World Championship match almost certain to take place in Dubai

by ChessBase
2/29/2020 – During the 90th FIDE Congress in Abu Dhabi, the President of the Federation Arkady Dvorkovich mentioned that this year's World Championship match will almost certainly take place in Dubai as part of the 2020 World Expo, clarifying that this is not yet a formal announcement. Dvorkovich also hinted that the match might be delayed until the end of December in order to better fit within the Expo's schedule. | Photo: Ahlawe, via Wikimedia Commons

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The event might be moved to December

This year's main event in the chess world is without a doubt the World Championship match, in which Magnus Carlsen will try to defend his title for a fourth consecutive time. The winner of the coming Candidates Tournament will gain the right to challenge the Norwegian in a 14-game match.

It was previously announced that the match would most likely take place either in Buenos Aires or Dubai, although by now it seems almost certain it will be played in Dubai. Back in January, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich visited the chess festival in Gibraltar and gave an interview to Tania Sachdev. When asked about the WC match, he stated:

Certainly it's going to be toward the end of the year. We're hopeful that we will conclude a contract with the Dubai Expo very soon, and that's the occasion we're looking forward to have the World Championship match, since it will gather hundreds of thousands of people from around the world that will go around the universal expo but will have a chance to visit the World Championship match as well. So we are trying to do it as a top-class event that will be visible not just to the chess audience but to all people around the world. 

The motivation to organize the tournament as part of the Expo was thus clearly stated — to reach a large audience that is 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.

Curiously, during the bidding process for hosting this edition of the World Expo, the last location to be eliminated from contention was Yekaterinburg, the Russian city that will host the Candidates Tournament starting in a couple of weeks.

Now, with the qualification event to find a challenger for the match coming up soon, Dvorkovich talked about the match during his presentation at the FIDE Congress in Abu Dhabi:

The World Championship match this year will take place in the country [in which] we're having our General Assembly, in the United Arab Emirates. [...] We're just completely in the technical details, the technical negotiations with the hosts. [The match] will take place at the site of the World Expo in Dubai, and I think it will be one of the most visible World Championship matches in history. 

As reported by the Norwegian news site VG.no, Dvorkovich also referred to the fact that the match will probably start on December 20th, which would make it impossible for it to finish before the end of the year. Naturally, this is related to the need to find the best possible date that works both for the chess federation and the organizers of the massive Expo, which will take place from October 20th, 2020 until April 10th, 2021.

It must be noted that if the match is delayed until December, it would clash with the usual dates in which the World Rapid and Blitz Championships take place. 

Once the contract between FIDE and the organizers of the World Expo is finalized, it will be presented to Magnus Carlsen and the new challenger. For Carlsen, playing in Dubai would 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.

Magnus Carlsen

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

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