Magnus Carlsen back in the World Championship cycle?

10/13/2011 – The shock came early in November 2010. The world's number one player, Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen, decided to drop out of the World Championship cycle, in which he had reached the Candidate stage of the last eight. Now FIDE has met some of his demands – e.g. that the final stage should be a tournament and not matches – and Carlsen has decided to participate in the next cycle.

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In his November 2010 letter to FIDE Magnus Carlsen said that after careful consideration he had reached the conclusion that the ongoing 2008–2012 cycle (i.e. the Candidate Matches that took place May 2011) did not represent a system that was sufficiently modern and fair to provide the motivation he needed to go through a lengthy process of preparations and matches and to perform at his best.

Carlsen presented his own ideas for future cycles, which should end in an 8-10 player World Championship tournament similar to those staged in 2005 and 2007. He also proposed that FIDE should abolish the privileges of the World Champion, who would take part in the finals together with the other candidates.

Now, after his latest success in the Sao Paulo/Bilbao Masters the 20-year-old Norwegian, who tops the current world live ratings by 14 points, has informed the Norwegian newspaper VG that he is willing to take part in the 2011-2013 FIDE World Championship cycle – if the World Chess Federation sticks to its announced intention of staging the last-eight Candidates as a tournament instead of matches. Even thought the reigning World Champion (Anand or Gelfand) will retain their privilege coming in at the final stage, Magnus intends to participate, if he is given "water-tight contracts."

Carlsen's decision comes after FIDE published its rules for the Candidates Tournament 2011–2013 (PDF). In this we find that the Candidates Tournament Regulations state:

3.1 Tournament Format & System
The 8 players shall play a double round robin tournament (14 rounds). The players who are from the same federation will play each other in rounds 1 and 8 (if only two) and if up to four players are from the same federation in rounds 1, 2, 3 and 8, 9, 10.

The prize fund is, incidentally, 420,000 Euros, net and cleared of any local taxes. The winner gets €95,000, the runner up €88,000, the third place €75,000, etc. (eighth place €17,000). The winner of course gets to challenge the World Champion in 2013.

So who qualifies for playing in the last-eight Candidates Tournament? The FIDE rules specify that they are:

2.1 World Cup 2011 – The three (3) top winners of the World Cup 2011 qualify.

2.2 World Championship Match 2012 – The player who lost the 2012 World Championship Match qualifies.

2.3 Average FIDE Rating List of July 2011 & January 2012 – Three (3) players qualify to participate by rating (excluding the players who qualify from articles 2.1 and 2.2 above). For the purpose of deciding the 3 rated player qualifiers, the average from the following lists will be used: rating of July 2011 plus rating of January 2012 divided by 2. In case of equality two decimals will be taken into consideration. If the numbers are still equal then the number of games from the twelve months covering the whole year 2011 shall be decisive. That means the player with the greater number of games shall qualify. If the numbers are still equal then the list of March 2012 shall be decisive. If the rating in the March 2012 list is still the same, the player with the greater number of games in this list will qualify. Players who appear in the inactive list in both July 2011 and January 2012 will not be able to qualify as a rated player. If the player is inactive in one list but appears in the other, then the single rating that is published shall be taken as the average.

2.6 One nominated player by the Organiser – A player, nominated by the organiser, with a rating of at least 2700 in the FIDE rating list of January 2012.

2.7 Replacements – Any replacements necessary will be fulfilled from the average rating list of July 2011 & January 2012.

So Magnus can qualify easy peasy on point 2.3 or even 2.6 (we don't know what happened to 2.4 and 2.5, which you can search for in the FIDE rules). The rules also give the time controls:

3.5.1 The time control for each game shall be: 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.

and the tiebreak criteria (3.7):

a) The results of the games between the players involved in the tie. If they are still tied:
b) The total number of wins in the tournament of every player involved in the tie. If they are still tied:
c) Sonneborn - Berger System.

If there is no clear winner with the above 3 criteria, there will be a special competition between the players who still remain tied after using the 3rd criteria (Sonneborn-Berger): after a new drawing of colors, each tied player will play two (2) tie-break games with the other tied opponent(s). The games shall be played using the electronic clock starting with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.

Finally we find the following (3.9.2b)

The players cannot draw a game by agreement. A claim for a draw is permitted only through the Chief Arbiter (or his Deputy) in the cases of perpetual check, stalemate, threefold repetition, the 50-move rule or insufficient material. Other kinds of theoretical drawn positions are allowed to be claimed by one or both players through the Chief Arbiter (or his Deputy). The Chief Arbiter can then declare it, or not, as a drawn game after consulting his/her Technical Advisor.

So things are falling into place, and the currently strongest player in the world will finally be actually fighting for the World Championship title.

Links to previous articles on the subject

Magnus Carlsen drops out of World Championship cycle
05.11.2010 – The shock on Friday: the world's number one player for most of 2010, 19-year-old Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen, has decided to drop out of the current World Championship cycle, in which he had reached the Candidate stage of the last eight. The series of knock-out matches is scheduled to begin in March next year, to determine the challenger of the World Champion Vishy Anand. Letter to FIDE.
Candidates Matches in Kiev – proposal by the UCF
15.08.2010 – Two days ago we published a report on FIDE Presidential candidate Anatoly Karpov's proposal to move the Candidates matches to Kiev, Ukraine. Today we received a message from the Ukrainian Chess Federation confirming that it would gladly host the matches – in a longer format and with a break before the final. The UCF also wants to organise a "Chess Davos". Press release.
Karpov proposes Kiev for Candidates matches
13.08.2010 – They were originally scheduled for Baku, Azerbaijan, then moved to Kazan, Russia – in spite of a stern protest by Veselin Topalov. There are still some unresolved issues, e.g. who would fill the wildcard? Now Anatoly Karpov has proposed moving the Candidates matches to Kiev, Ukraine, and nominating former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov as a candidate. Press reports.
Danailov: If we have to, then we’ll play
03.08.2010 – When FIDE decided to move the Candidates matches from Baku, Azerbaijan there was a sharp protest by Veselin Topalov, who threatened to withdraw from the cycle if he had to face a Russian opponent in Russia. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov fired back, implying Topalov could be replaced. In a remarkable Sports Express interview Yuri Vasiliev brings some clarity into the matter.
FIDE moves Candidates matches to Kazan, Russia
27.07.2010 – Just days after a request from the Russian Chess Federation to move the 2011 Candidates matches away from Baku, Azerbaijan, FIDE President Kirsan Illumzhinov has announced that the match will indeed now take place in Kazan. If Topalov refuses to play in Russia, as he has threatened, he will (brace yourself) be replaced by Alexander Grischuk. Sport Express report.
FIDE to move Candidates Matches, Topalov threatens boycott
24.07.2010 – The Candidates Matches for the next FIDE World Championship cycle were scheduled to be played in Baku, Azerbaijan. Since one of the candidates, Levon Aronian, is Armenian, and the two countries are de facto at war, FIDE wants to move the matches to Kazan in Russia. To this another candidate, Veselin Topalov, has issued a very sharp protest and threat.
Sutovsky: Proposal for the Candidates Matches
22.07.2010 – "On July 20 I was invited to meet FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov," writes Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky, "in order to discuss the situation with the Candidates Matches 2011. I was given few minutes to submit my proposal, and it was agreed, that I will publish an open letter on this very important matter." Here is Sutovsky's open letter.
FIDE Candidates Tournament split between two venues
18.10.2009 – The 2011 World Championship challenger is decided in a Candidates Tournament with eight participants (including World Chp and Grand Prix winners). At the 80th FIDE Congress in Greece this week FIDE decided, remarkably, that the tournament, scheduled for 2010/2011, would be split into two parts, to allow candidate Levon Aronian, who is from Armenia, to avoid playing in Azerbaijan.
Veselin Topalov and the new FIDE world championship cycle
24.06.2007 – At the Presidential Board meeting, which is currently being held in Tallinn, Estonia, FIDE has introduced a new Grand Prix series and a new world championship cycle. With a high-ranking Bulgarian delegation presenting a case for Veselin Topalov to enter the world championship FIDE made some special rules to govern the 2007-2009 stage. We have tried to decipher the new system.

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