After twitter rumours led to much speculation and an apparent confirmation from FIDE President Kirsan Illyumzhinov, London has now been officially confirmed as the venue for the 2012 Candidates Tournament by an AGON press release which was re-published at the FIDE website.
AGON: Chess Candidates Tournament to Take Place in London from October 24 - November 12, 2012
Athens/Moscow – March 3, 2012 – After consultations with FIDE, Agon, the World Chess Federation's new partner for organizing the World Chess Championship Cycle, is pleased to announce that the Candidates Tournament will take place in London, UK, from October 24 – November 12, 2012.
Andrew Paulson, General Director of AGON, said, “I am glad to be bringing one of the main Chess events to London and hope that both players and spectators will enjoy it.”
However, the announced dates have been met with dismay by leading players and the organisers of the Bilbao Masters and the London Chess Classic. The Bilbao super-tournament is due to take place from 24 Sept-13 Oct, leaving barely 10 days for the players to rest, regroup and prepare for the Candidates.
The London Classic in early December would also be badly affected by its close proximity to the Candidates event, so these two major commercial tournaments would be stripped of their best players if the dates are unchanged.
The Bilbao organisers have already appealed to FIDE to reconsider the announced dates:
The Grand Slam Masters Final considers essential for the future of the professional chess to agree on a calendar between FIDE and the private tournaments
The organization of the Grand Slam Masters Final in Bilbao proposes a meeting between FIDE and the organizers of the main private tournaments to elaborate together a calendar of competitions for the coming years, as it happens in other professional sports. The Bilbao organizers, who are working on the fifth Masters Final, emphasize “the great contribution of the private tournaments, which are doing so much, year after year, to promote chess all over the world”.
FIDE and the top tournaments should work together and harmoniously to decide the tournaments yearly calendar. We are already in March, and FIDE has still not announced officially the dates for the Candidates Tournament. In this respect, several Grand Masters, like current number one Magnus Carlsen and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, have already declared his preference for playing the Candidates in the first half of 2013, when there are enough dates to place it without affecting the top tournaments.
Although the Candidates has not been officially announced yet, the FIDE president, Kirsan Iliumzhinov, said in a recent interview that it will be played between October 23 and November 13 in London. It is true that those dates would not coincide directly with another very relevant chess event. However, the Bilbao organizers announced months ago that the V Grand Slam Masters Final will take place between September 24 and October 13. Sao Paulo, almost with complete certainty, will host again the first half, as in 2011. It is very difficult to persuade any top player to play the Masters Final in two continents, and then the Candidates with only ten days in between.
The organization of the Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final considers not realistic to block three entire and consecutive months (October, November and December) for the Candidates, like FIDE did in his announcement on November 2011. According to that argument, Bilbao, Moscow and London should be forced to move their traditional dates (as, actually, Moscow did) to some time before the Olympiad in August. It is not so easy to do that, and for Bilbao is just impossible, because if you want to play the Masters Final you have to qualify first by winning one of the Grand Slam tournaments. It is also true that FIDE has changed (delayed) its dates announcements a lot of times during the last 20 years.
The Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final Bilbao offers its best cooperation spirit in order to place the very top FIDE tournaments (World Championship, Candidates, World Cup and Chess Olympiad) on the best possible dates along the coming years. And expects the same spirit from FIDE to solve the current problem, regarding the 2012 Candidates Tournament.
It remains to be seen whether FIDE will listen to this appeal (it would seem not, since the official announcement was made after the Bilbao letter), but when forces as disparate and influential as Magnus Carlsen and Silvio Danailov oppose the existing dates, the unstoppable force and immovable object meet and something has to give!
What do you think? Should the Candidates Tournament be moved to a quieter time in the chess calendar to avoid clashing with two major commercial chess events?