No bids for World Championship 2014

by Frederic Friedel
5/6/2014 – It is quite amazing: World Champion Magnus Carlsen, a real sports superstar, is to be challenged in a title match by former World Champion Viswanathan Anand, an Indian with 1.3 billion fans, in November this year. But the deadline for the bidding process to stage this match ran out on April 30, at 13:00h, without a single bid being received by FIDE. What are the reasons?

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No bids for World Chess Championship 2014

On March 30, to everybody's (including Anand's) surprise, the former World Champion, relegated to the retirement bench by so many, had won the Candidates Tournament in Khanty Mansiysk by a full point. The Indian GM and former World Champion had thus gained the right to challenge the current World Champion, Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen, in November this year.

The bidding process for staging this for all intents and purposes very attractive match was already opened and the deadline for handing in bids had been set for March 10. This was unrealistic, since a lot hinges for potential organisers on who would be the challenger. If it were Kramnik, Karjakin, Svidler or Andreikin then a Russian sponsor might be tempted; if it were Levon Aronian one could probably book tickets for Armenia; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov would certainly have mobilized Azerbeijan's oil riches; and Veselin Topalov may have enticed someone in Bulgaria to do a repeat of the 2010 World Championship match.

In view of this uncertainty FIDE decided to extend the deadline to April 30, 2014, 13:00h. That gave potential organisers a month to make a bid for the Championship, which was to be staged six months later.

On April 30, 2014, at 13:05 – just five minutes after the deadline for bidding had elapsed – we found the following terse announcement on the FIDE web site:

There is quite a bit of surprise and consternation over this turn of events. Not a single bid? How could that be? Well, taking a closer look will make certain aspects a bit more understandable. Our discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them organisers and chess dignitaries, most strong chess players, some even close to being challengers themselves, produced the following theories and arguments:

  1. India had just staged a World Champion for their chess hero in Chennai, in November 2013 with a prize fund of 1.8 million Euros and a total cost of Rs 20 crores. That's 200,000,000 Rupees = 3.2 million Euros or US $4.5 million, at the time, that the organisers had to pledge for staging the event. The chances that a similar amount would be available for a return match in India, just twelve months later, were slim.

  2. Norway was the obvious place to look to – we did so ourselves, but unfortunately only as an April Fool's jest. Norway is awash with oil revenue, it is gripped in chess fever (actually "Magnus Carlsen fever" would be a more accurate description), television channels are battling each other for full live coverage of Carlsen matches. However Norway is already staging a Supertournament – Chess 2014 – in June and the 41st Chess Olympiad in August, the latter with a total budget of 40 million NOK (€4.8 or US $6.8 million). The Olympiad is not fully funded yet, and the organisers are still negotiating with sponsors. In that situation they are very upset to have a rival event competing for the sponsorship money. You can read about the "scandal" in this Nordlys article, or if you do not speak Norwegian, in this Google translation.

    Addendum: We have been informed that the total budget for Tromsø is far beyond 40 mil NOK, in fact it is several times larger. 40 mil NOK was the figure given for the November match.

  3. FIDE critics – and especially Garry Kasparov on his Twitter feed (Kasparov is running against incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for FIDE President) – blame it on the unprofessionalism of the International Chess Federation and their World Championship company. Kasparov: "Many western sponsors don't want to deal with Kirsan's FIDE & some of his usual backers are facing sanctions."

  4. The World Chess Championship might be overvalued?! This is an argument we find difficult to accept. Events like these have in the past sometimes draw just a handful of spectators to the venue. But on the one hand recent tournaments (like the Zurich Chess Challenge or the London Chess Classic) have drawn sizable audiences; and on the other the real audience is to be found world-wide on the Internet, where potentially millions could be watching the games on chess servers, with live GM commentary and discussions. And on the third (sorry) we can see an interesting trend of showing games on television, live and in full length, as Norwegian TV did during the Chennai match. And all this for a fraction of a fraction of the costs for a soccer game, a tennis match or (a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a) motorsport Grand Prix race.

If you have comments or additional talking points please feel free to post them in
our discussion section at the bottom of this page (but please no gratuitously
aggressive or insulting postings – they will be simply deleted).

Anyway, all is not lost, and we assume that FIDE will extend the deadline again (what else?). In case anyone knows a sponsor, below are full details of the bidding procedure. Incidentally FIDE will pay a handsome finder's fee for anyone who can come up with a host.

Bidding procedure for the FIDE World Championship Match 2014

1. Following the success of last year's World Championship match in Chennai, FIDE and its commercial partner AGON are searching potential venues for the 2014 FIDE World Championship match, where the world champion Magnus Carlsen will defend his title against a challenger to be determined from the Candidates Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk this March.

2. The World Championship Match 2014 shall take place from 6 November (game 1) to 25 November 2014 (possible tiebreaks/closing ceremony).

3. Each bid shall contain the following particulars as minimum:

a) Proposed venue of the event.

b) Proposed prize fund for the players (should be offered net of any applicable local taxes). The prize fund for the 2013 event in Chennai was 1,850,000 euros.

c) The contribution to FIDE (net of any applicable local taxes and not less than 20% of the prize fund), as stipulated in article 13.2, as well as the financial obligations stated in article 14 of the World Championship Match 2014 regulations.

d) Commitment to cover all the other financial obligations to FIDE, in accordance with the regulations of the World Championship Match 2014.

e) Commitment to cover all organizational costs, in accordance with the regulations of the World Championship Match 2014.

f) Category of official hotel (minimum 4 stars), and name if possible, with special room rates for visitors, including meals.

g) A statement that the applicant accepts the regulations of the match without any reservations.

h) An invitation for 2 (two) members of the FIDE Commission for World Chess Championships and Olympiads to inspect the proposed venue and examine the other conditions, with all travel/hotel expenses paid by the bidder.

i) The applicant's name, signatures and authentication.

4. In order for a proposed bid to be considered, it should be accompanied by a 9-month term bank guarantee covering the amount of prize fund (in Chennai 2013 this was 1,850,000 euros), the FIDE contribution (20% over and above the prize fund), 5% for WCOC budget and 5% for the commercial rights plus 32,500 euros covering stipends of Principals as described in article 14.5 of the match regulations. This guarantee should be from a bank that FIDE bankers, UBS of Switzerland, are able to confirm as acceptable.

5. Alternatively to the above paragraph, a bidder can deposit in FIDE's bank account the amount of 200,000 euros by the deadline of 30 April 2014 (refundable if the bid is rejected), another 50% of the prize fund before 31 May 2014 and the balance of all remaining obligations before 31 August 2014.

6. A bid is considered valid if it is accompanied with a non-refundable Bid Fee of 2,000 euros payable to FIDE.

7. No bidder can propose a sponsor which shall be in conflict with the regulations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

8. The bids, including all original documents and particulars, should arrive by registered post to the FIDE Secretariat, post address: 9 Syggrou Ave., 11743 Athens -Greece. The bidding process will close on 30 April 2014, 13:00 GMT.

9. When the deadline has expired, the FIDE President or his representative shall open the received envelopes in order to assess the bids. FIDE will inform the bidding parties of the results within 3 days after the deadline. The final contract with the successful bidder shall be signed within 10 days afterwards.

10. FIDE reserves the right to accept a bid based on the evaluation of all criteria under article 3 of the present bidding procedure and not only that of the prize fund. FIDE also reserves the right not to award any bid at all, however favorable it might be.

Released by the FIDE Secretariat, 9 January 2014
Updated by the FIDE Secretariat, 11 March 2014

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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Picolino Picolino 5/8/2014 09:58
Yet, we still try to reduce short draws, introduce some best game prizes, invite interesting players etc... while we dont see where it all goes... Some long time ago, chess was not perfect, but there existed a lot of mysteries to solve by the players themselves. Now its about routine. Magnus will win, we all know that... You can damn me, but classical chess is getting so boring...
Picolino Picolino 5/8/2014 09:53
Honestly, chess as a game is in bad state... Who wants to see 10 Berlins and 2 desperate attempts of white to play with some g3, b3 setups, which objectively dont promise any advantage? The best players, and Magnus is underlying that, bet on memory, consistency and stamina. What is presented as a "fighting" chess, is in fact dull grind waiting for opponent to falter... There is little creativity and originality there. Honestly, when did you see some new, fresh pattern, idea (I mean truly original, not just a new particular move) ? We should turn our attention to Fischer chess, maybe with even more pieces to neutralise power of computers in it. The classical chess is now very limited at its core- like half of the openings are in fact unplayable in top chess!
shahany shahany 5/8/2014 09:11
@Anandkumar, here is the thing, outside India I dont think anybody wants to see Anand play for the championship this soon.
shahany shahany 5/8/2014 09:09
Calvin Amari, from the Kasparov era almost no chess player brings any celebrity value. Nobody is amazed by Anand's quickness or Ivancuck's crazy genius. Mostly thanks to the Kasparov monopoly and his undisputed chess king status. Magnus I think finally is bringing chess back from that disaster. Another pleasant surprise from Magnus, his games are not impossible to follow, he just makes chess seem very easy and natural. Unlike the Kasparov games, which were the result of hours and hours of computer preparation that manifested a machine style character.
Jim Ciha Jim Ciha 5/8/2014 08:01
It's ridiculous to have a World Chess Championship EVERY year. That just wears everybody out. Every two years minimum would make it a much more prestigious event and you would have more time to line up a sponsor's bid. So Carlson wins the title last year and already he has to defend it? FIDE has lost it's way for many years. They have made so many changes to the pursuit of the world title that no one can take them seriously, including sponsors.
Anandkumar Anandkumar 5/8/2014 10:05
I find that a large portion of comments suggest that the result is a foregone conclusion. I find this strange and insulting. If sport has taught us anything, it is that predicting results is not straightforward.

When Gelfand played Anand, everybody thought it would be a cake walk but it wasn't.

Before the candidates, all the experts including many who were asked by Chessbase expected Aronian or someone else to win and definitely not Anand.

So, it would be wise to not make such bold statements. What is funnier is that people think Nakamura (who did not qualify for candidates or who has never won a classical game against Carlsen) who have been a better candidate.

The stock of the person who doesn't participate always rises.
JimmyDean JimmyDean 5/8/2014 07:04
Graeme's story about the Indian woman who didn't know Anand isn't really that surprising. Over the last 4 1/2 years less than 10 of the 4000+ university students I've been teaching in China knew who Hou Yifan is, and that's after I showed them pictures of her, with her name in Chinese! If one takes into account the strong sense of patriotism of the Chinese, it would be reasonable to deduce that, based on Hou Yifan's lack of popularity outside the chess community in China, it's absurd to say Anand has 1.3 billion fans in India alone! Apart from all the children under 3 who wouldn't know anything about Anand or chess, most Indians probably don't know who Anand is. Of those who do, not all would necessarily support him. I've met a number of chess players from India, including an IM, who are not Anand fans. We also have to look at the definition of the word fan. There would surely be many Indians who know nothing about chess and don't follow Anand's games, but would feel a sense of pride that an Indian was a world chess champ-not because it's Anand, but simply because he's an Indian. Such people can't be described as Anand fans. Taking all of this into account, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that Anand has 1.3 MILLION-rather than 1.3 billion-fans in India. 5/8/2014 02:28
That claim in the first paragraph, that Anand has 1.3 billion fans always comes across as silly, and even a bit insulting, as though Indians are a mindless, monolithic whole. It's like claiming every American is a Red Sox fan, except that nobody would make that mistake with Americans. In fact, no other GM of any nation has his fan base measured in this way.

Funny story. Last fall I met a woman from India. I decided to test out Chessbase's oft-repeated claim, and asked her what she thought of Vishy Anand. Blank look. "Who?" I tried to help her a bit. "The World Chess Champion? About to defend his title?" Finally, she said "Oh yeah, he's going to play the Russian, right?" "Uh no, that was three matches ago." So yes, even in India, people are individuals, with their own personal likes and dislikes. They don't march in lockstep for Vishy or anyone else.
Jokipii Jokipii 5/7/2014 09:54
The world chess championship should be played in Chennai India again.
Jokipii Jokipii 5/7/2014 09:54
The world chess championship should be played in Chennai India again. 5/7/2014 09:35
It's a small point perhaps, but I'm always a bit irked by these constant claims that Anand has 1.3 billion fans. It's vaguely insulting, as though every man, woman and child in India marches in some kind of monolithic group-think lockstep. You never hear any other player's fan base measured this way.

Funny story. A few months back I ran into a woman from India. I couldn't resist the urge to test Chessbase's frequently made claim, so I asked her what she thought of Vishy Anand. Blank look. "Who?" I helped her a bit. "The world chess champion. About to play a title defense?" Faint glimmer of recognition. "Oh yeah, yeah. He's going to play the Russian. "Uh no, actually that was three matches ago." And this was Fan #845,646,923! 5/7/2014 09:34
It's a small point perhaps, but I'm always a bit irked by these constant claims that Anand has 1.3 billion fans. It's vaguely insulting, as though every man, woman and child in India marches in some kind of monolithic group-think lockstep. You never hear any other player's fan base measured this way.

Funny story. A few months back I ran into a woman from India. I couldn't resist the urge to test Chessbase's frequently made claim, so I asked her what she thought of Vishy Anand. Blank look. "Who?" I helped her a bit. "The world chess champion. About to play a title defense?" Faint glimmer of recognition. "Oh yeah, yeah. He's going to play the Russian. "Uh no, actually that was three matches ago." And this was Fan #845,646,923! 5/7/2014 09:00
Boring matchup. Nearly all of Anands tourneys of late were snoozers (with the exception of the Candidates). Last WC match was a snoozer after game 5. My guess is that a match against Aronian, Kramnik, or even someone like Nakamura who has a horrible score against Carlsen would produce more sponsorship money. Anand's play in the Candidates was solid, but nothing more. It was just a case where his rivals all ended up having a bad tournament.
Bostonian Bostonian 5/7/2014 04:56
Oh my god John MacArthur! What did you smoke today ? Did you just compare Hikaru Nakamura to Bobby Fischer ? I bet that old man would be turning in his grave. "Hikaru Nakamura has a record against Carlsen that Fischer had vs Spassky" ?? Seriously ? Does mommy know you've already learned to type and post comments on the internet ? I bet you can change your diapers by yourself too.
Bostonian Bostonian 5/7/2014 04:50
The root cause of this issue seems more tied to facts like frequent world champtionship events, Ilyumzhinov's management and politics and much less to world championship contenders Anand and Magnus Carlsen. Based on all the readers comments, I see a very strong bias against Anand. Perhaps all these commenters are of western origin and of the younger generation. I can understand their argument of boring matches but the the coming match will be anything but boring. Bear in mind that there are viewers who find Carlsen equally boring when all he does is grind down his opponent until he gets tired and makes a mistake. I would rather pay to watch Topalov than Carlsen. With Respect to Anand, he has rightfully and very cleanly earned his right to challenge. The other candidates, given the way they wilted I would give them no chance against Carlsen so Anand clearly is the best candidate to fight him. I also get a sense some of the commenters are afraid Carlsen would loose this time and that is why they dont want Anand to play Carlsen again.
John MacArthur John MacArthur 5/7/2014 03:25
The fact that there have been no bids, doesn't mean no one is interested in hosting a WC, just that they would like to host one that Carlsen might lose. Chess is not like other sports that can change champions yearly, Anand proved that after many failed annual FIDE WC produced winners that many forget let alone invite to tournaments. A WC every two to three years is appropriate to garner support and allow for the generation to mature enough that we might think the title could change hands. Hikaru Nakamura has a record against Carlsen that Fischer had vs Spassky. He needs roughly 12 months and then sparks will be flying!
In the past, pre FIDE - players promoted themselves with Best Games tomes in order to draw potential sponsors. In this day and age of PR - all of the players should have agents/promoters/backers, especially someone who might quit (or threaten to, in order to motivate) if they draw ten games in a row!? 5/7/2014 03:03
Because Sponsors and I know the result.
kaspalamamba kaspalamamba 5/7/2014 01:05
surely the is a more underlying reason why FIDE did not market the tornament
hansj hansj 5/7/2014 12:22
Well, just this match is not the most interesting.
rahul_champ rahul_champ 5/7/2014 10:49
I hope the reason should not be that the probable sponsors got pissed off with April's Fool prank :)
leigh leigh 5/7/2014 08:20
The format of WC matches is to old to attract people and sponsors. I suggest:
give up the old format.
The world champions include Olympic WC, World Cup WC, World Tournament WC, and many big sponsors's titled WC. Those WCs are equal. I called new format. Under new format, many players will be WCs, many sponsors will see their money creating WCs. many studying players will see a good future.
JimmyDean JimmyDean 5/7/2014 05:05
For those insisting that there's still a need for a WC match, if you are big enough in numbers, a one Euro donation from each of you should be more than enough to sponsor the event.
VGerber VGerber 5/7/2014 01:29
Today the German website of Chessbase seems to have the clearly better approach to the subject. André Schulz has given a brief summary of the world championships starting in 1993 when Garri Kasparov and Nigel Short played their match without FIDE and ending in 2013/2014 with two world championships in two consecutive years. He highlighted especially the fact that FIDE with the current president Ilyumzhinov has caused harm to the game of chess with an unclear strategy in organizing the world championships.

Maybe the mere reporting on chess events was not enough to stop people like Ilyumzhinov to abuse the chess community for his own interests for such a long time, maybe especially Chessbase - as the market leader - has a special responsibility in this regard.

I would like to add that the situation of the women's world champion Yifan Hou is far worse. The fact that she is deprived of nearly all privileges that the male titleholder has and the knockout mode for the women’s world championships are sexist relics of a bygone era. It would be nice to see some support for her request for the harmonization of the regulations of the world championships for men and women. 5/7/2014 12:35
I believe that most of the comments (including this one) are from the people who have no chance to either sponsor this match or can influence someone to/from doing so. It would be nice to hear opinions of those who are likely to sponsor and why the delay incurred. Speculating about the reasons is interesting, but it can only go this far. And BTW, I do believe that we'll have a sponsor for this match in due course of time.
toreohm toreohm 5/7/2014 12:30
How about if FIDE changes the World Chess Championship to an 18 game format. Before it used to be 24 games, and now just 12???? Come on!!! 5/6/2014 11:52
Who is interested in forking out a million dollars for a boring 10 game match with one or two real games? No sporting interest, that's why the old fashioned way of challenging for the title might make more sense
pahlevanzadeh pahlevanzadeh 5/6/2014 11:48
Finding the sponsor for the world championship match was always difficult. Don't forget that Shirov on year 1998 beat Kramnik 5.5 - 3.5 to qualify for Play with Kasparov, World Championship Match, But they couldn't find any sponsor and later on year 2000 Kramnik played against Kasparov.
At the current situation only Khanty Mansiysk and some other friends of current FIDE team paying for world Championship Cycle and grand Prix trournament, If current president lose in the election, who knows if those sponsor spend again for chess?
For sure Garry Kasparov also has a lot of influence and can bring a lot of support for Chess as well.
Let Just dream after 2014 FIDE election all the people who has influence on the Petitions use their power to bring more support for Chess.
BabyPfuscher BabyPfuscher 5/6/2014 11:37
I think word has spread among the business community that FIDE's cut or fee from sponsorship is much to unreasonable and that dealing with Ilyumzhinov and his band of thugs is a unsavory proposition at best.
AngeloPardi AngeloPardi 5/6/2014 09:33
shahany : How can you say the KK match were boring ? There were epic games in all those matches.

And Kasparov has made many mistakes, but he managed to organize no less than 3 WC matches without having FIDE to back him.
billybudd billybudd 5/6/2014 09:23
Three reasons:

1) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov - what respectable company would want to be associated with him?
2) Boring match-up - the result is given (more or less)
3) The same match was played just a year ago. It will be very hard to classify this as any sort of 'epic' match.

Despite #2 and #3 there's little doubt that Kasparov as FIDE president would have been able to get a sponsor for the match.
shahany shahany 5/6/2014 08:39
I am a big fan of Kasparov, but please enough with meddling with chess politics. Right or wrong he single handily almost killed of chess as a global organized sport when he split with fide and formed PCA.
shahany shahany 5/6/2014 08:31
When Anand won the candidates, I was no way. Who needs these rematches. Like the boring none stop KK ones. There should be a new rule forbidding the loser from doing a rematch and be on the sidelines. Really, who wants to see Anand again?
slickfish slickfish 5/6/2014 08:28
All is not lost! It's just that in today's professional sport entertainment environment, the WCC is lagging in its reliability. Once the match happens, the production quality really seems to be top notch. But a deadline in March for an event that is supposed to happen by the end of that same year just seems amateurish. Hopefully we will get to the point where the WCC is sponsored and scheduled multiple years in advance.
AngeloPardi AngeloPardi 5/6/2014 08:24
Genem :
I agree with your 1), 2), 3) and 5).
However, the 60% draw rate is not an argument : it has been the same since the beginning of the 20th century, and there have been a lot of WC match since Lasker-Schlechter/
genem genem 5/6/2014 08:21
1. WCChamp match every year is too frequent. Every two years is better.
2. Kirsan.I's mere existence is poison to sponsors.
3. Carlsen already crushed Anand. And there is no animosity between them. So a rematch would lack both novelty and doubt about the outcome. Thus exceptionally unexciting.
4. The 60% or higher draw rate in chess is a turn-off to people who have a curiosity or potential interest in chess.
5. A TV show designed the right way could make chess more popular. Need more creative graphics. Need two announcer-analysts, one per player; and they act like court-room advocates for their player rather than as neutral evaluators. Easy to embed adverts on the screen during video, much as soccer does in the background as play proceeds. Video can be hurrieldy edited down to approx one hour, for viewing by we who are sleeping in another time zone when each game starts.
chesshulk chesshulk 5/6/2014 08:10
It would be an interesting match if the outcome weren't already obvious. Only months ago, Carlsen beat Anand, and how's this different? It's no Bobby beats Russia, but comparatively a snooze-fest.
billbrock billbrock 5/6/2014 08:01
In light of the Ukrainian crisis, the close association of Ilyumzhinov's FIDE with the Putin administration's foreign policy is yet another reason why potential corporate sponsors find this event unappealing. Someone who sits down with Qaddafi, S. Hussein, and Assad may find yet another murderer to hobnob with in November 2014.

It would be absolutely wrongheaded to seek to return to a Eurocentric FIDE: we've had enough of that, too. But a FIDE that strives not to advance the political agenda of certain member nations would be a refreshing change of pace, and one that sponsors would find far more appealing. 5/6/2014 07:31
Maybe 5) One Wch per year is too much... Also I remember myself being amazed that for example after Chennai 2013 none of the participants (Anand or Carlsen) has annotated a single game of the match themselves...
AngeloPardi AngeloPardi 5/6/2014 07:10
By the way, it's just ridiculous to think that nobody save Norway and India can be interested.
As far as I know :
2012 Anand-Gelfand : in Russia
2008 Kramnik-Anand : in Germany
2006 Kramnik-Topalov : Russia
2004 Kramnik-Leko : Switzerland
2000 Kasparov-Kramnik : London
1995 Kasparov-Anand : New-York

During the same time, you have :
2013 Anand-Carlsen : India
2010 Anand-Topalov : Bulgaria
1996 Karpov-Kamsky : Russia
AngeloPardi AngeloPardi 5/6/2014 06:48
JimmyDean : No Grand Prix tournament can raise the same excitement as a WC match.