FIDE confirms agreements with CNC/Agon and Tretyakov

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FIDE has signed an agreement with the companies CNC and Agon for the next World Championship cycle. CNC will be responsible for media, web and software rights, while Agon will be organising and funding the events. The contract with the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, where Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand will play the 2012 World Championship match in three months from now, was signed as well. These agreements were announced on the FIDE website on Tuesday morning.

Two small reports were published on on Tuesday morning concerning chess events of the highest level. We'll start with something that concerns the current World Championship cycle - in fact the final part of it. On Monday, February 20th, a contract was signed by the Russian Chess Federation and the famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

The Tretyakov will be the venue for the World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand, in May 2012. The small ceremony was attended by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Chairman of the RCF Supervisory Board Arkadij Dvorkovich, Tretyakov Gallery Director Mrs. Irina Lebedeva, sponsor Andrey Filatov and RCF President Ilya Levitov.

The Tretyakov State Gallery | Photo Andrey / Wikipedia

Let's quickly move on to recent developments concerning the upcoming World Championship cycle. Here's FIDE's press release of this morning:

Last Thursday 16 February, FIDE completed the negotiations with CNC and AGON and proceeded to sign the respective agreements with both companies.

CNC keeps mainly the media, web and software rights of events included in the World Championship Cycle such as the FIDE Grand-Prix, the Candidates Tournament and the World Championship Match.

FIDE and CNC also agreed in co-operating to create chess projects based on the web and the organising of mass chess events.

AGON at the same time undertakes to organise the above events of the FIDE World Championship Cycle and secure the necessary sponsorship funds. The total obligations which AGON accepted are worth over 9 million euros and has provided FIDE with a series of financial guarantees.

In the following ten days FIDE and AGON will announce their proposal for a calendar which will include the schedule of the World Chess Championship events and the Chess Olympiad for the next 4 years.

So, CNC keeps the "media, web and software rights" for the events in the World Championship cycle. This is surprising to read, because Ilya Levitov told us last week that at the recent Presidential Board meeting it was decided to cancel the agreement with CNC and to sign an agreement with Andrew Paulson. We also got the impression that Mr Paulson was interested in more than just providing money and basic organisational tasks.

Chess Network Company

CNC stands for Chess Network Company, the joint venture created by FIDE and Chess Lane in 2009 as exclusive commercial partner. Chess Lane is a business run by the brothers Ziyavudine and Mohammed Magomedov from Dagestan, and represented by David Kaplan of Israel. Kaplan was appointed CEO of Development by FIDE in November 2007, and announced a revolution in the chess world in May 2010. However, thus far the most revolutionary aspect has been the absence of any substantial news about Chess Lane or CNC since then - or did we miss something?

The second part of FIDE's press release can be read as a confirmation of the deal between Agon and FIDE, which FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov already mentioned in an interview with Sport-Express on February 10th. Further details are said to be announced "in the following ten days". However, yesterday Ilyumzhinov again leaked more information in his favorite news outlet. Colin McGourty translated a big part of this new interview.

To start with, Ilyumzhinov is happy that FIDE has new financial guarantees.

So, for example, the Candidates Tournament will, as I announced in your newspaper, start in London on 23 October, and half a million dollars is already being transferred to FIDE’s account this week. For the running of the coming cycles FIDE should receive around 10-12 million Euro. As well as that, FIDE will, as before, get the 20% cut of the prize fund and a percentage of the profits that the head of Agon is counting on making in the next four years.

Grand Prix

Ilyumzhinov also confirms the return of the Grand Prix tournaments. After the first cycle of six tournaments, the Grand Prix Series seemed to have disappeared, but new events were suddenly included in the FIDE 2012-2015 Calendar which was quietly published in November last year. However, later they were removed from the page again. Yesterday Ilyumzhinov mentioned them again, and named a number of Western cities:

In the next one or two weeks chess fans and professionals will get a clear schedule for the major events – with a list of the cities, dates and size of the prize fund. By the way, the prize fund will be increased, the tournaments will become more appealing and we hope that all the best players will take part. This year we’ll start with Chelyabinsk and Tashkent, and next year Agon is planning to hold these prestigious events in major world capitals: Paris, Madrid, Vienna and Lisbon.

Still, one question remains: what exactly happened with the 2012 FIDE Candidates tournament? It is known that FIDE received bids from Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, and then Levon Aronian announced that he cannot play in Azerbaijan. Later it became clear that FIDE was planning to hold it from October 23-November 13 in London, and Teimour Radjabov was invited to play.

Azerbaijan sponsors London

As it turns out, the Azerbaijan Chess Federation is paying for the Candidates, not Agon. Mahir Mammadov, Vice-President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation, recently said the following:

As you know, we have applied for the Candidates Tournament. We have given all the necessary guarantees, fulfilled FIDE's financial obligations, and the application has been accepted. (...) Let me remind you also that Aronian again refused to come to Baku, which he advised in his letter. In order to resolve the situation we have agreed to hold the tournament in London, if FIDE will insist on it. Thus the financial burden of the Candidates Tournament will be on the Azerbaijani side. We are currently awaiting a final decision on this issue by FIDE.

Now Ilyumzhinov confirmed this:

The sponsor of the London Candidates Tournament will be Azerbaijan. By the way, long before the end of the Candidates Tournaments their representatives are going to announce that they’re planning to bid to hold the World Championship match in 2013.

Dates for the Candidates

Although the dates October 23-November 13 were widely criticised, FIDE doesn't seem to be planning to change them. Ilyumzhinov explains why this period was picked:

FIDE chose precisely those dates for compelling reasons. As you’ll recall, due to various circumstances we had to move the Anand – Topalov World Championship match and the Candidates Tournament. As a result the cycle dragged on for years. We were heavily criticised for that, and Grandmaster Carlsen was one of the critics.

This year two stages of the Grand Prix will take place and next year we have to hold four, so we need to keep to the schedule. When it came to London there was an additional motivation: this outstanding chess event will take place immediately after the Summer Olympics. That will work to enhance the prestige of chess.

The second half of 2012 is already quite busy for the top players, and if these two new Grand Prix tournaments will indeed be held before the end of the year, the tournament calendar will be even more crowded. But perhaps we should just consider that a good thing. There will be plenty of opportunity for professionals to play and earn money, and the chess fans can enjoy even more high-level games. These are complicated, but not so bad times for chess!

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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