Ilyumzhimov confirms $4.5 million Indian bid for World Championship

After a day of confused signals a clear picture is finally beginning to emerge. Chennai, India has bid to host the Anand – Gelfand match after a visit by the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The bid appears to beat the prize fund on offer from Moscow, making it the clear favourite, though nothing will be certain until the bidding deadline closes on 31st July.

As we noted earlier today, the Indian media had been claiming that Chennai (formerly Madras) was confirmed as the venue for the 2012 World Championship match. That was based on a meeting between the FIDE President and J. Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (the Indian state of which Chennai is the capital). A press release followed, which may have been misinterpreted as a final decision.

The FIDE website has now confirmed that meeting, giving extensive photos from Ilyumzhinov’s visit to Chennai, but also noting that a bid has been received from the Russian Chess Federation. The assumption that India will win may be based on the fact that unless the Indian organisers envisage spending $2.5 million on organization, they should beat the $2 million prize fund offered by the Moscow bid.

The Times of India (the world’s best-selling English-language newspaper), now quotes Anand as saying, “I hope the bid wins and I look forward to the prospect of playing in Chennai”. They also add:

Ilyumzhinov said he is confident India would win the bid. At the moment, officially, there is only one bid for the match, which is from Russia but AICF is expected to steal a march if Boris Gelfand does not manage a bigger bid from his country Israel, which looks quite unlikely.

A hint that some surprises might still await, however, was given by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in another interview today, to the Russian journalist Yury Vasiliev of Sport Express. The FIDE President said:

Now we have two official bids – from Moscow and Chennai. Besides that, interest has also been shown in holding the match from London, where a new sponsor has appeared, and Minsk. The deadline is 31st July. I’ll officially declare which bid has won on 1 August.

It seems, therefore, that we shouldn't have too long to wait. If World Champion Anand does play the match against Gelfand in Chennai it might have some sentimental value for him. The FIDE website also notes that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov visited and gave a press conference in Chennai's Russian Cultural Center, where "the eight-year-old Viswanathan Anand took his first chess lessons". Who said he wasn't a product of the Russian School of Chess?