Devaluation of chess titles, disrespect to history, possibility for behind the scenes deals, confusion. These are just some of the issues pointed out by chess fans on the internet regarding the recent decision of Chess.com to hold “Chess.com world championship”. For those knowing chess history and possessing knowledge of the foundations of the chess world, the handing of another non-FIDE “world champion” title is a huge multi-level problem that might open up a Pandora’s box.
At Chessdom we truly believe that World Chess Champion is spelled with capital letters, that the current World Champion is Magnus Carlsen, that the ex-World Champion is Viswanathan Anand, that there should be only one governing body giving out future titles of World Champion and it should be FIDE, and that the unity of the chess world is in danger. If FIDE is silent on the issue of the creation of another “world champion” title, we cannot be. Gens una sumus! (note: this is a developing story, scroll down for the latest updates)
Read more: “Chess.com” world championship might open up a Pandora’s box / Video announcement of the “Chess.com world championship” / FIDE silent on the creation of another “world championship” / Chess Twitter humorous take on the new “Chess.com world championship”
What is the “Chess.com” World Championship?
On April 21 the internet chess site Chess.com announced a series of qualifiers leading to an OTB (played over the board) chess final that hands out a title of “world champion” (see video of the announcement here)
Chess.com is delighted to announce the Chess.com World Championship (CWC), our biggest tournament ever. With a total prize fund of $1,000,000, including $500,000 for our final live event at the five-star 1 Hotel in Toronto, Canada, this is an event that you won’t want to miss. The best part of it all? Any Chess.com member can play and become the first-ever Chess.com world champion!
“We believe that this is a huge moment for the game and that the Chess.com World Championship will change the chess landscape forever!” says Danny Rensch, CCO of Chess.com. While many agree with what Rensch says, it is probably not in the way he would wanted it to be. For those used to online chess events handing solid prize funds this event is nothing special. Yet, to many the CWC presents two dangerous pitfalls – the finals of the event are played over the board and the title containing the phrase world champion is handed.
Using “world champion” in a non-FIDE event takes away weight from the title
The main goal of the title “world champion” is to crown the best and undisputed champion of a given sport. But what if there are 2 world champions at the same time? How about if there are 10? Or if there are 155?
Let’s take a simplified look of boxing and its titles of “world champion”. There is a WBA (World Boxing association) world champion, a WBC (World Boxing Council) world champion, a IBF (International Boxing Federation) world champion, The Ring world champion. And these are just some of the prominent world champion of boxing titles handed out there. The current champions in these world championship events are Trevor Bryan, Tyson Fury, and Oleksander Usyk. Who is the champion in boxing and why will take quite a while to explain. One easily sees why each title takes away weight from the other titles.
With chess readily accessible around the world and on the internet, it will take just a small shakeup for “world champion” titles appearing all over the place.
One could argue that the current FIDE elo rating list could become the actual definition of best chess player. This argument has logical fundaments and can be of practical use, as it already is at some level. Yet, there are two major issues. The first one is the activity of players and the recent stories of Ding Liren’s run for the Candidates Chess 2022 are just a small example of the issue. The bigger problem lies is the fact that substituting the method of naming the best chess player in fact adds to the devaluation of the title.
FIDE silent on the issue
At the time of the writing of this article, five days after the appearance of another “world champion” title, the governing body of chess is silent on the issue. There are unofficial reports that FIDE knows about the story, but FIDE’s silence has spurred into multiple theories ranging from FIDE’s looming bankruptcy to direct correlations with the Russia-Ukraine conflict Read the full story on FIDE’s silence here. The creation of the “Chess.com world champion” title might or might not have been drafted in a contract with FIDE. Whatever the case, the secrecy that surrounds the case, created by the silence and/or slow reaction of FIDE is not what the chess fans deserve. Read the full story of FIDE’s silence on the issue here
FIDE players are in a legal hassle
The Norwegian Grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer brought up a serious legal issue for professional chess players, who participated in the FIDE World Championship cycle. GM Hammer writes, “ChessCom naming their new flagship tournament a World Championship is a big deal. Top players who compete for Fide’s WC title has signed contracts saying they won’t compete in a WC outside of Fide. Example phrasing from the 2019 Grand Swiss (ironically sponsored by chesscom).“
The chess world mocks “Chess.com world championship”
In all seriousness of the situation, jokes and mockery of the “Chess.com world champion” title have blossomed on social media. We cannot help but put Danny Gormally’s tweet in our Tweet of the Day column. Discussing the new “world champion” title, Danny Gormally says, “I have crowned myself world champion of my bedroom.” Thank you Danny, now we are all champions!
Greet Van der Velde, the CEO of Chessable, said, “Proud to announce we will soon host the World Championship of World Championships.” Continuing the amazing line of April Fool’s humor renaming Chessable ot Chefable, the @ChefableWTF announced, “We’re pleased to announce the first-ever Chefable World Champignonship! This is YOUR chance to compete with the best eaters in the world to win ONE BILLION MUSHROOMS!”
Lichess.com are surely contenders for the best plot twist with their humorous spin of the “world champion” title problem