Today In Chess: The Candidates is Postponed
By IM Eric Rosen
After the completion of the first half of the tournament, FIDE announced the 2020 Candidates will be postponed until further notice. In an official statement, FIDE cited their reasons for putting this historic and controversial event to a halt: “Today, the government of the Russian Federation announced that starting March 27, 2020, Russia interrupts air traffic with other countries without indicating any time frames. FIDE can not continue the tournament without guarantees for the players' and officials' safe and timely return home.”
At this point, it appears that FIDE’s biggest priority is ensuring that the players arrive home safely back to their respective countries. In an interview with Today in Chess, Photographer Lennart Ootes reported that a private jet will be chartered to take some of the players and officials from Yekaterinburg to Amsterdam before air traffic in Russia is restricted. Grandmasters Fabiano Caruana and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will be included on this flight, and then will take commercial flights to arrive home to their respective countries.
For weeks before the event started, there was controversy surrounding whether or not it should take place. In an interview with chess.com, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich admitted that FIDE was put in a difficult situation: “It was a hard decision to start the tournament and it was a hard decision to stop it.” Commentators compared FIDE’s situation to a stalemate. Zugzwang could also be an appropriate comparison. Of course, there can be lots of debate of whether the correct decisions were made.
As we look at the road ahead, there are currently many more questions than answers. When and how will the Candidates resume? Should Teymour Radjabov (who dropped out due to concerns of the pandemic) be given another chance? Will the World Championship still take place in December this year?
There are undoubtedly many legal issues that will come into play and it may be weeks or months until there are clear answers.
While chess fans will not be treated to the next 7 rounds of Candidates, we should still be grateful that there are many ways to enjoy the game in our digital age. I encourage readers to take advantage of chess platforms like chess.com, lichess, Chess24 and uschesschamps.com along with the plethora of high quality video content across Twitch and YouTube including the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch Channels which continue to provide their weekly classes and lectures along with additional chess programming online for free! Hopefully it won’t be too long until we can return to over-the-board events and enjoy the high quality games from the world’s best.