Karpov proposes Kiev for Candidates matches

by ChessBase
8/13/2010 – 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.

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Originally the Candidates Matches for the current FIDE World Championship cycle were scheduled to be played in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the course of the year 2011. However, one of the candidates, Levon Aronian, is Armenian, and since the two countries are on very hostile terms with each other (de facto at war), FIDE in July, was unwilling to play his match on "enemy territory".

At this stage a political element was introduced into the cycle. In order to secure Armenia's support in the election while keeping the Azerbaijani vote, Arkady Dvorkovich, head of the Russian Chess Federation, came to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's rescue, offering Kazan, Russia, as the host site, while maintaining the gift of a wildcard spot for the Azerbaijani federation.

This proposal was soundly rejected by one of the candidates, Veselin Topalov, who sent an open letter to the Presidential Board of FIDE threatening to pull out of the cycle. The challenger in the World Championship match earlier this year balked at playing against a Russian opponent in Russia, citing the "unpleasant situations which my team and I had to face during the WCC Match in Elista 2006." All of the above was described in our July 24 report.

Just days later FIDE decided that the match would indeed take place in Kazan and that if Topalov refused to play in Russia he would be replaced by Alexander Grischuk. This was described in our July 27 report.

On August 3rd we reported that Topalov's manager Silvio Danailov had back-peddled a bit, insisting that Topalov had not generally rejected playing in Russia. He was only refusing to play a match against a Russian player in Russia, and only if that match is connected with the World Championship title. The chances of that happening in Kazan were not high, since that was only possible if Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik (a mortal enemy who "doesn't exist for us") both made it to the final. When the interviewer, Yuri Vasiliev insisted – “But if Kramnik reaches the final, then Topalov won’t play him in Russia? Is that correct?” – Danialov replied “If we have to, then we’ll play.”

A new offer by Anatoly Karpov

Now former World Chess Champion and candidate for the post of FIDE President Anatoly Karpov has proposed moving the Candidates Matches from Kazan, Russia, to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The proposal came in an interview Karpov gave to “Tatar-Inform” while he was guest of honour at a children’s chess tournament in Naberezhnye Chelny, the second city of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan (Kazan is the first.

The proposed second move of the Candidates Matches to the Ukrainian city of Kiev

You can explore the region on this Google map [Click to view larger map]

Asked to comment on FIDE’s decision to move the matches from Baku to Kazan, Karpov said that the proposal to move the Candidates Matches to Kazan left some unresolved issues:

"According to the existing system the host country for the tournament has the right to pick one extra player who didn’t get through the qualifying stages. That’s no longer going to be taken into account. The additional representative of Azerbaijan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, has retained his place in the Candidates Tournament, while Russia hasn’t been given the right to put forward another participant, as if we didn’t have enough strong grandmasters. Which is not the case. Off the top of my head I can name a long list of chess players who could lay claim to playing in Kazan. There’s Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Jakovenko, and so on. There’s another problem in that after the World Championship match in Elista between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia the Bulgarian has declared his unwillingness to play in Russia. And he is, by the way, one of the main contenders for the World Title. That’s not aimed against Kazan or Tatarstan, but a decision taken on principle by Topalov.

After conferring with my team we’ve taken the decision to put forward a proposal to move the Candidates Matches to Ukraine, to Kiev. That would allow the Ukrainians to choose one of their strong grandmasters, for example ex-World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, who recently won the International Super-Tournament in Dortmund in brilliant style. Please don’t take our proposal as having anything against Tatarstan, as we’d be happy to accommodate future proposals by your republic to run tournaments here. It’s just that right now Ukraine looks like the optimal way of getting out of this stalemate."

Perhaps the choice of Ukraine can also be explained by the President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation, Viktor Kapustin, being on the Karpov ticket.

During the same visit Karpov also talked to Alexandra Dorfman of the local weekly newspaper, “Novaya Nedelya”. The interview contains a number of interesting factoids (Karpov says he spent a total of 766 days playing in World Championship matches, and that he held the title sixteen time – eight times individually and eight times as part of a team – which was an absolute record, not only in chess) and a rare glimpse into the ex-champion’s family life. All of this can be read in the wonderful service provided by the web site "Chess in Translation", from which we took the above Karpov quote.

In the meantime the Karpov campaign site has run an attack piece on the matter, entitled "Restoring the World Championship and the Candidates Matches". It says:

To begin to remedy this situation and to restore the crown jewel that is the world chess championship, immediate changes must be made [to the Candidates phase of the World Championship cycle]. The matches must be extended, to at least 6, 6, and 8 rounds instead of the current 4, 4, and 6. There must be a significant gap between each round to allow the players to rest and prepare properly in order to play the best chess they are capable of.

That is how the Karpov administration will propose to organize the candidates matches. One of the new president’s first orders of business will be to seek the support of the General Assembly to restore the integrity of the entire world championship cycle and the rules. We have already secured a venue for the first round of matches. Kiev, Ukraine, will be the site of the quarterfinal round in May 2011. The pairings will be based on the January 1, 2011, rating list and Ukraine will select their wildcard candidate.

With the former world champion at the helm, FIDE will also respect the professional interests of the players. Each of the Candidates will receive written contracts with guarantees in place through the world championship. No longer will the players be pushed around on a whim by politicians with their own narrow interests. No longer will the world championship be trivialized by exhausting formats and silly rules.

Also read

Karpov: Candidates matches for the World Championship in Kiev (Russian language)

Kiev could host the Candidates matches for the chess crown (Russian)

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