Reports | November 25, 2008 20:36

Breaking: Ilyumzhinov announces Candidates Tournament

IlyumzhinovToday the General Assembly of FIDE decided on a proposal for changing the current world championship cycle. Just minutes ago FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov made public that FIDE plans to organize a Candidates Tournament, which means a radical change of the current world championship cycle.

The following players would be invited for this Candidates Tournament:

  • The numbers 1 and 2 of the 2009 World Cup;
  • The numbers 1 and 2 of the Grand Prix;
  • The loser of Topalov-Kamsky;
  • The loser of the match Anand vs Topalov/Kamsky;
  • The highest rated player in the world (if not already included, otherwise the next highest rated player)
  • A nominee player by the organizers, at least 2700 rated.

This seems to imply that the planned match between the winner of the World Cup and the winner of the Grand Prix to determine the challenger for the world championship title will be canceled. This means those two winners won't be "just a match away" from a world championship match anymore and it also means that players like Morozevich or Kramnik have more chances to get (back) into the cycle.

According to Ilyumzhinov, the proposal "will be approved at the next general board meeting".

Press conference

The FIDE President also stated that he spoke with the President of Armenia (who is in Dresden today) and it's likely that the August 2009 Grand Prix tournament will be held in Yerevan. This means Al Modiahki will be substituted by an Armenian player.


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


guitarspider's picture

This makes me cry. Sorry, but the achievement of the first two players of the World Cup is certainly not as big as the first two of the GP. I predict the 2700 player invitation will be used to get Kramnik into the cycle. The highest rated player spot will probably go to Ivanchuk, Carlsen or Morozevich. Sigh.

What I would've liked much better: The GP system alone determines the challenger for the WC. Would've made much more sense.

Bootvis's picture


Mark's picture

Nunn's last proposal seems quite sensible and is based on explicit arguments (!)

Why is no single chess authority able or willing to make proposals that are just as serious (or else, to support Nunn's) ?

At most I can think of two details in Nunn's proposal that would deserve further discussion:

- how to prevent obvious blunders in interesting, but long endgames where according to Nunn's proposal, players may end up making long series of moves at an average speed of 10 seconds ? (A possibility would be to work with a 45 second increment from move 1, and to add only 90 minutes for moves 1-40, 30 minutes for moves 41-60 and 30 minutes for the rest of the game. A more classical option would consist of a 30 second increment from move 1, with 100 minutes for moves 1-40, 50 minutes for moves 41-60 and 30 minutes for the rest of the game.)

- how to avoid that a world championship match ending in a tie gets decided in a blitz game, or even worse, in a sudden death game ? (If WC matches are going to be as short as 12 games - 16 or 20 seems better to allow for a come-back within the match - I would say: play a rematch, possibly only 6 months later. Then a rapid tie-break could decide over the outcome, but when it's 2-2 in the rapids, instead of switching to blitz games it should be possible to continue with rapids until one of both players wins another game. Whenever possible, rapids and especially blitz should be reserved for separate championships which may also attract a lot of media and sponsor attention.)

Phil Bourke's picture

Has anyone noticed that Topalov gains automatic backdoor entry into this next cycle proposed by FIDE!
Topalov, a player who lost the reunification match with Kramnik, may lose his semi-final match which was arranged after that loss and contrary to the original proposal, and gain an automatic entry to the next Candidates Tournament while Kramnik, the previous World Champion according to both FIDE and "Classic purists", has to finish 1st/2nd in Grand Prix or World Cup or be the highest rated player not already in the tournament to have a chance to regain the title he has only just lost!
This is just one singular point which seems to be more evidence of FIDE showing favouritism to Topalov.

me's picture

Some of you here are even more paranoid than Rustam Kamsky!

The whole discusion about this cycle (and Nunn's proposal) started when troubles with organizing Grand Prix tournament started. I agree with Nunn, that the cycle needs to be simplified. However this proposal from Ilyumzhinov doesn't simplify anything - in fact it makes it even more difficult to organize. Who will want to organize Grand Prix now, if it has even less significance than it has now???

If we go back to Nunn's proposal, then taking the best 8 players by rating is simple and fair enough. Players out of the top 10 don't really have a realistic chance to fight for the title anyway. The only thing that needs to be sorted out are the activity requirements, so that players don't "sit" on their ratings. Thats the only thing that needs to be adressed.
The players and FIDE officials should sit down to come to an agreement about this. They have 2 years to make a decision.

In the meantime the current cycle has to be pushed through. There can't be any changes in the already ongoing cycle!!!

Sutton's picture

One other thing.

didn't FIDE get rid of candidates' tournaments back in the 1960's after Fischer brought the unfairness of it to light. Matches were much fairer!

The old system was

Zonal tournaments - usually National championships etc

What was wrong with this. Any FIDE registered player could play. Players knew what they needed to do. The challenger was usually the strongest match player at the time. Was this system ever a problem?

Peter Doggers's picture

Didn't expect them to speak about anything else than the organisational aspects of the Olympiad; besides, no player was there either. But as soon as some journalists started asking some tough questions I regretted it.

kibik's picture

For all who are wondering why Topalov get a match against Kamski:
After Topalov lost a strange match in Elista the FIDE rules allowed for any player above the 2700 ELO to challenge the world champion if a certain prize fund is guaranteed. Topalov managed with the support from the Bulgarian chess federation and government to challenge Kramnik and guarantee the funds needed. FIDE played all trick to avoid this game as they new that this will be a disaster for Kramnik ( as was the match with Anand). Topalov was not even allowed to play in Mexico. It is obvious that the best players now are Anand and Topalov and we should be able to see a true world championship game between them.

ebutaljib's picture

This makes no sence whatsoever. Grand Prix and World Cup are still going to be played, but the winners will have to play one more tournament.

This is NOT what Nunn proposed.

Christos (Greece)'s picture

"This is NOT what Nunn proposed."

Well ... why would it be? Personally, I think that Nunn's proposal is completely wrong and illogical.
Furthermore, Nunn is just one grandmaster. IF he wants his proposals to be considered seriously by FIDE, then he must try to put them under vote through the procedures of FIDE. For example, he might become the president of the British Chess Federation or anyway persuade his federation to propose this plan to the FIDE board. Or else he could try to influence the ACP, which represents many grandmasters. As it is now, he represents nobody other than himself . You cannot make serious proposals through websites and expect them to be accepted just like this.

I didn't give serious thought to Ilyumzhinov's new plan, but as long as the World Cup still exists, it is clearly better than Nunn's proposal. It means that many players, not only the 128 players taking part in it, but also all others competing in their continental championships who have the chance to qualify for it, have the opportunity to challenge for the World Championship if they show a high level of chess.

ChessGirl's picture

I think it?Ǭ¥s a good idea. The World Cup is one only event that can catch many out of shape, it?Ǭ¥s the same as with the FIDE knockout world championship... this candidates?Ǭ¥ tournament will produce a candidate who everybody will have to accept (I?Ǭ¥m referring to the people who say, for example, that Kamsky had a good moment during the World Cup 2007 but is not a worthy opponent of Topalov).

nick burrows's picture

Whatever the cycle there are pros and cons. The most important thing for chess right now is stability. For years the World Championship cycle has been a debacle. Fide came up with the new cycle last year, although imperfect - everybody agreed to it, so LEAVE IT ALONE. Give it a chance to work, this new twist is simply inviting more disagreement and discontent from those it affects adversely.

shy_guest's picture

According to Ilyumzhinov, the proposal ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwill be approved at the next general board meeting?¢‚Ǩ?.

Does that mean the general board is just a rubber stamp for the President's ideas ? Or is FIDE some sort of democratic organisation.

Manu's picture

This is a disgrace, players should not alow this to happen.
You can?Ǭ¥t keep changing systems within one cicle , its simple unethical and insane.
If something big doesnt happens after this , then the players deserve to be under this idiotic organization called FIDE.
FIDE should disappear , it keeps pushing sponsors and people away from chess.
Kasparov was right in leaving FIDE (although he regrets it) , the other players should have folowed him.
Now is the time for another organization to take care of the WCH cicles.
FIDE is as barbaric as his leader.

R.Mutt's picture

For all the people who think this new system is wrong, I have good news. It will not happen. Once it is 2010 and the time has come to implement it, FIDE will have thought of something else.

saguni's picture

If the losers of Topalov-Kamsky and Anand-Top/Kam are included, why not Kramnik since he's the loser of Anand/Kramnik match which has the same (or more) standing as the Anand-Top/Kam match?

This seems too arbitrary...

Lajos Arpad's picture

I'm wondering if Topalov new something about this change. Yesterday he emphasized that he doesn't want a change in the system.

"A nominee player by the organizers, at least 2700 rated."
Because there are many players, who meet this condition the rule is another reason to say that FIDE is incompetent to organize a chess world championship. Who will that player be? Wang Yue? L?ɬ©k?ɬ? P?ɬ©ter? Vladimir Kramnik? Michael Adams? Somebody will be chosen and the others will have a terrible feeling because of this.

"This seems to imply that the planned match between the winner of the World Cup and the winner of the Grand Prix to determine the challenger for the world championship title will be canceled."
Poor Gata Kamsky. Ponomariov, Khalifman and Kasimdzhanov became world champions only by playing a knockout world championship, which was the same in format and strength as the World Cup is today. Kamsky has to play with Topalov (who didn't do anything to get there) and if he wins he has to play a tournament too. Topalov is in an unfair situation too. He cancelled his participation in Linares just because of his match with Kamsky.

Al Modiahki shouldn't be removed in my opinion. For example:
Akopian plays instead of him.Akopian is a super GM, and he has had much greater results than Mohamed. The other players can be very lucky or unlucky. Those who played with Al Modiahki in a tournament played with a less powerful player, than those players who will just play with Akopian. This is unjust.

Akopian will be in trouble too:
He will:
a) play only 3 tournaments, so he is in disadvantage from the start
b) play only 3 tournaments and the number of his points will be multiplied by 4/3, to get an estimation, but this isn't a precise system either
c) will accept Al Modiahki's bad results and play in his place.

Congratulations to FIDE for another huge mistake.

Manu's picture

In fact the sole mention of a special invitation is a shame for the game itself.
There cannot be invitations for challenging the WCH , an open invitation is an insult for the other players .
This people cannot continue to rule the destiny of the chessworld, this should cost them their jobs.
Im starting to learn to play Go right now.

ChessGirl's picture

Me encanta el GO! Pero es mucho m?ɬ°s complicado de lo que parece a primera vista :)

val's picture

Whatever newly-proposed system's merits or demerits, I think it should take into account special status of Kramnik as one of 15 all time greats, who, as some people believe, has only just been completely dethroned.

Manu's picture

But the point is that this changes the already ongoing cycle ,if you didnt noticed yet.

hansie's picture

What Topalov has done to deserve a better deal than Kramnik?

Manu's picture

Dont get this wrong , Topalov is the decoy of this system .He already has the chance in his pocket.
This is a backdoor for other players , players who didnt make it into this cycle.
Do you understand the meaning of having a free spot ?
This is not designed to get Topalov in , this is about giving Kramnik some chances to comeback.
And besides , Who cares if they are both included into this plot?
It is unethical and wrong anyway.

ebutaljib's picture

"But the point is that this changes the already ongoing cycle ,if you didnt noticed yet."

I know. And I said that the current cycle has to be pushed through the way it was announced. They should simplify the next cycles. But Ilyumzhinov proposal doesn't do anything, except making things worse.

VB's picture

Topalov is No 1 in rating so he is in. But he won Bilabao!!! instead of playing a candidate match he will have to play tournament???

Remco Gerlich's picture

Everybody has saying that this changes the current cycle, but there are currently _two_ cycles happening!

First, the one that will find the next challenger for Anand, that is now progressed to the match between previous loser of the WC match and the winner of the World Cup (don't ask, that's the system we had back now...). The winner of this Topalov-Kamsky match will play Anand.

And the _other_ current cycle is only in its initial stages, the Grand Prix is going on, but the World Cup hasn't happened yet. Surely we can still change what happens after them?

Ricardo's picture

As I already said a while ago, FIDE is a joke and this is just another prove of it. It's sad, honestly, having to witness this kind of stuff just because the "President" is rotten with money.

ebutaljib's picture

"And the _other_ current cycle is only in its initial stages, the Grand Prix is going on, but the World Cup hasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t happened yet. Surely we can still change what happens after them?"

No, they shouldn't change it. When the players signed up for Grand Prix, they were promised that the winner will play a Challenger match against the World Cup 2009 winner. I'm sure many of them would reconsider, if they knew that the system will be changed.

Manu's picture

And now everybody will run a marathon, the winner will fight blindfolded with a cangaroo ; then the survivor will play starcraft against Yelow in Korea.
The winner of that will challenge Kramnik for a shot to the title.

hektor's picture

FIDE again break his rules... But nothing new under the sun... It's so sad that for these changes of Ilyumzhinov the top chess players don't know what to do... For example Topalov will miss Linares next year (and Corus I think), because FIDE was said that the match Kamski-Topalov will be in the end of 2008 and after that change to 2009... How is possible Ilyumzhinov to change the rules every year before even to close the last cycle... I hope this will stop soon...

Phil Bourke's picture

Is there a reason why there isn't any video of the press conference being put up?
ChessVibes seems to have filmed every other press conference, please don't tell us that they missed this one!
Would be interesting to hear what questions were put to Kirsan after an announcement as monumental as this.

Manu's picture

Dont worry , i have a transcrip of the press conference:
1st question : Are you drunk mr president?
2nd q (russian journalist): Can you tell us which brand of shampoo you use ?
3d q: An UFO told you to do this?
4th q: Can you repeat your idea? ,i wasn?Ǭ¥t really listening...
All this questions were answered with a magnanimous smile from Kirsan?Ǭ¥s face.

chessfan's picture

"in two formats for the organizer to choose from: a./ an eight-player round robin tournament or b./ knock-out matches of four games for the first and semifinal rounds, respectively and six games in the final match."

"The bidding process will open on the 1st of December, 2008 and will close on 31st January, 2009."

Phil Bourke's picture

@ Peter
Ah well, these things happen :)
Any chance you are able to add a transcript of the Q&A's?

Peter Doggers's picture

No, but one thing is interesting to mention, though. Ilyumzhinov admitted that his "personal guarantee" of US$ 750,000 to save the Kamsky-Topalo match was never really going to happen, despite the fact that it was published in an official press release on June 1st. By then he was still waiting for Chernenko's money. To a journalist's question whether this press release was not true, but only meant to help Mr Chernenko, the FIDE President answered: "Da."

Arne Moll's picture

Wow, isn't that last confession actually worth a separate news item? "FIDE president deliberately publishes false press release" - hmm, nice scoop!

xtra's picture

"this is Manu's automatic telephone answer. would you like to have 750,000 dollars? Da."

he he.

but seriously, maybe the best thing would be if Anand or one of the other strongest players went off and formed his own cycle. cant think of anyone who tried that before...

val's picture

@ Sutton. Yes, that old system is quite suitable, it is as just and objective as possible under the circumstances. But who cares? Were it not for unhealthy human ambitions (whether in the chess world or elsewhere}, we all would have lived in paradise long ago.

Manu's picture

Yeah , Peter that s really makes you want to have a video camara .
I would make the presidents ?Ǭ®Da?Ǭ® my ringtone , and then i would start promising stupid things to anyone who would call me.

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