23 February 2011

2010 FIDE General Assembly : Whither the World Championship?

In my most recent post, London, Siberia, Turkey, Siberia, ..., I promised to follow-up a post from a year ago 2009 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship?, by extracting relevant info from the 81st FIDE General Assembly Minutes and Annexes, '29 September to 2 October 2010 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia'. The 2010 edition of FIDE's largest annual meeting was held during a FIDE election year, meaning that more emphasis was placed on the election than on other FIDE matters. The 2010 minutes contain far less material of interest to the World Championship than was found in the 2009 minutes.

Is it worth dissecting discussions that occurred almost five months ago? In my opinion, yes. It gives us a good feel for the general direction and management of the world's most important chess federation. Ilyumzhinov's annual report contained more about past achievements since his election in 2006 than about future directions. It also included one very curious remark.

1. Report of the President. (29 September) [...] On the same topic he would like to inform everyone of the bidding procedure for the 2009 World Youth Championships. These tournaments have become the most important and prestigious tournaments of FIDE, where about 2000 sportsmen, trainers and accompanying persons usually attend. Among them are future Grandmasters and World Champions. They are the future of FIDE. [...]

The italics are mine. In the past the World Championship events were 'the most important and prestigious tournaments of FIDE'. That position has now been ceded, at least in the FIDE President's mind, to the World Youth Championships. Another surprise, to me at least, was in the greatly increased commercial value of the Olympiad to FIDE.

Regarding this Olympiad 2010, the expenses of the Organisers total from 12 to 14 mln USD. FIDE received from the Khanty-Mansiysk organizers 900,000 USD (Dresden [2008] paid 100,000 USD, and Calvia [2004] even less). The most important thing is the considerable improvement of conditions for CACDEC members, for the arbiters, and for the first time there will be a prize fund of 200,000 euros. Charter flights, costing 1.2 million USD, have also been organized. Similar conditions have been received from the Istanbul Organisers.

After that, Ilyumzhinov touched on the World Championship directly.

On the World Championship cycle, he said we should move forward and meet today’s challenges, with new development in the chess world, especially in the commercial part. The summary is clear. We have come back to a traditional system with a world championship cycle and a final match. [...]

but then returned to a summary of past title matches.

This system is more attractive for sponsors and is more understandable to them. This has been proven by the two matches that took place during this period [post-Turin 2006] – Anand-Kramnik in Bonn [2008] and Anand-Topalov in Sofia [2010]. [...]

During the last Presidential Board, he had attended the closing of the Anand-Topalov match in Sofia. He wanted to express the gratitude of FIDE to the Government and Chess Federation of Bulgaria for the brilliant organization and holding of the World Championship. As everyone knew, there had been a lot of scepticism on whether equal conditions for both players could be achieved, but FIDE together with the Organising Committee managed to do everyone possible and necessary, even to overcome the force majeur situation, and the match was held on the highest level. [...]

No thoughts about the current or next World Championship cycle? We find that later in the minutes.

Section [8?]: FIDE Meetings, Tournaments and Matches (29 September) [...]

8.6. World Cup 2011. Deputy President, G. Makropoulos said that it might take place in Khanty-Mansiysk. The President would advise.

8.7. Candidates Matches 2011. The event shall be organised in Kazan, Russian Federation. Annex 18 is the list of participants. Mr. Makropoulos said the final contract had not been signed. We have discussed several details here with the Russian Federation. He requested the authorisation for the President and the Board to finalise the discussion. General Assembly approved.

[8.?] World Championship Match 2012. London has an option. We are facing a serious problem regarding a tax issue. Mr. Makropoulos asked approval for the Presidential Board to authorise the finalising of the details. He said that if we are not able to finalise in the next two weeks, maybe we will have to open a bidding procedure. The players who play in the candidates’ matches want to know first who will organise the final match, before they sign the contract for the candidates match. They want to know the organisers and the conditions.

8.8. Grand Prix 2008-2010. Annex 19 is the final standings.

8.9. Women’s World Chess Championship 2010. The event shall take place in Hatay, Turkey, 2-25 December 2010.

8.10. Women’s Grand Prix. Annex 20 is the current standings. Mr Borg reported that there is one leg to organise. The Chileans cannot organise the tournament this year because of the earthquake.

As I mentioned in the 'London, Siberia' post, the World Cup is now on the official calendar in August at Khanty-Mansiysk; the London match fell through end-January, when the organizers withdrew their bid; and the Women’s Grand Prix was rescheduled (it's going on right now). Although I haven't seen any formal announcement for the World Cup, the FIDE handbook has a section on 08. Regulations for the World Chess Cup 2011, which Google dates to no later than '12 Dec 2010'. Among many other details, the regulations specify who qualifies (plus the rules for replacements),

2. 3. 5. The number of qualifiers for each continent is: Europe 46, Americas 19, Asia 19, Africa 6

3. 1. Qualifiers – There are 128 qualifiers (in order of priority): World Champion + four (4) semi-finalists from the World Cup 2009, Women's World Champion, World Junior U-20 Champions 2009 & 2010, twenty (20) rated players as described in 3.1.2, ninety (90) players from Continental Championships, six (6) FIDE President nominees, four (4) organiser nominees.

the prizes, and qualifications to the next stage.

4. 1. The winner and the runner up of the World Cup 2011 will qualify to the Candidates stage of the World Championship cycle 2011-2013. If there is a 3rd place qualification, a match will be organized together with the final match of the World Cup to decide the 3rd place.

The phrase 'if there is a 3rd place qualification' implies that the rules for the Candidates stage have not yet been fixed. There will be at least two qualifications and possibly three. It's worth noting that every one of the four Khanty-Mansiysk World Cups has seen different rules for qualifying from the World Cup to the Candidates.

Returning to the minutes of the 2010 FIDE General Assembly, paragraph 8.5 on the Chess Olympiad 2014, stated that both federations bidding on the Olympiad (Bulgaria and Norway) 'are bidding to host the World Cup in 2013 as part of their overall package'.

There are many more topics in the minutes to be digested, but that's about all for the World Championship. I might cover some of the other topics -- especially the continent/zone structure, appointed FIDE officers, ethics, SportAccord, and the CNC -- as my future posts call for them.

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