Online Nations cup will see Vishy Anand back in action from 5th to the 10th of May
Now that it is clear that most of the over-the-board events this year will be cancelled, FIDE has announced a new online policy. The first of the events they have announced is the FIDE chess. com online nations cup that will be held from the 5th to the 10th of May 2020. Six teams will take part in it and they are Russia, USA, China, India, Europe and Rest of the World. Each team will have one female player. Vishy Anand will spearhead the Indian team. Garry Kasparov will be the captain of the European team. Vladimir Kramnik who had been mentioned as the captain of Indian team in the FIDE Press release, said that he won't be participating in the event.
FIDE's Press release
The International Chess Federation and Chess. com announce the Online Nations Cup, a team competition to be held from May 5-10, 2020. Six teams are due to take part in this competition: Russia, USA, Europe, China, India, plus a team representing the "Rest of the World." This epoch-making battle draws some similarities with golf's Ryder Cup, or with the 1970 "USSR vs. Rest of the World" chess match-up that made headlines in Bobby Fischer's heyday. But the new "match of the century" will be more global, entirely online, and also gender-inclusive, since the team line-ups must include at least one female player. Two retired legends, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik, will be the captains for the European and Indian teams respectively. A former world championship rival of both of them, Viswanathan Anand, will defend the first board of the Indian team.
The Online Nations Cup is a team championship showdown, where six teams of four players each will fight under a rapidplay format, for a prize fund of USD 180,000. The event, co-organized by the International Chess Federation and the leading chess-playing platform Chess. com, is expected to feature nearly all the top players on the planet, representing China, India, Russia, the USA, Europe, and "Rest of the World".
The first stage, a double round-robin with the six teams, will take place on May 5-9. The top two teams will then play in a Superfinal on Sunday, May 10, to determine the FIDE Chess. com Online Nations Cup champion. The games will be played in a rapid format, where each player begins the game with 25 minutes on their clock, plus 10 seconds of extra time added after each move.
The exact composition of the teams will be confirmed tomorrow (April 22). The preliminary entry list includes three generations of the best players: from 50-year-old Viswanathan Anand (multiple-time World Champion and still in the world's top-20) to the newest chess phenomenon, the 16-year-old Iranian Alireza Firouzja. The regulations stipulate that in every match the line-up of the teams must include at least one female player, and the best women's players in the world have already expressed their readiness to take part in the tournament.
"This is a unique event that will combine competitive chess at the highest level, with a top-notch online spectacle", says Arkady Dvorkovich, President of the International Chess Federation. "The reasons why an official tournament like this has to be conducted online are very unfortunate - but we are happy to see that chess is providing solace to millions of people who are under a home lockdown: they can play themselves, and they can also enjoy the thrill of a first-class sporting event". The move represents the latest initiative by FIDE to shift its activities to the online arena. Like every other sport, the International Chess Federation has seen its activities disrupted amid the coronavirus shutdown: one of its flagship events, the Candidates Tournament, had to be halted midway, while the Chess Olympiad, which was supposed to take place in Russia this summer, had to be postponed to 2021.
However, chess has an advantage over other sports: fully competitive chess can be played online, with no compromise on quality. The FIDE Chess. com Online Nations Cup is the first in a series of competitive online events to be organized by FIDE in cooperation with various partners. The governing body of Chess has also launched a number of online workshops and lectures for its members and affiliates.
Clarification by Vladimir Kramnik that he will not participate
We contacted Vladimir Kramnik on his role as the captain of Indian team after FIDE's press release. The 14th World Champion clarified that there has been some misunderstanding:
"I was quite surprised to see today's press release by FIDE and would like to clarify the situation. I received an invitation from FIDE around a week ago to be the trainer of the Indian team. I have chatted with Vishy Anand and he was very positive about it, therefore gave an answer to FIDE that I would consider the proposal and in general would like to take part but we have to discuss all the details in the coming days. There was no direct communication ever since and in the meantime, I've just learned that I will be very busy coming month with some new project we are launching which will be publicly announced within next few days. Ironically, (since I haven’t been contacted yet and wasn’t even sure if the whole event is on) was planning to write FIDE tonight explaining that unfortunately I cannot make it this time in any case. But than I read the press release and now would like to clear the confusion. I feel sorry for the misunderstanding but I think there were certain communication issues from the FIDE side. I would naturally expect someone to contact me in order to clarify all numerous details of that engagement or at least informing me before publishing the press release.
I wish FIDE the best in this event and all the success. I will definitely try and take part in such events in the future and hope the technical communication matters will be improved."