25 January 2023

FIDE's Venue for the Nepo - Ding Match

I added a couple of FIDE announcements to my page 2023 Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren (m-w.com). The more recent announcement contained the following infographic.

Astana to host FIDE World Championship match 2023 (fide.com)

The week before the announcement there were catcalls from a group of diehard Magnus Carlsen supporters:-

This made me wonder whether Carlsen's withdrawal from the cycle had partly been orchestrated to embarrass FIDE. The subsequent announcement about Astana was carried by the usual news sources.

The many comments to the Chess.com article were heavily in favor of Ding Liren. One comment said,

I hope Magnus afterwards decides (whoever wins), to say he wants his title back and goes and gets it again!

That would indeed be a unique occurrence. Stranger things have happened, but I would be surprised if this is an objective for GM Carlsen, the current World Champion. He would be the clear favorite in such a match.

18 January 2023

Karpov on 1994-95 Sanghi Nagar

Two weeks ago, in 1994 Sanghi Nagar (January 2023), I developed a list of Kasparov and Karpov columns from Chess Life in the 1990s. I also gave myself an action:-
Of immediate interest are the four Karpov columns discussing the FIDE Sanghi-Nagar events. I'll look at these four columns in more depth in a future post.

I've documented the FIDE Sanghi-Nagar events on my page 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches (m-w.com). There I split the matches into three stages, listed below in chronological order:-

  • Quarterfinal matches - Wijk aan Zee, I, 1994. [six matches]
  • Semifinal matches - Sanghi Nagar, VII-VIII, 1994. [three matches]
  • Final matches - Sanghi Nagar, II, 1995. [two matches]

For the 'Quarterfinals', the ten top finishers from the 1993 Biel FIDE Interzonal Tournament (also m-w.com; July 1993), were joined by two players (Timman and Yusupov) eliminated in the last stages of the previous cycle, 1991-93 Candidates Matches (ditto; Final match in January 1993). The six winners were then reduced to three players in the 'Semifinals'. They were joined by Karpov in the 'Finals', after which the two victorious players met in the 1996 FIDE Title Match (ditto; June-July 1996).

That's how I understood the FIDE cycle at the time I created those pages in 1997. It turns out that my understanding was not in line with official terminology. Let's follow Karpov's explanations from his Chess Life (CL) columns.

CL 1994-12 Sanghi Nagar

The match of my future opponent [Gelfand - Kramnik] was of most interest to me personally. If we talk about forecasts, then it must be stated that many preferred the chances of the young star, Vladimir Kramnik. His victories over Kasparov were mentioned in this regard. But his opponent was also not the easiest to deal with. It is no accident that Boris Gelfand was clear first in the 1993 Interzonal, and tied for first with Ivanchuk in 1990.

Karpov also discussed the Kamsky - Anand match played at the same time. He continued the discussion in the next column.

CL 1995-01 Sanghi Nagar, Part II

White's passive play [i.e. Anand] in game seven decided the outcome, and the match became tied! The last game of regulation time ended in a draw, and the match went into overtime and was decided by Rapid Chess games! What a horribly stupid idea of FIDE -- mixing one kind of chess with another. If not for all of the twists and turns of this match, Anand would have been the clear favorite in overtime, judging by the results of Rapid Chess tournaments. But the situation in the match was already abnormal. Kamsky was on the rise, and Anand was in a depression!

Kamsky won the match, having overcome a 0-2 deficit after four games of the main eight-game match. Karpov's condemnation of the tiebreak stage -- 'mixing one kind of chess with another' -- sounds curious in 2023, where progressively faster time controls are the norm for tiebreak. The next stage of the FIDE Candidates Matches, with Karpov participating, was held six monthe later.

CL 1995-06 Sanghi Nagar: The Semi-Finals

After a successful quarterfinal, our new chess admirer, Ravi Sanghi, decided to sponsor the semifinal match in Sanghi Nagar. For the first time we played under the reformed FIDE rules, whereby the reigning world champion enters before the final match. However, we maintained the old terminology, which creates confusion. In comparison with the old system, this would have been the finals. The system needs to be further refined, but I believe this is more democratic and offers less advantage to the world champion in defending his title.

NB Karpov: 'In comparison with the old system, this would have been the finals.' Hello, confusion! Looks like I misunderstood in 1997. The *error* has been on my page for so long, that I'll just leave it as is. Karpov continued,

Nowadays, missing a stage in the cycle (and having more time to prepare for the most dangerous opponent) confers a great advantage upon the defending world champion. When the changes were proposed by the FIDE Expert Commission I didn't oppose them, but simply restated my position which I had already expressed in 1988.

There is one major inconsistency in the new system, which is when the world champion doesn't pass through the first stage. According to the rules, the world champion maintains his title until the end of the cycle, but in reality this is ridiculous. Fortunately for the new ideas and changes, this did not occur during this new FIDE World Championship cycle.

Karpov's column discussed games from the Kamsky - Salov match, won by Kamsky and thereby qualifying him into the title match. The column was 'continued' in the same issue of Chess Life, a two page report titled 'Sanghi Nagar, photo essay by Bill Hook', pictured in full below.

Chess Life, June 1995, p.46-47

The Bill Hook report was the only CL report on that stage of the FIDE Candidates Matches, where an American qualified into a World Championship title match. Karpov's column for the following month discussed his match with Gelfand, who was eliminated for the title match.

CL 1995-07 Sanghi Nagar, Part II

[Nothing special to highlight]

We've already seen a high level look at the title match by CL on my main blog in May 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (May 2020). Where can we find more detail about the two Sanghi Nagar events?

11 January 2023

FIDE: 'No' to GPX and GCT; 'Yes' to HIT

Mid-December 2022, FIDE announced, FIDE reforms the qualifications paths to the Candidates Tournament (fide.com; 'FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024'). The announcement started,
The FIDE Council approved a major reform of the qualification paths to the Candidates Tournament. [...] The main innovation is creating a new qualification path through different FIDE-rated tournaments. [...] The second main change consists of increasing the number of qualification spots at the World Cup from 2 to 3.

To summarize the announcement:-

  • 1 spot - FIDE World Championship Match 2023, Runner-up
  • 3 spots - FIDE World Cup 2023
  • 2 spots - FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2023
  • 1 spot - High-Level International Tournaments (HIT)
  • 1 spot - The highest-rated player by standard rating in the January 2024 rating list

Most of the announcement discussed the criteria for 'Eligible Tournaments' in the newly invented 'HIT'. One consequence of the announcement was Grand Chess Tour out of new FIDE Candidates system (chess24.com; Colin McGourty). The article summarized FIDE's changes:-

The Grand Prix is gone and there’s no wildcard, with an extra 3rd spot for the World Cup and a new "FIDE Circuit" place for the best results in eligible tournaments in 2023. The biggest surprise is that the two announced spots for the Grand Chess Tour are gone.

The Grand Chess Tour [GCT] has never been associated with the FIDE World Championship, but there was a surprising announcement in April 2022: Grand Chess Tour becomes part of the World Championship Cycle (fide.com). The entire announcement said only this and nothing more:-

The FIDE Council has approved a cooperation agreement with the Grand Chess Tour. By virtue of this agreement, the two top finishers of the 2023 and 2025 Series will qualify for the Candidates 2024 and 2026 respectively. More details on the agreement and the format will follow in due time.

The phrase 'in due time' turned out to mean 'never'. The GCT was intended to replace the Grand Prix, last held in 2022. For a reminder of what happened then, see 2022 Grand Prix; Berlin / Belgrade, II-IV, 2022 (m-w.com). The two spots were won by Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport.

For the official record of qualifications to the previous Candidates tournament, 2022 Candidates Tournament; Madrid, VI-VII, 2022 (m-w.com), see Road to Candidates (fide.com/madrid2022). There were several twists and turns along the way. I suppose we can expect more of the same for 2024.

04 January 2023

1994 Sanghi Nagar

Last week, on my main blog, I developed a table overviewing Chess Life columns written by Kasparov and Karpov that covered the period when the two were World Champions for rival organizations, FIDE and PCA; see World Championship Columnists (December 2022). Many of the columns discussed World Championship events, so I summarized them in the following extract from the table.

The Kasparov columns are dated through 1994-06; the rest are Karpov columns. Of immediate interest are the four Karpov columns discussing the FIDE Sanghi-Nagar events. These are summarized on my page 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches (m-w.com). I'll look at these four columns in more depth in a future post.