Candidates Matches regulations published, but who will qualify?

PeterDoggers
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FIDE logoToday FIDE published the rules & regulations for the 2010 Candidates Matches, which should decide the challenger to the winner of the Anand-Topalov world championship match. For these Candidates Matches two players will qualify based on the July 2009 and January 2010 rating lists, but as Hans Arild Runde notes, so far M-Tel Masters and Poikovsky have not been submitted for the July 2009 list, which could become a problem.

During the Chess Olympiad in Dresden, November last year, out of the blue FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced that the General Assembly had decided on a Candidates Tournament to be held somewhere in 2010, as part of the current world championship cycle.

One of the implications of this sudden change was that the planned match between the winner of the World Cup and the winner of the Grand Prix to determine the challenger for the world championship match (as we now know, the challenger for the winner of Anand-Topalov) would be canceled. This means those two winners wouldn't be "just a match away" from a world championship match anymore.

Not surprisingly, FIDE's move was widely criticized: "one shouldn't make changes in an ongoing cycle" was mostly heard and the subsequent uncertainty and disappointing communication with FIDE led to Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from the Grand Prix Series. Levon Aronian also expressed disappointed in an open letter and requested the FIDE President to "critically view and question the GA's latest decisions and the processes to which they came." Vladimir Kramnik and Alexei Shirov were less critical about the idea of a Candidates Tournament.

On December 27th, 2008 a Skype phone conference was organized by FIDE with a number of top players, including Anand, Aronian, Carlsen and Topalov. FIDE promised that the recording of this highly interesting online meeting would be made available to chess journalists but as far as we know, no notes were ever published.

And then, in the first week of March this year, the Candidates Tournament was approved at the Presidential Board meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.

In 2011, there will be a Candidate Matches/Tournament consisting of GM Kamsky, the loser of the Anand-Topalov match, two players from the Grand Prix series and one player from the World Cup, two highest rated players not already qualified and a player nominated by the organizer. The winner will play the World Champion in 2011.


Today FIDE published the "Rules & regulations for the Candidates Matches of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2009-2011" (download PDF here). Apparently it's been decided, somewhere, somehow, that it won't be a tournament, but matches instead.

We quote the first part of the regulations below:

Rules & regulations for the Candidates Matches of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2009-2011

1. Organisation 1. 1 The Candidates Matches to determine the challenger for the 2011 World Chess Championship Match shall be organised in the last quarter of 2010 and represent an integral part of the World Chess Championship regulations for the cycle 2009-2011. Eight (8) players will participate in the Candidates Matches and the winner will qualify for the World Chess Championship Match in September 2011. 1. 2 Governing Body: the World Chess Federation (FIDE). For the purpose of creating the regulations, communicating with the players and negotiating with the organisers, the FIDE President has nominated a committee, hereby called the FIDE Commission for World Championships and Olympiads (hereinafter referred to as WCOC) 1. 3 FIDE, or its appointed commercial agency, retains all commercial and media rights of the Candidates Matches, including internet rights. These rights can be transferred to the organiser upon agreement. 2. Qualification for the 2010 Candidates Matches

The players who qualify for the Candidates Matches are determined according to the following, in order of priority: 2. 1 Challengers Match 2009 - The player who lost the 2009 Challengers Match (G. Kamsky) qualifies.

2. 2 World Cup 2009 - The winner of the World Cup 2009 qualifies. 2. 3 World Championship Match 2010 - The player who lost the 2010 WCC Match (V. Anand or V. Topalov) qualifies. 2. 4 FIDE Grand-Prix 2008/2009 - The two (2) top players from the FIDE Grand-Prix 2008/2009 qualify to participate. 2. 5 Average FIDE Rating List of July 2009 & January 2010 - Two (2) players qualify to participate by rating (excluding the players who qualify from articles 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 above). For the purpose of deciding the 2 rated player qualifiers, the average from the following lists will be used: rating of July 2009 plus rating of January 2010 divided by 2. In case of equality two decimals will be taken into consideration. If the numbers are still equal then the number of games from the twelve months covering the whole year 2009 shall be decisive. That means the player with the greater number of games shall qualify. If the numbers are still equal then the list of March 2010 shall be decisive. If the rating in the March 2010 list is still the same, the player with the greater number of games in this list will qualify. Players who appear in the inactive list in both July 2009 and January 2010 will not be able to qualify as a rated player. If the player is inactive in one list but appears in the other, then the single rating that is published shall be taken as the average.

2. 6 One nominated player by the Organiser - A player, nominated by the organiser, with a rating of at least 2700 in the FIDE rating list of January 2010.

2. 7 Replacements - Any replacements necessary will be fulfilled from the final standings of the FIDE Grand-Prix 2008/2009.

3. Candidates Matches Regulations 3. 1 Matches Format & System A First Round of Matches (8 players) a1 Matches System: The player who lost the World Championship Match 2010 (V. Anand or V. Topalov) is ranked No.1, the rest are ranked in rating order using the FIDE Rating List of January 2010. The players are paired the following way: 1 vs 8 (match 1), 2 vs 7 (match 2), 3 vs 6 (match 3), 4 vs 5 (match 4). Each match will consist of 4 games. a2 The four (4) winners will qualify for the second round of the Candidate Matches. B Second Round of Matches (4 players) b1 The Second Round of Matches will start 2 days after the end of the First Round. Any qualified player for the second round of the Candidates Matches can only be replaced by the player he defeated in the first round of the Candidate Matches. b2 Matches System: The players are ranked according to the results of the first round of the Candidates Matches: winner of match 1 is No.1, winner of match 2 is No.2, winner of match 3 is No.3 and winner of match 4 is No.4. The players are paired the following way: 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3. Each match will consist of 4 games. b3 The two (2) winners will qualify for the third round of the Candidate Matches. C Third Round of Matches (2 players) c1 The Third Round of Matches will start 2 days after the end of the Second Round. Any qualified player for the third round of the Candidates Matches can only be replaced by the player he defeated in the second round of the Candidates Matches. c2 Matches System: The match between the two players will consist of 6 games. c3 The winner will qualify for the World Championship Match 2011.

(Download full regulations in PDF here)


So we know that eight players will qualify for the 2010 Candidates Matches:

  • Gata Kamsky, as the player who lost the 2009 Challengers Match
  • The winner of the 2009 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk
  • The loser of the 2010 Anand-Topalov match
  • The numbers 1 and 2 of the 2008-2009 FIDE Grand Prix Series
  • A nominated player rated at least 2700
  • Two players qualify by rating, based on the average of the July 2009 and the January 2010 lists


Hans Arild Runde, who runs the Live Ratings List (top 10 in the right column here at ChessVibes), has noted that it's not a trivial thing to just pick the two best players with the highest average rating of the July 2009 and January 2010 lists. Why? Well, because two very strong tournaments, the M-Tel Masters and Poikovsky, thus far have not been officially submitted to FIDE for the July rating list, and seem to have missed their deadlines (see for example the list of Bulgarian tournaments submitted).

This is quite relevant to the whole situation, since as we all know Ivanchuk lost a lot of rating points at the M-Tel Masters while Shirov gained many, and Carlsen some. Shirov then lost lots of points in Poikovsky, while Gashimov gained 10. Even though it will be an average of two rating lists, the inclusion of the M-Tel Masters and/or Poikovsky in the July 2009 could be a decisive factor in the qualifications.

In the FIDE Handbook (B02, paragraph 0.2) it says that "in principle, all important events should be rated. All top level tournaments may be rated by FIDE even if no rating report is submitted by the federation of the territory in which the event is held." so it's well possible that M-Tel and Poikovsky will be included anyway. Let's hope FIDE will understand the importance.
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