25 December 2013

World Championship Chess on Christmas

Even though I've been respecting WCC Wednesday since 2007 (the post Global Chess BV, May 2007, started the habit), this is the first time it falls on Christmas Day. What to write about? My first idea was to identify World Championship games that took place on 25 December. I thought of three events that fell over Christmas.
  • 1990 Kasparov - Karpov Title Match; New York/Lyon, X-XII, 1990 • The 21st game of the 24 game match was played on 19 December, with an adjournment the next day. The draw brought the score to +4-2=15 (11.5-9.5) in Kasparov's favor, meaning he needed only a draw to retain the title. The 22nd game was scheduled for Saturday, 22 December, but Karpov took a timeout. Although there had been pressure from the Lyon organizers to avoid timeouts on the Saturday games (the games were scheduled for Monday / Wednesday / Saturday each week), rumor was that Karpov took a swipe at them for lodging he considered unsatisfactory.

    FIDE President Campomanes granted a technical timeout for Monday, 24 December, and the game was played on the 26th. Kasparov got his draw, but the match continued to settle the prize money. This was to be the last World Championship match played using the system of FIDE cycles invented after the death of Alekhine. Before the following title match, foreseen for 1993, the cycle collapsed just after the Candidate matches.

  • 1997 FIDE Knockout Matches; Groningen, XII, 1997 • This was the first World Championship using the system of knockout matches imposed by FIDE President Ilyumzhinov. FIDE Champion Karpov was seeded directly into the final match, making the Groningen event more like a Candidates tournament. The 'quarter-final' (second-to-last round) of Groningen was scheduled to have the standard, long games played on 23-24 December, with the tiebreak on the 25th. Anand beat Gelfand in the standard games, while Adams and Short tied with a win each. In the fifth and last game of their tiebreak, a 5-minutes-to-4 blitz game (now called an Armageddon game), Adams, playing Black, beat Short. Anand beat Adams in the 'semi-final' (last round), which also reached the Armageddon stage, and earned the right to play Karpov three days later in Lausanne.

  • 2000 FIDE Knockout Matches; New Delhi/Tehran, XI-XII, 2000 • The final round was scheduled for standard games on 20-26 December (with a rest day on the 23rd) and a tiebreak on the 27th. Anand drew with Shirov in the first game, but won the next three games to win the title of FIDE Champion. It was his first World Championship title.

If my dates are correct, the only games played on the 25th were the Adams - Short tiebreak series in 1997. Anand won the title on 24 December in 2000. In case I've overlooked any events, I'll add them below. In the meantime, a Merry Christmas to one and all!

18 December 2013

2013 FIDE Executive Board : Whither the World Championship?

In past years, my annual look at documents published by FIDE about the World Championship -- last year's post was 2012 FIDE General Assembly : Whither the World Championship? -- has given me a good choice of material for this blog. This year, the documents from the 84th FIDE Congress Executive Board (EB), Tallinn, Estonia, in October, were less interesting, especially in comparison with, for example, the material on Ethics and Cheating.

I ended the '2012 Whither' post with a comparison of FIDE's two most recent attempts to commercialize its activities: Chess News Corporation (CNC) in 2009, and Agon in 2012.

I expect that any future 'Whither' posts will have little to say about CNC and much to say about Agon. Their London Grand Prix was a definite success and the Tashkent event starts today. The London Candidate matches in March will mark a clean break between the pre-Agon and Agon eras of chess history.

Let's look at the CNC and Agon in the 2013 EB. The first mention of either was during Ilyumzhinov's review of the past year.

1. Report of the President. President K. Ilyumzhinov presented his annual report. [...] As for our cooperation with Agon, both events in London took place with their active participation and its President A. Paulson, managed to succeed in several aspects, i.e. Chess Casting held during the London Candidates. He cooperated with Pentagram company, a leader in chess design, on a new design of chess pieces, you can find these on sale at the Harrods in London.

Mr. Paulson also had negotiations with Microsoft, Google etc. We are working towards bringing corporate sponsorship into chess and we think that during the match in Chennai, several important agreements will be signed. Large companies need much more time to prepare such detailed contracts.

That's not much, given that Agon was to be responsible for World Championship events over the next dozen years. No 'important agreements' were announced in Chennai, and for the next big event, Agon's presence is minimal.

5.20.3. FIDE Candidates’ Matches 2014. The dates should be 12-30 March 2014. [...] Mr. N. Freeman briefed the Board and said that there has been declaration of interests from Khanty-Mansiysk and Bulgaria, because the right to award the events belongs to Agon. [Long discussion of the circumstances around the two bids.] Mr. G. Makropoulos said this moment, with the situation we have in Agon, we could make a decision, negotiating on behalf of them at this moment.

What does Makropoulos mean by the 'the situation we have in Agon'? That had been discussed earlier along with the single reference to the CNC.

4. Administrative matters. [...]

4.4. CNC. Mr. G. Makropoulos presented his report.

4.5. Agon. Mr. G. Makropoulos informed the Executive Board about its activities

That's the entire content of the minutes on those two subjects. In contrast to the lengthy discussions on other important matters, usually further documented in an annex or two, the minutes offer two brief sentences. We can only assume that both projects are going the way of all previous FIDE commercial endeavors. Remember FIDE Commerce at the start of the year 2000? Neither does anyone else.

The person most closely associated with Agon was recently interviewed by Chessdom.com: Interview with Andrew Paulson, President of English Chess Federation

Q: What have you been doing in India to support the [Carlsen - Anand] Match?

A: I spent three months in India meeting with over 100 of India’s top companies, trying to evince interest in sponsoring the Anand-Carlsen World Championship Match. I thought that this would be really easy: Anand, the Tiger from Madras; Chaturanga, invented in India; Carlsen, the ‘hottie’; supposedly 58% of Indian adults play chess regularly; and I’m a pretty good salesman. I was wrong: it wasn’t easy. It was impossible. Zero. But now I know all the reasons these Indian companies had for NOT sponsoring that event, and I will build on this and the friendships I made in India to design the right package of Indian events to get these same companies to say yes. Which they will.

Although there have been half-hearted attempts over the years by FIDE and national federations to find commercial sponsorship for chess, the greatest success has always been with passionate, wealthy patrons. I believe my efforts have been the most wide-ranging and persistent attempt to find sustainable, professional commercial partnerships. Many gears have to mesh in any sponsorship package in order for it to pass muster with a rational Marketing Director of any admirable company we would want to work with. We’re getting there.

The name 'Agon' isn't mentioned during the interview. Other reports on Paulson published since the end of the Chennai match paint a similar picture. I could give links, but why bother -- 'zero' means exactly that.

11 December 2013

2013 Carlsen - Anand & 2014 Carlsen - ???

I added the crosstable and PGN game scores to my page on the 2013 Carlsen - Anand title match, then added the event against both names on the Index of Players. I also created a new page for the 2014 Candidates Event to be held March 2014 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The next World Championship title match is scheduled for November 2014.

04 December 2013

Carlsen - Anand, Wrapup

The big match in Chennai has given me ample material for blog posts, of which I count two dozen to date. Here they are in chronological order. Most of the posts are from my main blog; posts from this World Championship blog are marked '(*)'. The first batch of posts was made before the match.

The second batch of posts was made while the match was being played. I spent so much time watching the games, that I sometimes was able to post only a photo.

Since the match ended, there has been plenty of opportunity for further posts.

I am certain that there are more posts to come. The match will continue to furnish material for years.