World chess champion Viswanathan Anand arrived in Sofia on Tuesday morning for his World Championship match against Veselin Topalov after a 40-hour long road journey.
The Indian chess ace was due to reach Sofia on April 16, but was stranded in Frankfurt for a couple of days because of the suspension of air travel in Europe due to the volcanic ash cloud.
The best-of-12 match is scheduled to start on April 23, but Anand has requested for postponement of the first round by three days.
He sent a legal notice to FIDE explaining his position, pointing out that it would be difficult to play straightaway after travelling such a long distance.
"Trains to Sofia would take about 28 hours to reach and I would not be in a mental state to play immediately after travelling such distance. Further, to play immediately would be unfair and unjust due to the fatigue, given that the opponent has arrived a few weeks back. Under these circumstances the contest would not be equal and fair. In this current scenario I request you to postpone the first round by three days," he said in the notice on Sunday.
However, the organisers of the World Championship match on Monday had refused accede to the Indian ace's request.
"For the fact that Mr. Anand could not arrive on time in Sofia, the organizers bear no fault. The fault is to be placed on him and his team... We understand the problem of Mr. Anand, but we are bitterly disappointed by his derogatory actions and attitude towards the organizers. All problems that emerge should be resolved in dialogue with shown understanding from all sides, and not in the form of pressure... If Mr. Anand had used the alternative means of transportation between Frankfurt and Sofia (train, bus, private car, etc.), he would have arrived to the latest 6 (six) days before the start of the first game, scheduled for April 23rd, which is enough time for getting accustomed and rest," the Bulgarian Chess Federation said.
FIDE deputy president Georgios Makropoulos also seconded those views, saying while he understood Anand's predicament, it was difficult to postpone the match.
"Of course, we understand that this creates big problems for his preparation because in such matches you need to be there several days before the start. You cannot just go the day before and start playing. You come with your people, you start to adjust to the conditions, and you try to be organized in order to play the match. I understand this very well, he needs several days, therefore in the contract it says that he can come seven days before (last Friday)," Makropoulos said.
"But on the other side, to postpone the match for three days will create very big problems for the organizers because they already have their contracts with TV, people that are involved with the organization, hotels, transportation agencies and they have already published the brochures and posters, the original schedule is everywhere," he added.