Candidates Matches Scrapped?

Candidates Matches Scrapped?

| 52 | Chess Politics

There has been no official announcement yet from FIDE, but the apparently semi-official WhyChess website of GM Vladislav Tkachiev reports that FIDE has decided to scrap Candidates Matches for the next WCC cycle in favour of a double round-robin Candidates Tournament.

The story stems from comments made by one of FIDE's World Championship Committee members, GM Emil Sutoksvky, to the Russian language Chess-News website.

The previous Candidates Matches in May 2011 were widely panned as a very poor advert for chess, so the change is perhaps understandable although advocates of matches would no doubt have preferred longer matches to try to solve the problems of the Kazan event.

It also seems that the next Grand Prix series (if it goes ahead at all) will no longer have the prize of a qualification spot for the Candidates event.

The eight players in the Candidates Tournament will be chosen thus:

  • The loser of the Vishy Anand v Boris Gelfand match in 2012
  • The top 3 players in the 2011 World Cup (26 Aug-21 Sept 2011 in Khanty Mansiysk)
  • The top 3 rated players not otherwise qualified (average of July 2011 and Jan 2012 lists)
  • A nominee from the hosts (minimum 2700 Elo on the Jan 2012 list)

At the moment the three players likely to qualify by rating are Magnus Carlsen, Lev Aronian and either Vladimir Kramnik or Sergey Karjakin.  Other players with an outside chance of qualifying by rating are Hikaru Nakamura, Vassily Ivanchuk and Veselin Topalov. The July 2011 top 10 ratings list is here.

So a lot rests on the World Cup starting soon in Khanty-Mansiysk, and the performances of the top players between now and the end of the year.

The bidding process to host the Candidates Tournament has not yet been announced, so the host country is not known.

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question is whether Magnus Carlsen will decide to take part this time, assuming he qualifies by rating. His objections to the format last time included the "shallow ceaseless match-after-match concept", so he may prefer a tournament.

However, Carlsen also objected to the reigning champion having any privileges...

"In my opinion privileges should in general be abolished and a future World Championship model should be based on a fair fight between the best players in the World, on equal terms."

...which the champion will still have under this system, since the winner of Anand v Gelfand will sit and wait to play the winner of the Candidates Tournament rather than being part of it.

Will we ever have a stable World Chess Championship cycle again? How would YOU organise it?

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