A few hours from the start, the most important TV channels bid for the rights of the event in the absence of alternatives

The tournament was presented yesterday in a crowded theater in Yekaterinburg.
Lennart Ootes

Suddenly, last Saturday, the phones of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) they went mad. To the Candidates Tournament, what the opponent of Magnus Carlsen in the December World, he had only a few days to start and, in full debate on whether or not to organize it due to the threat of coronavirus, calls and more calls. Half a dozen of the most important television networks in United States, Europe and China They wanted to buy the broadcasting rights and they wanted to do whatever it cost.

The cancellation of all the world sports, of the NBA to the Champions, from the Giro d'Italia to the Augusta MastersHe had emptied the schedules and needed some live event to offer to his confined subscribers. Suddenly, and for the first time in decades, the chess to be before a millionaire audience due to a still closed bid.

This Tuesday, the Candidates Tournament begins in the middle of Russia, at the gates of Siberia, in the city of Yekaterinburg, between the expectation for the absence of other sports and the controversy for not canceling it. These conditions can affect the concentration and the state of mind when facing a tournament of the highest level such as the Candidates, in addition to posing a health risk. As a consequence, I transfer my place to another participant, proclaimed one of the classifieds, the azer Teimour Radjabov, who gave up his place while the rest of the chess players juggled to get to the venue.

Arrive in advance

One of the favorites, the Chinese Ding Liren, had to travel weeks before to Russia and quarantined on the outskirts of Moscow. Your compatriot Wang hao He avoided that measure thanks to playing a tournament in Japan before. And to the great aspirant, Fabiano CaruanaHe was canceled three flights by the United States, and only on the fourth did he get an airplane to take him to Russia. Now everyone is already in Yekaterinburg, but they maintain an uncertainty that very possibly will not disappear until the end of the tournament, on April 4.

FIDE has prepared some measures, but when it comes to the coronavirus, nobody can assure that they are sufficient. For example, the players, who by regulation must shake hands before and after each game, will not have this obligation this time. For example, him low public What will be in the room is due sit at least 15 meters from the stage. For example, all players have passed the virus detection test and they take the temperature every day. In the previous weeks, teleworking was proposed, that is, that the games were over the internet, but finally it was decided to keep the game on-site.

“A massive event”

The great doubt, and another reason for the resignation of Azer Radjabov, is What to do if one of the participants tests positive in the middle of a tournament that lasts almost three weeks. FIDE has not clarified whether to continue playing without him, whether to postpone the event until another date or to cancel it and consider the result at that time to be good. At the presentation press conference, in a room where the separation meter was not respected, the established protocol was not revealed either. Two hours later, at the opening ceremony, the hotel auditorium hosting the tournament was packed with fans. We hope that the measures we have taken are sufficient considering that this is not a massive event, commented the President of FIDE, Arkady Dvorkovich.

In sports, the top contender is Caruana, who already played the World Cup in 2018 at Carlsen and comes from a victory in Wijk aan Zee, followed by Ding. The two start with more than 2,800 Elo points and are very consistent, although the victory of one or the other places chess in very different settings. If Caruana wins, he will increase his rivalry with Carlsen and challenge him again in classical chess, with problems if he returns to the fast ones. If Ding wins, the game could experience a boom in China in difficult times for the country and Carlsen will have to face an opponent who will keep up with him. In any case, chess will be strengthened before a millionaire audience. Although to achieve this, their stars must take risks.

According to the criteria of

The Trust Project

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