The opening ceremony took place at the “Ekaterinburg Expo” congress center and was hosted by the renowned Russian film actress Alena Babenko and sports commentator Viktor Gusev. Speakers at the Opening Ceremony were Evgeny Kuyvashev (Governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast), FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, the President of the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation Andrey Simanovsky as well as the Regional Corporate Sales Head at Kaspersky Marina Usova.
Evgeny Kuyvashev, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast (Region) said that it is the first time this region is hosting a FIDE Candidates tournament and added: “Our region considers itself one of the leaders of the home [Russian] chess movement and the center for the development of “the chess thought”. Today some 20,000 people professionally play chess in the Sverdlovsk Region, including 2.500 children and teenagers. We are proud of our chess masters and our young chess talents”.
Congratulating the players and chess fans across the world on the start of the FIDE Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich pointed to this event being the most important stage in the qualifying cycle for the World Chess Championship, as it will determine the opponent of the current world champion Magnus Carlsen. “In the coming weeks, we will witness epic battles between eight world’s leading chess players. They went through the toughest selection process in the previous few months to compete for the right to challenge for the world chess crown in Yekaterinburg”.
FIDE president also reflected on the fact that the Tournament is held in the environment of an alarming situation with the spread of COVID-19. “I would like to note that in terms of medical safety measures, the Tournament organizing Committee fully follows the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the IOC and Rospotrebnadzor and fulfils all the prescribed requirements. We also ask for maximum support from the chess community, the media, and all of you”.
“Once again, I would like to welcome the participants of the FIDE Candidates Tournament and wish them memorable combinations and spectacular victories. And let the Tournament bring only joy and new positive emotions to all the fans”, Dvorkovich concluded.
The mayor of Yekaterinburg, Alexander Vysokinsky highlighted the importance of this event for the local community, adding “we will try to do everything in our power so that this event is held according to highest standards, so everyone could enjoy!”
One of the speakers at the ceremony was Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, the 12th World Champion in chess, who himself comes from the Ural region. Karpov emphasized the uniqueness of the tournament for the region and spoke about efforts made to develop chess education, including at the Ural Federal University.
The President of the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation Andrey Simanovsky, as well as the Regional Corporate Sales Head at Kaspersky Marina Usova joined the speakers in wishing the players good luck in the tournament.
The official part of the Opening ceremony was followed by a concert by the famous Russian violinist and conductor, Yuri Bashmet and his “Moscow Soloists” Chamber Orchestra. The concert featured other renowned Russian classical music artists such as Bolshoi Theatre soloist Alina Yarovaya and opera singer Vassily Gerello. The music event also included a performance of the top stars of the Bolshoi Theatre.
The eight-player Candidates tournament is one of the most prestigious global chess events, held every two years. The event will determine who will challenge the defender Magnus Carlsen for the title of the World Chess Champion. This year’s event has a prize fund of 500,000 Euros, which is the highest ever in the history of the Candidates tournaments.
The players taking part in the Candidates are Fabiano Caruana (USA), Ding Liren (China), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Ian Nepomniachtchi(Russia), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Anish Giri (The Netherlands), Wang Hao (China) and Kirill Alekseenko (Russia).
LEADING PARTNERS supporting the FIDE Candidates 2020 include: Algorand as the Official Blockchain Partner and Kaspersky as the Official Cybersecurity Partner and Mercedes-Benz Russia AO as the official Auto partner.
All photos are by Lennart Ootes for FIDE, used with permission.