Magnus Carlsen drops out of World Championship cycle

by ChessBase
11/5/2010 – 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.

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Letter to FIDE

To: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov & FIDE World Championship Committee.

Reference is made to the ongoing World Championship cycle.

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my decision not to take part in the planned Candidate Matches between March and May 2011.

After careful consideration I’ve reached the conclusion that the ongoing 2008–2012 cycle does not represent a system, sufficiently modern and fair, to provide the motivation I need to go through a lengthy process of preparations and matches and to perform at my best.

Reigning champion privileges, the long (five year) span of the cycle, changes made during the cycle resulting in a new format (Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go through since Kasparov, puzzling ranking criteria as well as the shallow ceaseless match-after-match concept are all less than satisfactory in my opinion.

By providing you with four months notice before the earliest start of the Candidates as well as in time before you have presented player contracts or detailed regulations, I rest assured that you will be able to find an appropriate replacement.

Although the purpose of this letter is not to influence you to make further changes to the ongoing cycle, I would like to take the opportunity to present a few ideas about future cycles in line with our input to FIDE during the December 27th 2008 phone conference between FIDE leaders and a group of top-level players.

In my opinion privileges should in general be abolished and a future World Championship model should be based on a fair fight between the best players in the World, on equal terms. This should apply also to the winner of the previous World Championship, and especially so when there are several players at approximately the same level in the world elite. (Why should one player have one out of two tickets to the final to the detriment of all remaining players in the world? Imagine that the winner of the 2010 Football World Cup would be directly qualified to the 2014 World Cup final while all the rest of the teams would have to fight for the other spot.)

One possibility for future cycles would be to stage an 8-10 player World Championship tournament similar to the 2005 and 2007 events.

The proposal to abolish the privileges of the World Champion in the future is not in any way meant as criticism of, or an attack on, the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who is a worthy World Champion, a role model chess colleague and a highly esteemed opponent.

Rest assured that I am still motivated to play competitive chess. My current plan is to continue to participate in well-organised top-level tournaments and to try to maintain the no 1 spot on the rating list that I have successfully defended for most of 2010.

Best regards,
IGM Magnus Carlsen

Mini-Interview with Magnus

Question: Magnus, you've got to feel a bit uneasy about this momentous decision?

Magnus Carlsen: It's been a difficult process. But now that the decision has been taken, I actually feel relieved.

Even if that means you will be missing an entire World Championship cycle?

The World Championship cycle will last for almost five years, and with constant rule changes. It takes too much effort to deal with the political part of the process. I would therefore like to focus my energy on developing my skills as a chess player, and to defend my position as number one in the world rankings.

How do you think the chess public will react to your action? Many may think you are throwing away a golden chance.

Well, I understand if they are a bit puzzled, but I have to make the decision that I think is best for me and my career.

Does this mean that you will not participate in a World Championship in the future?

No, no, absolutely not. I hope that there will be changes in the future. It is clear that I will be back in it then. The decision now applies only to the current world championship cycle.

With your decision are you making a special point against FIDE?

No, it is a personal decision based on what I think is best for me.


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.

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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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