Russian Chess Federation proposal to FIDE

8/4/2016 – The FIDE office in Athens has received a proposal by the President of the RCF suggesting that World Champion should in the future be allowed to "accept the challenge of any player who can contribute to the prize fund and the costs of holding of the match." FIDE would get 50% of the prize fund. The proposal, which is to be discussed in September at the FIDE Congress in Baku, has met with immediate protest from the Association of Chess Professionals.

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Here the proposal sent to FIDE by the Russian Chess Federation:

Click to enlarge. The contents in plain text is given below.

To: Chairman of FIDE Commission for World Championships & Olympiads (WCO)

Dear Mr. Makropoulos,

Russian Chess Federation asks the Commission to consider and (if needed) improve and approve the below mentioned amendments to the current system of determining the World Chess Champion at the 87th FIDE Congress (04–14.09.2016 Baku, Azerbaijan). RCF suggests adding an article to the rules governing World Chess Championship matches stating that the World Chess Champion can accept the challenge of any player who can contribute to the prize fund and the costs of holding of the match.

Herewith a number of basic conditions should be fulfilled:

  • The FIDE President would have the power to veto any proposed match. Any proposed World Championship match would be carried out under the auspices of FIDE and according FIDE rules.

  • 50% of the prize fund will go to FIDE.

  • The match must be held before the end of the current FIDE qualifying round, that is, before a challenger has been determined by the Candidates Tournament.

FIDE Vice President
President of the Russian Chess Federation
[signature] Andrey Filatov

The same evening ACP General Secretary Aleksandar Colovic sent us the following petition of his organisation. "The upcoming Olympiad in Baku may turn out to be historic in more than one way," he wrote. "The official proposal by the Russian Chess Federation to modify the existing rules of the World Championship cycle, if accepted, will turn the world of chess on its head.

We at ACP believe that this proposal is detrimental to chess in more than one way and we expressed our views in the petition that you can see in the attachment. The said petition can be signed on our website. We would kindly like to ask you, if you find it appropriate, to share this information on your site. The more people are aware of these changes, the more informed decisions they can make."

Here the attached petition:

The Russian Chess Federation submitted an official proposal to the FIDE Congress for an addition to the current World Championship Cycle rules: anyone guaranteeing a required prize-fund can challenge the reigning World Champion.

We as ACP believe that this idea is completely detrimental to chess for a number of reasons, among which:

- The World Champion Title must be achieved only through a proper sport cycle, especially at a time when chess is increasingly recognized as a sport. The RCF proposal goes against the chess tradition and against the very spirit of modern chess. Although purchasing the right for the match was common practice 100 years ago, it was more of a sad necessity than a good system.

- Staging a "commercial" match would seriously undermine the appeal of the regular cycle match. As things stand, the Title Match is a unique event which is held every two years and which acts as a catalyst for all the chess world. Even so, it is very difficult to raise proper funds for the World Championship Match - we do remember several examples from the recent past and we are witnessing the same problems right now. Who would be interested in paying for the ‘regular match' if it is no longer a unique event? Who would organize the Candidates under these circumstances? Who would regard chess as a proper sport a company can invest in?

- The World Champion Title would be devalued and, more importantly, the image of chess would suffer greatly at all levels and worldwide. It would also put the players on grossly unequal terms: some would have to battle their chances out against the best players of the world in the regular cycle, others would buy their shot at the title by securing the money. This is outright unacceptable. It could also bring a disrepute to our noble game, opening the door to problems we can't even foresee now.

- The RCF proposal would inevitably mess up the World Championship Cycle. It would also limit the World Champion’s participation in other events, as he would need to spend most of his time preparing/recovering after the matches. Again, this is certainly not desirable.

The ACP strongly opposes changes to the World Championship Cycle that undermine the very sporting sense and the unique value of the World Chess Champion Title. Our opinion is supported by the results of the ACP Poll - 2016, where over 80% of the chess professionals clearly disapproved the idea of purchasing the rights for the Title Match. If you share our vision, please help fighting this proposal and join the ACP stand by signing and endorsing this statement. The RCF proposal could be approved already in September, and we feel the chess world has to take a clear stand on the matter before then.

ACP Board
Sign the petition here.

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anonimous anonimous 8/17/2016 03:06
I think it's an interesting proposal, especially since the rules say that the WC *can* accept the challenge, not that he *must*. Therefore, it would be up to WC to decide if it's worth his time/money/prestige and so on and so forth.

I also understand the ACP's point of view, especially the remark about the Candidates tournament, but I'm sure there are ways around it. For instance, making sure that organizing the Candidates tournament is much less expensive than funding a WC match (it already is, probably), so that organizers still have interest in hosting the Candidates.
Another fix would be to impose that the funding to challenge the WC should also include a part that goes into funding the Candidates tournament (that 50% that goes to FIDE comes to mind).
oputu oputu 8/6/2016 10:47
Hehehe, so FIDE president cannot enter US soil to play the first move opening the tournament. Now he is upset and wants to take chess back to Russia. hehehe. O lord, let this happen please. Nothing sweeter than controversies, chaos and disorder fueled by oligarchy and capitalist systems.

PS: Now that everything is for sale, how much does a GM title cost these days? Place a price on it and let the boys start hussling! I want to be referred to as GM Oputu if I can afford it.......hehehe
vladivaclav vladivaclav 8/5/2016 09:43
basler88 basler88 8/5/2016 02:38
So Putin wants to be Chess World Champion too or is this just another money laundry scam for FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? He knows that he can’t show his face by the next World Championship in the USA as he would be arrested on the spot. Chess goes back to the dark age as the Russians try again to put us back decades, just as they can’t stand that other countries are back on top and do we really want to let this happens after all we know what’s going on with the Russian sports, cheating after cheating and that all with the help of Putin’s power!! What a shame we even have to discuss that.
Peter B Peter B 8/5/2016 02:11
Terrible idea. If a challenge could be done in a day it would be a different story, but a challenge takes several weeks - several months if you count the preparation. That means any money-backed challenge match will impact the qualifying cycle, probably making matches with qualified challengers less frequent.
mosherachmuth mosherachmuth 8/5/2016 01:44
Here is a simpler proposal: FIDE decides that every world champion, upon winning, automatically becomes a Russian citizen.
With my proposal the best player in the world can be the world champion but at the same time we do not hurt the feelings of the esteemed members of the Russian Chess Federation.
Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 8/5/2016 01:32
@Chessspawnvt : Carlsen has also said time and again that he thought the WC title was less important than the number 1 spot, so I don't really trust him to defend the traditional WC matches. On the other hand he refused to play the world cup format Candidates Tournament in 2012, and he has kept quiet about the WC/number one question since he actually became WC, so not totally hopeless.
MortalWombat MortalWombat 8/4/2016 10:46
Totally stupid. You cannot enter the same river twice. What worked a 100 years ago is not going to work anymore, now that the whole structure is built around the world championship cycle.
Harry_Flashman Harry_Flashman 8/4/2016 09:34
It looks like the Russians want to get the right to give to some state backed GM of theirs the opportunity to play for the title, even if their players are no longer the strongest in the world. The best is karijakin, who they imported from Ukraine by the way. No other young Russian player appears to be a Crack. In any case their proposal is utterly dangerous and detrimental to the chess world.
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 8/4/2016 06:03
@Angelo. I think the Russian proposal's value is really to open the debate on changing the system for qualification and WCC matches. We have a situation where Carlsen is looking like a player who will dominate at the top for a long time. Over time, that will give him more power to dictate terms for his title defenses. Will he go as far as Kasparov did and split from FIDE? Time will tell. What is know is that he has, in past, protested and withdrawn from the FIDE WCC cycle. (I wonder if Agon has finally gotten the player contracts for the WCC to the players)

When one consideres that just a few years ago, Kirsan was promoting and using a knockout tournament to determine the WC and the same system with women until just recently, my view is that anything that open the debate and possibility of change is good.
Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 8/4/2016 04:31
@Chessspawnvt : I would really like to see the old system again (over a three year cycle of course). But it seems to me the proposal is still worse than what we have now : a lousy qualification cycle is still better than no qualification cycle at all.

@Denix : every 4 months ? This would mean the WC would not be able to play in tournament any more. And besides players need at least that time to prepare for a WC match.
And as was said, the value of a WC match comes from its rarity. If everyone has a shot at it and there is two match every year, it will lose all of its interest.

Besides, there is something that was not discussed : the RCF propose that 50% of the prize money would go to the FIDE (compared to 20% for regular matches). Well, I'm not sure that would be really help the corruption problem, but that would certainly mean much less money for the player...
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 8/4/2016 02:40
@Denix True, unless the challenger is channelling Max Euwe. :-)
Denix Denix 8/4/2016 02:26
RCF Proposal is very interesting. Of course the challenger should be at least in the top 20 in the Ratings List and there must be at least 4(?) months gap before the next title defense in abundant case.

Why wait for so long to receive the next World championship money? The stronger player (most likely the current world champion) will win anyway.
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 8/4/2016 02:12
There is no question that some challengers will have more difficulty than others in arranging funding for an independent challenge. Still, I think a player like VL or FC will have little trouble finding sponsors given their ability. What this proposal indirectly addresses is the current candidates structure which is far from ideal in that after the candidates' tournament there is no match play leading to the naming of a world championship challenger. IMO, the two best choices are to move toward independent challenges or go back to interzonal tournaments followed by match play to find the challenger.

If the road chosen is the old private system, there could be a requirement that the champion has an obligation to accept a challenge from one of the top five player based on FIDE rating within perhaps two years of the last title match. Lastly, let's get Kirsan's cronies at Agon and Chess Lane out of the picture. Their business incompetence is pathetic and the secrecy of their machinations is destructive of promoting chess as a viable professional sport. The chess world deserves better.
Duckangelito Duckangelito 8/4/2016 12:53
This almost sounds like an April s Fool to me ... To bad we are in August !
fons fons 8/4/2016 11:29
Because fuck democracy.

(Not unsurprisingly this is coming out of a country run by a de facto dictator.)
Aighearach Aighearach 8/4/2016 10:43
Help us Magnus Carlsen, you're our only hope!
bondsergey bondsergey 8/4/2016 09:45
Russia definately is not buying the title since EU and US citizens and companies have 100 times more money compaired to Russian citizens and companies. The possibility of winning the title honestly without money is not affected by the proposal. But I can understand chess professionals (many of whom are Russians). This proposal is very bad since one can win a title and lose it in a month or two. The concept of holding a title for 2 years is destroyed. The value of the title is decreased since one can not prepair for a good match in such a short period of time. It is not good for chess. One can understand Russian Chess Federation, since they want foreign companies to sponsor good matches and thus increase popularity of chess, but this is not a good way. There are other ones.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 8/4/2016 08:55
A Danailov proposal comes to my mind. If memory serves me, he wanted to organize matches with a challenger who shows money, namely Radjabov at that time. That idea was fortunately a failure, due to the simple fact that Kramnik has beaten Topalov in their 2006 match.
KOTLD KOTLD 8/4/2016 08:44
I would very much like to hear Carlsen's response.
Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 8/4/2016 04:14
The WC title value comes from the qualification process and the rarity, which make it the harder title to win in the chess world.
And a match is the ideal marketing event by the way, because it can be sold as a story, as a dramaturgy. It's more difficult with a 120 players open.
Young vs Old, Imaginative Attack vs Stubborn Strategic play, The Comeback of the champion, Russia vs America, Dissident vs Government favourite...

It is simple : only a true WC match can hope to attract mainstream media coverage - just look at what happened in Norway after Carlsen became the WC, or in the USA after Fischer.
And it is basically the same in every single sport : people who usually don't care for American football/soccer still watch the superbowl/World cup final on TV ; people who find athleticism boring still watch the 100m final in the Olympic game...
Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 8/4/2016 03:59
@Chessspawnvt :
I think TMMM has already answered that question.
First it would means that players from the US or Russia have much better chances at a shot for the titles than, say, MVL, who is from a country which has not funded a top level event for years (the Alekhine Memorial was organised with Russian funding). Just have a look at the recent wild card in Candidates Tournament : Aronian, Svidler, Radjabov : very good players, but always countrymen from the sponsor (from the initial sponsor in Radjabov case).

And this proposal would make it worse : as the ACP rightly point out, why would anybody fund a WC match for the winner of the Candidate tournament, when you can instead give your countrymen / personal favourite a shot a the title.

(By the way, the lack of sponsor for the scheduled WC match is due more to FIDE incompetence and corruption than any other cause. It has been YEARS that there was no open bidding process, so nobody would care about trying to find fund for a bid, since the FIDE president decide the place at a whim. There was no lack of sponsor for the multiple matches in the 70's, 80's and 90's (although the political context helped of course))
XChess1971 XChess1971 8/4/2016 03:53
TMMM you forgot that not only Kasparov said it was a mistake. Also if I am not wrong there was supposed to be a match Kasparov-Shirov on about 1998. Did Kasparov get that money? The answer is NO!. So he criticized FIDE, and then what happened? Many World Champions have tried to keep the title for as much as possible. FIDE is the entity in charged of vigilance of the title. The way they do it is a different story. Is RCF maybe preparing somebody to challenge Magnus? Who knows.
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 8/4/2016 03:23
@Angelo.....The potential fly in the RCF's ointment is that Carlsen is not Russian. Judging from the recent meeting over the board between Carlsen and Karjakin, I think that Carlsen will be the champion for a bit longer. Would it not be interesting to see Carlsen and Caruana play a match backed by a prize fund made possible by Rex Sinquefield of St. Louis?
TMMM TMMM 8/4/2016 03:21
@Chesspawnvt The question is: were things really better about 70 years ago and in the 1990s? If I recall correctly, Kasparov called his split from FIDE a "mistake" and not a success story. I'm not sure what part of the split he was referring to though.

And allowing "anyone" to challenge the WC with enough money brings its own risks as well. People from rich countries may then find it easier to become WC than players from poor countries. I bet Nakamura or Caruana could get a match just by asking Rex Sinquefield to be the main sponsor.
Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 8/4/2016 03:15
@Chesspawnvt : The Russian federation is rather pro-Ilyumzhinov, so it would not even do that. And the ACP is right : it would be detrimental to the regular championship. For me, it would mean the beginning of the end for the WC matches.
Golden3y3s Golden3y3s 8/4/2016 03:13
Just seems like Russia wants to buy the title. FIDE was created to prevent the champion owning the title like a personal possession.

Having one WCC a year is taxing enough for all parties involved.

What's the purpose of such a change in the rules? More exposure for chess? Or maybe just more matches, more matches funded by Russian oligarchs to bring the title back to Moscow. But they wouldn't be competitive matches because rarely would a champ willingly step into the ring with a contender that could win.

The title is glorified because it etches the owner's name into history. This provision transmogrifies that glory into cash, something that the top players in the world do not desperately need. But there is a party in the equation who is always chomping at the bit for money...F...I...D...E

Granted, no where does the proposal mandate the champ must accept a challenge, but without such a provision the whole idea is pointless. Hence, down the line its not hard to envision FIDE amending the rule that allows the organization added to override the champ's wishes.

Hopefully this idea dies in committee.
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 8/4/2016 02:53
This could be a first step in removing FIDE from the WCC process. Yes, it would mean going back to what was done about 70 years ago and in the 1990's during the WCC split with FIDE by Kasparov and Short. Given the moral and legal failings in FIDE (a president on a US Treasury sanctions list and Panama Papers involvements) and the incompetence being shown at present by FIDE's contracted WCC minion*, Agon, Ltd., going back to the old challenger with the money system would be an improvement. That the ACP is opposed demonstrates that too many of today's top players are beholden to the ethically questionable few in FIDE and their business associate friends.
*A little over three months to the start of the WCC in NYC and no announced venue or sponsors.
XChess1971 XChess1971 8/4/2016 02:12
Can I give it a shot too, if I bring the money?