Tournament organizers and players not happy with Candidates Tournament dates

0 | Chess Event Coverage

In a recent interview, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov mentioned the dates and location for the Candidates Tournament: 23 October-13 November 2012 in London. Thus far, FIDE hasn't published an official press release which confirms this, so nobody knows for sure what is the situation. One thing is clear: the players and the organisers of the Grand Slam Masters Final, the Tal Memorial and the London Chess Classic are not happy with the dates.

Last Friday we published a lengthy article about the FIDE Candidates Tournament and about entrepreneur Andrew Paulson, who seems to be buying the rights to organize it, as well as other events that are part of the World Championship cycle. We mentioned that in a recent interview FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said that the tournament will be held in London from October 23 to November 13 and that it will be organised by Paulson's company Agon. Ilumzhinov also said that Teimour Radjabov will be invited, next to qualifiers Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, Vassily Ivanchuk and the loser of the match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand, which will be held in May of this year.

The dates 23 October-13 November as chosen by FIDE are likely to cause problems, so it's strange that the FIDE President communicated them so firmly last week. The dates for the annual Grand Slam Masters Final are 24 September-13 October, 2012. The Tal Memorial usually starts around the third week of November.

Ilyumzhinov's reasoning might have been that the Candidates Tournament "fits right in", exactly between these two top tournaments, but in practise this is not the case. The importance of the Candidates Tournament makes it almost impossible for players to play in the Masters Final as well, which finishes only ten days earlier, while they will be too tired to play the Tal Memorial.

That's why the Tal Memorial has already been put forward in the calendar: the announced dates are 7-19 June (which we also mentioned last Friday). We spoke with Ilya Levitov, President of the Russian Chess Federation, who repeated to us what he mentioned before and who still made a rather agitated impression:

Of course we couldn't stage the Tal Memorial then, because a week before the Candidates nobody can play, and a week after the Candidates nobody can play. The problem is that there's also a financial planning. I don't know if [FIDE is] aware of that. And now we have to do it in June, which is just after the match, so we can't invite the World Champion! Why can't we do the Candidates in March 2013, and the match some other time? Nobody knows why. It would be logical and very comfortable for everybody.

Andoni Madariaga, General Secretary of the Grand Slam Masters Final, is also not amused: 

We are reluctant to come with a statement right now, because the whole thing is not a hundred percent official yet. However, it's clear that we're not happy with these dates. There is just too little time between the end of our tournament and the start of the Candidates.

Madariaga told us that the Grand Slam Chess Association sent a letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov already in January, in which they mentioned the calendar for this year's Grand Slam tournaments and asked FIDE to avoid clashes. Madariaga:

In Wijk aan Zee we have spoken to a number of top players, and I can tell you that they all support this letter. But so far we haven't received an answer from FIDE... I'd like to point out that this is not just about the top players. With our tournaments, we are trying to popularise the game in general, by focusing on spectators, children, amateurs... FIDE should understand that this whole matter is not good for chess in general.

In an interview at Chessbase, Magnus Carlsen this week said: 

Normally I don’t comment upon FIDE rumours, but news reports indicating that the next Candidates will take place just after the Grand Slam Final worries me. If the rumours are correct, there will be ten days only between the two tournaments, and that is obviously too tight.

If FIDE maintains the announced dates for the Candidates, there might even be an impact on the London Chess Classic, which starts only a few weeks after. We asked the organiser, Malcolm Pein, to comment as well.

Obviously three weeks is not going to be enough time for most players to recover from a gruelling 14-round tournament. Therefore it is possible that it could impact on us. However, at this stage I don't regard that the dates of either event have been set in stone.

Indeed, at the moment nothing deserves the label "official" or "confirmed". Levitov:

After this interview [where Ilyumzhinov mentioned the dates - CV] I asked for an official confirmation of the dates and the location, but I didn't get one. The thing is that at the Presidential Board it was decided to cancel the agreement with CNC and to sign an agreement with Andrew [Paulson, CV] and then Andrew, as the owner of the rights for the Candidates, would announce the dates and the place. As far as I know until today nothing of this happened. Nobody knows what's going on.


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