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Matches? What Matches?

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Try to conceal your surprise. After nearly a year of ignoring them, FIDE actually mentions the long-lost candidates matches scheduled October. The news is about what you'd expect.

In order to resolve difficulties in the organization of the Candidate matches, the Board offered a round-robin tournament for the 16 players as an alternative to the original form of the competition. President Ilyumzhinov offered to hold all the matches or the tournament in Elista in April 2007.

Well, okay, many FIDE flops come back like a boomerang to Elista sooner or later if they appear at all. Having them in Elista would at least mean having them. But why a 16-player round-robin when it would only take two rounds of six-game matches to find the final four who play in Mexico City next year? As for the last-moment date change, candidate Boris Gelfand of Israel sounds off on the matter in an open letter. Excerpt:

Of course the chess players are grateful to you for your kind offer to hold such an important event. But unfortunately, dates announced back in January should not be changed, especially not less than a month before the event. But especially harmful is the idea of replacing matches with a tournament. I never heard that in any sport that the structure of the World championship may be changed during the cycle.

I also never heard that in any sport dates of world championship in any stage were moved on such short notice. It is especially dangerous to break all the rules of the sports world when chess is trying so hard to become part of the Olympic games .

In case the dates of the matches would be moved from those officially stated, or if the matches will be cancelled altogether, I would expect FIDE to compensate me for my damages, as detailed above.

Sounds like Gelfand may soon be in need of the services of his fellow candidate, and lawyer, Gata Kamsky! Of course the structure has already been changed once before. It was supposed to end with a match and was changed to a tournament after San Luis went well. It shouldn't be considered a coincidence that the same FIDE Presidential Board addressed what I mentioned here a few days ago, putting professional chess into the hands of professionals to rescue it from the amateur organizers (and professional clowns and crooks) running FIDE now.


dammit, i really wanted to see kamsky play against bacrot and then carlsen...

And the worst thing of all is that this bozo-announcement sounds just familiar. Or worse, even expected.

Could someone please lay out the structure of the current FIDE WCC "cycle"? Who plays who to get where?


The plan was/is that from the 8 candidate matches, four players will join four other players in a championship tournament in the fall of 2007.

Those "four other" players are the winner of the Kramnik-Topalov match, along with the rest of the top 4 from the 2005 San Luis tournament. Those are Anand, Svidler and Morozevich (Topalov won as we all know, but he has to defeat Kramnik in the match else he has to skip the current cycle).


Many thanks.

OK, fine if they can't find the funding, and all that. What I just don't get is why they have to change the system (again!) Certainly they shouldn't do that unless all 16 players agree.

The ACP has been awfully quiet, by the way. But then it was the ACP that suggested these matches to be scrapped in the first place....

The whole tournament format is flawed to begin with. It's a minefield of fixed games, paranoia and accusations. And not necessarily always without a basis in reality. Fischer vs Soviets proved this over four decades ago. Why the need to go back there? If player X is a good friend and potential second of player Y, and player X has himself lost his chances to finish in a respectable position while player Y is fighting for qualification/World Championship/??? what are the chances player X might make an inaccuracy and lose the game between the two? We are talking about hundreds of thousands of euros or even more with this "anyone who can come up with the money can challenge the champion" thing, see potential Radjabov - Topalov match.

And the tournament format cannot duplicate the drama and psychology of the matchplay. Many consider the 2000 match boring. Why should one share that view? Even the short draw was fascinating psychologically. Here's the greatest chess player of all time, agreeing to the shortest(?) draw of his career in such a crucial game and with the white pieces, because his opponent has beaten him mentally and psychologically. If it indeed is true that Kramnik wasn't lost in one single game in that match, that's another amazing detail.

Gelfand's letter proves the situation isn't all that clear, and despite Topalov's imaginative play, Kramnik's victory therefore still seems a more desirable outcome. The Chess world might have yet another "Prague" at their hands.

Topalov has openly shown his support for Ilyumzhinov, the main culprit behind the prolonged mess. And unification can only be desirable if the title and the tradition are not devalued as a result, right?

Corrupted FIDE getting full rights and pedigree to turn the title of World Champion into some Las Vegas (read: Elista) Big Shot Mega Prize would be just ridiculous.

I'd like to see a unified title as much as the next person, but not at the expense of having every world champion participate in an 8 person tournament to get that title! I hope Kramnik wins and breaks away from FIDE just like Kasparov did. FIDE is still not qualified or competent enough to manage the title. This announcement is just the latest stunt.

Well this seems to increase the chances of strong players who might otherwise be paired with other strong players in a match, or give strong players more chances so that luck plays less of a role. Well maybe the stronger players prepare more for individual opponents while the weaker players work on their individual game so that this hurts strong players more. I think Bacrot is a really, really tough, tactical opponent for Kamsky so unless Kamsky has been training with Nakamura then maybe round robin might be a good idea.

Gelfand should sue his national federation for voting Illumzhinov in elections.

There aren't at the moment 16 players who can be considered to give Kramnik or Topalov a serious challenge for the title of the best chess player in the world. If you really have a limited amount of money and time available, why waste time with more players than necessary?

I have no problem with a round robin used to determine who will play the champion or better yet, with two finalists who will play to decide who plays the champion. On the other hand, nobody but Kirsan is excited about the idea of annulling the champion's title every two years. The other way (King of the Hill champion vs challenger) works much better, especially in sports where the battle is head-to-head (boxing, MMA and chess).

I like Yuriy's suggestion a lot... a round robin to select a challenger (or 2 challengers who play each other in a match to...)... for the rest: 12 games might be a bit short but on the other end a lot of people are against draws and let's be honest, the longer the match the more draws you'll see...

Well, I know this were coming. It was clear to me that nobody (sponsor) wants to pay for so many boring (sorry) matches. Honestly, I dont want to see a Kamsky-Bacrot or a Carlsen-Kamsky match or something like this.

Carlsen-Kamsky, Kamsky-Bacrot, Boring????? Excuse me. If you think chess matches are boring, watch football or something. Alot of chess fans like matches.

Theres is not need to discuss if I think its boring or not. But fact is: FIDE didnt manage to find sponsors for the matches. And in this case, I dont think it is not only FIDEs mistake. The whole idea with the matches was stupid in my opinion, because to many matches (wich average-good-players) very quickly become boring. For example: Who did really follow or remebers a game from Topalov-Nisipeanu? Which newspaper covered that?

FIDE didn't take bids. They simply required a minimum that was way too high at the time. thats a good way to later claim there was no interest. Mig is correct they should simply have eight (and then four) matches goign on at the same time. It would get much more attention than another silly tournament.

I can only speak for myself when I say I would love to see a Carlsen-Kamsky match! Not only that, but my sorry US Chess Federation should get off their even sorrier butts and sponsor it.
Right Bill and Don?

And why would any sponsor risk their reputation with a despot like Illumzhinov at the helm of FIDE? Sponsors are looking to build their reputation/brand image by linking it to an event. With Illumzhinov and the current corrupt FIDE, why would a major sponsor risk their existing reputation?

Remember that Illumzhinov moved this championship to the impoverished backward (e.g. no clean water it has to be trucked in) city like Elista. Now would you put your international brand name in his hands? When we speak of sponsors we need to thing about the sponsors and not just the chess.


So what your saying is that we should just watch chess die because of Kirsen and his henchman? I don't know about you, but I love this game too much for that. As far as sponsors go, maybe we could get the NY Times or most any other conglomerate in this country to do so. How would that hurt corporate greed and avarice?


No, what I am saying is that to attract sponsors, there has to be something in it for the sponsor. Kirsen and his henchman scare corporate sponsors away. While a fractured title is not the best, neither is a corrupt FIDE.

Many of the previous posts center on the format of the championship (e.g. round robin vs. match play). The fact is, sponsors care more about what they get from their sponsorship (e.g. brand recognition).

Now imagine Intel spends $5,000,000 and sponsors the world championship. The NY Times then does an expose on Kirsen and his henchman. Now Intel looks like they prop up a corrupt politician and it cost $5,000,000. Why take the risk?

We need an effective professional player’s association and an honest governing body.


I knew what you were saying and I like your twist on the NY Times(certainly plausible). Also, I'm in complete agreement with you regarding a PPA. I just hate to see those matches go down the drain. Unfortunately, thats the nature of the Kir, ah, beast.

Remind me, what's the point of a world chess body that can't organize candidate matches for a world chess championship again? 8/

Candidates matches for the chance to be one of the eight challengers? That's what, round of 16? Not even in financial glory days of FIDE were such matches attempted.

How about trying to organize a semifinal instead? I have a feeling a lot more people would want to host Anand-Leko than Bacrot-Ponomariov.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 24, 2006 4:26 PM.

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