February 07, 2011 23:35

FIDE confirms pairings Candidates

The pairings for the upcoming FIDE Candidates matches are Topalov vs Kamsky, Kramnik vs Radjabov, Aronian vs Grischuk and Gelfand vs Mamedyarov. This was confirmed today by FIDE on its website. The matches will be held 3rd to 27th May, 2011 in Kazan, Russia.

The following announcement was published today on the FIDE website:

FIDE announces the pairings for the 1st round of the Candidates Matches (Kazan, 3-27 May 2011):

Topalov (BUL) - Kamsky (USA)
Kramnik (RUS) - Radjabov (AZE)
Aronian (ARM) - Grischuk (RUS)
Gelfand (ISR) - Mamedyarov (AZE)

The drawing of colours for all the rounds will be conducted during the opening ceremony of the event. The winner of the Candidates Matches 2011 will qualify to challenge the World Champion GM Vishy Anand in a 12-game match during the first half of 2012. The full technical regulations of the Candidates Matches are published on the FIDE website: http://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/regscandidates.pdf

These eight candidates were already confirmed by FIDE on December 24th, 2010. Veselin Topalov qualified as the runner up of the previous World Championship. Vladimir Kramnik qualified by rating. Levon Aronian was the winner of the FIDE Grand-Prix 2008-2009 and Boris Gelfand was the winner of the FIDE World Cup 2009. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was kept as the wild card, originally picked by organizers in Baku, Azerbaijan, before the event was moved to Kazan.

Teimour Radjabov came second in the FIDE Grand-Prix and Alexander Grischuk also qualified from this GP. The Russian replaces Magnus Carlsen who decided not to play early November, 2010. Gata Kamsky is in as the runner up of the Challengers Match 2009.

The matches, with the above pairings, will be played over four games. Two days after these matches end, the second round starts, with the winner of Topalov-Kamsky against the winner of Gelfand-Mamedyarov and the winner of Kramnik-Radjabov against the winner of Aronian-Grischuk. These matches will also consist of four games. The final match will consist of six games.

Eight Four Two Winner

Veselin Topalov

Winner Topalov-Kamsky



Gata Kamsky

Boris Gelfand

Winner Gelfand-Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Vladimir Kramnik

Winner Kramnik-Radjabov


Teimour Radjabov

Levon Aronian

Winner Aronian-Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk

Time control
The time control will be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15
minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds increment per move, starting from move 61. Tiebreaks will consist of four games of 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment, two blitz games (five minutes plus three seconds) and one sudden death game (five against 4, with 3 seconds increment from move 61, and draw odds for Black).

The four losers of the first round matches will each receive a (minimum) amount of 30,000 euros. The two losers of the second round matches will each receive a (minimum) amount of 60,000 euros. The minimum prize fund for the final match of the 3rd round is 180,000 euros which will be divided 50%-50% between the two players (90,000 euros each).

The dates for the 2011 Candidates matches are 3 to 27 May 2011. The matches will be held in Kazan, Russia.
It's the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan is the sixth largest city of Russia. From Wikipedia we learn that it lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. The Kazan Kremlin is a World Heritage Site and in April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the right to brand itself as the "Third Capital" of Russia. Besides, in 2009 it was chosen as the "sports capital of Russia".


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


rutger's picture

Good for sponsoring is if more of these matches would take place around the world, not only in russia.

bhabatosh's picture

ofcourse it was better for us , we look at long struggle and players get chance to show their true strength , which sometime is not possible in 4 game match since
you wont get any time to recover also similarly 2 days rest wont allow them time to prepare for his opponent.
BUT question is who will sponsor these events if we are to split them and increase the games in match . Who will pay ? I am sure players get paid more than 60-70s. Probably the root cause is chess is still not as popular as it should be. Do we see the matches in TV like we see Australian open or US open ? no.
It is really sad for us ( the chess fan's ) , may be we can only BLAME FIDE for this , not able to popularize the game in last 20 years.

Pozzi's picture

I completely agree with bhabatosh

I think the question for everyone who likes to see longer matches: How much would you pay to watch the matches on Internet?

I really love chess and I started to play chess during Karpov-Kasparov matches in the 80s, which really impressed me, but I would not like to pay to watch matches on internet.

Another big problem is, that chess is only for people interesting, who have some knowledge about the game, which takes years to get. For many other sports this is not necessary. For example Snooker on Eurosport is for sure also not a mainstream sport, but I love to follow it, although I never played this on a club level.

DaleBCooper's picture

Man, a semi Kramnik - Topalov would be real fun! :)

noyb's picture

While I don't agree with Magnus' decision, it's easy to understand. It's difficult to take seriously matches of four games, followed by the next round just two days later, also only at four games, followed yet again by a finals match just days later of only six games. Makes a mockery out of serious chess. Seems like the methods for determining candidates and WC's were far better back in the 60s and 70s.

jazzkoo's picture

If I remember correctly, Kramnik, when asked in context of Magnus' withdrawal what he thought about the 4 game match situation said something to the effect that it really wasn't that much different than a tournament.

Reality check's picture

This is still far better than what we've had from 1975 to 2000.

And I'm sure the Candidates are greatful reigning World Champion Anand isn't demanding the WCC Match be played just days after the Candidates final.

ebutaljib's picture

1975-2000 ???

Plese enlighten us: What did we have between 1975 and 2000?

Reality check's picture

You must be under 25. But here's a short summary of that infamous period:

1. Karpov takes title by forfeit.

2. Karpov-Kortchnoi had more to do with politics than chess.

3. Karpov-Kasparov Karpov-Kasparov more of the same.

4. Kasparov-FIDE split.

5. Kasparov-private match

6. Kasparov-private match

7. Kasparov- long siesta

8. Kasparov-private match

9. Kasparov-quit

ebutaljib's picture

Talk was about Candidates matches (not world championship matches), and they were fine between 1975-1993 and even the first FIDE 1993-1996 and PCA 1993-1995 cycles were fine.

Some remarks:

1) Karpov won the Candidates (among other a 24 game candidates final against Korchnoi), so he has done his part. What else did he suppose to do when Fischer absolutely refused to play??? He even preoposed a "private" match with Fischer on several occasions, when he met Fischer.

3) What was wrong with Kasparov vs. Karpov matches?

5) Private match??? LOL. Short qualified for the match against Kasparov by winnjing the candidates.

6) Anand qualified for the match against Kasparov through PCA candidates.

9) Kasparov quit in 2000???

Reality check's picture


Ok, Karpov did his part. I shd have started with:

1. Fischer forfeits title.

3. Too many draws. Too much politics. Boring.

5. Split chess fraternity.

6. Chess fraternity still split.

9. Yes, Kasparov quit! After losing to Kramnik in 2000 he walks away from candidates re-qualification tournament in Dortmund is no longer world champion or a world championship contender.
Anand, Kramnik, and Topalov are very unlike Kasparov in that they've proven to be just as interested in the chess fraternity as their own self-interest.

They didn't put themselves above the system. Walk away. Quit.

They chose to participate in this years candidates. They chose to keep us on a unified track, give more players a shot at the title.    

S's picture

i don't see why this would be any worse than a tournament. Ok, the short duration of the matches makes it a little risky, but on the bright side, you can't win such a cycle by just beating the weakies (as in a tournament).

If the winner gets to play a proper long match against Anand it would be the best wch-cycle in decades.

PP's picture

Looks like Topalov has a much easier way to the final than Kramnik and Aronian, which will meet each other in the semis if they come through the first round.

Even without Carlsen I'm looking forward to it.

One disappointment is the format of only 4 (!!) games in the first 2 rounds. Who is willing to take a risk in such a short match?

My personal favorite: Aronian. He has a good change to beat the others, and is also a very friendly person. He has my vote!

S's picture

I agree it's a bit risky, but at the world cup (similar format but much more rounds) the best players came out on top in the end as well.

ebutaljib's picture

"The winner of the Candidates Matches 2011 will qualify to challenge the World Champion GM Vishy Anand in a 12-game match during the first half of 2012."

Want to bet? :)

My tip is for middle of 2013 and no sooner.

Bert de Bruut's picture

OK, that's the date. Now what about the location? Teheran anyone?

hazeinharlem's picture

after Nakamura's fine performance in the Tata, it is a shame that he isn't listed as one of the competitors, He would def make things really interesting with his style on and off the board!

RuralRob's picture

Qualifying for the Candidates is a rather long process. He should have a good chance of qualifying for the next cycle, especially if he manages to win back his U.S. Championship title in April.

Matt's picture

I wish the old candidate matches came back, after the old zonals and interzonals as well......4 games is ridiculous

Septimus's picture

Topalov-Kamsky will be a revenge matchup for Kamsky. I think Kamsky can pull it off as long as he does not get into time trouble. The last time these two met, it seemed like Topalov could play 1.h3, 2.h4,3.h5 and still win because Kamsky had no idea that a device known as a "Clock" existed.

NBC's picture

I wonder if team Topalov will not complain about playing a russian on russian soil.

Funny that Grischuk and Kramnik end up in the other half of the table, by the way. With a bit of luck Topalov is out of the tournament before having to face a russian. I'd be royally p...ed off if he were to pull another toilet stunt.

Merijn's picture

Apart from Karjakin and Nakamura missing (but they'll get their chances in the future), the only obvious candidate missing is again Ivanchuk. At some point this genious needs to be included on Elo grounds, before he becomes too old...

Nima's picture

I sympathize and would love to see Ivanchuk included because of who he is and the chess he is capable of playing. However, such sentiments turn into heartache when he gets eliminated by weaker players due to nerves. I think his place in chess history is already eternal because of who he is - not a world champion but something equally precious.

mishanp's picture

Ivanchuk gave a fascinating interview which touched on the problems he has with nerves in events like the World Championship, though also e.g. with the fact that he was harshly treated by FIDE in the past (e.g. not being selected for San Luis): http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/02/vassily-ivanchuk-i-can-still-b...

Admittedly his statement below does seem an "if" too far, unless someone knows a very good hypnotist...

"I still think I can become World Champion, but only on the condition that I look at that championship and the qualifying for it as normal tournaments – nothing special. Then I’ll be able to prepare."

Aingle Pack's picture

For all his greatness, Ivanchuk has missed all his chances over last 20 years.

* In 1991, at his peak he was leading in his Candidates QF against Yusupov and only had to draw his last game. Imagine that his next round opponent would be an ageing Timman. What a cycle it would have been to see Ivanchuk go on to play Karpov in the Final and then a WC match against Kasparov.

* The Braingames cycle in 2002, Ivanchuk could have played in that cycle. Anand didn't play because he was already FIDE Champ and had signed contract with FIDE but Ivanchuk could have used that opportunity. He might have beaten Leko that year.

* Losing the FIDE knockout match in the Final to Ponomariov was his biggest slip in life. Especially when he was easily outplaying Ponomariov in almost all of the games.

blueofnoon's picture

As far as I remember, a lot of chess fans used to ridicule FIDE KO, saying it's like a lottery.

Now, seeing the format for this so-called candidate matches, I do not see a big difference from what made Pono, Kasim, Khalif champions...

In FIDE KO, they had 4 games for semis and 6-8 games for final.

Or am I missing something?

GuidedByVoices's picture

You are missing that the one who goes through will be destroyed by Anand...

john's picture

Carlsen and Kasparov should stage a 'real world championship match' at the same time just for fun.

S's picture

Hehe, I suppose the analogy with the Kasparov Short match would be there on many levels; Carlsen being just as serious a threat to Kaspy as Short was.

ebutaljib's picture

What analogy???

Short qualified through the FIDE Candidates (among others defeating Karpov in the semi-final) so he was a legitimate challenger for the title.

Peter Doggers's picture

Added the 8-player bracket.

Cheesus's picture

The Current Candidates Matches:

Topalov (BUL) – Kamsky (USA)
Kramnik (RUS) – Radjabov (AZE)
Aronian (ARM) – Grischuk (RUS)
Gelfand (ISR) – Mamedyarov (AZE)

Grischuk is ranked no.10 in the world. On ratings, Carlsen should replace Grischuk.

Radjabov is ranked no.12 in the world. On ratings, Ivanchuk should replace Radjabov.

Gelfand is ranked no.15 in the world. On ratings, Karjakin should replace Gelfand.

Kamsky is ranked no.16 in the world. On ratings, Nakamura should replace Kamsky.

The Correct Candidates Matches:


Even if you replace Carlsen with Grischuk, the matches are still much stronger than the current candidates matches. Which shows how out of date the current matches are.

S's picture

nope, it shows how ratings mean little.

Thomas's picture

First, you do not seem to believe in qualifying events at all: Gelfand (World Cup), Radjabov and Grischuk (FIDE Grand Prix) qualified. Ivanchuk, Karjakin and Nakamura didn't. The first two had the same chances, and while Nakamura didn't qualify for participation in the FIDE Grand Prix (he wasn't even 2700 at the start of the series) he could have played the World Cup - but preferred to play the London event (right or wrong, it was his choice).

Second, I do not quite agree with S that "ratings mean little" (period), but any rating list - official or live - is just a snapshot in time. You took the most recent live rating list. We might instead use the official January 2011 list (predating Tata and Gibraltar), and "correct pairings" sensu Cheesus become
And if we use the forthcoming March 2011 list, things might change again if Kamsky does very well at the Aeroflot Open. He could gain 18 rating points (like Ivanchuk did in Gibraltar). In that case he would be #10 on the next rating list and - given that Carlsen won't play - a "rating qualifier" for the candidates event ... . Vachier-Lagrave would be another "candidate candidate" if he gains 20 points at the Aeroflot Open - also possible, at least theoretically.

Blockeur's picture

Anand will beat Kramnik in the final.

R's picture

The fact that Kamsky and Mamedyarov are playing at all is a bit baffling. Essentially, Kamsky is here for winning the 2007 World Cup (when the 2009 World Cup winner is also here) and Mamedyarov is the wild card of a country that is now unrelated to the Candidates Matches or World Championship match.

I can't tell which one is more egregious. I would say probably Kamsky, considering winning the 2007 World Cup has essentially earned him 1 out of 2 spots in the candidates for the 2010 World Chess Championship and 1 out of 8 spots in the candidates for the 2012 World Chess Championship.

Furthermore, Topalov's first seed berth is somewhat questionable. The only person an automatic first seed berth should belong to is probably Levon Aronian, considering his accomplishment in getting here is strictly superior to two others' accomplishments (Radjabov and Grischuk). It is difficult to compare any other two people (except for perhaps Mamedyarov, who is essentially here on the basis of rating and being from Azerbaijan).

Also, the usage of the January 2010 ratings to determine the other seeds seems silly if we're only now making it official anyway. January 2011 would have worked just as well, in which case it would look more this or this:

[Assuming Topalov is the automatic first seed]
Topalov (1) - Kamsky (8)
Grischuk (4) - Mamedyarov (5)
Kramnik (3) - Radjabov (6)
Aronian (2) - Gelfand (7)

[Assuming everyone is seeded just according to rating; this is actually the same as if Aronian is the automatic first seed]
Aronian (1) - Kamsky (8)
Grischuk (4) - Mamedyarov (5)
Topalov (3) - Radjabov (6)
Kramnik (2) - Gelfand (7)

Mig's picture

Azerbaijan isn't unrelated, exactly. Kirsan had to move the matches to keep Armenia's vote in the FIDE election since losing there could have had a domino effect. So Azerbaijan also had to be bought off.

I do wish they'd posted a frigging seeding chart or bracket so we'd know the potential semis and final. If they did, I missed it.

Peter Doggers's picture

In fact that's mentioned in the regulations, and in the above post under 'schedule'. But the chart is not a bad idea, I'll try to create one myself.

R's picture

Also, it's interesting to trace the reasons these people are here. Essentially, the first + or * on the list for them is the reason they're there, though I have traced all of them till the first * anyway.

+ won
- lost
* rating

Veselin Topalov is here because he:
- Lost the 2010 World Chess Championship, which he was in because he
+ Won the 2009 Challenger Match, which he was in because he
- Lost the 2006 World Chess Championship, which he was in because he
+ Won the 2005 World Chess Championship, which he was in because
* of rating.

Gata Kamsky is here because he:
- Lost the 2009 Challenger Match, which he was in because he
+ Won the 2007 World Cup, which he was in because
* of rating.

Boris Gelfand is here because he:
+ Won the 2009 World Cup, which he was in because
* of rating.

Levon Aronian is here because he:
+ Won the 2008 - 2010 Grand Prix (Sochi 1st, Nalchik 1st, Jermuk 2nd-3rd), which he was in because
* of rating.

Teimour Radjabov is here because he:
+ Won 2nd in the 2008 - 2010 Grand Prix (2nd Sochi, 1st-3rd Elista, 2nd-6th Astrakhan), which he was in because
* of rating.

Alexander Grischuk is here because he:
+ Won 3rd in the 2008 - 2010 Grand Prix (4th-5th Baku, 1st-3rd Elista, 4th-5th Nalchik), which he was in because
* of rating.

Vladimir Kramnik is here because:
* of rating.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is here because:
* of rating and because he is from Azerbaijan.

ozan's picture

Loved your part with Topalov:

If you give someone a chance to lose the title, than he will have a chance to be candidate to lose the title then to be the candidate to lose the title...

What a feedback loop.

Aingle Pack's picture

Topalov part is faulty:

By no sense of reasoning can Topalov-Kamsky match be called a "Final to decide the Challenger" unless the loser of the last WC Match (Kramnik) doesn't get to play in that cycle.

Kramnik was the challenger in 2008 WC match because he was the losing World Champion. So after he lost 2008 WC Match he should have been part of the cycle which produced Kamsky as one of the candidates. Topalov's only loss was that he should have got a place in 2007 Mexico WC tournament. Well, I can take it as 2 wrongs but two wrongs don't make it right. Secondly, Topalov got a bigger incentive in terms of 2008 Kamsky match because he got to play a weaker play and a direct entry into the finals. Playing in a tournament and winning it against 7 other players is not easy (in spite of winning in 2005, it's not easy to repeat) .

Zeblakob's picture

Where is MC??

Aingle Pack's picture

People who are still asking "Where is MC" must be banned from all Chess websites. They naturally don't read news related to Chess and if they don't read such News then it naturally doesn't make a difference even if somebody answers them now!

ozan's picture

Even if you answer them now:)

Raj's picture

@Zeblakob : You will know the answer after you paste this in your browser URL : http://www.chessvibes.com/index.php?s=magnus+carlsen+%2B+candidates+%2B+...

pomonado's picture

From a theoretical standpoint, the match I'm most eager to see is Kramnik-Radjabov. Long live the King's Indian Defence :) [I assume Radjabov doesn't chicken out]

Excalibur's picture

Can some one tell me where Radjabov is and the last time he played in a serious tournament? How does he expect to get in shape to face Kramnik who has played so many tournament games recently.His team really need to organise some games for him before he faces Vlad.

Aingle Pack's picture

I don't doubt the qualification of any of the candidates because all of them (except Topalov) qualified well defined and competitive manner.

[After Kramnik lost to Anand, there was no way Topalov should have Kamsky to decide the challenger. Instead Kramnik should have played Kamsky to decide the challenger. How and why Kramnik who was the World Champ and lost to Anand was not given a chance in the cycle that had Kamsky as the latest challenger, will always be beyond logic]

Anyways, so the pairing should be based more upon the current ratings. Now Topalov (#6) is again a beneficiary as he has only #8, #16 and #19 in his group whereas Kramnik (#4) has #3, #7 and #11 in his group.

Henk de Jager's picture

....and now let´s go ahead to the predictions:



Candidates Final:

World Championship match: Anand-Aronian
Winner: Levon Aronian!

Henk de Jager's picture

The setup is fine. In order to reach the World Championship match players will have to play a maximum of 14 games plus tiebreaks. In a double round-robin of the eight candidates they would have to play......14 games plus an eventual tiebreak. Add to that the fact that (even short) matches have a much higher tension element than tournaments and the choice is clearly right.


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