The World Championship 2012 and beyond

2/17/2011 – London withdrew its bid to stage the 2012 Championship in London after negotiations with the World Chess Federation broke down, FIDE implied that it was because of Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from the Candidates cycle. Now a FIDE Vice President Ilya Levitov, who is also the Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation, has presented further details.

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Preamble

On February 3 Chess Promotions Ltd. issued a press release saying that after conducting negotiations with FIDE for a full year regarding the staging of the WCC in London – and in fact paying a € 50,000 deposit to secure an option on the WCC 2012, an agreement could not be reached. FIDE had let a final deadline for the offer to stage the match in London expire (on Sunday, January 29), and therefore, with regret, CPL had withdrawn its offer – in time for the next FIDE Executive Board meeting in order to give the EB clarity and the opportunity to consider alternatives.

On February 9 a reaction to the above announcement was published by FIDE, in the form of an open letter by FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer to the CEO of Chess Promotions Ltd., Malcolm Pein, undertaking to "to provide the chess world with the correct facts which caused this move". Gelfer said that the reason for the withdrawal "was obvious to me and expressed specifically by you, that the withdrawal of GM Carlsen from the WC cycle meant that the sponsor was no longer interested in sponsoring the match."

Now another FIDE Vice President, Ilya Levitov, who is also in charge of the Russian Chess Federation, gives a similar version of the events that led to the breakdown of the London World Championship bid, and gives us some information on the next cycle. The interview was conducted by our colleague Yury Vasiliev for Sport Express.


The President of the Russian Chess Federation Arkady Dvorkovich with his
Executive Director ("Chairman of the Board") Ilya Levitov

On the breakdown of the negotiations with Chess Promotions Ltd. Levitov corroborates Israel Gelfer's version of the events and adds a few details of his own:

I think the refusal of London is directly linked to the refusal by Magnus Carlsen to take part in the FIDE World Championship cycle. The sponsor of the London match, a great fan of chess and a wealthy man, had expressed a great desire to stage the World Championship match. But after Carlsen withdrew from the Candidates stage it is my opinion, based on my best knowledge, that the London organisers no longer wanted to stage such a match. Evidently the thought that a direct refusal would be undignified, and therefore decided instead to put forward completely unrealistic demands. There were more than 35 conditions. Initially they had promised a prize fund of two million Euros, then 1.6 million. They wanted FIDE to bear the cost of the players’ taxes, and they did not want to put money into the World Championship Development Commission. And in case of one of the players would refuse to play they insisted that they and not FIDE should take the decision on the replacement. But these are points in the regulations that FIDE cannot simply bypass. I wasn’t present at the negotiations, which were conducted by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos and FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer. they wanted to hold the match in London – I saw their great disappointment after the negotiations collapsed.

We asked Chess Promotions CEO Malcolm Pein to comment on Levitov's description of the negotiations. He promised to comment on this at a later stage, but supplied information on one point "which is indicative of the kind of rumours that are being spread." Levitov says "In case of one of the players would refuse to play they insisted that they and not FIDE should take the decision on the replacement" (А в случае отказа одного из игроков желали сами, вместо ФИДЕ, принимать решение о замене). Malcolm sent us the relevant passage in the proposed agreement:

3.6 Conditions of victory / Replacements
3.6.2 If a player refuses to participate in the World Championship Match, he will be replaced by the loser of the Candidates Final or the second placed player in the Candidates tournament.

Asked about the fate of the World Championship match in 2012 Levitov says:

Everything is in some kind of a limbo. There will be a new bidding process, and the venue of the match will probably depend on who becomes the challenger for the world title. If it is Aronian, then Armenia will probably want to stage the match, if it is one an Azeri player they will want it in Azerbaijan. Bulgaria will want to stage the match if Topalov wins, and if Kramnik or Grischuk win then we will consider creating more comfortable conditions for our own athletes. I am sure that when the challenger has been decided it will be much easier to find a venue and a sponsor.

We note that there is no mention of the possibility of the event being staged in India, where it would be watched by hundreds of millions of chess fans – literally – on TV and on the Internet. The reigning World Champion, who will be challenged, is from India and there is a great deal of interest to stage the event in his country.

What about the next cycle, would it take into consideration the demands of Magnus Carlsen, Yury Vasiliev asks.

Carlsen would like the challenger to be determined in a tournament instead of matches. I personally think that is wrong. A candidates tournament is less interesting than matches. You may remember San Luis in 2005, where Topalov had achieved an almost perfect score in the first half. That essentially meant victory for him, and so the the second half of the tournament was no longer of interest. Therefore the candidates matches system seems to me to be correct. However, Carlsen also has a point: the loser of the World Championship match shouldn’t have exclusive privileges.

Levitov assumes that Magnus Carlsen was objecting to privileges for the player who loses a World Championship match. In his letter to FIDE Magnus spoke about the privileges of the World Champion, not the losing player, and wanted a tournament to determine the World Champion, not the challenger. In the interview Levitov goes on to say that he presented Carlsen's opinion to the Presidential Board of FIDE and they said: “We will think about it and then decide”. After all, it is wrong to keep change things continually. You have to decide once and for all, install a sane system and then keep to it. Finally asked whether decisions on the next cycle would be taken after the 2012 match he replies:

Before then. If by March 1st venues for the four Grand Prix tournaments could not be found, then the cycle will be as follows: the Candidates matches will consist of three players qualifying from the World Cup, three based on ratings, a nominee of the organising country and the player who lost the World Championship match.


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