Magnus Carlsen proposes changes in WCh

by Albert Silver
8/12/2015 – Just over a week before the start of the Sinquefield Cup, Magnus Carlsen dropped a small bomb on his Facebook page when he commented, "I felt it important to share with you something I have been thinking about a great deal: the World Championship cycle format." He then follows by advocating a knock-out system as used in the past. What do you think?

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At the top of his Facebook page, the World Champion vented his opinion on the inequity of the World Championship format, and proceeded to describe a format that brings back memories of FIDE's highly controversial KO championships in the past.

"In short, I strongly believe the chess world should evolve to a more just system. What does that look like? I have long thought that moving to an annual knock-out event, similar to the World Cup, would be more equitable. This change would in effect improve the odds of becoming World Champion for nearly every chess player, with the exception of the reigning World Champion, and potentially a few other top players who would no longer be favoured by the current format. Creating regional qualifying events combined with rating spots, the participation of all the top players in the world and the undisputed World Championship title at stake, I truly believe this would make the World Championship cycle more accessible to everyone.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend FIDE look into modernizing the World Championship cycle format."

Magnus Carlsen voiced his desire for change in the World Championship format, and invites
opinions on his idea. See the full post at his Facebook page.

It is certainly true that Carlsen has voiced his dissatisfaction on the system in the past, and even withdrew from the 2008-2010 cycle as a result. What is remarkable is that he advocates a system already used in the past with a rather spotty track record. The problem of course is that in a series of mini-matches as seen in then, just one loss is enough to send the player packing as there is no room for the long term or recovery.

Former top GM Michal Krasenkow says as much, pointing out that it was much more subject to a lottery than other sports that use this system, such as the World Championship of Snooker, where even the very first match is a best of 19 games (and the final is a best of 35). He thinks the current system works well, and draws plenty of attention and all he would change would be to increase the match length to 16 games instead of the current 12.

His voice is not universally agreed upon even by grandmasters, and GM Mikhail Golubev sides with Magnus, "My full support to Magnus Carlsen's proposal. The classical match is currently the least attractive form of the chess competitions."

In hours there were already hundreds of replies,
and hundreds more sharing his post with others

Trainer and grandmaster Jacob Aagard wonders why Magnus does not participate in the World Cup if he favors the format so much. "The FIDE president still has a wild card for Baku. Rather than reducing the prestige of the traditional system, you can personally upgrade the prestige of the World Cup by participating."

FIDE on Carlsen's World Championship proposal: We always listen to the World Champion

One thing is certain, this is bound to bring up enormous discussions on the merits or not of his proposals as well as alternate ideas. What do you think? Post it in the feedback below.



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.

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