Chess News

Reactions about the new FIDE World Championship cycle

Topalov, Shirov, Carlsen, and Hans Arild Runde speak out

November 17-19 the FIDE General Assembly of the 79th FIDE Congress was held during the Chess Olympiad in Dresden. A new World Chess Championship cycle has been announced with a candidates tournament involving:

* The winner and the runner up of the 2009 World Cup
* The first two players of the Grand Prix
* The loser of Kamsky – Topalov
* The loser of the match Anand vs the challenger (Kamsky or Topalov)
* The highest rated player in the world (or the next highest rated player if already included)
* A wild card nominee player by the organizers

Here is the official statement of FIDE on the new World Championship cycle.

Under changing circumstances, FIDE devotes special attention to secure the organization of planned events: first of all the World Chess Championship cycle events. Having noted the difficulties that arose in connection with the Grand Prix event scheduled for December 2008 in Doha and in order to eliminate future uncertainties, the GA decided to strengthen the World Championship cycle and its finances. It approved a Candidates tournament in which two players are from the ongoing Grand Prix series, two players as finalists of World Cup 2009, the defeated player from the World Championship match 2009, the defeated player from the Challenge Match 2009, the highest rated player provided that he is one of the top six players based on the rating list, and the player nominated by the organizer with a rating above 2700) in two formats for the organizer to choose from: a./ an eight-player round robin tournament or b./ knock-out matches of four games for the first and semifinal rounds, respectively and six games in the final match. The winner under either format will be the challenger for the world championship match scheduled in September 2011. Full regulations will be drawn up by the FIDE World Championship Committee. The bidding process will open on the 1st of December, 2008 and will close on 31st January, 2009.

As of December 3rd, there is still no bidding procedure or full regulations uploaded on the FIDE website. However, the decison made at the meeting in Dresden has provoked discontent among many players and chess lovers.

Henrik and Magnus Carlsen protest

Henrik Carlsen, father of GM Magnus Carlsen, is perplexed from the current situation. On his blog he explains the situation.

What really stole the attention of Magnus and many others during the latter part of the Olympiad was of course the news from FIDE about changes to the Grand Prix cycle.
First came the short notice cancellation of Doha (about two weeks after we had been told everything was all right and could go ahead and buy plane tickets (which we did).
Going to the new venue Elista in wintertime and over Christmas was not something Magnus wanted to do, and later we have got oral confirmation that this issue has been resolved. (I don’t know how and do hope it was done without any harm to other GP participants.)
Later the really big issue came up.
Without proper prior notice, and on the last day of the FIDE congress, a proposal was approved by the (people still left in the) General Assembly to degrade the GP midway by introducing a new qualifying layer, an 8-player Candidate tournament replacing the match between GP and World Cup winners as qualification for the 2011 World Championship match.
Thursday November 27th I wrote an e-mail letter of protest to the FIDE office on Magnus’ behalf and Monday December 1st they reverted promising a response to the letter by today (which we have not received yet).
What we want from FIDE are transparent processes, fairness and predictability.
Significantly changing the GP regulations to the detriment of the GP players in the middle of the cycle is clearly unacceptable, and the reactions we consider include legal action and withdrawal from the cycle.
It is understandable that the FIDE board is unhappy about the fact that several top players decided against taking part in the Grand Prix. But, this should not have come as a big surprise and was anyhow known before the start of the GP cycle. Subsequently giving privileges to the players involved in the current World Championship cycle is obviously not the right way to solve their problem.
In the (unfortunately) lopsided GP regulations, there’s a clause (1.4) stating that
“The body responsible for any changes to these Regulations is the FIDE Presidential Board.”
I’m not a lawyer, but to me this passively oriented wording describing the role of the FPB would typically apply to the resolution of uncertainties or conflicts pertaining to the GP regulations and not as a basis for completely changing the purpose of the cycle midway.

Open letter by Shirov

GM Shirov sent out an open letter to Chessbase, where he also talked on the issue.

The second part of this press-release will include some of my thoughts about the latest changes (nothing unusual, of course) in the World Championship system. Of course, with Ivanchuk ban the whole system loses its sense but there is still a chance that his case will be resolved. In fact I don’t think the idea of the Candidates tournament is as negative as some people think, adding the second place in the Grand Prix and the World Cup is a nice compensation for changing the format as long as the tournament is attractive for players and chess lovers. But giving the direct seed to the loser of Topalov-Kamsky match seems totally senseless as long as the player can prove his strength in the next World Cup or qualify by rating. He should be replaced by the second highest rated player in my opinion. Unfortunately this opinion cannot even theoretically be supported by the ACP board as one of their leading forces, Emil Sutovsky, is the manager of Kamsky and the most of the rest are his cronies!

Live rating list in protest

Hans Arild Runde, manager of the Live rating list, has also gone out on a protest against the new cycle. On his site he posts his sarcastic reaction, saying amongst others:

Under changing circumstances, devotes special attention to secure the live rating of planned elite events. Having noted the difficulties that arose when FIDE decided to drastically change the World Championship Qualification cycle (despite binding contracts with the Grand Prix participants) and in order to eliminate future uncertainties, the Webmaster decided to strengthen and its finances. From now on it’s certain that will temporarily stop rating the games of the chess elite on a day to day basis. This will remove all uncertainty about someone’s live rating according to – as it will simply remain fixed at its current number….. Here at we live by certain principles, and one of those is that if other instances get something to play along with FIDE’s sudden rules and regulation changes, then we want something too. Lots and lots, actually.

Veselin Topalov disagrees with new cycle proposal

The Closetgrandmaster, Chessvibes, and Susan Polgar were the first to report discontent with the new proposal. It came from the ex world champion GM Veselin Topalov who shared during the Dresden Olympiad.

No, I don’t think there is a perfect system…Knock out is OK, tournament is also OK, also match system is also OK. But once we have this cycle I think it has to be finished.
I mean what FIDE should do is run the cycle [that] they designed, they promised and then change if they want to. You cannot change every two months because players make plans. This is basically what they have to do. I guess they have to run the tournaments and then to have the winner of the Grand Prix, 2009 World Cup match, and then change the world champion. I think this is what they have to do as they promised. And then OK, after 2011 maybe some change but I don’t see a reason now there should be any new changes. Because we’ve had enough!
The worse thing you can do is to change the rules during the same cycle like it already happened many times.

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