The opening press conference for the 2020 Candidates took place on Monday at the Sverdlovsk Journalists’ Union, where the organizers, local officials, the public and Russian media were introduced to the program and the organization of the upcoming tournament.
Present at the conference were the Sverdlovsk Region Deputy Governor Alexey Orlov, the president of the International Chess Federation Arkady Dvorkovich, the former World Champion Anatoly Karpov and the head of Sverdlovsk Chess Andrey Simanovsky. They were joined by the Regional Corporate Sales Head at Kaspersky Marina Usova, as well as one of the participants of the Candidates, Russian Grandmaster Kirill Alekseenko.
Speaking on behalf of the regional authorities, Deputy Governor Alexey Orlov said that it is a “great honor for Sverdlovsk to be hosting the Candidates Tournament”. He added that the Sverdlovsk Region has “thoroughly prepared for the event” and that they are “putting a lot of effort into ensuring that all competitive events are organized to the highest safety standards necessary today”.
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich thanked the regional government as well as the Chess Federation of Russia on organizing the tournament: “This is a big event not just for the chess world but, possibly, for the whole sporting community since almost all international competitions have been canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus”.
Dvorkovich added that the International Chess Federation put special emphasis on minimizing all health risks for the participants and everyone involved in the event: “We cleared all the health safety issues including medical screenings and tests with the Federal Service for Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), and the Ministry of Public Health. We took precautionary measures, following recommendations by WHO, IOC, and Rospotrebnadzor. The participants, media, organizers, and spectators will be separated, and the latter will not be permitted to enter the playing hall. We expect these measures to be sufficient for the players’ safety, bearing in mind that this is not a mass event.”
Due to the concerns, all additional mass events (tournaments, simuls) planned for the Candidates have been canceled. Despite the spectators not being able to attend the playing hall, Dvorkovich pointed out that there will be live commentary, in English, Russian and Chinese, which will be streamed online.
The official cyber-security partner of the Candidates Tournament is Kaspersky. Marina Usova, Head of Corporate Sales at Kaspersky, has said that her company is “happy to be involved in a mind sport like chess, which cannot be imagined without the use of computer algorithms”. She drew on similarities between chess and the IT security industry: “There are constant challenges and they require strategic thinking. In cybersecurity, the ability to defend is crucial, as every detail matters. In chess – also. One wrong move can change the course of the game.”
W. Sean Ford, COO of Algorand, another sponsor of the event, sent the following message to the participants: “As one of the leading blockchain organizations, we are honored to join a lineup of other industry-leading partners in supporting chess. We look forward to being a part of the Candidates Tournament in Russia, where chess has been a longstanding tradition and produced some of the most skilled chess players in the world.”
The 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov shared his thoughts and advice to the players: “In order to win such a tournament, one needs energy, health, and calm nerves. Tournament-specific preparation and general opening knowledge as well. The participants of this event won many tournaments during their careers – they are truly the cream of the chess world.”
Kirill Alekseenko, the wild-card participant of the Candidates, was also present at the pre-press event. He expressed his gratitude for being invited, adding: “Naturally, I will be playing for a win, as only the first place gives a chance to challenge Magnus Carlsen.”
The rounds start at 4 PM Yekaterinburg time. The games will be broadcast live at worldchess.com, an official FIDE broadcasting platform. Leading partners supporting the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Series 2019 include:
Algorand as the Exclusive Blockchain Partner
Kaspersky as the Official Cybersecurity PartnerMercedes-Benz as the official auto partner
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All photos by Lennart Ootes for FIDE, used with permission.