Chess News

Levon Aronian’s Open Letter

to the president of FIDE

Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov and the Fide Presidential Board,

In the wake of recent events surrounding the FIDE Grand Prix and the General Assembly’s
decision to alter the current World Championship cycle, I feel obliged, as a participant and a leading
chess player, to express my disappointment. I must request you to critically view and question the
GA’s latest decisions and the processes to which they came. I must stress that I am not one for
scandals and do not wish to cause unnecessary fights – however I believe it is my duty to act as the
voice of the players.

Firstly, the decision to alter the World Championship cycle at this time is not in the spirit of
fair competition. We can draw a parallel to the following example: the rules set before a race state
that the marathon is 42km, and while the runners are still running, having already completed 20km,
the rules are suddenly changed to make the marathon an 80km run. The runners thus lose motivation
to run and consequently distrust the rule makers. This is comparable to the situation the participants
of the FIDE Grand Prix will be in if the GA’s decisions are made final.

After severe criticism for many years over the World Championship cycle, FIDE finally
created a promising new system, only now to self-impose new waves of criticism. When the initial
World Championship cycle was set in place and the Grand Prix system was created for players to
qualify legitimately for a chance to challenge the world champion, we had the belief that there was
finally a fair and reliable system (which my federation also supported).

With the GA’s recent actions, it seems that there is a democratic deficit within FIDE. The
GA did not consult the players currently taking part in the Grand Prix in their decision processes.
Please keep in mind a very important point – these players, including myself, have a legally binding
agreement with FIDE regarding the World Championship cycle and the Grand Prix. Therefore it is
FIDE’s duty to consult the other party of the contract – the participants.

Does this mean that the chess players have lesser rights than others? The GA appears to act
with no concern for the players. The decision to suddenly change the World Championship cycle
has damaging effects on the career plans of leading chess players. It is also reasonable to ask: why
should we go through several tournaments over several years and fight for a place in a tournament
that another player gets by losing a match? The GA’s decisions remove the motivation for players
like myself to take part in the World Championship cycle.

It should be noted that Mr. Mastrokoukos’ reason to change the cycle because of the
unforeseen events of 2 legs of the Grand Prix withdrawing is not convincing and does not reflect
reality – because a Grand Prix event in Yerevan has already been announced by FIDE as a
replacement. It is clear that the withdrawal of Doha and Montreux are not endangering the system,
as he would have us believe in his letter to Mr. Carlsen.

It seems that FIDE was on the right path towards a reliable World Championship cycle,
which had the support of leading players and chess federations worldwide. However, with the GA’s
recent actions, FIDE has left the right path and will lose its credibility in the eyes of chess players
world wide – not to mention, ruin its efforts to be recognized as a sport by the IOC.

I hope that the above arguments will be heard before finalizing the decisions of the GA.


Levon Aronian

Frankfurt am Main
December 6, 2008

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