18 November 2020

Zonal/Continental World Cup Qualifiers

Before continuing with last week's post Opens for Discussion (ACP: 'make the open tournaments part of the World Championship cycle'), I should catch up on the changes that have already been made to the next World Championship cycle. Fortunately, in the post from two weeks ago, Notes on the Women's Championship, I have a snapshot of the structure of the FIDE Handbook as of February 2020. Comparing that to the current FIDE Handbook reveals a number of differences. Here is the current structure:-
D. Regulations for Specific Competitions
01. FIDE Individual World Championship Cycles
   01. Scope
   02. Zonal Tournaments
   03. Regulations for the FIDE World Cup
   04. Regulations for the FIDE Grand Prix Series
   05. Regulations for the FIDE Grand Swiss
   06. Regulations for the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020
   07. Regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match 2020

What was previously called '01. World Championship General Provision' is now called '01. Scope', which is much clearer. Its essence is captured in the following image:-

The table at the bottom of the chart, 'Table of Zonal Divisions', gives basic information about the different FIDE zones, from Zone 1.1 through Zone 4.4 . For example, 'Zone 2.1 (1); USA; 5M 2W' means Continent no.2 (the Americas) Zone no.1 ['2.1'], which includes one country ['(1)'], the USA. When organizing zonals, the USA is entitled to five men and two women ['5M 2W'] qualifying into the respective World Cup events. Paragraph 'B. Zonal Tournaments' is expanded in handbook chapter '02. Zonal Tournaments', which looks like a cut-and-paste job. It starts with an annex...

Annex A. Specific Regulations for the Men's and Women's Zonal Tournaments

...that incorporates 'General Assemblies' by reference, then skips sections 1-6 to cover the following sections:-

7. Organization
8. Participation
9. Prize Fund
10. Costs
11. Appeals Committee
12. Qualification for the World Championship

Back to '01. Scope', where are 'C. Continental Chess Championships' described? They are included in '03. Regulations for the FIDE World Cup', for which there are already regulations for both the World Cup 2021 and the World Cup 2023. The number of qualifiers has been expanded from 128 in 2019 to 206 in 2021:-

2. Qualification
2.1. Two hundred and six (206) players take part in World Cup. Players qualify for World Cup by the following paths:
I. Reigning World Champion.
II. Winner, runner-up and two (2) other semi-finalists of the FIDE World Cup 2019 – four (4) players.
III. Reigning Women's World Champion.
IV. World Junior Champions U-20 of 2019 & 2020 – two (2) players.
V. Qualifiers from the Continental events (see Annex 2) – eighty (80) players.
VI. Highest rated players from the average of the twelve (12) standard FIDE rating lists - thirteen (13) players, who have notqualified by any path from I to V.
VII. Highest placed player of the ACP Tour 2020, who has not qualified by any path from I to VI.
VIII. One hundred (100) players are determined according to the Final Ranking of the Chess Olympiad 2020 open section.
IX. Nominees of the FIDE President – two (2) players.
X. Nominees of the Organiser – two (2) players.

Section 'V. Qualifiers from the Continental events' mentions 'Annex 2', which is structured like this:-

Qualifying events for the FIDE World Cup
1. Zonal Tournaments
2. Continental Championships
3. Tie-break

An important paragraph in '1. Zonal Tournaments' is:-

1.2. Where a Continent decides to have zonal tournaments for qualification to World Cup, the number of zonal qualifiers shall be restricted to the approved figure by zone; the extra qualification places for each Continent shall be given to the Continental Championship to determine the remaining qualifiers to the World Cup.

Back to our example of 'Zone 2.1 USA', if the Americans decide not to hold a zonal, which has historically been the U.S. championship, their qualifying places '5M 2W : shall be given to the Continental Championship', depending on whether it is the zonal/continental for men or women. Why would any zone want to give up its right to a guaranteed number of qualifiers into the World Cup? That is a question I can't answer. Perhaps the Europeans can explain.

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