CHENNAI: It’s nearly nine months to go for the World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, and it seems Bulgaria has already stolen a march in mindgames.
The issue in question is that of hosting the April 2010 title bout. India is mulling a much-belated, last-ditch attempt even as Bulgaria is believed to have found enough sponsors to present a good bid.
Furthermore, with Bulgaria throwing in political might in good measure with their Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, a self-confessed chess lover, backing the bid, the chances of Anand playing a World championship final at home for the first time appear remote.
The deadline for presenting the bid to the World chess federation (FIDE) is September 30. The minimum prize fund for the match, prescribed by FIDE, is one million euros (apprx Rs 6.85 crore). The FIDE has to be paid 20 percent of the prize money (minimum Rs 1.35 crore) and other expenses could come to Rs 3 crore, making the total cost close to Rs 11.5 crore.
With the world champ himself expressing his keenness to take on Topalov at home, and the All India Chess Federation (AICF) only now awakening to the possibility, the mood in Sofia is upbeat with reports suggesting that the projected bid from the Bulgarian capital as host has found no opposition either from India or elsewhere.
However, AICF secretary DV Sundar seemed positive when he said the federation would write to NIIT, Anand’s biggest sponsor in the last two decades before making the official bid. “It is very difficult to get sponsors for chess unlike cricket or tennis and hockey,” lamented Sundar. “Unless the Government steps in, raising the bid amount will be tough.”
Meanwhile, speaking to TOI from Mainz, Anand said it would be up to the federation to put in the required bid. “I think it will be great to have the event in India. India has seen a lot of progress in the game. Hosting the event in india will be a big boost and will surely be followed closely by a very large audience.”