A pre-press event for the 2020 Candidates took place earlier today at the Sverdlovsk Journalists' Union, where the organisers, local officials, the public and Russian media were introduced to the programme and the organisation 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 President of the Chess Federation of the Sverdlovsk Region 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 GM Kirill Alekseenko.
Speaking on behalf of the regional authorities, Deputy Governor Alexey Orlov said that it is a “great honour 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 organised to the highest safety standards necessary today”.
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich thanked the regional government as well as the Chess Federation of Russia on organising 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 cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus”.
Dvorkovich added that the International Chess Federation put special emphasis on minimising 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.”
Dvorkovich added that, due to the concerns, all additional mass events (tournaments, simuls) planned for the Candidates have been cancelled. 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.
Andrey Simanovsky, who heads the Chess Federation of the Sverdlovsk Region, emphasized there has never been an event of such magnitude in Yekaterinburg, adding that this will be “a good impulse to promoting chess in the region”.
“I became a president of the regional chess federation rather recently, but already I recognize how exciting the chess world is, and how many extraordinary people are here. In my opinion, chess is the most peaceful, intelligent, and prestigious sport”, he added.
Afterwards, Simanovsky showed medals which will be awarded to the top three players of the Candidates Tournament.
Cybersecurity and chess
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 honoured 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.”
Anatoly Karpov: “Energy, health and calm nerves”
The 12th World Champion and one of the key people in the Sverdlovsk chess federation, Anatoly Karpov also took spoke at the pre-press event.
He shared his thoughts and advice to the players: “In order to win such tournament, one needs energy, health, and steady nerves. Tournament-specific preparation and general opening knowledge as well. The participants of this event won many tournaments during their careers – they are truly cream of the chess world.”
Karpov also reflected on the history of chess development in the Urals. “We have never had such a high-level competition in Sverdlovsk Region or in Yekaterinburg. However, the Ural chess school has been developing rapidly in recent years, and the Chess Federation of the Sverdlovsk Region is now one of the most active in Russia. I believe this tournament will be held at the highest level. The players have ideal conditions and they will live and play in the same hotel”.
One of the Candidates, Kirill Alekseenko: Playing for a win
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 official Opening Ceremony of the Yekaterinburg 2020 Candidates Tournament will take place at 7 PM local time on March 16 at the Congress Centre – Ekaterinburg Expo. First games are played on March 17.