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Zen and the Art of Cycle Maintenance

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Stealing someone's comment for content, GM Yermolinsky posted this in the "Youth Is Served" thread.

"The absence of World Championship qualification system hurts the young talent the most. Only with the worthy goal in mind could Tal, Karpov and Kasparov become what they became.

Today's young stars allow themselves to be manipulated by the chess media into believing that garbage events like Leon is what chess is all about. Nothing good will come out of this. In 10 years we'll still be sitting there debating a Kramnik-Kasparov match."

I second that emotion. If you think that's hyperbole, look where we were 10 years ago and we're still arguing about the PCA and the Kasparov/Short breakaway. To partially excuse the press, we have to hype whatever we have in front of us. If the players play, we aren't going to ignore them.

There is a chicken/egg problem too. The proliferation of rapid events and shows is due to their better bang for the buck. Fewer players to pay, shorter events, etc. Since even FIDE doesn't care about the quality of the chess, why not rapid or even blitz? These disposable events leave no (well, very few) great games, no great battles to inspire present or past generations of players and fans.

At the US Championships in San Diego a few months ago I had a long chat with New In Chess editor Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam about the Melody Amber rapid/blindfold tournament in Monaco. Dirk Jan is the press officer there now and insisted that it's a genuine struggle that the players take very seriously. (I had called it a sideshow or something similar in a column.) I don't take anything away from the players, and certainly blindfold is a brutal test, but I've been to enough rapid events to say six-hour chess is a different world.

The young stars Yermo talks about are like many young fans today; they don't remember how great it was to follow the pursuit of the real world championship. I fondly remember poring over each issue of Inside Chess (RIP) during the interzonals and candidates matches. They quite simply mattered in a way that tournaments and rating points did not. "Candidate" was a title with meaning.

This isn't just nostalgia; it's important to think about why we want what we want. It's not like 1990 was a golden paradise. But the climb to the championship and the battle for the title had meaning in and out of the chess world.


I also remember following the candidate matches after the interzonals, and how Spassky came through to again face Petrosian in 1969.
I also remember Vancouver, Canada, when Fischer trounched Taimanov.
I followed these events right up to when Fischer forfeited to Karpov, and through to the Karpov-Kasparov matches.
No longer is there a classical zonal nor interzonal, then matches to decide the WCC.
Today we have sorry time controls that only allow blunderfests to decide issues.
Without sponsership that equates chess with solid promotion and prestige, the chess world is doomed to Fide in countries that do not allow Israeli's nor understand the need for classical, as well as chess with class!

Yermo is right that a clear and universally acknowledged path to a classical WC title would create the kind of focus needed for young players--for all players. When Fischer forfeited his Title match to Karpov, chess boards folded and pieces got boxed all over the world. Interest in and possibilities for the game at all levels fell off a cliff. But if Kramnik forfeited his Title tomorrow, it would be news for a day and would actually open up fresh possibilities for the game.

This is why I think the only hope is national federations (or really any kind of chess organzations) to get going with something. Who the hell cares what - just invite some players to some zonal Opens, hold an Interzonal and, play a World Championship Match. I don't blame players for chasing money. I blame the money for not chasing the players. So either this happens or we have to conclude that there is no money and Chess can just be another boardgame on the shelf and not a competitive endeavor.

As much as I like about Classical World Championship matches and Classical time-controls, I disagree with returning to the old ways of qualification. Recall that it was a three year cycle, beginning with national qualifications (or Zonals), next with a Swiss style Interzonal tournaments, then with a series of knock-out matches, and finally the WC. That is three long years with no hard deadlines and every step of the way the players can negotiate and throw the cycle off its tracks for want of conditions or money. It worked pre-Fischer-Spassky '72 because chess was not 'professional' as it is now.

Contrast this three-year cycle with any professional sport, NFL, NHL, MLB, ATP, NBA, and what do you see? Fixed dates, one-year cycles, consistent conditions, fairness (no such thing as World Champions getting a break - even the NY Yankees have to survive the regular season to make the playoffs), honored contracts and met deadlines. None of this describe the three-year WC cycle.

What FIDE needs to do is emulate professional sport and that means fixed dates, one-year cycles, consistent conditions, fairness, honored contracts and met deadlines. The WC Knock-out tournament needs to be revamped, but, IMO, FIDE is on the right track. The knock-out event is mostly fair, if a bit random. Now, all FIDE needs to do is fulfill the others (fixed dates, one-year cycles, etc). The idea here is to form an impression of consistency and regularity. It should be obvious to all that a chaotic and unfair chess world will not attract fans or sponsors. For fans, especially those considering taking in a tournament while on vacation, do any of them know when or where the next WC tournament will be held? For sponsors, can they ever be sure of whether matches/tournaments will indeed take place? The answer to both questions is no - see the problem?

I think there should be a regular season of chess, from there a select few candidates get to the playoffs for the title of WC. The process has to be fair and to achieve this power from individual chessplayers have to be taken away (ie, Kasparov or any other WC or former WC get no privileges - the Yankees have no special privileges).

As for time-controls, I agree it should be slowed to classical t/c for quality reasons. I believe most people watch four games at once anyway so it not like they are waiting impatiently for the next move on one board. It would be better if the games start staggered: first few start at 1 pm, next few at 2 pm, and last few at 3 pm etc. That way, spectators will see a constant flow of moves.

On the issue of Israelis being excluded from WC tournaments I don't think that will be a problem now with the promising peace process in the works. In Libya, Israelis were excluded, but not Jews. I believe it was a statement against Israel for suppressing Palestinians, not anything against Jews.

In closing, as long as the road to the WC is open, fair, consistent and regular, the majority of players (and sponsors) will support it, and the fan base will grow. With the chaotic situation we see now, we will only get one-time sponsors and one-time fans because we only have one-time events.

Another issue I had with the old way of determining World Champions was the practice of adjournments and the use of seconds. Not to start a flame war or hijack this thread but I feel we are comparing blunderfests with using someone else to produce that perfect endgame for all to admire. Heck even though the practice of seconds is still rampant I will take blunderfests over a team of GMs pouring over an adjourned position anyday.

That being said I must confess being nostalgic about the old way myself :) However I welcome change and don't particularly mind the faster controls. Atleast Shirov and Moro have a chance of beating Kaparov !!

I'd like to second the comment on adjournments. While reading the Great Predecessors discussion of a game between Botvinnik and Fischer, I was dismayed to learn that it was Geller who came up with a critical drawing move during a late adjournment analysis that seemed to include the whole Soviet team. That seems antithetical to the notions of one-on-one competition.

The fact that Botvinnik wasn't even embarrassed that someone else saved his butt is a whole 'nother issue.

Adjournments are dead dead dead. Necessary and for the best, although it means the quality of endgames has seen its best days. I don't think anyone is advocating a return to adjournments.

My fear is that the quest for sponsorship will continue to lead to them looking to force decisive games at all costs. They easiest way to do that is shortening the time controls. You get lots of blunders and fewer draws. I consider this to be a disaster in many ways.

Of course fast games played by GMs will be the best chess on the planet, and 99% of the chessplaying population can't tell the difference. But I think much of the mystique and beauty of the game will slowly disappear as we force our best players to make mistakes.

"My fear is that the quest for sponsorship will continue to lead to them looking to force decisive games at all costs." [MIG]

All pro sport have mini-playoffs to decide any particular game. In tennis, when the score is 6 games to 6 games they play a mini-playoff to decide the set and it is pretty random. In baseball, if the game is not decided in 9 innings they play a sudden death inning after sudden death inning until the game is decided. In hockey, they play 5 minutes of sudden death in regular season and a period of sudden death in the playoffs and the game ends when one side scores - very random because a single shot can decide the game.

In chess, players complain of matches being decided on active or speed chess time-controls. I wonder what these players think of how pro sport decide tied games?

Until someone comes up with a better solution such that sponsors, organizers, fans and players are happy, we are stuck with fast t/c to break ties.

Just to clarify, I wasn't referring to tiebreaks in the sentence BoY quoted. I meant doing things like shortening controls to get more decisive games, period. Format changes, prize incentives/penalties, etc.

Any time art and commerce intersect it's interesting to look at the economic pressure points. What exactly is creating the demand for rapid games at the highest levels? Is it because...

- they think it will bring more fans to chess? That would be wrong, because the "entry level" for chess doesn't involve watching GM games.
- they're cheaper to run? very much so for weekend swisses and such, but is that really true at the mega GM level? I don't see Corus changing its scope or attractiveness if the games shorten or lengthen, as long as it's still one per day.
- higher-level fans are demanding it? Hardly. Go onto any of the servers during tournaments with normal time controls and you'll see tons of viewers.

Maybe I'm ignorant about the whole process and missing something basic, but two things strike me:

1. It's possible that organizers feel that by shortening games they can deliver a "product" to that most remunerative of media, TV. Bringing chess to TV (and keeping it there) is still the holy grail of funding. I don't think, however, it will ever work without games being condensed, in which case a longer time control is probably more desireable to raise the quality of games.

2. I also wonder about the impact of the six- and seven-figure paydays demanded by the elite players. Sure they're the best in the world at something very difficult, but frankly they're kings (and queens) of a world with a relatively small and not-necessarily-rich fan base. Funding an expensive event might be leading organizers to looking for a way to "punch up" the product so that sponsors can get more bang for their publicity bucks.

Or maybe I'm way off base.


It's simply cheaper for the organizers and more lucrative for the players. You save on costs by having an entire tournament in three or four days and the players get paid for a quarter of the work. It's win-win.

Online fans do like longer games, but chess does not have a sufficiently efficient economic model to translate fan desires into money and changed organizer behavior.

I doubt the players see it as win-win; there's a lot of randomness introduced to their outcomes, and a lot more stress in cramming in games. And you've got to like your job less if you start turning out crappier product.

Plus, you want those working vacations in Bled or Bermuda to be as long as possible. ;)

Bring back Inside Chess and dump FIDE.

I hope this is not seen as off topic blurb.

1. We should have a real world champion.
2. Professionals should be able to make a decent living. At the very least they should stop cutting each others throat and stop producing trash in Book and internet training space.
3. There should be respectability for chess as a professional sport.
4. Popularity of the game should be increased.
5. FIDE should not produce an U/6 world champion.
6. Schillers of the world should stop writing books.

In short this pathetic situation should change.

This is one of the best places to have meaningful discussions. But I feel for once there should be holistic approach to address all ills in one place. We are like blind trying to visualise an eleephant by touch. In the end you can never know the elephant - only the trunk, leg, body and tail.

Here is my elephant - and non of it is new.

1) There should be sanctity for titles. Outdated norms should be changed. Floor elo should be raised. There should not be any back door for titles. Closed Ciruit invitational tournaments can start only from Category 13 and above. Rest of the tournaments should be Open.

2) We can have differnt time controls for different Categories 4-7 hrs depending on average calibre of the tournaments. No adjournments Ofcourse.

3) Draw by mutual agreement should be totally removed from chess. You don't want to see heavy weight world championship candidates shaking hands at the end of 5th round and splitting the purse. (Who said this ? Dvoretsky?)

4) After one year of implementing 1,2,3 old styles candidate cycle should start. Once there is no draw. KO looses its significance to even Shirov and Anand.

Once we are sure of respectable titles, reasonable time contols and players who always want blood (although forced by the system, I don't see why corporate interest should remain at today's level. That would be the day when Kramniks and Kasparovs don't matter for a world championship. Instead WC will matter to them.

This gets me to thinking: will Nigel Short be remembered as the last player to ever climb to the top of the true chess heights to reach a World Championship final the good old-fashioned way? The last one to ever climb that mountain? Anand played a WC match in 1995 but didn`t go through the same exact thing as Short (did he?). Kramnik, of course, LOST the 2000 WCs version of a Candidates` Final against Shirov in 1998 by 2 points. So he didn`t climb the same mountain Short, Kasparov, Korchnoi, and Karpov did.

Was Short the last? Will that be his secured legacy in chess history? (Aside from some great games of course.) Will we never have that again? It wasn`t perfect, but it sure was a hell of a lot better than anything around right now.

No, there were actually TWO complete cycles after Short. Both the PCA and FIDE held qualifying tournaments, candidates matches, and world championship matches. Many players participated in both at the same time. Anand won through in the PCA cycle to face Kasparov in 1995. He was eliminated by Kamsky in the FIDE cycle (but he eliminated Kamsky in the PCA cycle!) and Kamsky faced Karpov in the FIDE final match in 1996. So you could call Kamsky the last cycle winner, if somewhat tied with Anand.

Well, I would consider Anand to be the last winner of the 'regular' cycle. He won through the PCA cycle in 1994-1995 beating oleg romanishin in the quarters, adams in the semis, kamsky in the final before losing to kasparov in the summit match. The cycle he went through was very similar to the one short won earlier (in fact short lost his semifinal match to kamsky in the PCA cycle). Kamsky only won two matches (as opposed to the traditional three that Anand and Short had to win). He beat Anand in thr quarters and Valery Salov in the semis, before losing to Karpov in the final. Karpov was seeded to the semis in the FIDE cycle. And in any case Anand's win over Kamsky in the PCA final was 'later' than Kamsky's semifinal win over Salov in the FIDE cycle.

"We should have a real world champion." [Srikanth]

But what does this mean? Someone who won a tournament labelled the World Championship or someone widely acknowledged as the world's strongest player?

Using the pro sport analogy yet again, the NY Yankees are regarded as the world's strongest team for the last decade or so, and yet only won 4 World Series in this period, the last being in 2000. They are the Garry Kasparov of baseball. Last year, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and are the World Champions, and yet Red Sox fans know the team to beat is still the Yankees in 2005.

My point is we should not confuse the title, World Champion, with the strength, the world's strongest player.

The influence of FIDE is felt right down to the club level, where some non-masters might have a FIDE rating or have played FIDE rated players. There is opportunity (not much but it exists) for joe shmoe to obtain a FIDE rating or title. On the other hand, there is no influence of the ACP or Dannemann anywhere except a select few professional players. I have to regard Kazimdzanov as the 'real' world champion due to the prevalence of FIDE, and regard Kramnik as just someone who won a match. However, the question of who is the strongest in the world is a different matter: it is either Kasparov or Anand.

IMO, the sooner we drop the notion of World Champion = strongest player, the better for the chess world as that will remove power from individuals (Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, etc) and return it to the governing bodies (FIDE or maybe a new alternate). The problem is there is no official definition of the strongest player (rating? tournament wins? winning percentage? domination? most oscars? A's personal record over B's? A's match win over B?) and anyone fitting some of the suggested definitions can claim to be the strongest and hold any arbitrary tournament to claim the World Champion title. By defining the World Champion as someone who won some tournament but is not necessarily the strongest player, it will eventually be accepted by all players. Afterall, everyone accepts the World Series winner is the World Champion of baseball, but not necessarily the strongest team. One vector, IMO, for the present chaos is FIDE and the chess media allowed the notion, World Champion = strongest player, to stand, allowing Kramnik, Anand, and Kasparov (and Karpov in the '90s) to exert strong influence over governing bodies.

The funny thing is, everyone agrees there should be a legitimate cycle, certainly everyone in this thread, the Zen and the Art of Cycle Maintenance. Let's begin with, what is a World Champion? If we have a definition, we can then design a cycle fitting that definition.

None of these thoughts are new , yet refreshing to discuss .WC need not be the strongest player.Agreed.As long as the WC won a tournament where the strongest have participated(or allowed to participate fairly), then we wouldn't have been discussing this.So, neither Kasim, nor Kramnik can be considered WCs.Kramnik didn't qualify and Kasim won a tournament where not many strong players have played.
I believe if most of the top 16 players played on equal terms, and no.50th ranked player emerged as the winner, then there is no need to complain about the title.That way Khalifman,Anand,Pono's title worth more than Kasim or even Kramnik.(I too know it is a KO and the matches are short)

You leave out the key element of rigor. That is, making the test tough enough to give the better player/s a statistically good opportunity to rise to the top. Otherwise the WC is no different from any tournament and you may as well just have it be a one-day blitz event. (That would be equal terms.) This is the test the KO's fail. For the champion to have any credibility, which means for the title to be worth anything, you have to have a system that provides the winner with a reasonable minimum of legitimacy.

Here's a kooky idea off the top of my pointed little head:

Each year, each country's chess champions play each other in some form of tournament to determine that year's World Champ. It would be a bit like the Miss World beauty pagent!

This "world" championship of national champions would be one heck of an interesting tournament...

Something tells me Topalov and Anand would be more happy than Kasparov and Kramnik.. :-)

"So, neither Kasim, nor Kramnik can be considered WCs.Kramnik didn't qualify and Kasim won a tournament where not many strong players have played." [pavani]

Anand played and beat Adams, Gelfand, Shirov, and Khalifman before losing to Karpov in the final, in 1997. Karpov didn't play in the knock-out, just waited for Anand.

In 2000, Anand played and beat Shirov, Adams, Khalifman, and Bologan, to become World Champion.

Kasimdzhanov played and beat Adams, Topalov, Grischuk and Ivanchuk to become World Champion in 2004.

Look at their pairings, very similar strengthwise. If anything, Kasimdzhanov's pairings were tougher (Ivanchuk is much stronger than Bologan, IMO). Most significant is that neither Anand nor Kasimdzhanov played Leko, Kramnik, or Kasparov to become World Champion. If Anand deserves the WC title, so does Kasimdzhanov. One might argue that Anand later went on to justify the title by dominating so many tournaments, but Kasimdzhanov had just won the tournament a few months ago - give the man a break!

There you have it, the facts. It seems Kasimdzhanov is every bit deserving of the WC title as Anand on pairing alone.

Source: www.mark-weeks.com

[Note: I only mentioned the big names. Both players played other lesser names and I don't think these lesser names made any difference to either Anand or Kasimdzhanov.]

When I said Kasim's title lacks credibility ,it was because not many top players took part in this FIDE KO.You have unnecessarily tweeked it--as a comparison between who did Anand or Kasim beat to win the KO.

Hmm, who has more credibility, someone who beats strong players or someone who plays in an event in which other strong players participated without facing them? That's one of the vagaries of the KO format. If Kasparov and Anand had participated and both been knocked out in the first round by 2500-rated players after blundering horribly, would Kasimdzhanov's title be more credible? Or less?

Frankly, Yes!
Mig,contrary to general belief 12 of the 16 semifinalists are essentially the favorites to win the respective KOs(Do you remember who said it?) .If Kasparov,Anand and why dont you add Kramnik and Leko too took part in any KO then , there is huge probability 2 of those 4 guys will reac seMIS.Kasim has to beat them to win.If he did , I dont have any doubts regarding his credibility.

Sigh - I know I shouldn't get into this, but I can't resist the urge...

It seems to me that perhaps what we (and by that I mean the chess community at large) should do is hire a team of economists to study chess and propose a couple of sustainable solutions.

To build on Jonas' comment that the economics of chess - I think this idea has merit. I don't know, but it is clear that sponsorship money is available, albeit in a limited amount. It is also clear that national federations, and even governments, kick money in all the time. So assuming the idea of an economically sustainable chess world is possible, then we should probably head toward that solution rather than argue about the relative merits on game length, in the absence of knowledge of how our decisions impact the professional game's viability.

This kind of study is not unprecedented, it has been done for many industries. I think the other good thing about it is that we can all - from Anand to Kasparov to Kramnik to FIDE - all agree that any acceptable outcome must be economically sustainable.

I have no idea how it would turn out - my guess is that it would mean creating something much more similar to the defunct PCA cycle of grand prix events, with a candidates match series at the end of a two or three year cycle based on accumulated grand prix points, but I don't have anything backing that up except my intuition.

I guess I'm too much of a scientist to want to leave chess to the whims and byzantine politics of men who can't seem to think beyond a very short time frame.

So there you have it - my proposal is to get some concrete economic analysis of different models of professional chess to discover which ones are sustainable. And if multiple models are sustainable, then we can argue relative artistic merits.


Zonals and Interzonals may be hard to resurrect, but in my opinion, their current replacement, Continental Championships, are just as good. Any objections?
BoredOfYou is right, there's nothing wrong with the existing FIDE Ch system (except for the Rapid/blitz part), and Kasim is as deserving a Champion as any of the guys before him, excluding Karpov in 1997, who muscled his way thru to the finals without making a single move on the chessboard.
There the problem lies: the fairer the system, the ess support it gets from the top players, who are out to defend their exclusive position and are not interested in "chancy" encounters with rank-and-file contenders.
Read Leko (Russian only) on the ChessPro site - he's still smarting over his losses to Slobodian in 1997, Movsesiyan in 1999 and Anastasian in 2001. He failed to mention El Khalif who eliminated him in 2000, but I'm sure that one stings too. Nothing against Peter, but should his previous experiences in KO's keep him away from the future editions, why should the prestige of those events suffer?
Yes, a lot of guys didn't show up in Tripoli, but what were their reasons?
I'll give you some answers in my next post.

Do you happen to know that the prize fund in Tripoli was a fraction of that in the previous years?
Kasim got what, about 100 grand? in Vegas El Khalif won about half a million. Some difference. Wouldn't that be a reason for some top guys to skip the tournament?
Also, on lower levels - same paycut. In the years before, a winner of 2 matches (making Round of 32 is a reasonably good result for a 2600+ guy)) was guaranteed about 20 Grand. It was only about 10 Grand in Tripoli. Factor in your expenses, and a month spent on preparing and playing difficult opponents simply doesn't pay much. Similar kind of money can be won in a large weekend Swiss, or simply made by teaching.
Isn't it why Onischuk and Shabalov stayed home? Could be, whatever reasons (security concerns or solidarity with Boris Gelfand) they may have given publicly.
What happened? Did Kirsan go broke? No sir.
The prize reduction was caused by the changed status of event. Instead of a full-fledged World Championship it actually served as a qualifier to play Kasparov. Half of the money would go to the final match (now ill-fated), with the other half remaining for the entire preceding tournament. In other words, FIDE committed a quarter of the pot (5 mil less 20% or whatever) to one player, Garry Kasparov.
Now, how does that make you feel if your name is Anand? He's supposed to go through 6 matches to get to equal footing (money-wise too) with the guy who may no longer be a better player or currently holds any titles. Plus, Anand fell into the same trap back in 1997 with Karpov reaping the benefits. So, here we go - no Anand in Libya. And a lot more guys felt the same way about the whole setup.
I got a serious beef with FIDE for caving in to larger-than-life guys like Karpov and Kasparov. If FIDE loses Yermo's support then they better watch out. Heh.
Anyway, thanks for your patience. Time to pack the bags for the Aeroflot trip. See after the tournament.

Hi, Yermo ! Good post. Wish you all the best at Aeroflot. BTW, your book is one of the best I have ever read.



Excellent suggestion - your proposal for looking at sustainable economic/financial models would be an ideal first step. The only thing lacking is some central (non-corrupt, organizationally stable) group to put it into practice.

It's interesting to guess at what a good model would be. For example, it might be something that starts small (national) and builds from there by first creating local affiliates and then sponsoring the kind of Grand Prix you talk about. The difference between whatever the model is and the FIDE/USCF model would be less in the tournament process, I think, and more in how the organization itself is built. For-profit with a limited return or dividends? Business professionals with chess experience? Professional fundraisers and media consultants? It's fun to think about.

Yermo does bring an interesting point of view: in a full system of qualifiers (interzonals, candidates etc.) with the champion patiently waiting for a challenge at the end of 3 years, a lot of money is committed to the final match, therefore reducing the monetary rewards for the remaining players. Makes me rethink whether giving the champion any privileges is a worthwhile goal. In soccer the defending champion does not even get an automatic seeding to the next world cup anymore. I would personally be in favor of mandating that the champion defending it from the beginning just like everyone else (kinda like in tennis).

Just to add to Yermo's post, you can download the 2004 FIDE WCC Regulations here:


Some highlights:

Section reads that 20% of the player's prize money shall be paid to FIDE.

Section reads that should the match go to tie-breaks, the loser of the match shall receive 20-40% of the prize differential between the current round and the next, payable by the winner of the tie-break. Presumably this rule was meant to discourage players from drawing matches and take their chances at faster t/c. The problem I see with this rule is the underdog has incentive to draw games and apply psychological pressure against the favorite who knows s/he will be paying that 20-40% differential if the match goes to tie-break.

Section 8.1 reads that the player is to bear all costs, hotel, airfare, food, etc.

Section 82. reads that the player is to pay the $150 USD entry fee.

I must say I was shocked after having read the regulations. Like Yermo said, the prize money was substantially lower than when Khalifman won it in Las Vegas, but the above mentioned sections seem quite oppressive to me with the reduced prize fund. Section 8.1 forces players to cough up cash up front just to get to Libya. Imagine if the qualifying player is broke or is from a poor country. Section 8.2 is an insult. Section is a heavy tax on an already small prize fund.

Let us do an approximate costing for a 1st round loser:

1. Air Fare $1000
2. Hotel, 4 nights (arrival, opening ceremony [must attend or face penalties], 2 play days) $400
3. Food, $100
4. Entry Fee $150

Total: $1650 up front

Prize money for 1st rd loser: $6000
less 20% for FIDE tax: $4800
less $1650 in upfront expenses: $3150

If the 1st round loser is a tight wad s/he can expect to take home $3150 USD max. Now, this is for 4 days of work minimum, and it is pretty good considering you get that for losing and there are not many tournaments (in North America) in any given year where a player can win $3150 USD. However, it is still too low considering the risk/reward scenario. The player must risk $1650 in expenses upfront vs the reward of net $3150 but the reward is not a certain payoff because this was FIDE and its broken promises.

It would be much more fair to players, especially those from poor countries, that FIDE or the organizers pay the players' expenses. The four regulations cited above has to be changed, IMO.

My last comment is for the shocking revelation:

"The prize reduction was caused by the changed status of event. Instead of a full-fledged World Championship it actually served as a qualifier to play Kasparov. Half of the money would go to the final match (now ill-fated), with the other half remaining for the entire preceding tournament. In other words, FIDE committed a quarter of the pot (5 mil less 20% or whatever) to one player, Garry Kasparov." [Yermo]

Holy Cow, what a bombshell!! However, I'm not clear about the above quote. Under Section 11.1 of the 2004 WCC Regulations, and I quote fully:

"11.1. The winner of the final match of the World Championship shall be designated as World Champion. Following the spirit of the Prague Agreement and not later than July 2005, he shall play a match against the best rated player GM G. Kasparov for a minimum prize fund of USD 500, 000 and the winner of this match shall be declared World Champion. He is precluded alongside with other qualifiers from the quarterfinal stage of the Championship from playing in a World Championship match that is not officially recognized by FIDE." [Section 11.1 FIDE WCC Regulations]

It says the prize fund is $500,000 USD minimum (for Kaspy-Kasim). FIDE taxed 20% of the 2004 WCC prize fund, $1,508,000 USD @ 20% = $301,600 USD. FIDE was short about $200,000 to fund Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov. Yet, FIDE was seeking the failed Dubai bid for the WC. Something isn't right. A match cancelled over a shortfall of $200,000 USD? Or was Kasparov not satisfied with a $500,000 USD prize fund? And where did the $301,600 USD tax went? And does this mean the Dubai organizers (and later Turkey) were unable to raise $500,000 USD, or even the $200,000 USD shortfall, if FIDE were generous to fund from the 2004 WCC prize fund tax.

So many questions. I'm confused.

This reminds me of the Shirov-Kramnik match in 1998 (or was it 1997?). The loser would win some money but the winner would get his share from the prize fund for the match with Kasparov. Now, unless the prize money for the final Kasparov match was precommitted I see no reason for the players (Kramnik and Shirov) to have accepted these conditions. Yet, if the money for the final match WAS precommitted, where did it go since the Shirov-Kasparov match never took place?

Just adding to BoredOfYou's questions. My naive attempt at an answer: Shirov and Kramnik never thought it would be a problem to secure funding for the final match with Kasparov so they went on with the plan. Only after that did financial guarantees become a big issue among chessplayers.

And if anyone could clarify: Shirov declined a $600,000 dollar bid for his match with Kasparov, but once it was clear he couldn't find anything better couldn't he have resumed talks with those California sponsors?


PS: Gone are the days when Donald Trump himself sponsored chess events. He figured The Apprentice gives him a lot more publicity.

I don't know where the idea came from the FIDE withheld money from Tripoli to pay for a match between the winner and Kasparov. I'm not aware of it ever being planned and it definitely didn't happen in practice. Ilyumzhinov has been out of the sponsorship game since Moscow 2001 and had to go out looking for money. He found it in Tripoli and got the most he could get. It was less than the earlier events because it was coming from another source and they had to take what they could get.

Kirsan's deep pocket days ended years ago. FIDE is looking to MAKE money from these WCh events now, which is one of the reasons they were so desperate to get Kasparov on board in 2002. They thought he could shake the money tree. Obviously they were wrong.

After Tripoli FIDE went looking for more money for Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov and didn't find it. There was never any money withheld from Tripoli. In general it would be possible to say the event would have more trouble getting sponsorship not being a "real" world championship. But in this case it's not as if Quadaffi cared about that sort of thing, if he was even aware of it.

Yah, Aeroflot starts Tuesday. Yermo, Shabalov, Ivanov, Kudrin, and Kaidanov are there for the US. I think IM Jesse Kraai is there as well. Classical time control in the top groups. Not sure if the winner goes to Dortmund this time around. I wish more super-events would do that. Actually, with Wijk aan Zee taking the B Group winner, Linares taking Kasimdzhanov (the FIDE KO winner), it's not bad. Next, two qualifiers, then three...

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 9, 2005 12:19 AM.

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