Norway Chess blasts Karjakin’s pull-out

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Organizers of the major Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger later this month are furious with Magnus Carlsen’s challenger Sergey Karjakin and the Russian apparatus around him after it was announced that Karjakin won’t be participating after all. They’re accusing Karjakin of contract violation and called his withdrawal “disrespectful” to the game itself.

Sergey Karjakin was a child chess prodigy like Carlsen was, and is just 10 months older than his Norwegian rival. PHOTO:Wikipedia

Sergey Karjakin, born in Ukraine but now a Russian citizen, has infuriated organizers of the Chess Norway tournament by announcing just 12 days before it’s set to begin that he’s dropping out. PHOTO:Wikipedia

Karjakin reportedly feels he needs the time he was expected to spend at the tournament in Norway to instead prepare himself for meeting Norwegian champ Carlsen at the Chess World Champions in November.

“Karjakin has a signed contract with us and it does not state that he can withdraw from the tournament if he qualifies for the World Championship in November,” fumed Jøran Aulin-Jansson, a board member of Norway Chess, in a press release issued after Karjakin announced on Wednesday that he was dropping out.

Aulin-Jansson went on to call Karjakin’s decision to withdraw “disrespectful, to us as the organizers of the event as well as the other players in the tournament, not to mention the entire chess world that (was) looking forward to the dress rehearsal for the World Championship match between Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen.”

Karjakin’s withdrawal came in a letter from from the Russian Chess Federation and not from Karjakin himself. “That’s probably because they’re playing a central role in Karjakin’s preparations against the (championship) match with Carlsen,” Kjell Madland, Norway Chess “general,” told newspaper VG. He described the letter as “short.”

‘Can’t just run away’
The withdrawal is likely to indeed be a major disappointment to chess fans who were anxious to get a sneak preview of the much-hyped face-off between Karjakin and Carlsen in New York later this year. Karjakin only recently qualified to be Carlsen’s rival for the World Champion title, and Norway Chess is the first tournament where they both were due to take part. It’s also the only tournament where the two would meet before the World Championship action gets underway.

Karjakin even beat Carlsen in both 2013 and 2014 and has won the tournament both times he played in it. It came as an unpleasant surprise to the organizers and other participants that he dropping out of what could be another successful test of his skills at the chess board.

Karjakin is “obviously” very nervous before his first World Championship match, Aulin-Jansson claiumed.  He stressed, however, that the organizers wished Karjakin and his advisers “would understand that one can not just run away” from agreements.

Aulin-Jansson also complained that Karjakin’s message of withdrawal comes just 12 days before the tournament, which always draws other top chess players in the world, is due to start in Stavanger. Others still scheduled to play, in addition to Carlsen, include Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian and Veselin Topalov.

Team Carlsen ‘disappointed’
Carlsen is currently at a training camp and indicated in a short message sent out via social media that perhaps his Norwegian friend and chess player Jon Ludvig Hammer may replace Karjakin at Norway Chess. “Dammit, didn’t manage to avoid the Hammer after all,” Carlsen wrote after Karjakin’s withdrawal was announced.

“On behalf of the organizers and the public, I’m disappointed,” Carlsen’s manager, Espen Agdestein, told VG. He added that he thought the withdrawal was “strange, as long as he has a contract with the organizers.” He confirmed that Norway Chess was the only scheduled “long chess” tournament before the World Championships where the two contenders would meet, but that they may face off in rapid chess in Paris and Brussels this summer.

Tournament organizers hinted at some sort of measures that may be taken against Karjakin, by stating that “the last words in this matter have not been spoken.” They claimed that Karjakin would still be welcome if he changes his mind, and would send a response to the Russian Chess Federation’s letter on Thursday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

  • Cory

    let him do as he wants