Chess: Fide cancels Moscow Olympiad as Carlsen beats Covid to reach final | Magnus Carlsen
World chess body Fide, responding to an outpouring of criticism from players, fans and commentators, announced on Friday afternoon that its flagship team event, the biennial 150 Nations Olympiad, will would not be held in Moscow in July-August as planned and that he is looking for an alternative host city.
The announcement was made on Twitter: “The Fide Council has decided that the 44th Chess Olympiad will not take place in Russia. Fide will do everything possible to find another organizer for the Olympiad and will provide more information in due course”.
Fide follows UEFA moving the Champions League final from Saint Petersburg to Paris, the FIA depriving Russia of its Formula 1 Grand Prix and the cancellation of five ski events in Russia.
Fide President Arkady Dvorkovich is a former deputy prime minister of Russia under Dmitry Medvedev, and the majority of the organization’s backers and sponsors are Russian.
While several sports organizations have severed ties with Russian sponsors, no update has yet been given on whether Fide will continue to accept funds from its own backers, which include gas supplier Gazprom, fertilizer giant PhosAgro and mining company Nornickel.
Dvorkovich is currently in Uganda on a Fide delegation with Fide Director General Dana Reizniece-Ozola, whose previous career was as Latvia’s finance minister.
On Facebook, she called events in Ukraine a “brutal incursion” and said the Ukrainian people were caught in a “vicious power game”.
The response from longtime Putin critic Garry Kasparov was quick and predictable.
“After years of warnings were ignored and heard ‘Garry, you were right!’ all fucking day today I’m going to repeat what I said in 2014: Stop telling me I was right and listen to what I’m saying now,” he wrote on Twitter.
Magnus Carlsen had a tough week at the $150,000 Online Airthings Masters, but the world champion still overcame the effects of Covid to reach the two-day final, which started at 5 p.m. Friday. Free live commentary from England’s David Howell and Jovanka Houska is available at chess24.com.
Carlsen was beaten four times in 15 games in the qualifying round and blamed the defeats on symptoms similar to brain fog: “I lacked energy, which made it hard to concentrate, and when I tried to think, I I made a mistake.” Among those who beat him were two teenagers: 19-year-old Russian Andrey Esipenko, who had already scored against Carlsen at Wijk 2021, and 16-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa from India.
The world champion kept his balance, made sure to advance to the quarter-finals, then knocked out Vietnamese Le Quang Liem and Russian Vladislav Artemiev. By the time of Thursday’s semi-final, the No.1 had regained his normal fearsome strength, playing the first game of the game in classic attacking style.
Earlier, in the qualifying rounds, Carlsen against the Sicilian Dragonand followed a formula advocated by Bobby Fischer: open the h-file, sacrifice pieces if necessary, expose the black king, then checkmate.
Thursday coincided with the invasion of Ukraine, and aside from Carlsen, the other semi-finalists were all Russians. Ian Nepomniachtchi, crushed by the Norwegians in their world title match in Dubai two months earlier, made an impressive return to form, winning the qualifying section with rounds to spare then knocking out young contender Esipenko in the semi-finals .
Away from the board, Nepomniachtchi posted a tweet that read, “History has seen many Black Thursdays, but today is blacker than the rest.” It was signed with the hashtag #saynotowar.
3804 (by Dragoslav Djaja) 1 Nh6 !! If Kxh6 2 a8Q Rxa8 3 Rxa8 leads to K+R v K+R. If 1…Rxa7 or a3-a2 2 Rg7+! Ke6 3 Kg6+ Ke5 4 Kg5+ Ke4 5 Kg4+ Kf3 6 Kg3+ and the rook gives perpetual check on the g file.