As per the world governing body’s protocol, RT-PCR tests are mandatory every alternate day, and following some positive reports, the sixth day of the event witnessed “forced” withdrawal and forfeiture of some top players.
While all the 12 Indian participants and two coaches along with those accompanying them were safe, World No 5 and two-time champion Levon Aronian of Armenia forfeited his first game of second round after having fever symptoms and announced his withdrawal from the tournament on Friday.
The All India Chess Federation (AICF) is closely monitoring the developments in Sochi. AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said, “All our players and coaches are safe and most of them are vaccinated. Only three youngsters are not vaccinated due to age.”
The progression of World No 2 and American GM Fabiano Caruana, too, is in doubt after his opponent Susanto Megaranto from Indonesia tested positive, causing their second-round clash to stop midway. Fabiano won by default but faces more tests himself.
Megaranto was wearing a mask during the game, Fabiano was not. Players are obliged to wear masks in all public areas but not during the game.
Praying for his opponent’s safety, Caruana tweeted, “I hope Mr Megaranto is feeling well — he seemed to be completely fine during the game, so the way the match ended was a very unpleasant shock. I’ll take a test tomorrow to determine if I was exposed to Covid and hopefully I can continue the event after that.”
I hope Mr. Megaranto is feeling well – he seemed to be completely fine during the game, so the way the match ended… https://t.co/VR0j23j5Nh
— Fabiano Caruana (@FabianoCaruana) 1626367594000
In a statement, Fide said, “In line with the tournament’s protocol, the player has been asked to leave the playing area and his game declared a loss. The player in question was wearing a mask during the game and has been placed in quarantine. His opponent, who was also requested to leave the playing hall immediately, will now undergo additional medical screenings, and will be tested again tomorrow as scheduled.”
Without mentioning his name, Fide said that Megaranto had tested negative thrice in Sochi before a fourth test returned positive. This test result was supposed to arrive before the round began but was delayed by a few hours.
Fide is investigating why the result came after the start of the round.
The Fabiano-Megaranto game was in progress on the second board besides world champion Magnus Carlsen playing against Sasa Martinovic on the top board.