Meanwhile, FIDE announces new Grand Prix series, contracts to be signed before June 1st

PeterDoggers
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While the current World Championship cycle is about to reach its climax, the next cycles are well under way. The player who will challenge the winner of the Anand-Gelfand match in a new title match, will be coming from the 8-player Candidates tournament, to be held March 2013 in London. The cycle after that has already started as well, and includes a brand new Grand Prix series, which was announced last week on the FIDE website.

Exactly one week ago FIDE published an announcement concerning the new Grand Prix series.

FIDE and AGON are pleased to announce the full details of the new Grand Prix cycle 2012/2013. Regulations for the Series as well as Players contracts can be found below.

Each player will be assigned to play in four of the six cities and his best three results will be accumulated for his / her overall ranking at the end of the series. The top two overall placed in the Grand Prix will qualify for the Candidates event in 2014. 

This system is the same as the first GP series which was held in 2008-2010 and won by Levon Aronian (second came Teimour Radjabov). 

FIDE Grand Prix Series 2008-2009 | Overall Final Standings

Source: Wikipedia

Players

Who is entitled to play in the second Grand Prix series? A total of 18 players will be selected, and at the moment FIDE gives the following names, who qualify on different criteria.

  • Viswanathan Anand (IND) and Boris Gelfand (ISR), as the current World Champion and Challenger.
  • Peter Svidler (RUS), Alexander Grischuk (RUS), Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) and Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR), as the top 4 from the last World Cup.
  • One player, rated at least 2700 in the January 2012 FIDE rating list, will be nominated by the FIDE President.
  • Six players may be nominated by AGON and must be rated at least 2700 in the January 2012 rating list or have been a World Chess Champion.
  • Five players (plus reserves) will qualify by rating. For this the average of the July 2011 and January 2012 rating lists will be used.

Cities & dates

The six cities and dates for this second Grand Prix series are:

2012          
Chelyabinsk (September 19 – October 3)
Tashkent (November 21 – December 4)

2013          
Lisbon (April 10 – April 24)
Madrid (May 22 – June 4)
Berlin (July 3 – July 17)
Paris (September 18 – October 2)

Especially these last four European cities have raised eyebrows. Not that anyone is against having the tournaments there, but one cannot deny that in recent years it has been impossible for FIDE to find sponsors and hold their main events in big, Western cities. (During the previous Grand Prix series, three of the six host cities withdrew, and were replaced by cities in the Caucasus. The six tournaments took place in Baku, Sochi, Elista, Nalchik, Jermuk and Astrakhan.) There is reason to remain skeptical "until the first move has been played".

Contracts

As it turns out, the players have to sign the contract before June 1st, which is in one week from today. They must also submit the six cities ranked in order or preference of participation, and FIDE and AGON will consider the players’ requests.

Below the announcement article on the FIDE website you can actually download the players' contract (alongside the GP regulations). However, the current version is not the same as last week's, and a new version will actually be put online on Monday, as we were told by Andrew Paulson. The reason is that FIDE and Agon are still in touch with players, managers and even the Association of Chess Professionals, who have expressed certain concerns.

For instance, in the draft that was posted one week ago, there was the following sentence:

If the Series is cancelled by the Organiser, or does not take place due to Force Majeure, and notice in writing of such cancellation or of the Series’ not taking place is given by the Organiser to FIDE and the Players, the parties agree that they shall each be relieved of their respective obligations under this Agreement in relation to the Series without any party having any further liability to the other parties.

From the players' perspective, this meant that they would be running some serious risks. They had to basically agree to four tournaments in a twelve month time span, but there would be no compensation if one or more tournaments would be cancelled. At the same time, their signing of contracts would deprive them of the opportunity to play in other big tournaments, which are often scheduled coinciding with or very close to a GP.

In the meantime, this sentence was changed to:

If the Series does not take place due to Force Majeure, and notice in writing of such cancellation or of the Series’ not taking place is given by the Organiser to FIDE and the Players, the parties agree that they shall all be relieved of their respective obligations under this Agreement in relation to the Series without any party having any further liability to the other parties.

Another concern about the current version was that FIDE/Agon could change the dates with no consequences. This will also be changed for the final version that will be sent to the players and published online on Monday.

Andrew Paulson:

In the past this was not a negotiation; it was an ukase. Now, we are happy to adapt to the concerns of the players. Note, also, that I unilaterally doubled the prize fund for the Grand Prix and that the total now is € 1,440,000*.

In a week from now we'll know which players will have committed themselves and play in the new Grand Prix Series. Let's hope that we'll see a good start in Chelyabinsk and Tashkent and that in a year from now, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin and Paris will be hosting four fantastic events.

*This amount is a correction of a previous incorrect amount given here.

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