30 December 2009

2009 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship?

In mid-December, FIDE published the 80th FIDE Congress Executive Board Minutes and Annexes on Fide.com. In recent years, FIDE only issued these documents three or four months after the Executive Board (EB) met. This year they appeared two months after the meeting. The documents cover all aspects of FIDE's operations and are therefore key to understanding the world federation's priorities and directions. What do they say about the World Championship? I have two interests in particular:

Here are extracts from relevant portions of the EB's minutes. I include the section on SportAccord, because I wasn't familiar with the subject. Maybe it's relevant, maybe it isn't.

  • 1. Report of the President.
  • [...]
  • 3.8. Directors' Reports.
  • 3.8.1. Global Chess.
  • 3.8.2. Development Department.
  • 3.8.3. PR and Marketing Director.
  • [...]
  • 5.10. World Cup 2009.
  • 5.11. World Cup 2011.
  • 5.12. World Chess Championship Cycle 2009-2011.
  • 5.13. FIDE World Challengers' Match V. Topalov vs G. Kamsky.
  • 5.14. Match V. Anand vs V. Topalov, 2010.
  • 5.15. Grand Prix 2008-2009.
  • 5.16. Women's World Chess Championship 2010.
  • 5.17. Women's Grand Prix.
  • [...]
  • 8.3. SportAccord report.
  • [...]

Ilyumzhinov's report is usually the single most important document coming from the EB.

1. Report of the President.

President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov presented his annual report. [...]

Recently, the FIDE Secretariat has received a contract on the organization of the Candidates Matches in Azerbaijan. Mr. Makropoulos shall inform you in detail about this as he, together with Mr. Balgabaev, visited Baku where they held successful negotiations. These were not so simple, considering that GM L. Aronian's reservations about playing in Azerbaijan, being an Armenian, and considering relations of Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, a compromise was reached. [...]

In the first half of the year he had held a number of meetings with the leadership of Bulgaria: first meeting was held in February during the Topalov-Kamsky match, then in April in Moscow with the Bulgarian Prime-Minister Sergey Stanishev, followed by a meeting with President Pyrvanov during the M-Tel super tournament in May. The Bulgarian side is ready to participate in the bidding process announced by FIDE for the World Championship match Anand-Topalov. The chess federation of Bulgaria is very active not only in the organization of chess events, but in popularization of chess in their country. And each chess event gets the widest coverage of mass media. In the match in February he had counted 15 TV-cameras. [...]

During this period the Grand Prix stages for Women's tournament were organized in Istanbul and Nanjing. The remaining 4 stages shall be organized in 2010 in Russia, Armenia, Mongolia and Chile. The initiative after the last Congress was very good and all is going smoothly. So we will satisify the wish of our leading women players.

Immediately, after the Dresden Olympiad and Congress [November 2008], we managed to prepare and organize the Men's stage in Elista instead of Doha. In 2009 the tournaments were held in Nalchik (Russia) and Jermuk (Armenia). There have been some uncertainties with the last and final stage, but today he would like to announce that the last stage of the FIDE Grand Prix shall be organized in the city of Astrakhan in Russia. Mr. Geoffrey Borg shall report on this later on. The governor, Mr Zhilkin, told him about this on the phone and he confirmed this to Mr. Borg. He had appointed arbiters to this tournament and the contract shall be signed shortly. Then we will start a new cycle of Grand Prix tournaments. [...]

In March the FIDE delegation participated in the SportAccord meeting in Denver, where we have met again with the IOC representatives. Mr. Makropoulos will brief you in detail about SportAccord. After Denver he was contacted by the SportAccord President (SportAccord is the new name for GAISF [General Association of International Sports Federations]), Mr. Hein Verbruggen. He asked us for a sub-lease of our premises in Lausanne. We agreed to this request. As a result we reduced our expenses on this office, and have left only a postal address in Lausanne. [...]

The FIDE delegation led by Mr. Makropoulos has visited Khanty-Mansiysk in May and September where they checked the preparation for the World Cup and the 39th Chess Olympiad. The contract for the World Cup 2009 was signed for the period 20 November – 14 December 2009. We have touched upon this subject, but today he wanted to announce that the balance of 1,261,000 USD was transferred to FIDE this week. Now we shall concentrate on the proper preparation of the next Olympiad and Congress.

As it is known to the members of the Executive Board, we did not succeed in signing a contract for the 2010 Candidates Matches and the 2011 World Championship match with the German company UEP. Mr. Makropoulos will inform you of the situation.

He informed the Executive Board members that during his visit to Baku he had a meeting with the Azerbaijan Minister of Sports and President of their Chess Federation, who had expressed a firm interest in the organization of the Candidates Matches in their country. As he had already said, they have sent a contract already. In case their representative performs well, they are ready to organize the World Championship match, despite any financial conditions.

World Champion Viswanathan Anand has requested to postpone the World Championship match to the spring of next year. We have announced a bidding procedure which was completed on 30th September. We are in receipt of three bids – Turkey, Singapore and Bulgaria. The Bulgarian delegation is here and he was sure they would speak on the point. Bulgaria's was the only bid with financial guarantees. The challengers' match for this final event, between Topalov and Kamsky took place in February in the capital of Bulgaria. [...]

Members of the Executive Board had been presented with a draft contract between FIDE and Chess Lane which has been on our agenda for the last six months. He had received a lot of feedback from the Presidential Board members and he was thankful for members' active attitude and remarks. He praised the active involvement of the FIDE delegation – Messrs. Freeman, Makropoulos, Gelfer, Kelleher and Mazouz. Many important points are covered in this document and more will be heard about this later. [...]

Section '3.8. Directors' Reports' might best be subtitled 'The Demise of Global Chess'. I'll leave that discussion for another time.

Section '5. Presidential Board' has many subsections, but the discussions are generally brief. Subsections 5.1 through 5.9 (future Presidential Board meetings and FIDE Congresses; 5.8 is missing) contain information about future top-level FIDE meetings. [NB: There are potential problems with Chess Olympiad 2010.]

5.11. World Cup 2011.

Annex 26 is letter from the Estonian Chess Federation . Mr.B. Balgabaev visited Tallinn. He said that two days ago he spoke with Mr. Olde who told him that at the beginning of November there will be elections in the city of Tallinn and then they are ready to sign the contract with FIDE.

Annex 26 (undated): 'In 2007, the FIDE Presidential Board gave us the right to organize the 2011 World Cup Tournament in Tallinn. [...] We sincerely hope that we can sign the contract already in the beginning of July 2009. Looking forward to hearing from you, Carmen Kass, President of the Estonian Chess Federation'

World Cup 2011 would be the first event in a new World Championship cycle, the format of which has not been determined. It would be the fourth World Cup in the series and the first not held in Khanty-Mansiysk.

As for the current cycles, the following is somewhat confusing. The title World Championship Cycle 2009-2011 means the cycle that commenced with the Grand Prix 2008-2009 and which includes World Cup 2009, Candidates' Matches 2010, and World Championship 2011.

The Anand - Topalov match mentioned in the second paragraph will be the last event in the previous cycle that started with World Cup 2007. The Grand Prix mentioned in the same paragraph ('We are not intending to have Grand Prix') would be for the cycle starting World Cup 2011.

5.12. World Chess Championship Cycle 2009-2011.

Annex 27 is Regulations for Candidates' Matches 2010.

Mr. Makropoulos said that the match Anand-Topalov is postponed from September 2009 due to the request of GM V Anand. There is a new cycle with a match which should be organised in September 2011. We are not intending to have Grand Prix, unless we have signed contracts by the end of this year following previous decisions of the General Assemblies and Presidential Boards.

Concerning the final match of the next cycle, we have received an interest from Mr. Malcolm Pein from England. They organise London tournament at the end of 2009 with the support of the London Mayor. In 2012 they will host Olympic Games, and they are ready to try to organise the match in London at the beginning of 2012 with the support of the municipality of London. Mr. Makropoulos proposed, after a discussion with the FIDE President, that the Organisers can have the option with the prize fund of not less than 2 mln euros. For FIDE it would be important to have the match in the city of the Olympic Games under the same authorities and sponsorship. The FIDE President had agreed. Mr. Pein had to reply by 15th February 2010. If the option is not exercised, then the bidding procedure shall be opened immediately. Mr. Makropoulos said it would be very important if they could organise the match in a Western European country with such a high prize fund. All other regulations will be based on previous decisions of the General Assembly. The Presidential Board can decide on any changes, or the President, if there is something extraordinary to be changed.

Executive Board approved, including the proposal of Mr Makropoulos regarding the possibility to amend the pairings if necessary and that at least one player from Azerbaijan should be in the matches played in Baku.

Mr. Makropoulos said we did not sign the contract with UEP as their way of approaching our needs for promotion of FIDE is different from our understanding. We are trying to organise the match in a different place. We succeeded to have a contract with Azerbaijan only for half of the Candidates Matches, because GM L Aronian cannot play there. We agreed that they will organise 2 out of 4 matches and the final match, if GM Aronian is not in the final match. We have already had discussions with two different organisers, for the other half of the Candidates matches. Azerbaijan will pay 300,000 euros out of the 500,000 euro including the FIDE share, and the other organiser will pay 200,000 euros. Azerbaijan will have the nominee according to the regulations. We need to make sure that one Azeri player will play in Baku. Then we may have to amend pairings and to make a respective decision here.

Executive Board approved.

While I sincerely hope that the title match -- between the winner of Anand - Topalov 2010 and the winner of the Candidates' Matches 2010 -- does take place in London, it represents a slip of more than a year from the schedule announced in 2007 (see my recent post on The New/Old World Championship Cycle).

5.13. FIDE World Challengers' Match V. Topalov vs G. Kamsky.

Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos informed the Board. Annex 28 is report of the Chief Arbiter I. Leong. Mr.Makropoulos said that in Dresden we managed to reach an agreement. We managed to have the match without any problems with the players. We did not have any complaints from the players. He said we can guarantee right conditions for both players, even if the match is organised in the country of one of the players. GM Anand was satisfied in Bonn, GM Kamsky was satisfied with the conditions in Sofia, even though he lost the match. GM Anand should play in Sofia and FIDE should guarantee right conditions in Sofia. We will start discussions with both sides to finalise the contract. Our people should be flexible and understand that FIDE will do its best.

FIDE often takes a negative, defensive posture ('We managed to have the match without any problems with the players. We did not have any complaints from the players.'), when a positive, congratulatory comment would be entirely appropriate. I'm baffled by the statement that 'Our people should be flexible and understand that FIDE will do its best.' Who are 'our people' if not FIDE?

5.14. Match V. Anand vs V. Topalov, 2010.

Deputy President G. Makropoulos said the match will take place in April 2010 following the request of World Champion V. Anand, who was playing every year either a match or a tournament for the title. We accepted his request. Three bids were received; one from Turkey, for a prize fund of 1 mln euros, another from Singapore for 1.288 million euros, and the other one is from Bulgaria for 2 mln euros. No financial guarantees were received by the 30th September, so we extended this by 2 weeks.

Mr. Yazici said organisers are humans and due to his adrenalin he thought it would be fantastic to organise the match in Turkey. He had tried to organise Kasparov- Kasimdzhanov match also. He did not do his homework but was upset that his bid is not enough, but glad that there is such a good bid from Bulgaria. He withdrew the Turkish bid. He congratulated Silvio Danailov and his team but said Turkey will organise one day such a match and hope a Turkish player will be on one side of the board.

Mr. Leong said Singapore also withdraws and congratulated the Bulgarian Chess Federation for a very good bid.

Mr. Danailov, Vice President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, took the floor and said that his country during the last 5-6 years organised 5 super tournament MTel masters and recently this year the candidate match Topalov-Kamsky in Sofia. We have a lot of experience of organising big events and we have bid for the upcoming World Championship match Topalov-Anand. Recently there is a new Government in Bulgaria and we are proud that the Prime Minister, Mr. Borisov, shall be chairman of the Organising Committee. The prize fund is 2mln euro plus 20% to FIDE plus the organising costs for the event. The letter from Mr Borisov is dated 12th October 2009 and is an official guarantee and personal guarantee. They will be ready to transfer the money, not later than 10th December 2009, with 3 mln euros budget.

Annex 66 is letter from the Prime Minister addressed to the FIDE President and the delegates. Mr. Freeman read the letter to the delegates.

Mr. Makropoulos thanked Silvio Danailov and Mr. Sergiev for their efforts. Strictly speaking we should have a bank guarantee, but he thought the letter from the Prime Minister should be accepted and the discussions for the organisation contract should start here. He proposed to award the event to Bulgaria.

Executive Board approved the award of the World Championship match V. Anand vs. V. Topalov to Bulgaria.

Mr. Makropoulos said that the offer is excellent. He said that the dates are not exact yet, we would like to start it on 5th April 2010. Negotiations shall be started.

Anand - Topalov 2010 was subsequently announced to start a few weeks later in April 2010.

5.15. Grand Prix 2008-2009.

We have the tournament in Astrakhan, end of April 2010. There are discussions regarding the dates so as not to clash with any other tournaments.

The last of the Grand Prix 2008-2009 tournaments has still not been announced.

5.16. Women's World Chess Championship 2010.

The event shall take place in Turkey, 2-25 December 2010. Mr. Yazici said Antakia is a very interesting place with fantastic food. He said the players will like this city, it is the crossroads of various religions. The Mayor of the city will guarantee 300,000 euros, and the Turkish Chess Federation has found other sponsors. We are ready to start.'

Women's events often seem to be easier to organize than unrestricted (i.e. men's) events. Is this because the prize funds are lower? Or because the women are less demanding? Or because women's events are seen as a novelty? Or some other reason?

5.17. Women's Grand Prix.

Mr. Borg said the Istanbul event in March was very well organised. Then in Nanjing there also had been excellent organisation with a tremendous effort by the organisers. We had some work to make sure that we finalise the whole cycle. He thanked Mr. Makropoulos and Mr. Vega for assisting with Chile to finalise the contract. We will complete the whole cycle. The players know their schedules. Everything is fine and under way.

Mr. Makropoulos said to make sure that all Organisers deposit money.

Mr. Yazici asked whether we are going to start a new Women's Grand Prix cycle.

Mr. Makropoulos said yes, we will concentrate on the women's Grand Prix.

Mrs. Kosteniuk thanked FIDE for the women's Grand Prix, it is a tremendous job, because from February until now it is clear that there is a cycle with dates and venues, which is very important for women players. She hoped that it will be continued. It will turn into one of the strongest chess events.

Mr. Yazici said their sponsor Bank is not happy that FIDE is changing the cycle for women. So they want to know in advance the whole cycle.

Mr. Borg said that Is Bankasi was caught in the position when we were pressing many countries, to finalise the venues. We concluded 7 cities in a period of 5 months. It is not easy, in respect of the prize money - there is a big problem of credibility, we have to win the credibility. We should maintain the product. He said that we now have a stable cycle for the women. We have to come down on prize expectations. We have to thank the President for his intervention and providing new venues.

The FIDE President said that for the Grand Prix series, both men and women Grand Prix for 2010-2012, they shall be taking place according to schedule. The venues shall be announced one year or six months at least in advance. Grand Prix is his baby as is the knockout World Championship, which despite all criticisms since 1995, everyone plays in it with great success and it is one of our flagship events. He said we will announce World Cup venues for 2011, 2013 and even 2015. As for the Grand Prix, the first cycle is ok, and the baby is healthy, and we will announce all the venues for the next cycle one year in advance. We discussed it with Mr. Borg. There will be some slight technical changes, first in respect of the prize fund and the second in respect of the number of the participants. We shall discuss this with the FIDE respective Commissions, ACP and professional chess players. He had in his hands the proposals from four venues for men's and women's Grand Prix. He wanted the Executive Board members and chess players to look to the future with assurance. Our calendar is guaranteed for the next seven years in respect of the World Championship and Grand Prix cycle. He was sure we will agree with the London Organisers. He agreed with his colleagues and chess players that the contracts for the organisation of the Grand Prix should be in place in advance and should be signed in advance.

Mr. Rajscanyi said in Budapest there will be a new Mayor so we can think of this possibility. He agreed with the President about the number of the participants in the Women's Grand Prix.

Mr. Makropoulos said we have women's Grand Prix for 2010 firm. New cycle is for 2011 so we have time to announce in 2010 all the tournaments for 2011. For men we have just closed the last city. The situation with the women is much better.

Mr. Yazici proposed that at the end of 2010 at the Women's World Championship December 2010, in Turkey, we can gather all the Grand Prix organisers for women, so they could sign contracts for the next cycle.

Note the long paragraph that starts 'The FIDE President said that for the Grand Prix series, both men and women Grand Prix for 2010-2012, they shall be taking place according to schedule.' This is more positive than section 5.12, where Makropoulos is minuted to have said, 'We are not intending to have Grand Prix, unless we have signed contracts by the end of this year [2009?] following previous decisions of the General Assemblies and Presidential Boards.'

8.3. SportAccord report.

Annex 41. Mr. Makropoulos said that we did very good work with the help of all FIDE people. He said that following the discussion with the IOC leadership we should concentrate on the youth Olympics. Its main principle fits with chess but the first games will include same sports as in Olympic Games. We should be determined on this event. We have good chances and we should really have a strategy to convince the IOC that they should include chess.

Annex 41 (undated): 'This year's SportAccord was held in Denver, USA. The FIDE delegation was led by the Deputy President, Georgios Makropoulos, and included the President's Assistant, Berik Balgabaev, Commercial Director, Geoffrey Borg, and the Executive Director, David Jarrett. [...] The International Mind Sports Association elected Jose Damiani (Bridge) as President, Georgios Makropoulos (Chess) as Deputy President, Thomas Hsiang (Go) as Secretary General and David Jarrett (Chess) as Treasurer. There was a review of the 2008 event and it was decided to hold a second edition of the World Mind Sports Games in either 2011 or 2013, to avoid clashes with the Chess Olympiad. [...] FIDE, led by the Deputy President, had a constructive meeting with representatives of the IOC. There was a review of matters since the previous meeting in Athens and new topics included a discussion of the relevance of chess as a discipline in the Youth Olympics. The Presidential Board in Krakow appointed Vice President Khalifa Al-Hitmi to take this project forward.'

NB: International Mind Sports Association, World Mind Sports Games 2008 (held in China), and Youth Olympics. Are the years of drug testing and other IOC oriented policies going to pay off? If so, it would open a major source of funding for chess.

23 December 2009

2009 World Cup Players

Finishing up with 2009 World Cup Results, I added the 127 participants (there was one no-show) to my 'Index of Players': A-G, H-M, N-S, & T-Z. Of the 127 players, 35 were playing in a FIDE World Championship event for the first time.

16 December 2009

2009 World Cup Results

I added the results and PGN to my page on the 2009 World Cup, Khanty-Mansiysk. I didn't have time to add the players to my pages that cross reference them to events and will do the update as soon as I can. Winner Gelfand's previous best result in a knockout was at Groningen 1997, where he lost in the semifinal round to Anand (round 6). In the four other knockout events where he played, he always managed to reach at least round 4.

09 December 2009

Knockout Finalists

It's time to eat crow. In a comment to Asleep at the Wheel, Klaus Johnson informed that at the end of 2008 FIDE had indeed announced that two players from the 2009 World Cup would qualify into the next candidates event.
  • The 79th FIDE Congress completed its session in Dresden • '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)' [November 2008]

  • Bidding Procedure for the World Championship Cycle 2009-2011 • 'Players will qualify for the Candidates stage according to the following order of priority: [same as above with a few clarifications; December 2008]

This was changed a few months later by the FIDE Presidential Board (PB).

  • Presidential Board meeting 1st quarter 2009 • 'In 2011, there will be a Candidate Matches/Tournament consisting of GM Kamsky, the loser of the Anand-Topalov match, two players from the Grand Prix series and one player from the World Cup, two highest rated players not already qualified and a player nominated by the organizer. The winner will play the World Champion in 2011.' [March 2009]

The regulations were drafted, approved at the next FIDE PB meeting, and published in June.

I could quibble that the 'rules' weren't formally announced until June 2009, and thus have never been changed, but this would serve no useful purpose other than to show that I can be irrationally stubborn. When FIDE announced the Bidding Procedure in December 2008, potential organizers should have known what they were bidding on, even if the change from

  • two World Cup finalists and one seed based on rating to
  • one World Cup finalist and two seeds on rating

would have no impact on the bid. Did the PB introduce the change in March after considering the finalists of past knockout events (winner listed first)?

  • 1997 Groningen • Anand - Adams
  • 1999 Las Vegas • Khalifman - Akopian
  • 2000 New Delhi/Tehran • Anand - Shirov
  • 2001-02 Moscow • Ponomariov - Ivanchuk
  • 2004 Tripoli • Kasimdzhanov - Adams
  • 2005 Khanty-Mansiysk • Aronian - Ponomariov
  • 2007 Khanty-Mansiysk • Kamsky - Shirov

Both finalists in the 2009 knockout -- Gelfand and Ponomariov (a finalist for the third time) -- are worthy of competing in the candidates event.

02 December 2009

Getting Serious About Qualifiers

On several occasions I've mentioned the idea of adding qualifying events to my page on the World Chess Championship : Pre-FIDE Events. Posts where the idea came up are:

Other topics worth noting against 'Pre-FIDE Events' are:

  • 1905+: Challenges to Lasker
  • 1922: London rules
  • 1927+: The Alekhine - Capablance return match, other challenges to Alekhine
  • 1937: Euwe's attempt to transfer responsibility for the title to FIDE

Related topics already covered by other blog posts are:

Since it's not completely clear whether a particular event should be considered a qualifier, some criteria are necessary. One would be that the participants played with the expectation that success would bring an opportunity to compete in a match for the World Championship.

25 November 2009

Asleep at the Wheel

I finally got around to updating my page on the 2009 World Cup. I added a link to the official site (the same domain that was used for the, 2007 World Cup). About time, too, since the event started a few days ago and is already in the second round.


While reading various posts on the Khanty-Mansiysk event, I noticed that one well-known, well-respected chess journalist had mistakenly reported that the top two players would qualify into the 2010 Candidates Event, when in fact only one slot is reserved for the World Cup. I'll cut him some slack -- the only people who never make mistakes are people who never do anything, and this particular journalist is a regular dynamo in his reporting on world class chess. Then I noticed that, after admitting the error and correcting it in the original post, the same journalist wrote a second post with the following disclaimer.

Sorry for leaving the erroneous information about the two Cup finalists qualifying for the next stage of the candidates up for so long. Was going from old version of the frequently changed rules (for an event that doesn't even exist yet, of course). In the latest version, only the World Cup winner goes through, which is a relief.

I'm fairly certain that FIDE has never changed that particular rule. A year ago the World Federation changed the structure of the 'Candidates Event' from a two-player match to an eight-player format (a choice between matches or a tournament was later decided in favor of a series of knockout matches), and was roundly condemned for changing the format of a cycle that had already started. Since formally announcing the rules in June, FIDE hasn't changed the seeding of the qualifying players into the same Candidates Event.

It's possible that before FIDE's announcement there were rumors that the list of qualifying players would change. There is no doubt that chess journalism is often driven by rumors -- frequently titled 'Breaking News' -- and that the major chess news services thrive on these rumors to attract visitors to their sites, but these rumors can in no way be considered 'rules'.

After the 2008-09 Grand Prix fiasco, where half of the events initially announced turned out to be imaginary, FIDE appears to have learned not to make announcements until they have signed contracts. A case in point is the Anand - Topalov title match. Widely rumored last month by the chess news services that it would be held in Sofia during April 2010, the match has still not been officially announced by FIDE.

Blaming FIDE for the mistakes of other journalists, or even worse, for one's own mistakes, diminishes the reputation of all chess journalists. It also feeds the headless chicken hysteria (I can't think of a more apt phrase) and the fault finding that inevitably follows the latest rumors.

If I'm wrong about any of the 'facts' I've mentioned here, I'll admit it and take my licks. It wouldn't be the first time.

18 November 2009

1939 Buenos Aires (Women)

I added the PGN for the 1939 Buenos Aires tournament to World Chess Championship (Women) : 1927-39 Title Tournaments. For a discussion of discrepancies related to FIDE's official crosstable, see 'Notes for the 1939 PGN' on the same page.

11 November 2009

A Rigged Match?

While working on the subject of World Championship Opening Preparation (see Between the Lines for the latest post), I've been reading and re-reading all first-hand match accounts that I can find. The Karpov - Korchnoi rivalry was documented by both players in several books, making the three matches a rich source of stories at several levels. Here is a story recounted by Karpov in a book subtitled 'Memoirs of a Chess World Champion'. I'd already heard a similar account of this semifinal candidates match, but Karpov's is unusually direct.
At the candidates' matches in 1971 [Petrosian and Korchnoi's] paths crossed again. It was already clear that whoever won would have to face Fischer, who was swiftly ascending to the chess throne. There was practically no doubt that Spassky would deal with him, but our sports committee decided that that it was better to stop him on his march. Petrosian and Korchnoi were summoned and bluntly asked which of them had the greater chance against Fischer. Korchnoi replied that in the "Fischer age" almost no one had a chance, but Petrosian said that he believed in himself. At that Korchnoi was asked to throw the match to Petrosian, in compensation for which he would be sent to the three biggest international tournaments (for a Soviet chess player at that time this was a regal present).

No documents exist to substantiate this plot. But the mediocrity of Korchnoi's play and the fact that, considering his bitter nature, after he lost to Petrosian he remained on good terms with him implies that Korchnoi let Petrosian win. ['Karpov on Karpov', p.114]

Keeping in mind that the world's top chess players, especially the players who developed in the Soviet Union, rarely have anything complimentary to say about each other, the accusation that 'Korchnoi was asked to throw the match' and the implication that he acquiesced, are still stunning. Here's what Korchnoi had to say.

The match turned out be highly tedious; we played eight draws in a row! [...] People joked that neither of us wanted to win the match, and then meet Fischer. In the West many were thinking the same way, being unable to believe that the match was being played seriously. And only those who knew me well realized that I was trying very hard, but that my play was not coming off. I was most upset when, in the heat of the moment, I overreached myself, and lost from an excellent position in the ninth game. [...]

It was not difficult to guess that the last game of our match would finish in a draw, and Petrosian went through to meet Fischer. By his play against Huebner and me [Huebner abandoned the quarterfinal match], he did not deserve a place in the final candidates' match. But only Fischer was able to demonstrate this. ['Chess Is My Life', p.79]

What about the three international tournaments? According to my page on 1970-72 Candidates Matches, the Petrosian - Korchnoi match was played in July 1971. In the next chapter of his autobiography, Korchnoi mentions playing in the Alekhine Memorial (Moscow, autumn 1971, where Karpov also played), at Hastings (year-end 1971, again with Karpov), at Amsterdam (summer 1972), and at Majorca (November 1972). That corroborates Karpov's story. As for remaining on 'good terms' with Petrosian, Korchnoi's account of the semifinal match continues with the following.

After winning the match against me, Petrosian persuaded me to take part in his preparations for Fischer. For two weeks I visited his ostentatious villa on the outskirts of Moscow. Before his departure for Buenos Aires, Petrosian insisted that I should also go. The question was debated in the Sports Committee. I said that I was a participant in the same candidate's cycle, and so it was unethical for me to be a second, but I could agree if Fischer were to allow me. And I said further that it wasn't always pleasant for me to watch Petrosian's play to say nothing of carrying responsibility for it. In the Committee they did not insist, evidently realizing that the devil himself wouldn't help Petrosian against Fischer!

Karpov continued his account with:

But the idyll [that the players 'remained on good terms'] could not last long. Petrosian had a notorious appetite, and he didn't want to depart from his habits here. Korchnoi knew Fischer well, and in general knew a great deal, so why not make use of this knowledge in the match with Fischer?

This incident is known to me from Korchnoi's own account, although it generally received wide publicity in the chess world. After hearing out the request, Korchnoi could not contain himself and burst out laughing. "Now how the hell can I be Petrosian's second if it makes me sick to watch how he plays?"

This was the end of it. This wasn't just an explosion, but a challenge, and Petrosian vowed to annihilate Korchnoi. And now he was trying to do it with my hands.

That last sentence puts Karpov's account into context: Petrosian offered the young grandmaster valuable advice during the 1974 Karpov - Korchnoi final candidates match, which was a de facto World Championship match.

What do other sources say about the 1971 Petrosian - Korchnoi match? Kasparov glosses over the match both in the Petrosian chapter of 'Predecessors III' (p.108, not even a complete sentence) and the Korchnoi chapter of 'Predecessors V' (p.73, a paragraph)

Plisetsky and Voronkov's 'Russians vs. Fischer' (p.220) quotes exactly the same Karpov passage that I used in this post, with some rewording; Korchnoi's 'it makes me sick to watch how he plays' becomes 'his playing puts me to sleep'. The next chapter is a transcript of documents dated June 1971 that analyze Fischer's 6-0 whitewash of Taimanov in May of that year. That's followed by a long chapter, apparently another copy of an official document, by four Soviet GMs analyzing Fischer's play. It mentions the Fischer - Larsen semifinal match, played in July like the Petrosian - Korchnoi semifinal, leading me to assume that Petrosian had already qualified to meet Fischer in September.

Conclusion: the silence from the two other sources is deafening. Only Korchnoi's account -- 'those who knew me well realized that I was trying very hard, but that my play was not coming off' -- speaks in favor of a match that had not been decided by fiat.

04 November 2009

Who Owns the World Championship?

Since early August, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I've been on a mailing list from one Stan Vaughan of Las Vegas. This past weekend I received the following email, apparently a press release. Except for cleaning up the bullets to make it more readable, I copy it here with typos included.
Subject: Controversial World Chess Federation media conference sees world record set.
Date: Saturday, October 31, 2009, 12:49 AM
From: Stan Vaughan

The World Chess Federation, Inc held its controversial press conference today at the Riviera Hotel Casino.Las Vegas Radio personality John Donovan opened the media conference and the following topics were discussed about current problems in the chess world: After main focus of the upcoming $7.5 million WCF World Chess Championship cycle include upcoming WCF Qualifying Tournament Dec 1-13

The media was given handouts regarding Ilyumzhinov and connections to such corruption as a) Larissa Yudina journalist murder; b) rigged ratings; c) claims to have visted foreign stars with aliens; d) insane time controls of FIDE; e) voting bribes of national federation officials; f) non compete clauses trying to prevent top talent playing in Siberian World Cup from competing in WCF; g) the recent $50,000 Euro (=$75,000 USD) compensation fees for players wanting to change nationality playing for; h) Ilyumzhionov holding FIDE championships in places like Libya where Qadaffi did not allow jews to compete

i) this led to Korchnoi was then attacked by a rabbi as being the root cause of of problerms in chess world by having broken Jewish and Christian law by contacting and playing a chess game from 1985-92 with ghost (spirit) of dead grandmaster Maroczy. The rabbi explained this created a portal whereby an evil spirit in form of Ilyumzhinov took over FIDE and caused Jews as a result to suffer dioscrimination by FIDE and he stated was the cause of failure of Grandmasters Associatiomn, PCA, WCC, Braingames Group and Einstein Group. The rabbi also said Korchnoi selling out to play in Elista rather than supporting WCF did not help matters spiritually for him or Spassky.

j) Stan Vauighan showed letter from Fischer and passed around along with a tie along with photo from Fischer of game played against Spassky in 1992 "The World Chess Championship". In addition. Vaughan also gave out copies of the recent US Trademark office awarding WCF exclusive rights to trademark and tradenames World Chess Championship and The World Chess Championship.

k) Also today GM Raymond Keene confirmed he will be coming to Las Vegas to be master of ceremonies for opening ceremony as well as accept an award from WCF recognizing Staunton as an officially recognized WCF World Chess Champion 1843-1845

l) The highlight was the press conference was followed by Stan Vaughan setting a new world record by playing 57 blindfold games one at a time against 20 different media members albeit none were over 1600 strength, Vaughan went 57-0 to break a previous record held by Koltanowski

The press conference can be viewed in the following video.

WCF World Chess Federation Press Conference 10.30.2009 (9:43) • 'Here is a video covering the WCF World Chess Federation press conference held by Stan Vaughan, inviting chess players from around the world to compete in the WCF World Chess Championship Tournament being held in Las Vegas NV Decemember 1 -13, 2009. For more information contact: Stan Vaughan [plus contact info]'

The bullets in the press release are all provocative and controversial, but I was particularly interested in the statement that 'Vaughan also gave out copies of the recent US Trademark office awarding WCF exclusive rights to trademark and tradenames World Chess Championship and The World Chess Championship.' A search for 'world chess' on the TESS database at uspto.gov revealed that a Word Mark for 'WORLD CHESS FEDERATION' had been registered on 13 October 2009 with 'FIRST USE: 19920901. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19920901'. The document confirming the USPTO Service Mark can be seen at 3:34 in the video.

I sent Vaughan an email questioning the discrepancy in the press release: 'It appears you have the trademark for "World Chess Federation", not for "World Chess Championship".' He replied, '"The World Chess Championship" is part of the logo that is part of the trademark', and that 'due to the legal documents FIDE's Campomanes signed in 1992 turning over rights to Fischer of "The World Chess Champion", our attornies insist that FIDE Championships since 1992 must be known only as FIDE Championships and not use word World in reference to.' That logo is visible at 0:51 in the video, and again near the end.

Vaughan must have suspected that I was unfamiliar with the 1992 actions of Campomanes, who was FIDE President at that time, and added, 'See books Russians vs Fischer in Averbakh's chapter and Vol IV of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors where Kasparov also acknowledges Campomanes' actions.' I have both of these books and took them out to verify the statements concerning 1992. Plisetsky and Voronkov wrote,

FIDE President Campomanes fulfilled Fischer's main condition [for a match]: he signed and issued the American a certificate to the effect that Fischer continued to be the World Champion. And this in the existence of a live Kasparov, who, upon defeating Karpov in 1985, had been proclaimed the official World Champion by the very same Campomanes! ['Russians vs Fischer' (1994, p.371)]

Kasparov's account confirms this.

To judge by the press reports, a sizable contribution was also made by the FIDE President Florencio Campomanes: he supposedly met the American's main demand, by signing a document to the effect that Robert Fischer continued to be the World Champion. The paradoxical thing about these reports is that in 1985, Campomanes officially proclaimed me World Champion -- and then did the same thing three more times: in 1986, 1987, and 1990! However, everyone understood: for the sake of again seeing Fischer at the chessboard one would sign any paper.

If only FIDE had been so eager in 1975 to sign other papers of interest to Fischer. Kasparov continued his account with a second 'However'.

However, Campomanes categorically asserts that after 1972-75 FIDE never recognized Fischer as the World Champion. Campo was invited to Yugoslavia and visited the island of Sveti-Stefan, where the first part of the 'return match' was held, but he associated only with Torre and Gligoric, and not once with Fischer (and before this they had not seen each other since 1981). ['My Great Predecessors IV' (2004, p.483)]

It appears from these two accounts that the official title of World Champion around the early to mid-1990s depends on a certificate (Kasparov: 'document') that then-President Campomanes might or might not have signed in 1992. (See 1992 Fischer - Spassky Rematch for more about the events of 1992.) This tie-in with the Fischer - Spassky match explains the trademark mention of 'FIRST USE: 19920901'. The press conference kicking off the match was held on 1 September 1992.

Between the creation of the PCA in 1993, detailed in FIDE/PCA Chronology, and the Unification Match in 2006, the chess world went through a bruising period of uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the World Championship. Has FIDE finally secured the rights or not?

28 October 2009

The New/Old World Championship Cycle

Remember this chart? The caption says that it 'details the new cycle and long term intentions of the new World Championship cycle'.

It was originally published as a supporting document for Tallinn Presidential Board Maps New World Chess Championship Cycle, dated 24 June 2007. In a post from 27 June 2007, New World Championship Cycle, I used a portion of the diagram to explain where FIDE was going with the concept.

Let's look at each of the events by year. First, 2007:-

  • 'Mexico 2007' was won by Anand.
  • 'Previous WCH match' was the Kramnik - Topalov match held in 2006.
  • 'World Cup 2007' was won by Kamsky.


  • 'UEP match' was won by Anand over Kramnik.
  • 'Challenger match' was won by Topalov over Kamsky.
  • 'Grand Prix 2008-2009' is ongoing with one more event, still unannounced, to be played.


  • 'World Cup 2009' will start next month.
  • 'World Ch match' is the Anand - Topalov match to be held April 2010.


  • 'Challenger match' was scrapped end-2008 and replaced by a Candidates event, to be held end-2010.
  • 'World Ch match' is not yet scheduled, but London has been given an option to bid on a 2012 match.
  • 'Grand Prix 2010-2011' is not yet announced and its future is uncertain.

It's clear that FIDE has not yet managed to create a stable World Championship cycle. Will the Grand Prix endure? The Candidates event? What will the next cycle, post 2010-2011, look like?

21 October 2009

ICCF World Championships (2009 Status)

A year has passed since I last checked Correspondence Chess Champions, at which time I posted the status in ICCF World Championships (2008 Status). Here is the current status. The asterisk ('*') means the winner is known, the PGN game scores are available, and I need to update my page.

20 2004-Started 2004-10-25
21*2005-08Oosterom, Joop J. van (NED)
22 2007-Started 2007-12-31
23 2007-Started 2007-12-31
24 2009-Started 2009-06-10

In last year's post on the 2008 Status, I marked the 2004+ winner as 'Lehikoinen, Pertti (FIN)', but there is still one game outstanding which could affect the final result. Why is it taking so long? It's a postal chess event, not an email event like the other ongoing championships.

14 October 2009

07 October 2009

Players at the 1993 PCA Qualifying Tournament

During its brief attempt to gain control of the World Chess Championship, the PCA held one qualification cycle, starting with the 1993 Groningen PCA Qualifying Tournament. Somewhat ironically, the players in that event appear to have been chosen according to FIDE rating.

The event was initially expected to have 50 participants, but was expanded to 54. Of those 54, all but two were rated over 2570. The two exceptions were Friso Nijboer (2555) and Zsuzsa Polgar (better known now as Susan; 2545). I imagine that Nijboer was invited by the organizers and that Polgar was invited because of her status as the world's highest rated woman.

The top seven finishers at the event, held in December 1993, would qualify for the PCA Candidate matches. Players rated over 2600 on FIDE's July 1993 rating list -- there were only two rating lists per year at that time -- who did not play at Groningen are listed below.

2815 Kasparov, Gary (RUS)
2760 Karpov, Anatoly (RUS)
2705 Ivanchuk, Vassily (UKR)
2685 Salov, Valery (RUS)
2670 Gelfand, Boris (BLR)
2665 Short, Nigel (ENG)
2655 Epishin, Vladimir (RUS)
2630 Jussupow, Artur (GER)
2625 Dautov, Rustem (GER)
2625 Andersson, Ulf (SWE)
2620 Timman, Jan (NED)
2620 Lautier, Joel (FRA)
2605 Speelman, Jonathan (ENG)

The list includes Kasparov, the reigning PCA champion, and Short, who was seeded into the Candidate matches after losing to Kasparov earlier in 1993, as well as Karpov and Timman, who had played the 'other' World Championship match, organized by FIDE. As for the other names, there is undoubtedly a small story behind their reasons not to participate.

30 September 2009

1985 Montpellier Candidates Reserve

Before the 1985 Montpellier Candidates Tournament, a three-man match tournament was held in London to establish a reserve player. This event was brought to my attention long ago by A.O., a correspondent from the Ukraine, but I just now got around to adding the crosstable and PGN scores to the appropriate page.

Thanks, A.O.! I haven't forgotten your other tips, either...

23 September 2009

A Grainy Day Photo

Can you identify the World Championship match?

Hint: 'Extreme Chess' by C.J.S.Purdy (p.100).

16 September 2009


Chessninja.com reported it in July: Kasparov, Obama, Karpov; Chessbase.com picked up on it in August: Karpov - Kasparov: Grudge Match in Valencia; now that we're in September, the next match between the two greatest rivals in chess history starts in a few days.

I was planning to put together a summary of K-K's openings from the five World Championship matches, but then discovered that I'd already done one (in 1999!): The Great Rivalries, Kasparov - Karpov. As for their overall record: Chessgames.com informs that in the 190 games they have played together (CG.com's number, not confirmed), Garry Kasparov beat Anatoli Karpov 31 to 23, with 136 draws. • But wait, there's more to come: Kasparov Karpov Paris 2009!

09 September 2009

The Alekhine - Flohr Match

I found the accompanying photo in the 1956 FIDE Review, p.7. It was used to illustrate an essay titled 'On the World Championship' by Botvinnik, although there was no mention in the essay of a possible Alekhine - Flohr match.

Flohr was nominated to be FIDE's choice as challenger to Alekhine at the FIDE Congress, Stockholm, August 1937. Since Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia in September 1938, dashing Flohr's hopes for a match, the photo must have been taken between those two events. The AVRO tournament, ostensibly to identify a challenger to Alekhine, was held in November 1938.

[The image is a scan of a photocopy. The crosshatch pattern was already visible on the photocopy. I doubt it was in the original document.]


Later: It occurred to me that another relevant milestone was the Alekhine - Euwe match, played October to December 1937. Alekhine was only in a position to sign for another title match after winning the Euwe match. Of course, FIDE might have extracted his signature before beating Euwe, although I don't see how they could have forced it.

In case anyone is wondering, that's Alekhine to the left of the table, signing the document. Flohr is to the right of the table. I believe that FIDE President Alexander Rueb is sitting between them. The fellow standing second from the left appears to be Marcel Berman, FIDE delegate from France. I'm assuming he was already active in FIDE at that time (I don't know for sure) and that the other standing figures were also FIDE officials.


Later: From Kasparov's Predecessors I on Alekhine (p.447):-

In May 1938 [Alekhine and Flohr] signed an agreement about a match in Prague, which was due to take place in the autumn of 1939 in various towns of Czechoslavakia. The prize fund was guaranteed by the well known footwear factory Tomas Bata. But in late September 1938 all the plans were disrupted by the notorious 'Munich agreement' allowing Hitler's Germany to seize from Czechoslavakia part of its territory, and also soon to occupy the entire country.

Wikipedia says: Munich Agreement.

02 September 2009

1927-39 Women's Title Tournaments

I added a new page on 1927-39 Title Tournaments to my index on the World Chess Championship for Women. The new page is made of clippings from B.M. Kazic's 'International Championship Chess', an excellent reference for pre-1972 FIDE events.

26 August 2009

2008-2009 Grand Prix, Jermuk

I added the crosstable and PGN for the fifth Grand Prix event at Jermuk to my page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix. In my previous post on the Grand Prix (see 2008-2009 Grand Prix, Nalchik), I mentioned that the venue for the sixth and last event, to be held in December, is unknown. As far as I know, this is still true.

The FIDE site giving details on the full series of six events, grandprix.fide.com, has already announced that Levon Aronian will be the overall winner.

With his joint second place finish, Aronian has already clinched first place in the overall Grand Prix cycle, which is doubly impressive, given the fact that there is still one leg left to be played, and that he has yet to play in his fourth tournament. Congratulations to Levon Aronian for his overall accomplishment in winning the Grand Prix series.

Since there are two places allocated from the Grand Prix to the
2010 Candidates Event, the player who finishes overall runnerup will also be seeded into the candidates event. The current standings (see grandprix.fide.com again) show that a number of players still have a chance to win this qualifying spot.

19 August 2009

More on the Zonal Cycle 1993-1996

Continuing with my post on the Zonal Cycle 1993-1996, I added more clippings to my page on the cycle: Zonals 1993-96. Most of these were again from Europe Echecs, although the crosstable for the 1992 U.S. Championship at Durango came from Chess Life.

12 August 2009

2009-Q2 FIDE Announcements

Since my last summary of FIDE announcements (see Two Overlapping World Championship Cycles), FIDE has issued a number of communications. I added them to the relevant pages on my WCC site.
  • 2009-04-24: Anand-Topalov Match bidding procedure • 'The FIDE Presidential Board, during its meeting in Istanbul 7-8 March 2009, decided to open a bidding procedure for the FIDE World Championship Match 2010 (FWCM 2010) between the current World Champion GM V. Anand (India) and Challenger GM V. Topalov (Bulgaria).'

  • 2009-05-06: Meetings in Khanty-Mansiysk regarding World Cup 2009 and Olympiad 2010 • 'On May 6th, the FIDE delegation met the Organising Committee of the World Cup, which will take place this year in Khanty-Mansiysk, starting November 19th. Deputy President Mr. Makropoulos and Mr. Bondarev, Head of the Organising Directorate, signed the contract for this event.'

  • 2009-05-12: FIDE Press Release • 'FIDE announces that the negotiations with Universal Event Promotion (UEP), the original bidder for organising the final stages of the World Championship cycle 2009-2011 (Candidates Tournament and Final Match), did not reach a final agreement. FIDE is already in contact with other organisers and sponsors interested in holding these events.'

  • 2009-06-17: Presidential Board Meeting • 'The PB accepted the new regulations for the World Championship Candidate matches.' • 'In connection with the World Championship cycle, the PB emphasized that the continuation of the Grand Prix series can be approved only if all the contracts with the organizers of the 2010-11 GP events will be in place for approval before the Executive Board meeting to be held in October 2009'

  • 2009-06-22: Regulations for the Candidates Matches 2010 • 'We are publishing the approved Regulations for the Candidates Matches 2010.'

I also added a link for the FIDE Grand Prix in Jermuk, Armenia. I'm expecting a flurry of new communications after the summer vacation doldrums end in a few weeks.

05 August 2009

Zonal Cycle 1993-1996

I added a page for the cycle Zonals 1993-96 to my page on The World Chess Championship : Zonals. These were events that qualified players into the 1993 Biel FIDE Interzonal Tournament.

All of the initial clippings on the new page are from the June 1993 issue of Europe Echecs, which had a two page summary of zonals compiled by Christophe Guéneau. The summary also had an explanation of how certain players qualified through means other than zonals, an overview of which top players were missing and why they had not qualified, and a list of all qualifying players. For a mainstream chess magazine, the EE article was an unusually thorough compilation of zonal activity.

29 July 2009

1970 Palma de Mallorca Autographs

The postcard shown in the image is from eBay auction CHESS, Tournament in Palma De Mallorca, Bobby Fischer.

The auction description said, 'Chess, International tournament in Palma De Mallorca, original autograph, Chess masters: Bobby Fischer...' This was the 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal Tournament, which Fischer won by 3.5 points and which launched him into the Candidate Matches that would eventually lead to the 1972 title match with Spassky.

Fischer's autograph is clearly visible in the top center of the card's message area. The other signatures are from other participants in the interzonal and are easily identified in the high resolution scan linked from the original auction. The card sold for US $462.88.

22 July 2009

World Championship Bibliography

Following up World Championship Widgetitis, I had the idea to turn the Amazon.com widget into a bibliography. First I made a list of titles at hand, ordered by the year of the first event covered and the author.
  • 1834: Gelo; Chess World Championship: All the Games, 1834-1984; McFarland, 1995
  • 1834: Kasparov; My Great Predecessors [Vol. I to V]; Everyman, 2003
  • 1834: Winter,E.G.; World Chess Champions; Pergamon, 1981
  • 1883: Minchin; The Games played in the London International Chess Tournament 1883; BCM, 1973
  • 1886: Kazic; International Championship Chess, A complete record of FIDE events; Batsford 1974
  • 1886: Schroeder; Steinitz - Zukertort 1886; Chess Digest (?), [Published?]
  • 1907: Schroeder; Lasker - Marshall 1907; Chess Digest, 1972
  • 1908: Schroeder; Lasker - Tarrasch 1908; Chess Digest, 1970
  • 1921: Capablanca; World's Championship Matches 1921 and 1927; Dover, 1977
  • 1934: Reinfeld & Fine; A.Alekhine vs. E.D.Bogoljubow, World's Chess Championship 1934; Dover, 1967
  • 1935: Purdy; Extreme Chess: World Championships 1935 - 1937 - 1972; Thinkers' Press, 1999
  • 1937: Alekhine; The World's Chess Championship, 1937; Pitman & Sons, 1938
  • 1937: Botvinnik; Alekhine vs. Euwe Return Match 1937; Chess Digest, 1973
  • 1948: Euwe; Wereldkampioenschap Schaken 1948; De Tijdstrom, 1948
  • 1948: Gligoric & Wade; The World Chess Championship [1948-1969]; Harper & Row, 1972
  • 1948: Golombek; World Chess Championship 1948; Bell, 1949
  • 1951: Winter,W. & Wade; The World Chess Championship: 1951 Botvinnik v. Bronstein; Turnstile, 1951
  • 1954: Golombek; World Chess Championship 1954; MacGibbon & Kee, 1954
  • 1957: Mohaupt & Machatscheck; Weltmeisterschaftturnier 1957: Botwinnik - Smyslow; Sportverlag, 1957
  • 1958: Botvinnik; World Championship: The Return Match Botvinnik vs. Smyslov 1958; Chess Digest, 1973
  • 1960: Tal; Tal - Botvinnik 1960; Bell-Lucas, 1970
  • 1961: Flohr; Weltmeisterschaft 1961, Botvinnik - Tal; Wildhagen, 1960(?)
  • 1963: Wade; The World Chess Championship 1963, Botvinnik v. Petrosian; Neville Spearman, 1963
  • 1966: Flohr; Petrosjan bleibt Weltmeister [1966]; W. Ten Have, 1966
  • 1966: Tal; World Championship: Petrosian vs. Spassky 1966; Chess Digest, 1973
  • 1969: Clarke; The 1969 World Chess Championship Match; BCM, [Published?]
  • 1969: Flohr; Spassky - Weltmeister [1969]; W. Ten Have, [Published?]
  • 1972: Gligoric; Fischer v. Spassky [1972]; Fontana, 1972
  • 1978: Edmondson & Tal; Chess Scandals: The 1978 World Chess Championship; Pergamon, 1981
  • 1978: Hartston; The Battle of Baguio City: Karpov - Korchnoi 1978; Hutchinson, 1978
  • 1978: Karpov & Baturinsky; From Baguio to Merano, The World Championship Matches of 1978 and 1981; Pergamon, 1986
  • 1978: Keene; World Chess Championship, Korchnoi vs. Karpov [1978]; Simon & Schuster, 1978
  • 1978: Larsen; Karpov vs. Korchnoi: World Chess Championship 1978; Unwin, 1978
  • 1981: Karpov; Chess at the Top, 1979-1984 [includes 1981 Karpov - Korchnoi]; Pergamon, 1984
  • 1981: Keene; Massacre in Milano, Karpov - Korchnoi [1981]; Batsford, 1981
  • 1981: Pfleger & Borik; Schach-WM'81: Karpow - Kortschnoi; Falken, 1981
  • 1984: Keene; The Moscow Challenge, Karpov - Kasparov [1984]; Macmillan, 1985
  • 1985: Averbakh & Taimanov; The World Chess Championship, Karpov - Kasparov, Moscow 1985; Raduga, 1986
  • 1985: Kasparov; Garry Kasparov, New World Chess Champion [1985]; Pergamon, 1986
  • 1985: Keene & Goodman; Maneuvers in Moscow, Kasparov - Karpov II [1985]; Macmillan, 1985
  • 1986: Kasparov; London - Leningrad Championship Games [1986]; Pergamon, 1987
  • 1986: Keene & Goodman; The Centenary Match, Kasparov - Karpov III [1986]; Macmillan, 1986
  • 1986: Pfleger et al; Die Schach-Revanche: Kasparow / Karpow 1986; Falken, 1986
  • 1987: Birmingham & Verat; Championnat du Monde: Seville 1987, Karpov - Kasparov; Grasset, 1988
  • 1990: Kasparov et al; Kasparov v. Karpov 1990; Pergamon, 1991
  • 1990: Keene; Kasparov - Karpov, Battle of the Titans [1990]; Collier, 1991
  • 1990: Seirawan & Tisdall; Five Crowns: Kasparov - Karpov 1990; International Chess Enterprises, 1991
  • 1992: Davies et al; Bobby Fischer: The $5,000,000 Comeback [1992 Fischer - Spassky]; Cadogan, 1992
  • 1993: Hartston; Short vs. Kasparov: The Hijack of the 1993 World Chess Championship; Hodder & Stoughton, 1993
  • 1993: Keene; Kasparov - Short 1993; Batsford, 1993
  • 1993: Lawson; The Inner Game [1993 Kasparov - Short]; Macmillan, 1993
  • 1995: Keene; World Chess Championship, Kasparov v. Anand [1995]; Batsford, 1995
  • 1995: King; World Chess Championship 1995, Kasparov vs. Anand; Cadogan, 1995
  • 2000: Bareev & Levitov; From London to Elista [2000 Kramnik - Kasparov, 2004 Kramnik - Leko, 2006 Kramnik - Topalov]; New in Chess, 2007
  • 2006: Topalov & Ginchev; Topalov - Kramnik: 2006 World Chess Championship; Russell Enterprises, 2007

It's not perfect, but it's a start.

15 July 2009

World Championship Widgetitis

Maybe it's an infectious disease; maybe it's laziness; maybe laziness is an infectious disease. Last week I added a widget at the bottom of the page for Mahalo.com. This week I added a widget in the sidebar for an Amazon.com search on book titles having the words World Chess Championship.

The motivation for the two widgets is related. I wanted to add book titles about the World Championship to Mahalo, but their tool, which drags in everything related to the search phrase from Amazon, returned more junk than useful titles. Example: 'World Chess Championship Matches, Vol 2' and 'World Chess Championship Matches. Book 2', both by Berdichevsky, were two separate entries. Then there were three entries for the book on the 1951 Botvinnik - Bronstein match by Wade and Winter.

My problem with widgets is that they often slow down the loading of the page, sometimes to a crawl. If people are going to wait for a page to load, they might as well get something useful.


As long as I've touched on the subject of Berdichevsky, I've sometimes wondered what exactly are these books, spanning three volumes. Schachversand.de has pages on World Chess Championship Matches for Vol.1, Vol.2, and Vol.3, but the reviews are somewhat brief and in German. The preface for Vol.2, written by Smyslov, says,

Here, for the first time, have been collected together all the annotated games of all the matches for the world championship matches between 1886 and 1998. Apart from being an encyclopedia, this work also has considerable instructional value, since at all times people have learned primarily from the games of the champions.

'All the annotated games of all the matches for the world championship'; that's a lot of annotations.

08 July 2009


A few days ago I noticed that Mahalo.com's World Chess Championship topic was available, so I signed up for it. I haven't done much with the page yet, except to clean and correct the info that was already there. See the new widget at the bottom of this page for links etc.

More info: Mahalo.com (Wikipedia) • Q&A with Jason Calacanis, Founder & CEO, Mahalo.com. (searchenginewatch.com) • Mahalo.com - An About.com/Wikipedia Hybrid (russellheimlich.com).

I also signed up for Mahalo.com's Fischerandom topic. Contributors are only allowed two topics each, so I've reached my limit. I'll update the Mahalo pages at the same frequency I update my related blogs, which is once a week.


Later: I worked on the two topics over a period of 2-3 weeks, became frustrated with the tools, and abandoned the effort. It took Mahalo about six months to open the topics for someone else.

01 July 2009

World Championship Qualifiers 1946

There is a case to be made for including the tournaments at Groningen 1946 and Prague 1946 in any comprehensive list of World Championship qualifying events. From 'Najdorf: Life and Games' by Lissowski et al (p.27):-
The minutes of the Winterthur Congress [17th FIDE Congress, July 1946] stipulated:
If the winners of the tournaments in Groningen and Prague are not among the six above-mentioned masters [Botvinnik, Keres, Smyslov, Reshevsky, Fine, & Euwe], they shall play a match in Prague organized by the Czechoslovak Federation under the auspices of FIDE. The winner of that match shall be added to the list of participants. If one of the winners is already on the list of participants, the other shall automatically qualify.

Running ahead, we may say that this clause was of direct concern to Miguel Najdorf, and that it was virtually the only one to be repudiated later -- as a clear result of actions behind the scenes by the most influential countries in the chess world.

Botvinnik won at Groningen (see Groningen 1946 chess tournament [Wikipedia.org]), and Najdorf won at Prague (see Prague 1946 [TheChessLibrary.com]).

24 June 2009

R.G. Wade on the 1960-63 Cycle

I discovered that 'The World Chess Championship 1963, Botvinnik v. Petrosian', a book by R.G. Wade, included a summary of all zonals (p.54-57) played during the 1960-63 cycle. I added the corresponding clippings to my page on that cycle: The World Chess Championship : Zonals 1960-63. Curiously, the clipping for each event had some information of which I was previously unaware.

17 June 2009

1964 Moscow Zonal

I took the clue from my post on Rusbase Zonals, and added info about the 1964 Moscow zonal to my page on the 1963-66 Zonals.

10 June 2009

Catching up with Interviews

Besides playing World Champion level chess, most top chess players share a penchant for talking about playing for the World Championship. Too long has passed since my last roundup of interesting interviews (see 2010 Candidates), so it's time to catch up. I also include links to blog posts with relevant commentary from knowledgeable fans. To set the stage and provide some continuity, I'll start off by repeating a few links I used on that last post.

After negotiations failed between FIDE and UEP for the organization of the World Championship 2010-11 cycle (which I haven't yet covered in this blog), I expected more reaction from the top players. Is there another shoe ready to drop? In the meantime, UEP is running a series of innocuous interviews on their page www.uep-worldchess.com - News. The entry for 13 May mentions the FIDE negotiations.

03 June 2009

Top Players on the Top Issues

At the beginning of the year, the hot topic in the World Championship was FIDE's proposal to change the format of the championship cycle that had already started with the 2008-2009 Grand Prix; see 2010 Candidates for reactions from around the chess world. The last reaction in that post was '2009-01-05: Vladimir Kramnik on the World Championship Cycle
(part one; Chessbase.com)
', where the former World Champion suggested,
I think that it would be better to do an open questionnaire, on paper, and not just for the top five or six players, but for all of the participants of the Grand Prix, plus maybe the top twenty players. Not only about the ongoing cycle but also about future cycles, about how top chess players see all questions concerning time controls in world championship cycles, in other tournaments, the format of world championship cycles – knockout, matches –, candidate tournaments or no candidate tournaments. It is much more efficient to write down all these questions, and all players have to send in their answers.

Unlike many such ideas, often forgotten shortly after the interview is published, Kramnik's proposal was pursued by two opinion makers in top level chess: The ACP and Chessbase opinion poll amongst top players. The results of the questionnaire are available via the ACP Board Newsletter #2/2009. This news item on the ACP web site points to a PDF (The ACP Board Newsletter – # 2/2009) which in turn points to another PDF: The ACP - ChessBase questionnaire: preliminary results, 'based on the answers of 21 top grandmasters'. Here is a summary of the results.

  1. What in your opinion is the best format for a World Championship final? • 61% : A match

  2. What is the best qualification system for the World Championship final? • 33% : A round robin tournament; 29% : Candidates matches

  3. What time controls should be used in World Championship events? • 56% : The so called "Classical" time controls (6-7 hours per game)

  4. What time controls should be used for chess tournaments in general? • 47% : The so called "FIDE" time controls (90 min for 40 moves, then 30 min for the rest, + 30sec/move from move 1)

  5. What do you think about a time increment after each move? • 90% : I think there should be an increment from move 1

  6. What is your opinion about dress code during World Championships and top tournaments? • 62% : "Decent dress" obligatory (for instance jacket, no sport shoes)

  7. What do you think about doping control? • 38% : I would accept doping control if it is adapted specifically for chess; 38% : I don’t see a necessity for doping controls, but would accept it

  8. What do you think about anti-computer cheating controls? • 67% : They should be obligatory and made as tough as possible

  9. What do you think the punishment for being late for a game should be? • 5% : The player automatically forfeits the game [other choices -- financial or rating penalty, other (please specify precisely what), should not be any penalty -- were split almost equally]

  10. What do you think about the current rating system? • 67% : It is fine, no changes needed

  11. What do you think about changes made to the current WCC cycle (change of format, etc.)? • 47% : I object to any changes made to the current cycle

  12. What do you think about staging Super-GM tournaments in a soundproof glass cabin in a public square, as was done in Bilbao 2008? • 57% : I think it is a good idea and I am comfortable with it

In all cases except one ('punishment for being late for a game'), I've given the top answer(s). In all cases, the answers are exactly what I would have guessed beforehand.

27 May 2009

Rusbase Zonals

My post Events Covered by Rusbase mentioned that the database included seven zonal tournaments. I checked these against my own index of zonal events -- World Chess Championship Zonals (version: 'Last updated 2007-09-14') -- and discovered the following:-

Links are to the Rusbase page for the event. Numbers in brackets ('[nn]') are the internal numeric ID used in my database of zonals. • Two events need further investigation: Moscow 1964 and zones related to Protvino 1993.

20 May 2009

17th World Computer Championship

I added the 17th World Computer Championship (WCCC) - 2009 Pamplona to my page on Computer Chess. The official results are linked via a page at ICGA Tournaments (www.grappa.univ-lille3.fr).

13 May 2009

2009 World Cup Qualifiers

The 2009 World Cup is scheduled to start in a little more than six months, meaning that the chess calendar is crammed with zonals and continental championships over the next few months. The FIDE Calendar 2009 (which also has an archive for previous years) lists the main event finishing before it starts.
  • Name Place Start End
  • World Cup 2009 Khanty- Mansiysk, Russia 20-Dec-2009 15-Dec-2009

This calls into question the accuracy of the rest of the calendar (the first date should be 20-Nov, of course). With that in mind, here are the events that have been scheduled.


  • European Individual Chess Championship 2009 Budva, Montenegro 5-Mar-2009 19-Mar-2009
  • European Individual Women's Chess Championship 2009 St. Petersburg, Russia 7-Mar-2009 21-Mar-2009


  • US Chess Championship 2009 Saint Louis, USA 7-May-2009 17-May-2009
  • Zonal 2.4 Absolute and Women Río de Janeiro, Brazil 8-Jun-2009 18-Jun-2009
  • Zonal 2.5 Absolute and Women Asuncion, Paraguay 15-Jun-2009
  • Continental Absolute Championship 12-Jul-2009 25-Jul-2009


  • Zone 3.2 Zonal, Open and Women India
  • Zone 3.5 Zonal, Open and Women China
  • Zone 3.4 Zonal, Open and Women Tashkent, Uzbekistan 16-Jun-2009 27-Jun-2009
  • Zone 3.6 Oceania Zonal Championships 2009 Gold Coast, Australia 20-Jun-2009 26-Jun-2009
  • Zone 3.1 Zonal, Open and Women Sanaa, Yemen 23-Jun-2009 29-Jun-2009
  • Zone 3.3 Zonal, Open and Women Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 22-Jul-2009 30-Jul-2009
  • Asian Continental Championship (M & W) Subic Freeport, Philippines 12-May-2009 23-May-2009

There is nothing yet on the calendar for Africa.


It hasn't received a great deal of comment from the players who are affected, but there is a serious problem with the results of the European Championships, held in March. Chessdom.com (see TCF vs. ECU Case) and Chessbase.com (see Yazici: 'Law is just and justice prevails') reported at the end of April that a Lausanne court (Tribunal d'Arrondissement de Lausanne) had ruled in favor of the Turkish Chess Federation (TCF) in a dispute with the European Chess Union (ECU).

A link on Chessdom leads to OPEN LETTER : TO ALL CHESS FEDERATIONS AND MEDIA (26 April 2009), where Ali Nihat Yazici, President of the Turkish Federation, explains,

What are the probable consequences?

1. With the court decision regarding the European Individual Chess Championship, the European Individual Championships held in Montenegro and Russia for men and women respectively are both void. Any of the players that participated and qualified from those events cannot play in the World Cup (that is the opinion after consulting lawyers). Those tournaments should be held in 2009 again! ECU is responsible for all the expenses of those events spent by players and organizers. FIDE, as the body controlling the World Championship cycle, should convene quickly and decide about it. It is an absolute mess now.

Is this political posturing by the Turkish Federation or a personal dispute between chess officials who are using players as human shields?

06 May 2009

2008-2009 Grand Prix, Nalchik

I added the crosstable and PGN for the fourth Grand Prix event at Nalchik to my page on the 2008-2009 Grand Prix.

In my previous post on the Grand Prix (see 2008-2009 Grand Prix, Elista), I mentioned that the official site (grandprix.fide.com) was badly out of date. It looks better now and the results from Nalchik have already been added to the overall standings. Navara is still listed as active, unlike Al-Modiahki and Pelletier, who are listed as 'excluded'. The status of the three players went into limbo when their sponsors, the organizers for three different Grand Prix events, withdrew.

According to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at Elista FIDE Grand Prix (15 December 2008; Fide.com), 'the fifth tournament will be held in August 2009 in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan'. The venue for the sixth and last event is unknown.

29 April 2009

Anand on Chess

The last time I featured interviews in a post was on the 2010 Candidates at the beginning of the year. Since then there have been many good interviews worth documenting, but the series on World Champion Anand that ran on Chessbase.com from February to April was exceptionally good. Here are links with excerpts that I particularly liked. • Location: Chennai; Date: 26th December 2008; Interviewers: Sriram Srinivasan and Jaideep Unudurti.
  • From square one to the World Championship in BonnQ: How would an ideal chess economy look like? A: I think in general it’s a fairly good system. We have tournaments at every level. I think once you make your mark, some way or the other, either you become the best player of your country or you become one of the best in the world. In the case of Russia you could be number eight in Russia and could still have some work to do before you’d be the first choice. I think the system as it is now, as long as it stable, we are back to the system of having only one world championship; that is very good for the game. And now lots of new countries are turning up. There is a Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen, who is fourth in the world, there is an Italian, there is an Armenian, there is a Ukrainian. So already the top ten is looking very diverse and nice. Which is a very interesting face to present to the world. So I think the system is healthy. Now if we keep the stability of the world championship and grow it from here it will be very healthy.

  • Chess as a profession and on computersQ: When was the first time you started using a computer in your chess preparation? A: 1988. It was a computer I had here at home. At the end of 1988 I bought a laptop. [...] I would say I was there right in the very beginning. The first database appeared in 1986 but even then it wasn’t really useful. Maybe Kasparov beat me by a few months. He was world champion already so he might have beaten me by a few months to it. But I was there at the very beginning. So I have used computers from the time they appeared in chess.

  • On intuition, creativity and blitz chessQ: Botvinnik became the champion in 1948. You beat Kramnik, a student of his in 2008. There is no other comparable Russian star. Is the Russian era over? A: Far from it. I think they are going through a brief rough patch. But still by many measures they are the leading chess country on earth. That’s not bad, given they had so many bad years recently. I think simply the rest of the world is catching up. If you compare any single country with Russia they are still ahead on everything.

  • On the World Championship in BonnQ: The biggest bombshell in the [Kramnik] match was you playing 1.d4. You have been a life-long e4 player. Switching to d4, they say that it requires a certain “feel” for the positions, an intuitive understanding. You don’t have that much experience in playing d4, so did you worry about that? A: It was a problem and I went into it with quite some trepidation. You have a feeling that you may make a complete fool of yourself. Every game you will play, you’ll play your preparation and then in the middle-game because of unfamiliarity with certain structures you will make errors of judgement. That fear was in the back of my head. Last November I decided to play d4 and not to revisit this decision. I’m going to play it, I decided, and told my team now you can start working on d4, this is the stuff you have to cover and I’m not going to second-guess it. It is very easy to start second-guessing and there can be no way to finish this discussion. I’m happy I stuck with it; it went much better than I hoped for. I had no difficulties, but somewhere in the back of my head I did have this worry.

Fischer once said of Euwe, 'There’s something wrong with that man. He’s too normal.' He could also have been talking about Anand.

22 April 2009

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15 April 2009

Asian Zonals (1952-1990)

I found my summary of African Zonals so useful (see Chess in Africa - African Zonals) that I prepared a similar summary for Asia. Since there have been far more events played in Asia, I tackled it in pieces. The following table shows events played before the introduction of continental numbering when Asia was split into zones 3.1, 3.2, etc.

There are several open questions with the earliest events -- cycles 2, 3, and 5 -- and with the event in zone 9, cycle 11. For an overview of all zonal events, see
Zonal Overview.