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The blame game is under way following last Thursday’s decision by Arkady Dvorkovich, president of the global chess body Fide, to suspend the world title Candidates at Ekaterinburg half-way through the 14-round contest to decide Magnus Carlsen’s next challenger.

Dvorkovich acted following the Russian announcement that international air flights would be banned indefinitely as from Friday, fearing that the grandmasters from China, France, the Netherlands and the US might otherwise be stranded.

Teimour Radjabov, the World Cup winner, who had qualified to play but withdrew citing virus fears, is now claiming that the event should be replayed with himself included. The Azerbaijani may have a moral case, but probably not a legal one.

Fide’s intention is to play the postponed second half later this year, which could prove too optimistic. Arguably Dvorkovich, who admitted that he made his decision to suspend “after just a few seconds of thinking” could have allowed the Candidates to continue until its planned end of April 4, and then to have asked for a charter flight to enable GMs to leave Russia. As a former deputy prime minister, he was in a good position to pull strings.

There were stringent medical precautions in place, so the risk was low. The reward would have been an opponent for Carlsen for a title match at its scheduled date in December. As it is now, the future of the next world championship series has become unclear.


An expert who I won’t name admitted in a book that he had taken an hour to solve this simple puzzle. Can you do better? White mates in three moves against any defence, and it shouldn’t be that hard because the black king is trapped by a vastly superior force deep in white territory.

Click here for solution

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