Wednesday 1 April 2015

The Hatfields and the McCoys

Next month sees two important chess events, played quite close to each other, but at the some time, also in competition with each other. The 2015 World Team Championship is being held in Tsakhkazdor, Armenia, from the 18th to the 29th of April. This is round robin event comprising of representatives from each FIDE Continent, plus the top placed teams from the Olympiad. It is a tough event, as an all play all, and certainly a harder event than the Olympiad.
A short distance away, the Shamkir Chess Fectival, including the Gashmov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the 16th to the 26th of April. It is a 10 player round robin and has Carlsen, Kramnik, Anand, and Caruana as part of the field.
While clashes are inevitable on the chess calendar, the timing of these two events seem to be part of the ongoing friction between the Armenian and Azernaijani governments, using chess a a proxy battleground. In fact the Azerbaijani team had qualified for the World Teams event, but declined their invitation, while it is still not clear if Armenia will play in the 2016 Baku Olympiad. Despite the various conciliatory words I have heard from both Federations regarding such clashes, I suspect it may be a long time before genuine conciliation is achieved, and that if it is, it is under the umbrella of a broader political solution to the dispute between the two countries.

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