Topalov plays white in game 1
Veselin Topalov will start with the white pieces on Saturday in game 1 of the World Championship match against World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
On Wednesday, the opening ceremony and drawing of lots took place in Sofia. It is still unclear at what time the first game will be played on Saturday.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, a former mayor of Sofia is invited to play the first move and his tight political schedule had to be changed after the postponement of the match for one day.
Text and Photographs: Eric van Reem
Image: Viswanathan Anand (right) with Veselin Topalov
Anand, Topalov examine playing hall
The playing hall was examined by both players on Wednesday. They tried the chairs, checked the lights, sat at the table, checked the rest areas and seemed to be pleased with the conditions in the beautiful playing hall.
After the inspection, the press conference started with an extensive description by FIDE deputy president Georgios Makropoulos of the difficult journey Anand and his team had to take to come to Sofia.
He also said that he understood the difficulties for the organizers.
Makropoulos: "I explained to Vishy that it is a shock for the organization to postpone 3 days, and I said to the organizers that the situation is force majeure. I talked to the Presidential Board and the FIDE President and we decided to postpone the start of the match one day."
Image: Viswanathan Anand
'It was a longer trip than we expected'
Anand thanked for the extra day and he said he is happy with the decision.
"I am very happy to be here, it was a longer trip than we expected. I want to thank FIDE for the understanding and I hope the chess fans will see a good match," he said.
Challenger Veselin Topalov said that the match should have been played earlier, since he and Anand have been dominating the chess world for a long time.
He thanked the sponsors and the organizers.
"This is a historical event for Bulgaria, since we are only a small country. We cannot organise Olympic Games and this championship is a very effective way to promote our country," said Topalov.
Image: Viswanathan Anand (right) with his advisor Hans-Walter Schmitt
Paying tribute to Samaranch
The opening ceremony started on Thursday with a minute of silence in the memory of the former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who died earlier that day.
Besides the players, Anand and Topalov, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his assistant Berik Balgabaev attended the opening.
Many journalists and official guests came to the Central Military Club in Sofia. After speeches by Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, who happens to be the Chairman of the Organizing Committee and His Excellency Ambassador of India, Shri Divyabh Manchanda, short movies about Anand and Topalov were shown to the audience.
After that, Anand and Topalov were invited to come to the stage by chief arbiter Nikolopoulos, who explained the regulations. The drawing of lots took place and it turned out that Topalov would have white in the first game on Saturday.
Image: Viswanathan Anand (left) speaks to Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boiko Borisov