25 March 2009

2009-2010 Women's Grand Prix, Istanbul

I added the crosstable and PGN for the first Women's Grand Prix event at Istanbul to my page on the 2009-2010 FIDE Women's Grand Prix.

18 March 2009

Two Overlapping World Championship Cycles

It's never easy to keep up with FIDE's changes to the World Championship and the usual difficulty is compounded by the overlapping cycles that are currently running. I combed through my pages on the two cycles, made them consistent, and brought them up-to-date with everything that FIDE has announced until now.

Cycle terminating 2010:

Cycle terminating 2011:

How long will the pages be up-to-date? Not for long, I'm sure.

11 March 2009

FIDE: 'Many Discussions on the Way Forward'

It should surprise no one that FIDE's Presidential Board Meeting 1st Quarter 2009 (5-8 March, Istanbul) changed the format of the qualifying event for the next World Championship cycle from a match to a tournament (for background, see 2010 Candidates).
The PB acknowledged and accepted the bid from UEP for the World Chess Championship Cycle 2010-2011. 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.

The 79th FIDE General Assembly Minutes and Annexes (79th FIDE Congress; 23-25 November 2008; Dresden, Germany) provide some insight into the reasons for the change.

11.12 World Chess Championship Cycle 2009-2011: Annex 76 ['Proposed changes to the regulations of World Championship Cycle'] and 77 ['UAE Chess Federation proposals' (on the Women's World Championship)] were taken under Grand Prix discussion (Item 11.12.3) [...] 11.12.3. Grand Prix 2008-2009. Annex 26. Commercial Director Geoffrey Borg reported.

There is something surreal about Borg's report. First we see assurances that the Grand Prix is on track.

Annex 26. FIDE Grand Prix (2008/2009) report. • 1.0 INTRODUCTION: The introduction of the FIDE Grand Prix for the top players in the world has proven to be a success. It has not only complemented nicely the chess calendar filling in certain holes we had but secondly, it has given a number of younger "unknown" players the opportunity to play super tournaments and prove their capacity to advance in the world rankings. [...] 3.0 FUTURE EVENTS: Given the recent economic crisis we have been monitoring the situation closely for the remaining events as FIDE has so far come out with flying colours for the Grand Prix. The Qatar Chess Association confirmed that it will be holding the Grand Prix in Doha in December following visits by the undersigned in September and late October. Meetings have also been held with the Montreux organizer who has confirmed that everything is still on plan as the remaining two cities, Elista and Karlovy Vary have also done. We will continue to monitor the situation over the next few months to ensure that the Grand Prix events are all organized successfully. • Geoffrey Borg

Then returning to the minutes '11.12.3. Grand Prix 2008-2009', we see a vigorous discussion of the many problems with the series of six events.

The published programme is: Baku, 20 April-6 May 2008; Sochi, 20 July-15 August 2008; Doha, 13-29 December, 2008; Montreux, 14-28 April 2009; Elista, 1-17 August 2009; Karlovy Vary, 7-23 December 2009.

Mr Makropoulos said we are facing problems with the tournament in December. In fact we have no contracts for the remaining 4 tournaments. We have the word of the President for Elista. Doha has collapsed and informed the President that it cannot organise the Grand Prix. The President took the responsibility to organise the Elista leg earlier, but he cannot organise all the Grand Prix tournaments. He is not supposed to organise all the tournaments. Montreux and Karlovy Vary have been given a deadline of 30 November and 15 December respectively to make a deposit of 50,000 euros or FIDE will look for other organisers.

There have been many discussions on the way forward. There is a need to have a sound system to provide a challenger for the World Championship match in 2010.

Mr Gelfer reported on the changes in the World Championship cycle proposed in Annex 76. He said we have to learn from our mistakes. We have an unprofessional system of organisation.

Annex 76 was the basis for the document published a few weeks after the General Assembly in Dresden: Bidding Procedure for the World Championship Cycle 2009-2011, 'As a result of the global financial crisis and after various discussions held with leading organisers around the world, two clear options are being proposed for a semi-final Candidates stage in September 2010.' • Back to the discussion:-

[Gelfer] said the proposed changes are actually an improvement to secure the cycle. We are securing a whole cycle. Two players from Grand Prix, Two players from World Cup, loser of the Anand and Topalov-Kamsky match, the loser of the Challenger match, highest rated player and nomination of the organiser. Format is to be either knockout or tournament. The bidding procedure is not so long. We are convinced that organizers need time to promote and prepare so 31st January is deadline. Within one month FIDE will give an answer. If there is only one bid, the answer will be quicker.

We are proposing this because we realise that every time a player loses the title, he is out of the cycle. We shall also give a place to the organiser, as is our general practice. We are asking organisers to pay 4 mln euros for the event, so it is natural to offer them a place.

Mr Makropoulos said the President had discussions that day with the President of Armenia who is also head of the National Chess Federation. He expressed his interest in organising this event.

Prof. Von Weizsaecker expressed thanks for the explanation for the substantial changes. He said that if money decides the future, he sees the necessity for compromise, but you give up the mechanism of deciding the structure.

Mr Makropoulos said he would be right, if the proposal would bring something new to chess, but the changes are not revolutionary, they are traditional. We have a final match and we have a tournament or candidate matches, this system always existed. We try to stabilise the cycle. We are flexible, but we are not making something completely new.

Mr Kelleher said this proposal is a radical change from the last couple of years. It is a substantial alteration of our relationship with Global Chess. He wanted to hear Mr. Borg’s opinion of the Global Chess perspective as our close partner.

Mr Borg said he had been involved in the discussions and agreed with all changes, so it is clear we are together in this. Potential format, whether it is matches or tournament, this is down to individual organisers. We will see. This is a draft text of our proposal, later it will be much more detailed. Regulations will be worked out. It should replace a single challenger’s match with something more attractive.

Mr Azmaiparashvili said he wanted to emphasise that such a format will not have any problem with sponsorship. Only one point – the World Cup, 4 years ago was World Championship, today it produces a challenger, but tomorrow it will produce only two players who will go to the tournament. The value of the World Cup is going down and he was worried for the sponsorship of the World Cup in the future.

Mr Gelfer said we are looking for a combined bid, because maybe a potential sponsor can organise both, and it will be preferable for FIDE. Regarding the comment of Mr Azmaiparashvili, we cannot satisfy everyone and everything. System will change, more tournaments and more possibilities for FIDE to finance itself. We preserve the rights of World Cup winners for the future as well.

Mr. Filipowicz said he was in favour of new system, it is an excellent idea, the best solution in recent years. Selection of players is done very well. He agreed about World Cup, but it is a preliminary tournament, like Interzonal. A lot of people will be interested to organise.

Mr. Khodarkovsky said that if three more Grand Prix events are in jeopardy, who will be the winner.

Mr Makropoulos said FIDE will organise all six events. We have a potential organiser for each of them but we should not face this problem. If the system collapses, it would be bad whether we have candidates matches or not, as we will not get a candidate for a semi-final match. We will find a way. We are trying to save the Grand Prix.

He said the replacement system for the qualifyers will be announced in the regulations. We are not pretending that we are not worried and ignore the real situation. What we are trying to do is to make the right decisions, to secure stability of the cycle. We are trying to react before we face a situation when it is too late to act. In the whole pyramid, the heart of the system is the World Cup –where all qualifiers go from continents and zones. Without the World Cup, Continental Championships will die, as they will have nowhere to send their qualifiers. The problem is that the most expensive event, the World Cup, is not producing any important player such as a World Champion. It is a big effort.

Mr Kutin agreed with the worries about Continental Championships. We are trying to solve next cycle.

Mr Freeman proposed we should amend the last part of the report in view of the up to date information and this was agreed.

The President said that World Cup or WCC on knockout system are his two babies. In December 1995 in Singapore, FIDE changed the world championship cycle. He said FIDE is organisation not only for two great players, it is an organisation for all chess lovers and millions of chess fans. We changed the system. The prize fund was criticised. The world is changing and FIDE should also change. We decided in the General Assembly on a new format and WCC became World Cup. Since Turin we decided to work with Mr Kok. We created Global Chess and we created Grand Prix. Two days ago FIDE received proposals from UEP, to include this new tournament. This information has important points – 20% of the prize fund goes to FIDE, which is important additional money for our work. Then there is the moral aspect, as losers from matches complain they are out of the cycle when they do not participate in the World Cup. In 2 or 3 years FIDE will be a big sports organisation and at that time we will have other problems to solve, therefore he supported this proposal.

General Assembly approved the amended report (Annex 76).

The entire discussion offers several insights into how FIDE officers think, operate, and -- 'Two days ago FIDE received proposals from UEP to include this new tournament' -- react.


Later: When I wrote this post I couldn't understand why the discussion suddenly jumped from the troubles plaguing the Grand Prix to the proposal for the new Candidates Tournament. A few hours later it dawned on me that the so-called Challengers Match in 2010 depends on having one qualifier from the 2008-9 Grand Prix and another from the 2009 World Cup. If the Grand Prix falls apart, the next cycle falls apart. This is what is meant by 'a need to have a sound system to provide a challenger for the World Championship match in 2010 [now foreseen for 2011]'.

The Candidates Tournament allocates two of the eight slots to the first two players in the Grand Prix. If the Grand Prix falls apart, there will be a scramble to decide who gets the two slots, but the other six players will still give some continuity as Candidates. The price for this security is abandoning a key commitment to the players in the Grand Prix and giving certain undeserved advantages to the losers in the current cycle -- the cycle that culminates in the Anand - Topalov title match, now foreseen for 2010. Balance this against the sponsorship guarantees for the 2011 cycle and the decision isn't coming from thin air.

Whether or not you agree with the decision, there is some logic to FIDE's sudden change of direction on the Challengers/Candidates 2010 event. Of course, the whole problem might have been avoided by building the Grand Prix on a firmer foundation. Who decided to go ahead without real commitments from all six organizers?

04 March 2009

2009 Topalov - Kamsky

I added the results from the Topalov - Kamsky challengers' match to my page on the World Chess Championship : 2008 Matches. The page also has the crosstable for the 2008 Anand - Kramnik match, which was a title match. Topalov goes on to play Anand in a title match where the venue and dates have not yet been announced.