Mig 
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Disappearing Candidates Matches

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With all the hoopla around the Topalov-Kramnik match the candidates matches of the 2005 cycle have been entirely ignored by FIDE. It will be great to have a unified world championship title Ė ingrate to have a championship tournament instead of matches in the future. But the sponsorship and credibility problems of Ilyumzhinov's FIDE are exemplified by the disappearing candidates matches. He's always been able to pull the occasional rabbit out of the hat Ė Libyan rabbits, Kalmykian cash, etc. But consistency and stability are what we need for serious sponsorship.

A letter from FIDE confirms that as of last week, no offers to host any of the eight planned candidates matches have been received. (Some "expressed interest.") They have apparently given up trying to find sponsors, assuming they were ever trying. The letter says they are urging the players' national federations to speed up the process. Apparently FIDE expects the national federations to find sponsorship for organization and $40,000 minimum prize funds for the six-game matches scheduled for the end of October.

There is some irony here because some potential sponsors were put off by the passing of the March deadline for bids to host the candidates matches. FIDE needs to formally reopen the process, although it's too much to hope they will actually do any of the required business development themselves. I suppose there's always a first time. For the past ten years it's been all politician/crony-to-politician/crony. There is simply no mechanism in Ilyumzhinov's FIDE to find international corporate sponsorship for events like these.

36 Comments

i.e. { politician/crony } to { politician/crony } (I contend; not { politician } / { crony-to-politician } / { crony }).


No doubt FIDE will use this as fodder for their "The world doesn't want matches anymore." argument.

"What's brown and sounds like a bell?"

"Dung!"

-Matt

Yah, it's amazing how little sponsorship you can find if you don't go looking for it.

The ACP suggests the brilliant (not) idea to "abolish the Candidates Matches if they create a serious threat to the stability of the whole World Chess Championship Cycle" (FIDE Congress Agenda, http://www.fide.com/news/download/annexes/ga2006/agenda.pdf )

Certainly hope they don't mean *these* Candidates Matches. Presumably it's for future cycles...

I don't mean to say that I am in favor of no Candidates matches but a good solid round-robin like Dortmund 2002 (but further spaced out), San Luis 2005 or one of the candidates tournaments of the fifties is certainly a good way to establish a #1 contender. It might be easier to stage as everybody would be in one place and the prize fund could be smaller (you don't need to award individual match winners).

Why not convert the 16 player candidate matches into a 16 player Single Round robin tournament. Select the top 4 , along with the 4 already seeded along with the loser of the Kramnik - Topalov Match.

Why not convert the 16 player candidate matches into a 16 player Single Round Robin tournament ?

Select the top 4 from this , along with the 4 already seeded and the loser of the Topalov - Kramnik match into th 2007 World Championship tournament in Mexico City. Food for thought ?

Why not demand our home federations vote out Kirsan?

Rob: I have no idea what your post means. Don't worry, I don't want you to explain it, I get lost easily.

Globular: Excellent commentary.

Jon Jacobs: I thought of you while I was watching "24" the other night. I know I *should* have been on Playchess for the lecture, but alas. At the end of the day, I guess I'm OK with being a perpetual patzer!

While usually a pessimist, I am trying to stay optimistic about the WC for the moment. Admittedly there have been a number of problems and inconsistencies lately, but we appear to be headed in a reasonable direction. I think there are some positive aspects to the delay in the candidates matches. Ideally I'd like to see the Kramnik-Topalov match be a great success, reviving the notion of championship matches. Let the Kramnik-Topalov loser join the next cycle, more or less as planned, but have it provide a challenger for the Topalov-Kramnik winner in another 12 game or longer match. If the current matches need to be delayed for all of this to come together, I can wait.

A new administration wouldn't hurt either, assuming (and it is a big assumption) that the T-K match would still happen.

Todd, 1) I missed Dennis's playchess lecture last night, too, although I had a better excuse (following in Mig's footsteps -- I was working feverishly on a chess project I expect to get paid for). I didn't mind missing it, either, because the game Dennis tackled this time was a very recent one, from San Luis, I think.

2) As for being a perpetual patzer: It surely will amuse you to learn that the first several times I saw your name here, I confused you with one Todd ANDREWS, a name I had seen elsewhere. Thus, until I finally figured it out, I assumed your comments were coming from a 2400-player!

Rob was just pointing out that Mig's conconction "politician/crony-to-politician/crony" can be parsed in two different ways, one leading to a sensible result, the other not. Technically, Mig probably shouldn't have used the hyphens there.

Talking about losing sponsors.

FIDE was offered a $1.4 million dollar purse for the kramnik topalov match. but kirsan turned that down. now we have a $1 million match with Kirsay putting up the money. well we really dont know if there is any $1 million or not or who or where it is coming from.

Kirsan made a smart move there. turning down $1.4 million in the bank for a pie in the sky.

Oh I forgot to mention. with the $1.4 million Kirsan was not going to have total control. with the $1 million fund now. well Kirsan has total control because no one knows any thing about the money except Kirsan.

Now Kirsan is a hero to the little countries because he is getting the money. or so it seems.

Of course if the hero loses the election I suspect the $1 million will turn out to never have existed. but then Kirsan said that Kok should put up $1 million to run in the election.

so maybe this is all a plan to force Kok to come up with the $1 million if Kirsan loses.

My My what tangled webs the spiders weave.

Jon, that's hilarious stuff. I played Todd Andrews in a tournament game a few years ago in Atlanta (before I plunged into fatherhood with four (!) children). I had white, he played the French which somehow transposed into a Sicilian, and I was duly shellacked! I was 2413 once, then I woke up...

Jon, that's hilarious stuff. I played Todd Andrews in a tournament game a few years ago in Atlanta (before I plunged into fatherhood with four (!) children). I had white, he played the French which somehow transposed into a Sicilian, and I was duly shellacked! I was 2413 once, then I woke up...

Peach asked, "Why not convert the 16 player candidate matches into a 16 player Single Round Robin tournament?"

Great idea (maybe), but those weren't the announced rules, and it's just another blow to FIDE's credibility when they announce one system and implement another.

then we go from the champion playing a match against 1 player to where the champion plays 15 other players.

Something is not working at FIDE.

I feel for Anand who has been sort of sitting on the sidelines for a long time. at least since the announcement of the Prague Agreement a few years ago. and in other ways since 1995 for another shot at the championship.

I know he won the FIDE championship one year. and I know he lost at San Luis last fall. but it still must be frustrating for him. I would think he would like to consolidate his legacy. Like Kasparov it would be nice to go out while at the very top.

As someone said in this thread up above. I would like to see a Topalov Anand Match for the Championship. But I am willing to allow Kramnik and Topalov unify the title first.

As tommy said, Kirsan would rather have a $1 million prize fund with him in total control, instead of a $1.4 million prize fund for a match where he is not. This is not in Topalov's best interests, or Kramnik's, or even FIDE's (since it gets 20% of a smaller purse).

A very good reason for replacing him as FIDE president.

As Kramnik explained in a recent S-E interview, the investor (Dortmund) had a condition for the original match to negotiate with the players first and then get FIDE approval. Which resulted in Topalov saying no, since he couldn't negotiate an agreement to a non-FIDE approved match. A blunder on part of team Kramnik, in either not being aware of Topalov's contract or not making the sponsor aware of it.

well to me this is simply another proof of Kirsan's desire for control instead of unification of the title.

And we see this again in the final agreement with Kirsan dictating all conditions. Which would not have been the case.

It also shows the reality that people do not really want to have anything to do with Kirsan. The sponsor is not going to put up big money and not have a say in the match. the sponsor is not going to put up big money and have Kirsan dictate all terms and conditions.

There can never be sponsors with Kirsan. I dont really think that Kirsan wants corporate sponsors. Kirsan does not know how to relate to those people. He is more comfortable relating to other dictators like himself. Just look at how well Kirsan gets along with Putin.

Yeah, or dictators in San Luis, Mexico City and Turin.

It would be easy to blame Kirstan and solely Kirstan had the lack of sponsorship been limited to FIDE events. It's not. The above situation, which could have been easily avoided, and the rest of comments in the Kramnik interview indicate what is the second major component of the problem, which is lack of effort and involvement on the part of GMs. If you aren't going to build relationships with sponsors, don't complain that you can't find any. If you aren't going to involve yourself in negotiations don't complain if you end up with stupid tournament structures, short matches and blitz tiebreaks. If you don't stand up to FIDE, don't get angry when they don't bother to hold to promises and agreements they make.

Tommy wrote, "I feel for Anand who has been sort of sitting on the sidelines for a long time. at least since the announcement of the Prague Agreement a few years ago. and in other ways since 1995 for another shot at the championship."

Anand and other super-GMs were the obvious losers in the Prague Agreement, but the full terms were never carried out anyway. It was ten years ago; time to get over it.

Under the present system -- whatever one thinks of it -- Anand competed at San Luis, and Topalov prevailed fair & square. Anand has no more reason to play a 1-on-1 match vs. Topalov than any of the other San Luis competitors, since they had their chances against him already.

Kramnik, on the other hand, does have a reason to be playing Topalov, since he still holds the title that he took from Kasparov. That title is obviously debased at the moment, but whatever value it may have provides the tenuous raison d'etre for the September match.

Tommy wrote, "I feel for Anand who has been sort of sitting on the sidelines for a long time. at least since the announcement of the Prague Agreement a few years ago. and in other ways since 1995 for another shot at the championship."

Anand and other super-GMs were the obvious losers in the Prague Agreement, but the full terms were never carried out anyway. It was ten years ago; time to get over it.

Under the present system -- whatever one thinks of it -- Anand competed at San Luis, and Topalov prevailed fair & square. Anand has no more reason to play a 1-on-1 match vs. Topalov than any of the other San Luis competitors, since they had their chances against him already.

Kramnik, on the other hand, does have a reason to be playing Topalov, since he still holds the title that he took from Kasparov. That title is obviously debased at the moment, but whatever value it may have provides the tenuous raison d'etre for the September match.

Yuriy Kleyner is suggesting that GMs (a) recruit sponsors, and (b) stand up to Kirsan. In successful sports like golf or tennis, the players do not recruit sponsors for the events; that is the role of the organization representing the players or their tour. As for standing up to Kirsan, the problem is that in recent years he has personally provided a substantial part of the purses in large events. He has basically bought off most of the top players. They will abandon him only when he stops funding events.

It is a catch 22 situation, as any sensible sponsor will avoid putting their reputation in the hands of someone like Kirsan. To change the status quo, either sponsors must choose to trust Kirsan (without guarantees on his actions), or the chess federations must choose to replace Kirsan (without guarantees that his sponsorship will be replaced).

The problem with chess, corruption and sponsorship money is not new. It has existed since the days of Zukertort!

Basically, the problem is that chess, unlike certain other games, doesn't attract enough public interest that can be translated into sponsorship or spectator money.

Capablanca needed a "personal sponsor". So did Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spasski, Karpov, Kasparov and all Soviet players (the USSR government). So did Fischer (a group of wealthy Manhattan Chess Club patrons supported him for many years).

There hasn't been a single year in history when chess professionals were not struggling to make a living.

FIDE was equally corrupt before Kirsan. Does anyone remember Campo?

Perhaps it is time that everyone understands that the only solution is for "professionals" to play for VERY LITTLE money (as several former top, world-class players like Yudasin, Elvhest, Kamsky, etc. did on many occasions entering the NY Masters, where first prize was often $200 or less).

Are they willing to sacrifice their financial ambitions in order to get rid of the scoundrels?

Where are their voices at this critical moment?

Has anyone surveyed GM's to get their position AS A GROUP?

That's the problem. Not Kirsan. He is just the current pimp. Sad, but true.

Yes, chess professionals have been struggling since the time of Zuckertort, and even longer. Morphy had trouble trying to set up matches, since his opponents insisted on a purse for the winner, and Morphy insisted on playing for free. But for most of the last 150 years, nearly all sports professionals were also struggling. Even pro baseball and football players in the U.S.A. often had 'real' jobs on the side, until the 1950s or 60s.

It is true that chess broadcasts will never appeal to non-chess-players. But surveys show that perhaps 40 million Americans claim to know how to play chess. The numbers of chess-playing Europeans is even higher. If even 1% of this potential audience could be persuaded to watch a high-profile event, it would certainly be enough to attract sponsors.

Ramage,

You are correct that in tennis and golf the organization is the one responsible for event management, sponsorship, preparation, etc. However, that is because the organization is doing this job well that it is doing that. Had ATP decided to change the format of events to one-set matches and single-point tiebreaks, repeatedly broke promises or screwed people out of prize money, you can bet there would be a revolt. And, hopefully, a new organization to replace the defective old one.

Kirstan has, in fact, provided money, for several chess events. However, let's take a look at the full record. Brissago 2004 took place outside of his funding. London 2000 had nothing to do with FIDE. Each year we have Dortmund, Amber, Linares and Corus. There is also an occasional event like MTel or Astana. Against this we have several FIDE championships, a couple of aborted matches and many of these were paid for by outside governments, not Kirstan. Plus, you have book deals, special appearances, etc. Chess is not largely funded by Kirstan.

You are correct that Kirstan has successfully bought the championship cycle rights of several major GMs. However, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, "it takes two to bribe, one to bribe and one to accept the bribe." Had Topalov, Anand and Leko refused to play San Luis in 2005, that tournament would be taken with all the seriuosness of Libya 2004.

Allow me to make this perfectly clear, I am not solely blaming the GMs for this. It is inaccurate to say that FIDE or chess was equally corrupt before. Sure, we had our aborted Moscow match and occasionally shady cycle set-ups but nothing as bad as this. The "pimps" that Morphy, Fischer and Soviet GMs had did little or nothing to damage the standing of chess professionals, threaten the integrity of the cycle and screw over existing business arrangements.

Chess is not profitable for the sponsor. That much seems clear. However, the GMs certainly can survive through individual (Brezhnev-Karpov) or tournament (Corus-Wijk) sugar daddies. Fortunately, the interest in chess is still high and will remain relatively high as long as we set up the cycle to show the beauty, excitement of the games and the strength, ability of GMs. Americans who can't tell a pawn from a knight know the names of Fischer and Kasparov and value them because they know they accomplished something impressive.

Garry Kasparov has previously noted in public interviews that in the 1970s and 1980s most professional sports, whether individual sports like golf and tennis or team sports like football, soccer, and basketball, went through a dramatic change in business model to encourage much more corporate sponsorship for both the teams and the individual players. Up until this time, for example, individual basketball players never did outside endorsements--they weren't allowed to by contract. And golf and tennis associations severely limited just what sponsor logos could appear not just during play but even during outside press conferences.

GK has suggested that chess did not go through this stage because it was still mostly dominated by players who had government support well into the 80s.

It is true that it is not up to individual players to find event sponsors in golf and tennis. But individual players DO get individual sponsors to help defray the costs of training, travel, and eventually to simply add to their income. Tiger Woods doesn't find sponsors for golf tournaments, but he has personal endorsements for everything from cars to corporate services companies. And the same is true on a smaller scale at least through the ranks of the top 1%.

The business model for these contracts has changed somewhat over the last 25 years, but it is the primary source of income for most of the top players.

I donít think top players have to play "for very little money." I do think they have to look at what has been done in other professional competitions, and they will see that most of the money for the players comes not from the events themselves, but from outside endorsement contracts.

To get this kind of income, they have to learn what sponsors need and want, and provide it in a businesslike fashion. And they have to pressure their event management organizations to do the same.

So far, Garry Kasparov and Susan Polgar have been quite successful in this practice, with some other players also achieving some success. But in general, most chess players still are uncomfortable with the idea of actively pursuing individual sponsorship. For example, the winners of this yearís top prizes at the US Championship didnít even provide a bio to the official site, although one was requested. This kind of individual public relations still isnít really a part of our chess culture.

duif

I thought I had read FIDE wanted to fidn a sponsor for the total package - Candidates matches and final tournament. That is why they wanted to keep the candidates matches despite ACP wanting them scrapped. If this is correct then FIDE is having trouble finding sponsorship for the whole 2007 cycle.

It is incredibly stupid to have matches leading up to a tournament. So it can hardly come as a surprise they can't find 40k per match.

Many of the top players are seeded into the final already.

6 games is about 1/2 a tournament. Would the players who qualified for the candidates matches expect to make $40 grand per tournamnt? If not it seems FIDE is asking for an artificially high amount for these matches. Why not just take bids starting at 90 million, trillion, gazillion, dollars?

I looked at the bidding process make that $52,500 per match after taxes plus expenses of the arbiters travel and the all the costs of the venue and internet! What is the thought process? The only one I can think of is - FIDE does not want these matches to go through at all.

I do like the way they make the announcement on March first and kindly give everyone 23 days to submit thier proposal! What a joke.

http://www.fide.com/news.asp?id=896

One doesn't imagine there are many people in Kirsan's entourage warning him away from his weird projects. Trial-and-error is all he has.

Knockouts!
Quick time-limits!
Air-drop Kasparov into WCC semifinals!
Play in Libya!

and now:
Candidates matches leading into a WCC tournament!

The proposed candidates matches will never happen...another trotted-out-and-failed idea. Kirsan will substitute a candidates tournament and a final match.

He'll get the whole thing right eventually. There just aren't that many bad ideas left for him to try.

Mig,

Why is your big agony about the Candidates Matches?

FIDE has currently a surplus of 1.6 million USD - look at page 5 of this: http://www.fide.com/news/download/annexes/ga2006/annex1.pdf - so they can easily fund the Candidates Matches even if no sponsor is ever interested in them!

So what's the latest on the candidates matches?
The Biel tournament site says that Magnus Carlsen and Aronian
are playing their match in a few weeks, assuming that the
matches are on. Just wishful thinking?

Last time I heard from FIDE they said the matches are still on schedule in the end of October. They are discussing with national federations about where to hold the matches etc.

Of course I wouldn't be too sure yet, but I do think they will be played.

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