FIDE Candidates Tournament postponed until March 2013 - comments from key stakeholders

PeterDoggers
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The FIDE Candidates Tournament has been postponed until March 2013. The new dates were announced today on the FIDE website. Players and organizers have expressed to be happy with this new turn of events, while Andrew Paulson gives some more explanation.

Earlier this month FIDE announced a 4-year schedule for two World Championship cycles, which included this year's Candidates Tournament, set for October 24th-November 12th. We had already reported earlier that nobody was really happy with these dates, but FIDE didn't seem to be intending to make changes... until today. A FIDE official sent us a document with revised dates, which can now also be found on the FIDE website and we'll give it here as well:

March 28, 2012 – Athens, Greece – Following publication of the draft calendar two weeks ago and after evaluating feedback from players and organizers, FIDE and AGON, FIDE's partner for organizing the World Chess Championship Cycle, are pleased to announce the revised schedule of events for 2012-2016.

[N.B., in the revised calendar, the next World Chess Candidates Tournament has been moved to March 13 – March 31, 2013. The tournament will take place in London.]

2012  
Championship MatchMoscowMay 10 – May 30
OlympiadIstanbulAugust 27 – September 10
Grand PrixChelyabinskSeptember 19 – October 3
Grand PrixTashkentNovember 21 - December 4
   
2013  
CandidatesLondonMarch 13 – March 31
Grand PrixLisbonApril 10 – April 24
Grand PrixMadridMay 22 – June 4
Grand PrixBerlinJuly 3 – July 17
World CupTromsøAugust 10 – September 5
Grand PrixParisSeptember 18 – October 2
Championship MatchTBDNovember 6 – November 26
   
2014  
CandidatesTBDMarch 12 – March 30
Grand PrixTBDMay 14 – May 28
Grand PrixTBDJuly 2 – July 16
OlympiadTromsøAugust 1 – August 14
Grand PrixTBDSeptember 10 – September 24
Championship MatchTBDNovember 6 – November 26
   
2015  
Grand PrixTBDMay 13 – May 27
Grand PrixTBDJuly 1 – July 15
World CupTBDAugust or November
Grand PrixTBDSeptember 9 – September 23
   
2016  
CandidatesTBDMarch 9 – March 28
Grand PrixTBDMay 11 – May 25
Grand PrixTBDJuly 6 – July 20
OlympiadTBDAugust or September or November
Grand PrixTBDAugust or September or November
Championship MatchTBDAugust or September or November

Contacts: FIDE
office@fide.com

AGON
info@agonlimited.com
+1 917 475 6452

Funnily enough, the biggest news is communicated by FIDE only in a side note:

[N.B., in the revised calendar, the next World Chess Candidates Tournament has been moved to March 13 – March 31, 2013. The tournament will take place in London.]

The previously announced dates were too close for comfort to both the Grand Slam Masters Final and the London Chess Classic, and organizer Malcolm Pein had stated that the latter was put very much in doubt. Now that FIDE/Agon did change the dates to March next year, everything seems alright. Pein gave the following statement:

I think this is great news, not only for the London Chess Classic but for the chess community as a whole. It clearly shows the value of having a promoter working independently of FIDE. I would like to thank Andrew Paulson for his efforts over the last few weeks, he consulted widely and found a solution that is good for world chess.

Andoni Madariaga, who is one of the organizers of the Grand Slam Masters Final, told us:

This is great news. It's good for everyone, the players, the chess fans, the organizers, FIDE... We'd like to express our gratitude to Mr Paulson for taking this effort. We met him last week in London and we discussed the situation, after which he went to Athens for talks with FIDE. I'm happy that he managed to sort it out.

Magnus Carlsen reacted to the news as follows:

I never thought I would welcome a FIDE delay, but this time I am grateful for it. I have been quite vocal in my support of Bilbao and London, and critical of FIDE placing the Candidates in the middle of the elite tournament high season. Moving the Candidates Tournament to March suits me and probably everyone else in the professional chess circuit fine.

Because of this news we contacted Andrew Paulson, the man who obtained the rights to organize all the events with his company Agon. We asked him what was his view on the previous dates, and how it happened that they were eventually changed.

It didn't occur to me that we were proposing anything out of the ordinary. Then I saw that the criticism was coming from many different stakeholders, even from spectators, from fans, it wasn't just from the organizers, from the media and the players. The last thing I wanted to do was start off on the wrong foot. I just wanted to make sure that I'm trying to make good events for all those people. 

The past few weeks I talked to lots of journalists, I went to Tel Aviv and spoke to Emil [Sutovsky] and Israel Gelfer, I went to Oslo and talked to Magnus and his father and his agent. Just today I had lunch with Nigel Short, very useful insights, I talked to the organizers of Bilbao and London, and finally in Athens we came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do. 

Paulson pointed out that there was in fact also a technical problem with the previous dates.

There was one Grand Prix before the Candidates was over, and the next Grand Prix was right afterwards. This is wrong because one or two players who are playing in the Grand Prix are determined by the results of the Candidates.

At the moment a World Championship match is scheduled for 2012, 2013 and 2014, but not for 2015. Paulson explains:

It's not surprising that there's not one in '15 because in theory it should be a two-year cycle. The reason that they're bunched up that way is simply... it's almost like changing gears. We're now trying to get into the correct cycle. The intention is to have the Candidates and the match in the same year, every second year.

And so, at least for the moment everyone seems to be happy. However, we'll have to wait and see whether everything will go according to plan. For example, as we reported last week, Silvio Danailov is still considering to take FIDE to court for the way they treated the Bulgarian bid to host the Candidates Tournament. We cannot wait for September 19th, when the first of many events done by Agon will start: the Grand Prix tournament in Cheliabinsk...

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