The FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in New Delhi, scheduled to start on Saturday, has been delayed after Kazakh GM Zhansaya Abdumalik withdrew upon arrival. A letter signed by the players requests that the event be canceled or postponed. However, after issuing an apology for errors by “local” organizers, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich insists the event will go on with 11 players.
The New Delhi Women’s Grand Prix is the third of four events of the 2022-2023 FIDE Women’s Grand Prix. The initial two were held in Astana, Kazakhstan, last September (won by GM Kateryna Lagno) and in Munich last month (won by GM Alexandra Kosteniuk).
Round 1 was scheduled to take place on Saturday, but the event has been instead postponed as Abdumalik withdrew upon arriving in India.
The French chess website Europe Echecs describes what happened:
When the first players arrived in New Delhi on March 24, the day before the first round, there was no official transport from the airport and players had to take taxis without knowing where they were going, especially since no FIDE official is present in New Delhi. They arrived at the hotel to learn that the rooms were not ready and that breakfast is not included in the price. Seeing these poor conditions, Zhansaya Abdumalik simply decided to leave. FIDE wanted to replace her with an Indian player — which would have meant four Indians in the tournament — but the players refused.
Abdumalik did not respond to Chess.com’s request for comment. However, in a post on Facebook she confirmed she is “upset and disappointed with the conditions created by the organizers.”
“Still remembering the Olympics in India with fond memories, but the conditions offered in Delhi are really unacceptable,” she writes.
In an email to Dvorkovich by GM Elisabeth Paehtz, signed by all players, they request the event to be postponed or canceled.
We are composing this letter to underline that things in women’s chess, especially regarding professional organisation and care of tournaments in the past went in a very unfortunate way. Some of us are emotional down and upset. From the professional point of view as well as speaking for our colleage Zhansays Abdumalik, we would suggest to cancel and postpone the event.
In an e-mail response to the players, also published on FIDE’s website, Dvorkovich has issued his “sincere apologies” for what he describes as “errors of local organisers.”
We deeply regret the problems and inconveniences you have experienced, which has led to one player withdrawing from the tournament.
We understand that this situation has caused great dissatisfaction among the players and has put the tournament in danger. We acknowledge your concerns and frustrations, and we take them seriously. We highly appreciate your openness and would like to assure you that we are committed to addressing the issues that have been raised regarding this tournament and FIDE women events in general. We are also determined to improve the level of communication with the participants.
Dvorkovich says the players will have to adjust themselves in order to continue with 11 players, but says he doesn’t want to set a precedent “that the whole event can be terminated and other players’ plans influenced due to the decision of a player to withdraw.” He added that the first-round pairings will remain as they are and changes to the remaining pairings will be limited to balance colors “where it is possible.”
Planning for the New Delhi Women’s Grand Prix was already upset before the start when the Muzychuk sisters, GMs Anna and Mariya, both withdrew. They were later replaced by GMs Nino Batsiashvili and Vaishali R.
The fourth event in FIDE Women’s Grand Prix was initially planned to be in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in May but has been removed from the schedule for unknown reasons.
Note: This report is a breaking story, and additional details may be added when they become available.