FIDE, ACP on the Team and World Championships

11/9/2005 – The debate continues, here on the ChessBase news pages. We have received messages for publication by FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong, on the World Team Championship selections, and from ACP President Joel Lautier, on the change of World Championship cycle rules. Also blitz interviews with top players.

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Singapore, 3 November 2005

Dear ChessBase

I write concerning the recently published views of GM Loek van Wely on the World Team Championship 2005 through your website.

May I refer your readers to FIDE’s website for the Regulations concerning the World Chess Team Championship. These Regulations have been in force since 1989 with only one major amendment in 2003 which I shall refer to later.

For the 2003-2005 Cycle, these are the qualified teams:

  4 Continental Champions Africa Egypt
    Americas Cuba
    Asia China
    Europe Russia (2nd Israel; 3rd Georgia)
   3 Highest-placed men’s teams in the Olympiad   1st Ukraine
      2nd Russia
      3rd Armenia
   1 Organising Federation   Israel
   1 Invited by Organizer (in consultation with FIDE)   United States

As Russia had qualified from the designated Continental Championship 2003, in accordance to Regulation 1.6.2 above, its place is passed on to 2nd-placed Israel. Since Israel is already qualified as organizing federation; its place is passed on to 3rd-placed Georgia.

In the Halkidiki FIDE Congress in 2003, the FIDE Executive Board approved the winners of the Women’s Olympiad as a qualified team. This place went to China, winner of the 2004 Women’s Olympiad.

The Organising Federation (Israel) has the prerogative to choose the 10th team and this went to the United States.

Egypt could not participate and the substitute, Zambia, withdrew rather late. Henceforth, Africa gave notification to give up its place. At the Presidential Board in San Luis, the decision was taken to invite the next highest-placed team in the Olympiad – and if this team is unable to take up the offer, the 2005 edition of the World Team Championship shall be played with only 9 teams. I should add at this juncture that when the decision was taken, nobody in the meeting knew which was the team to be invited! The decision was indeed transparent and objective!!

Prior to the meeting of the Presidential Board, the Organising Federation contacted the European Continental President for a nomination. Rightly, Continental President Boris Kutin declined politely because the Regulations did not permit him to nominate the replacement. Instead, the Organisers contacted the Dutch Chess Federation directly. Fortunately the Dutch Chess Federation declined otherwise FIDE would be faced with a problem. Unfortunately, India declined due to short notice.

I wish to take this opportunity to also draw attention to the Continental Championships. Prior to 1995, Asia was the only Continent with a Continental Team Championship held once every two years. The two Asian Continental Champions would play a Match to decide the qualifier. Ironically, in the FIDE Congress in Moscow 1994, to my disappointment, Asia changed its cycle to once every two years and meanwhile Europe on the contrary moved to once every two years!

With Best Wishes,
Ignatius Leong
General Secretary


ACP Statement concerning the change of rules
for the FIDE World Championship cycle

The ACP Board would like to state its position regarding the recent change of rules in the FIDE World Championship cycle. An initial press release by FIDE has caused some confusion concerning the involvement of ACP in this decision. In subsequent open letters posted on the ChessBase website, emanating both from ACP and FIDE representatives, the issue was cleared: ACP was in no way consulted by FIDE before the latter decided on the drastic changes for the upcoming World Championship cycle.

This came as a surprise, since previous meetings between ACP and FIDE in May and July had gone well and done much to bridge the differences between the two organizations over key issues. Time may have been short to implement changes before the start of the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiisk in late November if those were deemed absolutely necessary, but there was definitely enough of it to organize a meeting between FIDE and ACP. Given the importance of the matter, it is a great pity FIDE only took into consideration the opinion of the eight participants in San Luis.

Our position on the new rules is the following:

  1. Their implementation is affecting players from San Luis, without them having been able to adapt their play to the new rules, since these were decided after the event was finished. Ending such an important event with a different set of rules than the one at the start is contrary to basic sports principles. Had they known beforehand that fourth place in San Luis meant direct qualification to the next World Championship final event, players who finished on places 5 to 8 might have employed a different tournament strategy. The fact that, according to FIDE, all participants from San Luis agreed to the changes, does not alter the nature of the problem.

  2. There used to be a long-standing tradition that the World Champion had some privileges, and was most often seeded directly to the final match, as happened between 1948 and 1993. Should a final tournament, instead of a match, decide the world title, it would appear normal that the World Champion be seeded to the event directly. Granting the same privilege to players who finished second to fourth in San Luis is much more debatable. Considering that no qualifier was organized and only the Elo rating average was used in determining the participants of San Luis (with the exception of former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov), other top players with similarly high ratings may not see this rule as very fair, since half of the spots for the final event are already taken, and this event will only take place in two years’ time. On a personal note, I should add that an argument for a final tournament, rather than a match, was to introduce more dynamism in the world cycle, but having half the players already seeded so long in advance defeats that purpose.

  3. Dropping the entire tradition of final matches for the title of World Champion is a decision with far-reaching consequences. What has made chess popular in the mainstream media are the great duels of the past, the Fischer-Spassky, Karpov-Kortchnoi and Kasparov-Karpov showdowns have brought chess in the limelight. The San Luis tournament was successful from the purely technical point of view, with an abundance of fascinating chess games, however its media impact worldwide was clearly lower than previous head-to-head matches. Certainly, opinions may differ on this complex topic, but once again, such a decision should be weighed carefully beforehand and not taken with such haste. Ending an almost 120 year-long tradition (even previous FIDE knock-out world championships featured a final match) will have strong effects on the media popularity of chess, and it is highly unclear whether these will be beneficial to chess in the long run.


    ACP President GM Joel Lautier

In conclusion, ACP still acknowledges the efforts of FIDE to take into account some of our recommendations (such as adding rest days for tie-breaks in the World Cup or dropping the Last Chance tournament). Let us hope that the unilateral decision by FIDE to change rules for the World Championship, without consulting the ACP, will not prove a major setback in an otherwise constructive cooperation since May 2005.

Joel Lautier
ACP President
Paris, 9th of November 2005


Blitz comments on the rule change on the ACP site

Question: What is your attitude to sudden change of the world championship formula?

Alexander Khalifman: I approach it according to my basic principle: never get surprised about anything from FIDE. Although, or course, such a spontaneous change may look strange to an unprepared man.

Viorel Bologan: I think, changing one's own decisions too often is not very good. I see no reason to reject a simple and democratic championship system, based on a single principle - the strongest player wins.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov: In fact, FIDE presented us with a fait accompli: from now on the format of the world championship changes to double-round tournament of the eight. The qualification system suggested seems quite simple and logical to me, because one has to carry out just one event after Khanty-Mansijk – the series of matches, instead of Last Chance tournament plus matches.

Question: Do you think the new system is better of worse than the previous one in principle?

Alexander Khalifman: One that was accepted before at least took a slightest consideration of the sporting principle. And now the participants of San Luis, who were invited to the event without any qualification, got a gigantic priviledges, while the rest of players have to compete for only four spots. "Such can not be done" (c) V.Petrzela.

Viorel Bologan: I dislike both. However, the idea to carry out championship match-tournaments on a regular basis looks most attractive and fair. The matches, as it has been shown by last year's Kramnik-Leko encounter, became obsolete.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov: Yes, if it is based on the tournament of the eight being the last stage of the world championship. By the way, FIDE discussed the issue with all San Luis participants, and all eight grandmasters agreed to it, although maybe they had different reasons to do that.

Question: Will the championship unification match Topalov-Kramnik, if organized in 2006 under FIDE aegis, benefit chess?

Alexander Khalifman: Maybe it will, However, the key word here is "in 2006". In practice is does not look realistic. And if endless negotiations about such match would ruin the new cycle, then it is unambiguously harmful.

Viorel Bologan: The sooner the unification comes, the better for us all it will be. With regard to this issue, I am ready to overlook delays. The match between Kramnik and Topalov can be very interesting, but meanwhile, talking about legal issues in chess is laughable.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov: I think, this questions should be addressed to someone else: I have some painful memories about the unification. And I am not equipped to judge about moral issues - there are higher courts...

Question: Does Kramnik, in your opinion, have moral or juridical rights to challenge Topalov?

Alexander Khalifman: Juridically it is all casuistry. The consequences of "The Prague collusion" and everything that followed can be interpreted differently, however there will always be a bold question mark in the end. For a moral right Vladimir has, in my opinion, needs to produce in the near future at least one result, comparable to Topalov's achievements in 2006.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov: Based on what? The Prague Agreements? It is already ridiculous.


Russian version

Заявление АШП об изменении правил мирового чемпионского цикла ФИДЕ

Совет АШП хотел бы высказать свою позицию, касающуюся последних изменений правил мирового чемпионского цикла ФИДЕ. Первоначальный пресс-релиз ФИДЕ внес некоторую неразбериху в вопрос об участии АШП в принятии данного решения. В последовавших открытых письмах представителей как АШП, так и ФИДЕ, опубликованных на сайте www.chessbase.com, данный вопрос был прояснен: ФИДЕ не консультировалась с АШП перед введением радикальных изменений в предстоящем чемпионском цикле ФИДЕ.

Это решение стало для нас неожиданностью, поскольку предыдущие встречи представителей АШП и ФИДЕ, прошедшие в мае и июле, имели положительные результаты и во многом ликвидировали существовавшие между двумя организациями противоречия по ключевым вопросам. Возможно, у ФИДЕ было мало времени для того, чтобы принять изменения до начала Кубка мира в Ханты-Мансийске, но определенно достаточно для того, чтобы организовать встречу ФИДЕ и АШП. Учитывая важность этого вопроса, очень жаль, что ФИДЕ приняла во внимание лишь мнение восьми учасѡ ?ников чемпионата мира в Сан Луисе.

Наша позиция, касающаяся новых правил, такова:

  1. Данные правила вступают в силу для всех турниров, начиная с Сан-Луиса, но при этом игроки не могли адаптировать свою игру к ним, поскольку изменения были приняты после окончания турнира. Введение новых правил во время проведения столь важного турнира нарушает основные спортивные принципы. Если бы шахматисты заранее знали, что четвертое место в Сан-Луисе означало пропуск в финал следующего чемпионата мира, то игроки, в итоге занявшие места с пятого по восьмое, применили бы другую турнирную стратегию. Тот факт, что, согласно информации Ф! ИДЕ, все участники турнира в Сан-Луисе согласились с данными изменениями, не меняет природу проблемы.

  2. Согласно давней традиции, чемпион мира имел некоторые привилегии и чаще всего участвовал непосредственно в финальном матче, как это происходило с 1948 по 1993 год. И если бы чемпион определялся по результатам финального турнира, а не матча, то было бы весьма естественно, чтобы чемпион мира принимал участие только в нем. Предоставление тех же привилегий игрокам, занявшим места со второго по четвертое в Сан-Луисе, является более спорным вопросом. Учитывая то, что список участников турнира в Сан-Луисе был сформирован без проведения отбороѡ ?ных соревнований, и базировался только на рейтинге Эло (это относилось ко всем участникам, за исключением предыдущего чемпиона мира Рустама Касымжанова), другие шахматисты с таким же высоким рейтингом могут считать это правило не очень честным, поскольку половина участников следующего чемпионата таким образом уже определена, а само соревнование будет проводиться раз в два года. От себя замечу, что одной из причин введения финального турнира вместо финального матча было придание динамизма мировому циклу, а предварительное определ! ение половины состава участников ! прот иворечит данному принципу.

  3. Решение полностью упразднить традицию проведения финальных матчей на звание чемпиона мира будет иметь серьезные последствия. Именно великие решающие поединки, такие как Фишер - Спасский, Карпов - Корчной, Каспаров - Карпов, привлекли внимание к шахматам, сделали их популярными через ведущие СМИ. Турнир в Сан-Луисе с огромным количеством захватывающих партий удался с чисто технической точки зрения, в то время как степень освещаемости этого события СМИ была гораздо ниже, чем предыдущих личных матчей. По поводу такого сложного вопросС ?, несомненно, существует много различных точек зрения, но хочу повторить еще раз, что решение такого рода должно быть тщательно обдуманно и взвешенно, и не должно приниматься в такой спешке. Прекращение традиции, которой уже почти 120 лет (даже в предыдущих чемпионатах мира ФИДЕ по нокаут-системе был финальный матч), очень сильно повлияет на популярность шахмат в СМИ, к тому же неясно, выиграют ли от этого шахматы в долгосрочной перспективе.

  4. В заключение добавлю, что АШП тем не менее выражает признательность ФИДЕ за принятие во внимание некоторых наших предложений (таких, как добавление свободных дней для тай-брейков в Кубке мира или прекращение турнира последнего шанса). Мы надеемся, что одностороннее решение ФИДЕ об изменении правил чемпионата мира, принятое без консультации с АШП, не приведет к расторжению сотрудничества, которое успешно осуществлялось с мая 2005 года.

    Жоэль Лотье,
    Президент АШП
    Париж, 9 ноября 2005 г.



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