FIDE Deputy President Makropoulos weighs in

by ChessBase
11/2/2005 – The controversies over the regulations of the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, as well as the qualification rules for the next FIDE world championship continue. After protests by top players and a letters from FIDE officials and the ACP, here's a message we received from FIDE's Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos.

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Dear ChessBase,

Regarding the recently published views of top players and the ACP through your website, I would like to point the following:

A. The FIDE announcement concerning the regulation updates, which stated that they "were made after taking into consideration the proposals of the participants in the World Championship Tournament and the recent discussions of FIDE with ACP", created some puzzlement about the possibility that the ACP might have agreed for all the changes, something which is simply not true.

Deputy FIDE President Georgios Makropoulos

The points for which the ACP has agreed are the following:

a1. that the schedule of the FIDE World Cup has been modified, in order to have one extra day for tie-breaks in every round and all free days abolished.

a2. for the changes implemented in the structure of the World Cup prize fund. These changes slightly decrease the prizes of the 2nd and 3rd round losers, at the amount of 1,000 USD each, and increases the prizes for the players placed 3 to 16.

Both parties (FIDE & ACP) were concerned during our discussions about the heavy schedule of the World Championship cycle (before the implemented updates), which was creating problems in securing sponsorship for every particular event and in the effort to finalise a fixed calendar. Such a calendar would enable the top players to arrange in time the schedule of their other obligations.

In the minutes of our July meeting there is only a small text about this mutual concern: "The rules for the next FIDE World Chess championship cycle, which includes the World Cup, the Last Chance Tournament and the Candidates' Matches, have been anounced and may not be changed. For the following cycles, the ACP considers that the Last Chance Tournament is a debatable concept, both from the sporting and marketing points of view, and might be improved".

B. The World Championship Tournament in San Luis proved beyond any doubt the following:

b1. such events attract an enormous amount of worldwide interest.

b2. it becomes much easier to attract potential organizers and sponsors.

b3. the process for crowning the world champion becomes simpler, enabling FIDE this way to schedule the next cycle and start bidding procedures for organizers/sponsors in time.

It should also be noted that the San Luis event was interesting not only because it crowned the new World Champion or because Topalov achieved a result which brought him, combined with his other recent performances, to the undisputed No.1 position in the world. The event was also interesting because it gave several qualification spots for the next cycle of the World Championship and the participants were obliged to fight for something better until the end of the tournament. This principle has to be protected in the next cycles since it secures a fighting spirit among the participants and thus improves the attractiveness of a World Championship final for media coverage and consequently adds to efforts for fundraising.

C. Based on the above conclusions and after discussions with the 8 participants in San Luis, FIDE decided to update the regulations in an effort to simplify the World Championship cycle. The objective was a "clean cycle" and "clear dates" as GM Loek van Wely also said.

Today, the cycle for the World Championship includes four levels and it surely cannot be categorized as "chaotic":

a) Zonal/Continental Championships
b) World Cup
c) Candidates Matches (2 rounds)
d) World Championship Tournament

The new updated version of the regulations doesn't take away any right of any player which was respectively guaranteed before October. The only exception is World Champion Veselin Topalov who honourably forfeited his rights in favor of a tournament for the World Championship. In general, the regulation updates are slightly favorable for the World Cup participants since 10 players qualify directly for the Candidate Matches, without having 5 of them to go through the Last Chance tournament process. Of course the 5 top rated players are also favored since they also avoid the cancelled Last Chance event.

It is common knowledge that for many years the system for the World Championship favors the top rated players, since 20 of them qualify through rating for the knock-out (World Cup) without having to play in the Zonal or Continental championships. With the current regulations, 5 of these 20 top rated players are also favored because they qualify directly for the Candidates Matches.

Within FIDE and the world chess community, there are different views concerning the question of qualifications through ratings with both sides having strong arguments. But the proposal of giving qualification spots for the World Championship Tournament through strong events like Corus, Linares or Sofia has many weaknesses, with the most significant being that some of the top players never get an invitation for these events while some others are invited in all of them!

D. Concerning the remark of GM Bartlomiej Macieja, about the contract between FIDE and the World Cup organizers to be added as an annex in the player's undertaking, the only reason for not adding it is that FIDE is this year solely responsible for the prize fund: the Khanty-Mansiysk organizers have already wired the agreed sum of 1,300,000 USD to FIDE's bank account while another 300,000 USD have been contributed by FIDE President Mr Ilyumzhinov.

With this opportunity, I would like to add that the efforts of the ACP are considerably valuable towards the improvement of FIDE regulations and towards the resolution of problems which affect the top players. Therefore, the attacks against the ACP are not fair, especially for a subject which is in the exclusive authority of FIDE.

I would also like to note that when the previous version of the regulations for the 2005-2007 cycle were announced, FIDE requested the opinion of the top players in order to implement any applicable suggestions during the congress in Dresden. FIDE received no reply or suggestion at all, except for the proposals of the ACP.

The Executive Board in Dresden authorized the Presidential Board to proceed in San Luis with any changes needed. Finally, the Presidential Board made its decisions according to the experience gained by the San Luis event and after taking into consideration the views of the participants there.

It is obvious that nobody has a desire of continuous changes in the regulations of the World Championship cycle. FIDE had been dragged into such a situation after the signing of the Prague Agreement. Our desire is to finally consolidate a system and a fixed calendar, in order to timely proceed for securing organizers and sponsorship. All opinions and proposals towards this direction are welcome by FIDE, provided they are submitted in time so we could conveniently hold discussions about them with all interested parties.

FIDE is aiming to keep the current format of the World Championship for the cycles 2007-2009, 2009-2011, etc., by taking into account any remarks or suggestions to be made by the ACP, individual top players or the national federations. Minor changes which might improve the next cycles could be made; for example how many players should qualify from the World Championship Tournament 2007 for the respective one of 2009, how many players should qualify for the 2008 Candidates Matches, how many by rating and if the winner of the World Cup should qualify directly to the World Championship Tournament.

As a conclusion I would say that in general, the updates implemented in San Luis upon the regulations of the World Championship represent a significant improvement, which was in all cases announced before the deadline for the submission of the player's undertakings and well before the start of the World Cup.

Best regards,
Georgios Makropoulos
FIDE Deputy President

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