21 July 2011

When Breaking News Is Not

Wonder of wonders! Before the bidding period had even closed, About.com's chess guide announced the award of the venue for next year's World Championship match to India.

Anand-Gelfand Match to be Held in Chennai

Despite a comment on the post that questioned the validity of the information, the About.com news has been unchanged for three full days, so the guide either doesn't know or doesn't care.

The 2012 World Chess Championship will be held in Chennai, giving something of a home-field advantage to reigning champion Viswanathan Anand. It is the first time a championship match will be held in India, though the country has previously hosted Candidates and semi-final matches before. The match is still scheduled to take place in April or May of next year.

As a former chess guide at About.com, I both know and care, and it always pains me to see this sort of misinformation posted on chess news sites. How could such a mistake occur? By misreading a sloppy post at Chessbase.com -- Breaking news: World Championship 2012 in Chennai. The Chessbase post, dated 13 July 2011, is a copy of a press release issued by the Chennai organizers, who give the definite impression that the FIDE decision has already been made.

The selection of venue would normally be announced on Fide.com before being available elsewhere, but all we have so far is a passing mention in the latest episode of that interminably boring series on the comings and goings of the FIDE President: Visit to India.

India nominates Chennai to host the Anand-Gelfand match. This was announced yesterday afternoon in Chennai by the FIDE President and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State Mme J. Jayalalithaa. It is known that Chennai is planning to spend for a match 200 million rupees (approximately $ 4.5 million). It should be noted that by now FIDE has already received a bid from the Russian Chess Federation.

The bidding procedure was announced at the end of March -- FIDE World Championship Match 2012 - Bidding procedure and Regulations -- including the deadline, 'the bidding process will close on 30 June 2011', and the further stipulation that 'FIDE will inform the bidding parties of the results within 20 days after the deadline. The final contract with the successful bidder shall be signed within 10 days afterwards.' The deadline was later extended -- 2nd Quarter FIDE Presidential Board Meeting at Al Ain, UAE -- 'The closing dates for bids for the World Championship Match 2012 and the Women’s World Championship Match 2011 were extended to July 31st and June 15th respectively.' There has still been no news on the women’s match.

In case you're confused by the About.com statement that '[India] has previously hosted candidates and semi-final matches', the semifinal and final matches of the 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches were held in Sanghi Nagar, and rounds 1-6 of the 2000 FIDE Knockout Matches took place in New Delhi. The final match, round 7, was held in Tehran, where Anand defeated Shirov for his first World Championship title.

While I expect that the 2012 match will indeed be held in India, I would certainly not be disappointed to have it awarded to Russia. It's heartening to see two of the four 'BRIC' countries in the bidding. Given the increased chess activity in China, all we need now is a sign of chess life in Brazil.

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