Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov and the FIDE Presidential Board,
In the wake of recent events surrounding the FIDE Grand Prix and the General
Assembly's decision to alter the current World Championship cycle, I feel obliged,
as a participant and a leading chess player, to express my disappointment. I
must request you to critically view and question the GA's latest decisions and
the processes to which they came. I must stress that I am not one for scandals
and do not wish to cause unnecessary fights – however I believe it is
my duty to act as the voice of the players.
Firstly, the decision to alter the World Championship cycle at this time is
not in the spirit of fair competition. We can draw a parallel to the following
example: the rules set before a race state that the marathon is 42km, and while
the runners are still running, having already completed 20km, the rules are
suddenly changed to make the marathon an 80km run. The runners thus lose motivation
to run and consequently distrust the rule makers. This is comparable to the
situation the participants of the FIDE Grand Prix will be in if the GA's
decisions are made final.
After severe criticism for many years over the World Championship cycle, FIDE
finally created a promising new system, only now to self-impose new waves of
criticism. When the initial World Championship cycle was set in place and the
Grand Prix system was created for players to qualify legitimately for a chance
to challenge the world champion, we had the belief that there was finally a
fair and reliable system (which my federation also supported).
With the GA's recent actions, it seems that there is a democratic deficit within
FIDE. The GA did not consult the players currently taking part in the Grand
Prix in their decision processes. Please keep in mind a very important point
– these players, including myself, have a legally binding agreement with
FIDE regarding the World Championship cycle and the Grand Prix. Therefore it
is FIDE's duty to consult the other party of the contract – the participants.
Does this mean that the chess players have lesser rights than others? The GA
appears to act with no concern for the players. The decision to suddenly change
the World Championship cycle has damaging effects on the career plans of leading
chess players. It is also reasonable to ask: why should we go through several
tournaments over several years and fight for a place in a tournament that another
player gets by losing a match? The GA's decisions remove the motivation for
players like myself to take part in the World Championship cycle.
It should be noted that Mr. Mastrokoukos' reason to change the cycle because
of the unforeseen events of two legs of the Grand Prix withdrawing is not convincing
and does not reflect reality – because a Grand Prix event in Yerevan has
already been announced by FIDE as a replacement. It is clear that the withdrawal
of Doha and Montreux are not endangering the system, as he would have us believe
in his letter to Mr. Carlsen.
It seems that FIDE was on the right path towards a reliable World Championship
cycle, which had the support of leading players and chess federations worldwide.
However, with the GA's recent actions, FIDE has left the right path and will
lose its credibility in the eyes of chess players world wide – not to
mention, ruin its efforts to be recognized as a sport by the IOC. I hope that
the above arguments will be heard before finalizing the decisions of the GA.
Frankfurt am Main
December 6, 2008