February 15, 2012 13:32

Tournament organizers and players not happy with Candidates Tournament dates

Tournament organizers and players not happy with Candidates Tournament dates

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.


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Born's picture

What a bunch of whiners, too tired? I guess these millionair chess players forgot what working is.

Bert de Bruut's picture

Obviously you forgot what thinking first is...

S3's picture

If Fide manages to organize the candidates as planned during this crisis I'd be very impressed, regardless of bad timing.

Of course there are the usual suspects who take every opportunity to complain when in fact they should be happy to be in the candidates at all (some even without qualifying by playing).

They seem to forget that previous events like the world cup were right after big tournaments as well. Apparently some big names think the world revolves around them and that they are entitled to special priveleges, but as it is there will always be strong players with conflicting schedules.

Them missing a tournament or two might even turn out to be a good thing.
Plenty of strong and interesting grandmasters are waiting for a chance and they might get one if the candidates can't play in some big tournaments.

voyteck's picture

Please, don't compare the World Cup with the Candidates, different caliber, pretty much different players. Anyway, top players are invited and chose what tournament they want to participate in. Thus, the result likely will be that top tournaments will lack the eight candidates. Bad for organizers, sponsors, kibitzers and chess in general, good for some players out of the very top, but in the short run only, I'm afraid.

redivivo's picture

And the top players never participate in the World Cup, but what's even worse is that FIDE can't even confirm their own decisions but leave everyone guessing. It's more than a week since the meeting and not a word from FIDE. So did they really decide to hold the event when it's rumoured? Why not confirm it if that is the case, it would at least give the organisers some time to consider the situation and see if it's possible to move their tournaments.

The Tal Memorial was moved, were they told in advance that the Candidates dates are set in stone by FIDE? Why haven't anyone else been told if that is the case? What do they gain by not reporting anything at all about their decisions on their website or in public? What if FIDE change their mind, will the Tal Memorial be moved again?

silvakov's picture

Bilbao finishing only 10 days before the candidates? ok, that's reasonable complain: it's a very distinct event, you have to prepare specifically, etc. but about having an event 3 weeks later... It's 21 days! if you can't recover in 2 weeks (being nice and taking a full week for traveling problems) you will never recover...

Jon's picture

Players not being qualified for the Grand Slam, will have an advantage. So, Carlsen, Kramnik and Aronian who are qualified, might then resign from the ghe Grand Slam. So, Grand Slam lose, chess-public lose and eventually chess lose. This is not about chessplayers not being hard working or having bad attitude (this time). FIDE is, as usual, not predictable.

noyb's picture

Why don't players simply quit FIDE? How many decades of crap will they put up with?

Jon's picture

I've asked myself the same question, but there are quite a few of them who benefit from FIDE. And look what happened with Kasparov who quit FIDE. A substantial number of major chess country would perhaps do.

Rick's picture

Never will there be a time that is really
going to satisfy everyone. We all ought to
give the participants a chance to vent, since
you and I know that, in the end, they will man
up and play anyway, regardless of when.

Anonymous's picture

I have only 2 days to rest every week before i have to work again for a full 5 days. I do this the entire year. It's the job they chose, so don't complain

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Its not much about the rest as much it is about preparation. Every one wants to be fully prepared for the candidates. So if they prepare for the candidates, what will they show in the Masters final. Every player will be hiding their preparation and it will be a funny event. That is what the tournament organizers want to avoid. London which is 3 weeks later should be fine.

k's picture

If they want to hide their preparation for the Candidates, they would not play the Masters at all, since even a 2 month rest between will not be sufficient.
The "only" problem with the dates is the Masters final - Tal has already moved, London should be fine.
Maybe the Masters final can be rescheduled after the Candidates, so the players don't have to hide anything. And the world championship cycle can stay on schedule.

redivivo's picture

I recall people talking about how Gelfand's results 8-9 months before the Anand match have been caused by his "hiding preparation" and not by his playing level. Now that is to exaggerate, but when it's ten (10) days between an exhausting event like the Grand Slam final and the Candidates this is obviously going to affect the Grand Slam when the three favourites in both events will play both. It isn't only about hiding preparation, it's tough with two long events so close to each other.

It doesn't matter if "only Carlsen has complained", it's wrong even if no one complains or everyone complains. Just because FIDE easily could have scheduled it at any other time that didn't affect tournaments that already have been scheduled long before FIDE's sudden decision. Considering how difficult it has been for tournament organisers the last years (just look at Linares, Sofia, Amber) it doesn't improve the situation when FIDE tries its best to make it worse for Bilbao and Tal Memorial.

voyteck's picture

Yes, they chose the job. Their job consists in selecting tournaments they want to participate in. So they will chose not to play before and/or the Candidates. Everyone looses: not only them, but also organizers, sponsors, kibitzers, chess in general and most probably - in the long run - those outside the very top who will replace them.

Anonymous's picture

Each year it's a fight to find sponsors to be able to run the Bilbao Final. Difficult to beleive that Aronian, Kramnik and Carlsen want to face each other in a double round robin just days before the candidate. This has nothing to do with work ethics. The consequens can be that the Sao Paulo/Bilbao Final is out of business. Knocked dead by FIDE.

Xeno's picture

FIDE and some posters showing their usual capacity for thinking.

Stephen Gordon's picture

If an American is behind this event why is he seeding Radjabov? Why not an American like Naka or even Kamsky? (But I do think Kamsky has had enough free entries into these events.) Naka is only a handful of points behind Radjabov, seems strange to me.

wizard's picture

Its got nothing to do with rating. Maybe Azerbaijan put up a really good bid, and the only way to placate them was to offer them the organizer's spot; kind of similar to what happened last time when the candidates took place in Kazan.

Aditya's picture

It is looking like every year the Azeris will put up a big bid, Aronian will refuse to play there and for a certain fee they retain the wild card slot. Almost like a spot in the candidates can always be bought. Considering Aronian's and Radjabov's rating and age, this could happen for a very long time.

redivivo's picture

"Almost like a spot in the candidates can always be bought"

It is bought, that's why people bid for it, and lately the Azeris have won the bidding and thus they get a spot.

Anonymous's picture

It's probably just a business decision. Paulson may be an American but it looks like a lot of his interests are in Russia where chess is popular. If he is looking to expand his business into other countries in eastern Europe then seeding Radjabov makes sense. Who knows, maybe Paulson already has business ties with the Azeris.

redivivo's picture

It's just to Google translate this article, according to the Azeris they won the bidding and will arrange the event in London (since Aronian refused to play in Azerbaijan, that is the same thing as in the last Candidates except it all was moved to Russia that time). Of course FIDE haven't been able to say anything at all about what they have decided but this looks more logical than that the American should be involved in the Candidates (and pick Radjabov):


Mike Hunt's picture

Because Naka Sucks Gordon! and hes not very popular. No brainer to pick Radjabov, better player and respects former and current players.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Actually, both Radjabov and Nakamura their bouts with unpopularity, but Nakamura has a huge fan base. Radjabov the better player? More stable, that's for sure. However, Radjabov has benefited from elite tournaments for a decade and was playing Kasparov when he was 13 or 14. Respect? It's all relative. Respect doesn't score points, but of course it matters if you want invitations. Generally your play will determine that and Nakamura is getting good invitations. If you're referring to Kasparov, well... there are two sides.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Actually, both Radjabov and Nakamura their bouts with unpopularity, but Nakamura has a huge fan base. Radjabov the better player? More stable, that's for sure. However, Radjabov has benefited from elite tournaments for a decade and was playing Kasparov when he was 13 or 14. Respect? It's all relative. Respect doesn't score points, but of course it matters if you want invitations. Generally your play will determine that and Nakamura is getting good invitations. If you're referring to Kasparov, well... there are two sides.

Rick's picture

Never thought I would say, this but I am reluctantly
going to have to agree with those who think we should
let the players have a say in choosing dates. While
you all might want to argue, in the end, we must come
down on the side of fairness and accountability.

hansie's picture

Off topic.
The Week In Chess site is not opening. Is something wrong?

Bartleby's picture

Why? Do they expect a down payment for collision-free scheduling? Do they like to make life just a little bit more difficult for already struggling rival organizers?

Aingle Pack's picture

Why not collaborate with one of the tournament organizers (Tal, London, whichever) and 'convert' the biggest bidder to be the candidates tournament (just for this year). I think, that will be the win-win situation for both the organizer and FIDE. The participants for the tournament will be the candidates qualifiers and it will be a double round-robin format. It's just that the tournament organizer may have to raise the prize fund and this should be possible with the additional tag of 'Candidates tournament' and participation of all elite players.

Thomas's picture

Actually London (by which I mean Malcolm Pein) was offered to hold the candidates event but wasn't interested.
Overall, the situation isn't ideal but for me FIDE shouldn't get complete blame for it. The concerns of the Bilbao organizers are understandable, but did they specify in their request to FIDE just how much rest the top players would require before and after their event? Strictly spoken, FIDE did avoid a clash - and "players" (plural) in the title of the article may be misleading: so far only Carlsen mentioned that ten days isn't enough for him.
The complaints by the (established) London organizers are harder to understand, for several reasons:
- If the top players need breaks of at least four weeks before and after the candidates event (plus the time for the event itself) we would need 2 1/2 - 3 empty months in the supertournament calendar. At the moment this seems to be the case for the first half of 2013 after Wijk aan Zee. But if Linares returns in February or March and Stavanger or Bazna move from June to May to avoid a direct overlap, there is again no time for the candidates event!?
- In the past, several players did play London soon after Tal Memorial. The candidates event is slightly stronger than Tal Memorial, there's more at stake and it is a bit longer. On the other hand:
- Would it be a complete disaster if Aronian, Carlsen and Kramnik for once decline a London Classics invitation and are replaced by, say, Karjakin, Caruana and Morozevich? The event would be a bit less prestigious, but maybe it's even refreshing for English chess fans to see different faces in action rather than "same procedure every year" ... .

S3's picture

Let's be honest, Carlsen always complains. Or he gets his dad or manager to do so. It reminds me of Fischers antics.
Did other players complain?

redivivo's picture

I think it's more that you and Thomas always complain about Carlsen regardless what he says. When Chessbase asked Carlsen what he thought about FIDE's choosing to place the Candidates just over a week from the Grand Slam final Carlsen said that he thought it was too too tight: "Times are tough, financially, in Europe, and every step should be taken to protect and support the efforts of the top level tournament organisers". FIDE of course makes it tough for the organisers, Tal Memorial already had to move, and both Levitov and Kramnik suggested March 2013 instead, as reported by mishanp.

S3's picture

Thomas never complains about Carlsen.

btw. are you stalking me?

The Player's picture

Well, we are many that will stalk you if you don´t stop your useless complaints in EVERY article about Carlsen. You must have a miserable life!!!

Thomas's picture

In this given case, I just pointed out that Carlsen was the only player openly complaining (also the only one so far who was directly asked). At other occasions, I was rather complaining about Carlsen's fans and their exaggerated claims - e.g. not every win by Carlsen is a brilliancy that only Carlsen could create ... .

But many people complain about FIDE whatever they do. As I pointed out, postponing the candidates event until the first half of 2013 might also turn out to be problematic by then. Aingle Pack's suggestion to turn Tal Memorial into a candidates event is actually quite reasonable - it would be nearly the same field as last year: assuming a wildcard for Karjakin it would be minus (Anand or Gelfand), Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi and plus Grischuk. Russia had actually considered bidding for the candidates event - in that case probably replacing Tal Memorial as two identical events within a few months don't make much sense. But then, people would complain about too many FIDE events in Russia and too many Russian players in the candidates (never mind that three duly qualified).

Interestingly, Chessvibes' earlier article announcing the dates of Bilbao concluded "It's understandable that the Grand Slam Chess Association urges FIDE to avoid an overlap with one of their events, but it won't be easy!" - showing at least some understanding for FIDE's situation. And if 'overlap' is defined as including several weeks before and after any private supertournament, it isn't just difficult but plain impossible.

redivivo's picture

The main complaint if the Candidates were moved to Russia and Karjakin was given the spot instead of Radjabov would probably come from the Azeris. If they won the bidding they wouldn't like to have their pick removed just like that for no apparent reason while the Russians didn't even bid and still would get their fourth player of the eight.

I don't know if it's "plain impossible" to have weeks between the Candidates and other super tournaments, many have suggested March 2013 and there's no reason that should be impossible. At least if someone would decide to hold a super tournament then it would be with the knowledge that FIDE already had scheduled the Candidates at the same time.

Thomas's picture

I assumed that Russia would have bidded, either on their own initiative or "invited by FIDE" (who apparently did invite the 'other' London organizers). During the World Cup there were strong rumors about a Russian bid - eventually they refrained from bidding, it seems for the reason I mentioned (they already organize[d] several FIDE events). But if there had been a competing Russian bid, Azerbaijan couldn't complain: submitting a bid doesn't guarantee that it will be honored - as a matter of fact, Bulgaria isn't compensated for their failed bid.

It was long known that FIDE wants to organize the candidates event in the second half of 2012, only the exact dates weren't known - but ANY date would be inconvenient. Regarding March 2013: it would clash with Linares IF they manage to make a comeback (any update for this year?). Or did Linares "lose" its traditional spot because they had to take a break?? They have about as much tradition as Bilbao, Tal Memorial and London together ... .

redivivo's picture

"But if there had been a competing Russian bid, Azerbaijan couldn't complain: submitting a bid doesn't guarantee that it will be honored"

Obviously, but there wasn't any competing Russian bid.

"ANY date would be inconvenient. Regarding March 2013: it would clash with Linares IF they manage to make a comeback (any update for this year?). Or did Linares "lose" its traditional spot because they had to take a break??"

No one claimed that Linares no longer is a traditional tournament, but if the event is played at all this year the second half of April has been mentioned. There is no reason to assume that the Linares organisers after being told that the Candidates would be played in March 2013 would decide to schedule their event at the same time as the Candidates rather than repeating the schedule of 2012.

Rick's picture

Never will there be many complaints, as players are not
going to offend all the chess tournament organizers who
run competitions without expecting to make a profit of
around zero, or less. In addition, discussions of dates
and times are purely speculative. Organizers will not
desert the players if negotiations are above board, as
you might expect.

Parkov's picture

Moan Moan Moan! This is the World Championship cycle, it takes precedence. If players are worried about not showing preparation, don't play! If organizers are worried about having a weakened tournament due to tired players, change your dates! Same as in team sports, dates are set for the world cup, six nations games etc. and clubs just have to adapt and deal with it

S3's picture

Right on.
Besides, organizers are crazy to focus only on rating. Just get some players with interesting styles who aren't in the candidates. Even saves money. Ok, Bilbao can't do this but like you said-wch is more important.

sulutas's picture

I think it is the 'Grand Slam Final' organizers, who should have contacted the FIDE in the first place - the title of the tournament sounds cool and looks cool on the page but in reality it is not better than, say, the Tal Memorial - (Who thinks Vallejo Pons is an elite GM for instance? He finished in the 57th place in Aeroflot just today!) - anyway, it is a tournament at which Carlsen gives handicaps to other players first, and then comes and beats all of them one by one before winning it! And it is a bit absurd for me to hear that Levitov complains about the impossibility of having the 'world champion' at the Tal Memorial this June! Oh my God! What a big loss!!!... Why don't they get simply instead the women's world champion for this year's tournament? I am sure it would be much more interesting!

sulutas's picture

I had just taken a glance at the article and now I again read it and saw that they organizers had already done so. Although my opinion about the organization of the tournament will not change, I support the Grand Slam Final organizers in this problem - maybe FIDE should try some time in August when there is not much going on, although it may be a bit quite soon for some players. Anyway, my apologies for my ignorance in the first place.

kamalakanta's picture

The FIDE President owes the chess world an explanation for this rather obvious scheduling blunder. It is not too late to fix it, and I hope he does. But he must do it soon!

Anonymous's picture

This is totally ridiculous. Does Roger Federer, if he loses to Rafael Nadal, make some excuse about hiding his preparation? No, because he undestands that he lost because Nadal was the better player on the day. This whole thing about preparation has been blown completely out of proportion. Has Anand played rubbish lately because he's been "hiding his prep?" No.. he's been playing rubbish because he's been playing rubbish.

Isn't it terrible for these poor guys though, that they'll have to turn down that 20k to play in bilbao because they don't want to get tired for the candidates. I feel so sorry for them...

Seth's picture

Sad to see the quality of posts on this site have gone down over the years.

Xeno's picture

Yes, one often feels embarrassed just reading them, and not only the posts about Carlsen.

S3's picture

I didn't know you even read not-Carlsen related stuff. Good for you!

Seth's picture

Does FIDE still not contact the players beforehand about, oh, little unimportant things like dates and conditions? Shameful.


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