Pairings for Candidates Matches are released

2/7/2011 – FIDE has released the final pairings for the Candidates Matches to be held in Kazan, Russia, from May 3rd to 27th. The matches will be four games and six games long, with as many as fifteen possible rapid and blitz tiebreak games to decide the winner in the event of a draw. There are two days rest between matches. Read on for complete information.

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The final pairings for the upcoming candidates matches, to be held in Kazan, Russia, from May 3rd to 27th, have been released by FIDE:

First bracket

Topalov (BUL) - Kamsky (USA)
Gelfand (ISR) - Mamedyarov (AZE)

Second bracket

Kramnik (RUS) - Radjabov (AZE)
Aronian (ARM) - Grischuk (RUS)

The drawing of colours for all the rounds will be conducted during the opening ceremony of the event. The winner of the Candidates Matches 2011 will qualify to challenge the World Champion GM Vishy Anand in a 12-game match during the first half of 2012.

The pairings are organized in such a way that Kramnik and Topalov could only meet in the finals in the third match, however, one wonders what will happen in the event that Topalov does qualify to meet either Kramnik or Grischuk, considering that the Bulgarian's manager previously declared that Vesselin would not play against a Russian on Russian soil.

The first matches are scheduled to be four games long, followed by the next matches to be played two days later. The time control will be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then fifteen minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds increment per move, starting from move 61. This does not include potential tiebreaks, which if not required, would allow a third rest day. The semifinals are also to last four games, and the finals will be six games.

In the event of a draw, tiebreaks are to be held on the rest day with four games of 25 minutes with a ten-second increment per move, and should there still be a deadlock they will play mini-matches of two games of blitz games played at five minutes with a three second increment. A maximum of five such mini-matches can be played to break the tie, and if after ten blitz games, there is no winner, a final Armageddon blitz game will be played to decide it. The Armageddon is played with five minutes for White and four minutes for Black, with a three-second increment as of move 61. In the event of a draw, Black is declared the winner.

In case that was a bit confusing, here is what it might look like if it went to the wire:

Four games at 40/2h
Four games at g/25 + 10 sec. per move
Two games at g/5 + 3 sec. per move
Two games at g/5 + 3 sec. per move
Two games at g/5 + 3 sec. per move
Two games at g/5 + 3 sec. per move
Two games at g/5 + 3 sec. per move (maximum five matches)
Armageddon blitz

The four losers of the first round matches will each receive 30,000 euros minimum. The two losers of the second round matches will each receive 60,000 euros minimum, and the minimum prize fund for the final match of the third round is 180,000 euros which will be split equally between the two players (90,000 euros each).

One detail that seemed odd after perusing the regulations, concerned the tiebreaks and repetition claims. In the tiebreaks, the players are understandably not required to write down their moves, and the arbiters are responsible for this, however, in the event of a claim of a threefold repetition:

"The player who has the move may stop the clocks and consult the Arbiter's score sheet and if his next move will produce a threefold repetition of position, or the 50 moves rule, he himself must write the intended move on the (Arbiter's) score sheet and claim the draw if he wants."

The full regulations can be found here.


ChessBase reports on the Candidates Tournament

Pairings for Candidates Matches are released
07.02.2011 – FIDE has released the final pairings for the Candidates Matches to be held in Kazan, Russia, from May 3rd to 27th. The matches will be four games and six games long, with as many as fifteen possible rapid and blitz tiebreak games to decide the winner in the event of a draw. There are two days rest between matches. Read on for complete information.

Radjabov: I won't be tilting at FIDE windmills
13.01.2011 – The Candidates Matches have been sailing through rough seas. The venue had to be changed, the top favorite withdrew, and there were numerous protests. But now, with all contracts signed. things are set to go ahead. Especially after Teimour Radjabov has shelved his concerns and is determined to play. Both he and Garry Kasparov have been talking about the withdrawal of Magnus Carlsen.

Radjabov: And what if tomorrow Carlsen changes his mind?
24.11.2010 – FIDE has just announced the dates for the Candidates matches in Kazan, Russia (3 to 27 May 2011), but leave the replacement of Carlsen by Grischuk as a dangling hypothetical. If it materializes then the pairings change quite dramatically. In a long and eloquent interview conducted during the Blitz World Championship Teimour Radjabov speaks his mind.

Grischuk to replace Carlsen in the Candidates
10.11.2010 – Reacting to the withdrawal of Magnus Carlsen from the FIDE Candidate Tournament to decide the next challenger for World Champion Viswanathan Anand, FIDE has expressed understanding for the reasons he gave – and in fact agrees with some of them. But it says it cannot change its regulations at such a late date and at the request of one player. Press release.

Magnus Carlsen drops out of World Championship cycle
05.11.2010 – 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.

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.

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.

FIDE to move Candidates Matches, Topalov threatens boycott
24.07.2010 – The Candidates Matches for the next FIDE World Championship cycle were scheduled to be played in Baku, Azerbaijan. Since one of the candidates, Levon Aronian, is Armenian, and the two countries are de facto at war, FIDE wants to move the matches to Kazan in Russia. To this another candidate, Veselin Topalov, has issued a very sharp protest and threat.

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.

FIDE decides on a new Candidates format
27.11.2008 – The General Assembly of the 79th FIDE Congress has approved a new World Chess Championship cycle for 2011. It will be an eight-player round robin or knockout (the organiser gets to decide which); and the participants will be two each from the Grand Prix and World Cup, the loser of Kamsky-Topalov; the loser of Anand vs Kamsky-Topalov; the highest ranked player; and an organiser nominee. Details.

Ilyumzhinov: 'Candidates Tournament in Spring 2010'
27.11.2008 – Our previous report describes the new FIDE Candidates cycle. In an interview conducted by Yuri Vasiliev FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov defends the decision to create a new format. "The knockout, the Candidates and the Grand Prix are all my children," Ilyumzhinov says, "and I love them all. But time does not stand still, FIDE must adapt to the requirements." Sport Express interview.

Adams withdraws from Grand Prix cycle
11.12.2008 It was in the air and speculated on by many, especially after his name disappeared from the list of players for the Grand Prix in Elista (originally Doha, Qatar). Now the British GM Michael Adams has issued a formal statement on his withdrawal from the cycle. The reasons he gives are the sudden switch of venues, replacement of players, and the uncertainty of future GP events. Open letter.

Magnus Carlsen withdraws from Grand Prix
05.12.2008 After a week of correspondence with the FIDE office in Athens, and after receiving replies he deemed unsatisfactory, Magnus Carlsen, the world's number four ranked player, has decided to withdraw from the 2008-2009 FIDE Grand Prix cycle. Instead, the Norwegian GM, who turned 18 last Sunday, will "concentrate on playing well organised and interesting top level events elsewhere". From Magnus' blog.

Carlsen on the Grand Prix + readers' feedback
03.12.2008 – The cauldron is on the boil, FIDE has changed the World Championship qualification regulations, Alexei Shirov has lodged a protest. Now Magnus Carlsen, represented by his father Henrik, hints at legal action and withdrawal from the cycle. We bring you a report from his blog and feedback from readers on this and other subjects (including Aronian on women and computers!). A long, interesting read.

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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