Top Ban Karjakin Tournaments; ECU suspends Belarusian and Russian federations

The Norway Chess and London Chess Classic tournaments as well as the Grand Chess Tour have decided to no longer invite GM Sergey Karjakin to their tournaments as the Russian GM continues to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. Also this week, the Russian and Belarusian federations were suspended by the European Chess Union.

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Grand Chess Tour organizers released a statement about Karjakin on Friday, saying the former world championship challenger and current world number 18 is “banned from all upcoming and upcoming GCT events due to his recent hostile comments on social media supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Below is the full statement:

Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) supports the human rights of Ukrainian citizens. GCT Executive Director Michael Khodarkovsky, in consultation with the GCT Board of Directors, has determined that Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin is banned from all upcoming and upcoming GCT events due to his recent hostile comments on the social networks supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In accordance with the FIDE law that “no player shall bring the game of chess into disrepute”, we believe that Grandmaster Karjakin’s actions are such that we can no longer associate our organization with him. It is our firm decision not to invite him or any other chess player who supports the ongoing war in Ukraine to participate in upcoming and future Grand Chess Tour events.

Together we support Ukraine.

Earlier this week, the organizers of two other major tournaments, Norway Chess (won by Karjakin in 2013 and 2014) and the London Chess Classic, revealed to chess24 that they would also ban Karjakin.

Norwegian Kjell Madland: “We cannot be associated with people who show such support for cruelty. It makes it totally unlikely that we would want to invite him to Norway Chess in the future.”

London tournament director IM Malcolm Pein said he believed the possibility of inviting Karjakin was “somewhere between zero and minus one”.

Karjakin himself has not changed his tone so far and continues to strongly support his government with several tweets each day. He responded quickly to the ban on high-level tournaments, saying he was hardly affected by it:

The hardest blow could lie ahead for Karjakin, who is also at serious risk of being dropped from this year’s Candidates Tournament, for which he qualified as a 2021 World Cup runner-up. As previously reported, Karjakin and general manager Sergey Shipov are currently under investigation by the FIDE Ethics Commission for their pro-Putin social media posts. The harshest possible punishment would be a ban of up to 15 years from participating in chess events in any way.

Although FIDE has not yet imposed a general ban on players from Russia and Belarus, the International Chess Federation is definitely under pressure to do so, especially since it follows the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee ( CIO) in other respects. On Monday, the IOC recommended “international sports federations and organizers of sporting events not to invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions“.

Besides Karjakin’s individual ban, Norway Chess has taken the decision not to invite Russian players this year, in a statement posted on its website:

Regarding the horrible situation unfolding in Ukraine by the Russian government, Norway Chess has decided to support the sanctions that the world community has taken against Russia. This means that we cannot have Russia’s participation in Norway Chess for the 10th edition of Norway Chess which will take place from May 30 to June 10, 2022. Millions of Russians do not want war and we know that this situation has major consequences also for the Russian people. We stand with the Ukrainians.

The player field will be announced later this month.

More importantly, as it affects a much larger number of players, is the decision by the European Chess Union (ECU) to suspend the Russian and Belarusian chess federations with immediate effect. One consequence is that it will only be possible for Russian or Belarusian players to play in ECU events after changing federation or playing under the FIDE flag. The ECU also banned coaches and referees from Russia or Belarus from performing “any duties at the forthcoming European Chess Championships or at any subsequent ECU event”.

Meanwhile, the Nordic Chess Federation (a close cooperation of the chess federations of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) has gone further by banning Russian and Belarusian players from over 17 to participate in tournaments.

Dear chess friends,
The Nordic countries have [sic] agreed to join forces to ban players from the Russian Chess Federation and the Belarusian Chess Federation from participating in international chess tournaments in Zone 1.3 and the Faroe Islands. Players residing in the Nordic countries or born in 2005 and later are exempt from this ban.

The Polish Chess Federation has also banned all Russian and Belarusian players from any tournament to be held in Poland. According to chess-news.ru, the Lithuanian Chess Federation has made a similar decision.

GM Natalia Zhukova, who lives in Odessa, Ukraine, and has recently been active in local politics, posted on Facebook that a tournament will be held on Chess.com on Saturday, starting at 8:00 p.m. Ukrainian time (7:00 p.m. CET, 10 am Pacific), the start of the curfew in Ukraine. The tournament is dedicated to Alexey Druzhinets, a children’s coach and referee who died in the violence of war on March 2.


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