Chess prank: nobody wants to organize the World Cup

No Carlsen and Russian propaganda
Chess prank: nobody wants to organize the World Cup

By Christian Schenzel

At the beginning of April, the new world chess champion will be played in a duel between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. It is still unclear where the two grand masters will meet. This is also linked to superstar Magnus Carlsen.

Time is running out, but a solution is still not in sight. The search for a venue for the 2023 World Chess Championship is becoming more and more of a joke. Although the first match between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren due to take place in 86 days, the world association FIDE has not yet found a host for its most important event. Levy Rozman, one of the most popular and biggest chess streamers, hit the nail on the head this week and wrote on Twitter of an “organizational and communicative disaster”. FIDE spokesman David Llada agreed in part and told “chess24.com” of “justified criticism”.

Llada justified the fact that the search was prolonged, among other things, with planning problems as part of a new sorting of the chess calendar after the pandemic. “That’s why we had a much tighter schedule this time.” An understandable explanation, but certainly not the only one. Probably the biggest, unspoken issue of the association is that superstar Magnus Carlsen is no longer part of the world championship this year. The Norwegian has relinquished his title and will miss a World Cup match for the first time since 2013, so the event is missing the biggest driving force the sport has to offer. This discourages sponsors, among others.

The dominant superstar is gone

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“This is probably the least interesting World Cup match for a long time,” Norwegian chess expert Atle Grönn said in the “Dagbladet” interview, something FIDE cannot publicly admit. Even with Magnus Carlsen, there were always problems finding a venue, Grönn noted. Without the superstar, however, it’s much more difficult. Chess journalist Tarjei Svendsen takes a similar view and says: “It is clear that it is much more difficult to organize a world championship if the player who has dominated chess for the last decade is absent. .” But Carlsen’s absence is just another problem. Grönn speculates that one of the challengers is also deterring potential financiers.

“At the end of the day, ‘Nepo’ represents Russia. It makes it harder for Western countries to host him,” he said, referring to Ian Nepomniachtchi’s background. who walked away from the war very early, but in the end could still be exploited by Russian state media, especially since chess is extremely popular in Russia. In November, President Arkady Dvorkovich had indicated that FIDE absolutely wanted to avoid such headlines when he clearly postponed a World Cup in Russia and thus reacted to an IOC recommendation.

Russia is or was perhaps the largest and most important market for the association, alongside the United States, China and India. The war temporarily paralyzed this market. From the association’s point of view, it is above all one thing: bad for business.

The Mexican project failed

In November, FIDE still hoped to have found a World Cup organizer. Confirming talks with a promoter in Mexico, Dvorkovich said, “We’ll make a decision in a month.” Nearly two months later, this decision is still slow in coming. Mexico, spokesman David Llada revealed, has since pulled out. The project presented there to the association was so tempting that the potential host was granted more time. “But this ambitious plan did not materialize. That’s why we are now thinking about alternative offers,” he told chess24.com.

FIDE has just received another offer from a country in the Americas. A delegation is going there this week. “If they come back, we will be able to make a decision,” assured Llada. Atle Grönn trusts these statements and thinks: “I think they will get through this.” A happy figure, it is already clear, the association can no longer give up. It is far too late for that.


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