30 December 2015

Zonal Qualifiers C14

Continuing with Regulations for Qualifiers C14, I concentrated on the players who qualified from the various zonals. First I added many new clippings to the page C14: Zonals 1987-1990. The most important of those is shown below, reduced in size to fit on this blog post.

Zoninis šachmatu turnyras

It is a portion of a 'Vikipedija' [Lithuanian] page which seems to be based largely on my own work. A few comments:-

  • Zone 05: Four players from this zonal competed in Interzonals. The page says Hulak and Marjanovic qualified on rating, but their ratings were too low. (NB: Pucarevo = Novi Travnikas)
  • Zone 07: Neither Ivanov nor Spraggett played in a C14 Interzonal. Allan and Baragar played instead.
  • Zone 11: The 'scandal' is not mentioned. Did it have any real impact?
  • Zone 12: Bouaziz qualified.
  • Zone 13: Hamed qualified.

Thanks to that info plus details from other new clippings, I can make an educated guess on how the players qualified, whether from zonals or otherwise.

23 December 2015

Regulations for Qualifiers C14

Having finished Regulations for Qualifiers C13 -- that's the cycle that culminated in the 1987 Kasparov - Karpov Title Match (aka KK IV) -- I tackled the following cycle. This cycle was more complicated than any of the other cycles because I wasn't able to locate a copy of the FIDE regulations in force for the cycle.

Starting with a list of the players in the three Interzonals plus the lists on the image to the left (Source: Europe Echecs 1987-07 p.24; it mentions the date on which it was created, 16 June 1987), I worked out which players had qualified from zonals. This is largely documented in C14: 1987-1990 Zonal Cycle, although that page is not as complete as I would have liked.

There are some mismatches between the players who qualified and those who finally played. This gives me some direction for further research.

I also added a new page for C14: 1987-1990 Zonal Cycle Qualifiers. The page is only a stub for now, but I should be able to fill it out the next time I return to this subject.

16 December 2015

Zonal Qualifiers C13 - Qualification Paths

After locating the Regulations for Qualifiers C13, I added the qualification path for each player to the page C13: Zonal Qualifiers 1984-1987. The two tables below show the counts of players who qualified by the different paths.

The left table ('Qual') counts the types of qualifiers as defined in the first part of C13: Zonal Qualifiers. The right table ('Zonal') counts the players who qualified at a certain zonal ('z'), as listed in the second part of the same page.

The three players with an unknown qualification path (Qual = '?') -- Afifi, Bouaziz, & Hmadi -- all played in the 1985 Tunis Interzonal. Two of them qualified via African zonals and one was nominated by the Tunis organizers. I haven't been able to determine who qualified by what path.

The count for zone 4, the USSR, shows five players. GM M.Gurevich did not play an Interzonal although he qualified ahead of two other players. I haven't been able to determine why.


Later: To document a few discoveries, I added new clippings to C13: Zonals 1984-1987.

09 December 2015

Regulations for Qualifiers C13

Continuing with Zonal Qualifiers C15-C26 : Summary, I added a new page C13: Zonal Qualifiers 1984-1987. The first cut covers only the rules for qualification into the Interzonals, so I still need to add the qualification paths for individual players.

What happened to C14: 1987-90? I haven't been able to locate a description of the qualification rules for that cycle. I suspect that the rules for C14 were similar to C13 and will test that hypothesis after completing C13.

02 December 2015

2015 FIDE Congress : Whither the World Championship?

World Chess Championship watchers throughout the world were all asking, 'What news from Abu Dhabi?' Last year's post on this blog, 2014 FIDE General Assembly : Whither the World Championship? (December 2014), covering the FIDE President's travel report and a list of forthcoming events was decidedly unsatisfying. Would this year's post be any better?

Given that I've already started the report with a post on my main blog, The Resurrection of Agon, let's continue with FIDE Congress, Abu Dhabi, Executive Board, 7-8 September 2015, MINUTES, where 'President K. Ilyumzhinov delivered his annual report'. The most important bit was somewhere in the middle.

On 31st October I made a report during a private meeting with Mr. Putin to discuss the preparation for the World Championship match in Sochi between M. Carlsen-V. Anand which took place 7-28 November 2014.

The match was taking place in the Main Media Centre of the Sochi Olympics and was organized on a very high level. I would like to especially thank the Russian Chess Federation led by our Vice President Andrei Filatov, and our commercial partner – “Agon”. Spectators from 217 countries were following this interesting event on the match official Internet site. In an uncompromising fight, Magnus Carlsen kept the title.

As an unprecedented event, the President of the country-organiser attended the closing ceremony. After the ceremony, the President V. Putin invited the FIDE delegation, the players and their families as well as 10th World Champion A. Karpov and 12th World Champion B. Spassky to have some tea, during which the issue of the Women’s World Championship was successfully solved.

The tournament was organized successfully 16 March – 7 April under wonderful conditions in Krasnaya Poliana, a mountain resort in Sochi. Once again it is my pleasure to thank the Organising Committee led by the Russian Vice-Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, the Russian Chess Federation and its President A. Filatov and the Championship sponsor – Gazprom. The Championship was won by a Woman Grandmaster from Ukraine Maria Muzychuk, who is now the 15th Women’s World Champion. I sent a letter to the President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko and proposed to organize the Muzychuk – Hou Yifan match in a western –Ukrainian city of Lviv.

On the 1st of July 2015 I arrived in Ukraine where I met with Mr. Poroshenko. We discussed the matters of the possible match organization, and a chess festival to take place during the match. Mr. Poroshenko gave a very high evaluation to the chess development level in Ukraine and in the world. Mr. Poroshenko has also signed the Decree on creating the Organising Committee with Head of Ukrainian President’s Administration Boris Levkin in chair, and their first meeting took place on 31st August. The prize fund of the match will be 210, 000 euro and it will be organized 1-18 March 2016. The Ukraine signed the contract and the first tranche of the prize fund in the amount of 100,000 euro reached the FIDE accounts. The next meeting of the Organising Committee will take place at the end of September.

During my visit to Kiev, I have also succeeded to agree with the Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko to host one of the Women’s Grand-Prix series stage in Kiev which became an instance for Mr. Levkin to propose that 2016 be a year of chess in Ukraine. It was also resolved that in each of 500 Kiev schools a chess class will be prepared and equipped to start chess education as a facultative subject as the first stage. In future, the mayor would like to make chess an obligatory subject in the school curriculum.

Later on in the same MINUTES, we find 5.21. Commission on World Championship and Olympiads (WCOC). After a list of forthcoming events and a discussion about a detail from the women's cycle,

A request from Americas – eight places from the Continent for women’s championship and one only for the Continental. They want to have annual events and they request for another slot.

followed by an equally skimpy Annex 37 ('Minutes of the meeting in Abu Dhabi'), we can only conclude that important business of the WCOC is conducted elsewhere. The Executive Board apparently agrees and 'noted Annex 54 – report of Agon', to which I now refer. The major sections of Annex 54, Report to the FIDE Executive Board; by Ilya Merenzon, CEO of Agon Limited; September 7, 2015, were as follows:-

1. World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Berlin
2. The Financial Times and Chess
3. Calendar of the Events for 2015 - 2018
4. Working with Federations to hold major chess events (grand prix, candidates and etc)
5. Sponsorship of chess
6. Media site [worldchess.com]
7. Candidates Tournament 2016
8. Championship Match 2016
9. About Agon

I've already covered sections (2) and (6) in the 'Resurrection' post, but section (5) is equally promising.

5. Sponsorship of chess: Agon has a team of sponsorship sales working in Russia, Germany, the US and Switzerland. It’s been not easy as there are several issues that limit access to sponsors:
- Not enough presence on TV (smaller audience)
- Lack of verified numbers
- Lack of history

But we are addressing the issues and have some initial success with sponsors: for 2016, we have commitments from the following brands: Goldman Sachs Investment Banking, Audi, E.ON (Germany), Isklar Water (Norway); and have advanced talks with a major IT company and a major watch brand. We’ll share all information as we develop this segment and hope that FIDE and federations can provide sponsors with 360-degree approach.

Section (8) contains news that was largely speculative until now.

8. Championship Match 2016: There is huge interest in the Match from both sponsors and media. FIDE and Agon have decided to hold the match in the US, as FIDE President has announced at the closing ceremony of 2014 Championship in Sochi. The US, especially now, with major players who have a chance to take on Magnus, is home to the largest number of sponsors who work in industries that are close to chess — IT, Technology and Banking.

Agon has secured a prize fund (EUR 2,000,000) and is working on developing sponsorship contracts. We’ll inform the Board and, if approved, announce the city and venue in November of 2015, exactly a year before the championship. We are looking at New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We are also working with ESPN and Sky sports to make sure the Championship is on TV.

Section (9) gives a headcount.

9. About Agon: It’s managed and [run] by Ilya Merenzon and has 9 full-time employees: 3 sales managers, 1 digital communications, 1 sports lawyer, 1 events director, 2 project managers. More people are brought on board during important events.

After that four page introduction, annex 54 continues with nearly 30 pages of presentation. The first informative slide ('What Is Chess?') is copied below.

There are few people who want Agon to succeed more than I do, but that is not a good start. The first bullet ('more than 2000 year history') is simply wrong and the last ('more than 600 million people play chess') is controversial; see An evening with Ilya Merezon (Streatham & Brixton blog) for more on the second point.

Those two points might be nitpicking, but a later development isn't: Chess boss Ilyumzhinov among 10 targets of US sanctions over Syria (RT.com). If RT ('Russia Today') isn't your idea of an independent news group, how about this: FIDE chief out in the cold: Why Kirsan won't be knocking at the door of the US Treasury (telegraph.co.uk):-

FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was celebrating the 20th anniversary of his appointment as head of the game’s governing body when news came that the US government had cited him for business dealings with the Syria regime of President Bashar al-Assad. He is now subject to an assets freeze and, according to a statement by America’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), "US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions" with Ilyumzhinov, and three others similarly cited.

Given that 'U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions', how will those U.S. persons manage to organize a World Championship match with FIDE? I trust we'll have an answer to that question before the next edition of 'Whither the World Championship?'.