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RCF refusing to hold FIDE Grand Prix in Chelyabinsk, AGON moves it to London (Updated)

The 1st event of the new FIDE Grand Prix Series was scheduled to take place from 19th September to 3rd October in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

However, IM Malcolm Pein wrote on Twitter that the Russian Chess Federation is refusing to approve the tournament, as required by the Russian laws. Pein continued – “I say bring it to London”.

FIDE CEO Geoffrey Borg stated:

RCF sent a letter some time back to FIDE saying that the event in Chelyabinsk was not sanctioned by the RCF. In the meantime, FIDE assigned the World Championship Cycle to AGON who attempted to resolve the impasse with the RCF, apparently without success.

If the event is cancelled in Chelyabinsk then AGON will program it in a European capital or city in line with their other plans.

Andrew Paulson of AGON said for Chessdom:

FIDE has been trying to resolve this situation for months. I am not involved, but from what I understand Levitov and Dvorkovich informed local Chelyabinsk officials that they were not to work with us, and sponsors that they were not to pay the €300k promised, and I was even told that it would be a criminal offence if we held an event in Russia.

A completely confusing situation for a foreigner! Therefore, as time is getting short, to avoid conflict and scandal, I decided to hold the event at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and try to find sponsors in London. We will be making the formal announcement this week; my apologies to the Players for the confusion.

The first draft calendar for World Chess Championship Cycles had Candidates Matches set for London, October 24 – November 12. After the protests from various parties, including Malcolm Pein, the organizer of the London Classic (held in early December), the Candidates were pushed back to March 2013.

Chelyabinsk was set for 19th September – 3rd October and Grand Prix is gathering the world’s elite players, almost nearly as strong and popular as the Candidates or Classic.

As Mr.Paulson was open for more questions, there came the logical: Is this month really making a difference in regard to the arguments stated before – interest from sponsors and audience in London? Did you have consultation with Malcolm about the dates?

Andrew Paulson: “Malcolm and I have become good friends working out these problems. He was the first person I called when I was forced to find an alternative venue for the Chelyabinsk Grand Prix.”

“His reaction was immediately very enthusiastic, as now London will have three major chess events in seven months: this is a good thing, not a bad thing, for English chess! As long as the events are well spaced, I don’t see the players complaining.”

The RCF was contacted this morning and we are waiting for their statement.

Update (2nd July): More than 24 hours later we still don’t have reply from the RCF. Meanwhile, Evgeny Surov of Chess-News.ru reached Ilya Levitov, Chairman of the RCF Board. The main reason for the refusal can be seen in the quote:

“We said, ‘Yes, you are welcome; you can hold all stages in Russia if you want and we would help you, but we have one condition’. The company AGON was given the right to select six participants for the Grand Prix. So we voiced our condition that three out of six participants should be Russians”.

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