FIDE proposes Candidates tournament 2007

by ChessBase
9/26/2006 – Originally 16 players were scheduled to play a series of matches next month to fill four places in the 2007 World Championship. But FIDE officials have admitted that they have run into trouble organising the matches. So President Ilyumzhinov has proposed staging a 16-player round robin in Elista next year instead. GM Boris Gelfand protests.

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On September 22-23 the FIDE Presidential Board held its quarterly meeting in Elista, with President Ilyumzhinov presenting a strategic plan for the next four years for the chess federation. He has decided to establish a separate company to serve as the commercial arm of FIDE.

Proposals regarding the future format of the World Chess Championship were also debated. The Presidential Board admitted that there were difficulties in organising the Candidate matches as announced in January this year. The following matches were to be held towards the end of this year:

 1 Levon Aronian Magnus Carlsen
 2 Peter Leko Mikhail Gurevich
 3 Ruslan Ponomariov Sergei Rublevsky
 4 Boris Gelfand Rustam Kasimjanov
 5 Etienne Bacrot Gata Kamsky
 6 Alexander Grischuk Vladimir Malakhov
 7 Judith Polgar Evgeny Bareev
 8 Alexei Shirov Michael Adams

The Presidential Board has now proposed to stage a round-robin tournament with these 16 players instead, and President Ilyumzhinov has offered to host the tournament in Elista in April 2007 (exact wording: "to hold all the matches or the tournament in Elista in April 2007", which leaves it unclear whether he would host the candidates matches as originally planned).

In reply to this announcement GM Boris Gelfand of Israel has written an open letter to the President of FIDE protesting the decision of the Presidential Board. Gelfand iterates all the measures he has taken to prepare for the Candidates matches as originally announced and urges that the dates of the event should not be changed, "especially not less than a month before the event". In addition he criticises the proposed change in the structure of the World Championship, which should not be changed during the cycle. In case the dates and the structures is indeed changed Boris Gelfand expects FIDE to compensate him for damages incurred.

Here are both documents in the original:

Presidential Board meeting

Concurrent with the World Chess Championship Match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik, the FIDE Presidential Board held its quarterly meeting on September 22-23 in Elista, Russia.

The Board evaluated the process initiated two years ago and judged it a success. The key result is the stabilization of the chess world, and the Topalov-Kramnik Championship Match is the best sign of this process.

President Kursan Ilyumzhinov presented his visionary view and strategic plan for the next four years of FIDE. He strongly emphasized the task to elevate FIDE to new heights, to make it a financially stable and the powerful international sports organization that strengthens its relationship with and its role within IOC, the International Olympic Committee. In order to achieve these aims, he had decided to establish a company which can serve as a commercial arm of FIDE. A commercial license agreement between the Company and FIDE will be drafted and dealt with in the Presidential Board Meeting in December 2006, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Other FIDE activities are to be strengthened and utilized. The President called the attention to the Chess in School program, the Chess Trainers' Academy and the World Chess Championship cycle.

In a long session, the Presidential Board thoroughly debated key elements of the strategic vision and reviewed several practical schemes, versions, as well as proposals regarding future format of the World Chess Championship and commercial activities of FIDE. The Board discussed the FIDE budget for 2007 and accepted it. It established the FIDE Public Relations and Marketing program by unanimous decision and created the PR and Marketing Directorate headed by Mr. Peter Rajscanyi, Hungary.

The Board approved FIDE titles for players, arbiters and organizers. FIDE Calendar 2007/2008 has been accepted. The Board reviewed the structure of the organization and assigned functional responsibilities to each Board member to make FIDE more pro-active.

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.

To FIDE president, Mr.Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov,

Around a year ago FIDE adopted a new system of World Championship. In order to fight for the highest title in the Chess world, last December I went to the World cup tournament in Khanti-Mansiisk, took 6th place and qualified for the next stage – the Candidates matches. In December I signed a letter of intent with FIDE. In January 2006 FIDE made the pairings and announced that the matches would take place 20-30th of October with a minimal prize fund of 40,000 US for each match. It meant that for two rounds of Candidate matches (8 of 1st round and 4 of next round) prize find should be at least 480,000 US. Taking this into account, I planned the timetable of my preparation.

GM Boris Gelfand of Israel

In order to reach the peak of my form for the most prestigious event of the year, I accepted some invitations like a training match with Czech grandmaster David Navara to have an experience in matches. However I declined some other ones, for example, super tournament in Foros with big prize-fund. If I’d accepted this invitation, I would be rated 3rd in the tournament and would have good reasons to get at least 3rd prize – US $10,000. I also rejected an invitation for a rapid event in Cap d’Adge at the end of October. I would be rated 1st there and would have a good chance to win 1st prize of 16,000 Euro, as I did there already two times.

I also hired some players specially to analyze the games of my opponent Rustam Kasimdzhanov and my potential opponents, Gata Kamsky and Etienne Bacrot. In order to help me, my seconds also refused some invitations to the tournaments and I had to compensate financially their expected losses.

During this, I didn’t receive e-mails or any news from FIDE (which is strange by itself) starting from New Year. I was confident that matches would start on time. Last month you confirmed it and assured that "the issue will be finalized during the Presidential Board meeting in Elista, during the Topalov-Kramnik match” (I quote from the translation of your interview to Yuri Vasiliev from the site on 21st of August 2006).

However, yesterday evening in official report of Presidential Board meeting I read the following:

“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.”

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 hear that in any sport dates of world championship in any stage were moved in such a short notice. It is especially dangerous to break all the rules of sport world when chess is trying so hard to become part of Olympic games .

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

I am kindly requesting you to reply to my concerns urgently, as announced dates of the matches are within less than 1 month. I consider the questions raised in this letter are of importance to all chess community, and therefore I send a copy of it to some of the most popular sites.

Sincerely yours,
Boris Gelfand, Candidate for the World Championship
Rishon le Zion, Israel

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