World chess championship delayed

Iceland is once again playing a role in the confused history of the world chess championship, and this time, Bobby Fischer isn’t involved.

Thirty-eight years after Fischer beat Boris Spassky to break the Soviet Union’s Cold War stranglehold on the title and two years after Fischer died in Iceland as a wanted man in the USA, the 2010 title match has been delayed one day because champion Viswanathan Anand had trouble getting to Bulgaria, where challenger Veselin Topalov already has home advantage.

Anand had trouble getting to Bulgaria because — you guessed it — that giant ash cloud from Iceland’s volcano snarled his travel plans. Like Barcelona against Inter Milan, he made it by bus.

The Bulgarian organizers were reluctant to hold up the festivities. It took an act of FIDE, which has already invested the past decade and change trying to bring normalcy to the world championship, to push back the starting date. The polite but firm letter (see PDF) from FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos to organizing committee chairman Boyko Borisov, who doubles as Bulgaria’s prime minister, gives a sense of the diplomatic difficulties:

It is clear that we have reached an impasse in the discussions and a decision must be made. I also requested a
meeting with you, but I was informed, that unfortunately this was not possible.

Readers at Mig Greengard’s Daily Dirt Chess Blog have installed Anand as a heavy favorite.

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