, eight International Masters, and numerous other titled players. Top seeds were Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 2700, who is serving as Nijat Abasov’s second, Evgeny Bareev, 2660, Canada’s strongest player, Ivan Cheparinov, 2593, Aryan Tari, 2579, and Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2473. The tournament was won by Mamedyarov and Cheparinov, who both finished with 8.0 out of 9.

On a personal note

Days before the April 2024 eclipse I made sure that all my friends in Toronto know what was in store for them. I sent Skype messages to Anand, Gukesh, Pragg, Vidit, Alireza, Vaishali, Anna (Muzychuk), Sagar, pointing them to my adventures with total eclipses. I warned them that clouds can get in the way – as happened to me when I tried to catch the 1999 total eclipse that passed over the birth town of my father in Bavaria, Germany. But I was lucky enough to catch the full glory of a total eclipse seven years later.

This is how I experienced the March 2006 eclipse in Antalya, Turkey.

The above photo of the March 29, 2006 total eclipse was taken by a NASA astronaut on the International Space Station. It is of the umbral shadow moving across southern Turkey. Unfortunately, the magnification is not high enough to show me reclining on a deck chair in Antalya, watching the moon occlude the sun.

Also read: The eclipse that changed the world

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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RichardEaston RichardEaston 4/14/2024 08:29
The eclipse was magnificent in Irving, TX.
EnriqueLeon EnriqueLeon 4/11/2024 06:17