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The message reaches the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Ekaterinburg Thursday morning at 10.45 a.m. local time: From Friday onwards, Russia will prohibit all international flights indefinitely. At 11.36 a.m., less than an hour later, the Grand Chess Federation and their teams, the referees and the other participants were informed by the World Chess Federation Fide about the consequence: the termination of the candidate tournament. Fide President Arkady Dworkovich made this decision almost immediately, “after a few seconds of thinking”, as he will say later in an interview.

There is hectic activity in the hotel. The eight candidates from China, France, the Netherlands, the United States and Russia who have been playing for the right for ten days, the world champion Magnus Carlsen To be able to challenge, gather for a player’s meeting at 12 noon. Details from this session are not known from afar, but the five non-Russian players will undoubtedly have asked the most pressing question: How do we get home now? There are only twelve hours left because after midnight no departure will be possible.

Fide wants to organize a charter flight to Amsterdam for guests from the west. Will that go so quickly? This is too risky for the Dutch grand master Anish Giri. From now on he succeeds in booking a scheduled flight to Amsterdam. He takes off at three in the afternoon. At four he should have sat on the board to play the next round. Against whom again?

Those who are left behind are nervous. The demand for last minute charter flights in Yekaterinburg may be higher than usual this Thursday. But Fide says it can do it. The machine should start at half past ten in the evening, a good hour before the iron curtain lowers.

The German grandmaster Niclas Huschenbeth on the highlights of the candidate tournament.

Eight people are expected to board: American Fabiano Caruana, who started as a tournament favorite, and his second, Uzbek Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who lives in Ruppichterroth near Bonn; Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave currently at the front of the tournament; the chairman of the arbitral tribunal, Jeroen van den Berg, and the tournament photographer, Lennart Ootes, both from the Netherlands; 14-time champion of the Netherlands, Peng Zhaoqing, who was in front of the camera in Yekaterinburg in a Chinese-language live stream; and finally, the Russian Grand Master Anna Burtasowa, who lives in Toronto, is known to viewers worldwide because she interviewed the candidates daily in the official video stream about the current round.

A journalist is also said to be flying, the Spaniard Leontxo García, for whom his most bizarre research trip would be completed: A few days before the tournament started, not via Moscow, because that was no longer possible, but via Istanbul, he was in Ekaterinburg on Corona tested (negative) and from then on sat in quarantine in a hotel room that he was not allowed to leave until his departure. He has never been able to enter the gaming room. While he is packing his things, the stage at the Hyatt Regency is already being dismantled. A chess tournament can end so quickly without being over.

After all, Leontxo García, who has been at all World Championships since 1983, could still find material in the air for a late exclusive story that all chess reporters will envy him as much as they regretted his inclusion.

While everything is going on in Yekaterinburg, Grandmaster Daniel Rensch lies somewhere in America at half past three in the morning on the floor in front of the married bed, so as not to wake the woman with the light of his smartphone when he is with the ex-world champion Vladimir Kramnik which he corresponds to for his show chess.com wants to win, which will come up with breaking news on this day.

So a race of the chess platforms begins. Who reports fastest and most intensively? The Hamburg streaming service chess24.com with the German grandmaster Jan Gustafsson as chief moderator in the home office, world champion Magnus Carlsen and Fide president Arkadi Dworkowitsch offer. They have the president with them chess.com also, in addition the ex world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand.

They are hours of real time journalism like they are in the chess has never given. The Fide president, who had just canceled the tournament, joined the chess show via webcam, probably from Moscow, sitting in front of a bookshelf with a chess cup, and explained his decision. Magnus Carlsen – in his new, rather empty Oslo apartment – says he thinks that’s right: “If there was a time, it was this. It was the last chance to get the players out.”

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