Reports | July 18, 2012 3:36

FIDE/Agon announce Grand Prix 2012-2013 participants

FIDE/AGON Grand Prix

The full list of participants of the new Grand Prix series has been announced on the FIDE website. Besides World Champion Vishy Anand, the world's top three players, Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik, have decided not to participate.

Here's Tuesday's press release by FIDE/Agon:

Following a technical clarification, FIDE and AGON issue the revised players allocation.

FIDE and AGON announces full list of players and allocation for FIDE Grand Prix Series 2012/13

The list of players who will participate in the cycle over the next two years is as follows :

1. From World Championship Match 2012
GM Boris Gelfand (ISR)

2. From World Cup 2011
GM Peter Svidler (RUS)
GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS)
GM Vasily Ivanchuk (UKR)
GM Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR)

3. By Average Rating (July 2011 + January 2012)
GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE)
GM Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA)
GM Veselin Topalov (BUL)
GM Shakriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)
GM Vugar Gashimov (AZE)

4. FIDE President Nominee
GM Fabiano Caruana (ITA)

5. AGON Nominees
GM Alexander Morozevich (RUS)
GM Wang Hao (CHN)
GM Peter Leko (HUN)
GM Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB)
GM Anish Giri (NLD)
GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB)

The allocation of dates and cities is as follows:

FIDE GRAND PRIX       2012   2013      
Name CTY Criteria jul-12 London Tashkent Lisbon Madrid Berlin Paris
        20 Sep - 3 Oct 21 Nov - 5 Dec 17 Apr- 1 May 22 May - 4 Jun 3 - 17 Jul 18 Sep - 2 Oct
Radjabov, Teimour AZE Rating 2788     2788 2788 2788 2788
Karjakin, Sergey RUS Rating 2779 2779 2779 2779     2779
Nakamura, Hikaru USA Rating 2778 2778   2778 2778   2778
Caruana, Fabiano ITA Fide President 2773   2773 2773 2773   2773
Morozevich, Alexander RUS AGON 2770   2770 2770 2770 2770  
Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR World Cup 2769   2769   2769 2769 2769
Grischuk, Alexander RUS World Cup 2763 2763     2763 2763 2763
Topalov, Veselin BUL Rating 2752 2752   2752 2752 2752  
Svidler, Peter RUS World Cup 2749   2749   2749 2749 2749
Wang, Hao CHN AGON 2739 2739 2739 2739     2739
Gelfand, Boris ISR Match 2738 2738 2738     2738 2738
Gashimov, Vugar AZE Rating 2737   2737 2737 2737 2737  
Leko, Peter HUN AGON 2730 2730 2730 2730   2730  
Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR World Cup 2726 2726   2726 2726   2726
Mamedyarov, Shakr. AZE Rating 2726 2726 2726 2726   2726  
Dominguez Perez, Le. CUB AGON 2725 2725 2725   2725   2725
Giri, Anish NLD AGON 2696 2696   2696   2696 2696
Kasimdzhanov, Rustam UZB AGON 2690 2690 2690   2690 2690  
    Average 2746.0 2736.8 2743.8 2749.5 2751.7 2742.3 2751.9
    Players   12 12 12 12 12 12

Kindly note that the date for the first leg in London has moved by one day and arrival will be on the 20th September with the 1st round on the 21st September 2012.

Similarly, the Lisbon event has been rescheduled by one week starting with arrival on the 17th July 2013 and 1st round on the 18th July 2013. [This is a typo and should be April twice – CV ] This is due to a move in the start date of the Candidates in London which will now start on the 20th of March 2013 due to the availability of the playing venue.

Regulations for the Grand Prix can be found here for ease of reference.

Just like the previous series, this Grand Prix does not have the strongest possible line-up. The world's top 3, Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik as well as the World Champion, Vishy Anand, decided not to play. Espen Agdestein, manager of Magnus Carlsen, gave us the following statement:

For Magnus it was difficult to participate this time due to a very busy schedule. For 2012, he has long planned to take part in the Final Masters in Sao Paulo/Bilbao and in the London Classic. As these have conflicting dates with the two GP tournaments in 2012 it's impossible to do both.

For the first half of 2013, Magnus plans to participate in the Tata Steel Tournament, the Candidate, Stavanger and the Tal Memorial. Trying to combine these with playing three GP's during the same period will definitely be a too tough schedule.

Magnus is still part of the cycle as he plans to participate in the 2013 Candidate tournament and probably also the 2013 World Cup in Tromsø.

Andrew Paulson of Agon told us that Judit Polgar and Luke McShane were also invited, but that they both had other commitments. He even tried to persuade Garry Kasparov for a sensational comeback to chess, but thus far he didn't manage...

When FIDE announced the details about this Grand Prix series on May 18th, the first tournament was still scheduled to be held in Chelyabinsk. However, early July the Russian Chess Federation refused to sanction this tournament, and the €300,000 in sponsorship that was promised for the event was blocked at the highest levels of government. (See this WhyChess report for more details.) Then Agon decided to move the event to London, to Simpson's-in-the-Strand.

The announcement of the Grand Prix participants went a bit chaotic as well. FIDE first put the press release, given above, online on Monday afternoon, which then had Gata Kamsky instead of Vugar Gashimov, as a result of a misunderstanding (and, as one source told us, a missing contract!). Soon the press release was removed again from the FIDE website, and on Tuesday it re-appeared, with the extra sentence "Following a technical clarification, FIDE and AGON issue the revised players allocation" and with Gashimov's name on it instead of Kamsky's.

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.


RuralRob's picture

"Following the realization that we had *two* bloody Yanks in the list, FIDE and AGON issue the revised players allocation..."

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Great to see all of the top players apart from the 4 agreeing to participate. Kudos to them and Agon. The line up is much stronger than last time. So as far as I see this is a great step in the right direction.

bronkenstein's picture

Indeed, let´s wish them good luck! WC cycle aside, we will hopefully enjoy series of strong tournaments.

RealityCheck's picture

Another step in the right direction. Already Anand, Kramnik, Aronian, and Carlsen have secured their participation in the finals. By side stepping the Gran Prix series, they actually made room for four more players.

Too bad Kasparov & Short dint put in a bid for two of the vacant seats.

Peter Doggers's picture

Nopes, they qualified for the final and Candidates of the current cycle. The Grand Prix is part of the next cycle.

S3's picture

What are the entry requirements for the next cycle candidates tournament anyway?
The 1rst and 2nd of the GP will enter and I suppose Anand will qualify anyway as (former-) world champion but I can't find information on the other participants.

Zeblakob's picture

For the first time in my life I know something that S3 does not know :)

S3's picture

Well don't keep me waiting. Tell me!

RG's picture

I think the top 3 rated players automatically qualify for the next Candidates and so Carlsen at least shouldn't have to worry about Grand Prix points.

RuralRob's picture

Too bad Luke could not join in, but I certainly could not see him getting that much time off from his day job! I imagined the HR guy just laughed in his face when he showed him the tourney schedule.

Anonymous's picture

"... Luke could not join in..."
how did he qualify?

Zeblakob's picture

He has beaten Kramnik and Aronian recently, therefore he has the full "right" to participate.

Anonymous's picture

oh ok i just now read he had to decline the invitation.

nathan's picture

I am surprised the Agon nominations did not go to the hosting country players like Naiditsch, Bacrot, Adams, etc.
Also very surprised to see Leko in the list, would have rather have preferred Jobava, Nepomniachtchi or even Wojtascek.

S3's picture

But fortunately the list of participants isn't based on a popularity contest.

Michael Yeo's picture

The footnote to the press release states: "Similarly, the Lisbon event has been rescheduled by one week starting with arrival on the 17th July 2013 and 1st round on the 18th July 2013."

I'm guessing that July should read April in both cases although with FIDE press releases, one can never be certain. Some further "technical clarification" would be helpful.

redivivo's picture

Yes, and Radjabov was suddenly moved to Lisbon in the second press release (instead of the first event that he was supposed to play according to the first press release), so good luck to him preparing for Lisbon after finishing the 14-round Candidates the week before.

S3's picture

On the bright side, if he wins the candidates he doesn't have to play the GP anymore.

Macauley's picture

Correct. July is a typo. It's April, not July.

Felix Pirvan's picture

So 5 players qualified by their results in recent FIDE events, 6 players qualified by rating (i.e. by their results in any event they participated), and 7 players were simply nominated. That makes for a mixture of 7/18=39% of politics in chess. Wouldn't it be much more fair to nominate all the players, just to be over with this qualifying mess?

redivivo's picture

Kasim won the 2004 knockout and was because of this given a spot in the 2005 World Championship (rather understandably), but then he was given a spot also in the 2007 Candidates (rather than Topalov, who had won the 2005 FIDE Championship, that was much stronger, later in time and more serious than the 2004 knockout), then Kasim got to play also in the last Grand Prix series (he didn't qualify for that one either but got a late replacement spot), and now he is given a free spot also in this Grand Prix series. Not bad for a player in the 2600 to get so many free passes ahead of much stronger players.

Zeblakob's picture

Fair enaff

Zeblakob's picture

Looks good IF half of the players will not withdraw.

Anonymous's picture

Excellent line up even though it's a pity that the top 4 doesn't show it's support by participating. Plenty of players are criticizing FIDE but most players aren't really helpful themselves.
Kudos to Agon, FIDE and Kirsan for making this happen!

redivivo's picture

Well, the last time around FIDE changed rules and venues and schedules numerous times, so understandable that the top players won't change their schedules and drop everything at hand this time either, especially since they have little to gain by playing these events.

Anonymous's picture

I agree they are a bit selfish, unflexible and short-sighted in this respect.

Anonymous's picture

They might think about what the chess world has to gain as well. Agon looks like the real deal and last edition of the GP was already a big step forward, even when it was unfairly criticized by some cowards. But Aronian already earned his stripes by winning that series.

redivivo's picture

"it was unfairly criticized by some cowards"

Yes, like Aronian, Morozevich, Kramnik, Topalov, Carlsen, Adams, Shirov etc etc.

redivivo's picture

The Grand Prix series could have worked well the first time around, but it suffered from two problems:

1. Some top players preferred to negotiate with FIDE to get a free pass instead of having to qualify to get one from the same starting point as Aronian and Carlsen (Topalov & Kramnik).

2. The rules were changed after the series started so the top players that did participate didn't gain anything by doing so. Aronian won all his events but instead of a longer Candidates final against one opponent he got a spot in a knockout together with the players that didn't want to participate in the Grand Prix.

Naturally Aronian learnt his lesson and refuses to play this time. If he plays and wins all events he once again gets nothing since he is certain of a rating spot anyway, and no one knows how many changes there will be this time. Already long before the start venues and participants have changed, and more is certain to follow once the series starts.

Anonymous's picture

So what it the venue changes? In the middle of a crisis one should be glad that there are different venues left.

But indeed, FIDE should never have given in to the the demands of some top players. In the original format the winner of the GP (Aronian) would have played the winner of the world cup (Gelfand) for the right to play Anand. Chess history might have looked quite different.

But in the new edition there is little reason to fear for similar changes as the new GP only qualifies for a candidates tournament.

redivivo's picture

"In the original format the winner of the GP (Aronian) would have played the winner of the world cup (Gelfand) for the right to play Anand. Chess history might have looked quite different."

Agreed, also the World Cup would probably have looked different if FIDE hadn't given away so many free spots to the Candidates. As it was Gelfand was ranked first in the World Cup, but if all the higher rated players had participated it's far from certain that he had won it and qualified for that "real" Candidates match.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe. Kramniks and Carlsens have avoided knock outs in the past. According to Agdestein's text there is still some doubt about Carlsen participating in a knock out even in Norway.
Perhaps they think it's too risky. A lot of people compare those mini match elimination tournaments to a lottery (although Gelfand proved them wrong).

Anonymous's picture

You are misinformed, not all of those players criticized the GP, and some of them criticized it but played anyway. Others were boycotting the event because there was not enough money in it to their taste and others just abstained without comment.
But it is telling that some of them only withdrew after comparative failures and it's a pity how some players only commented on the negative aspects.
All the more impressive that FIDE managed to find money for a new edition.

arne's picture

Well, FIDE have not exactly found the money, as they (and the players) still have to pray for AGON to find funding for the complete GP cycle.

arne's picture

Even though FIDE probably already got some money for selling the rights to AGON

Fireblade's picture

What about Gata Kamsky ??

Septimus's picture

My question exactly! This is bullsh!t.

redivivo's picture

Apparently Kamsky was shocked at suddenly being excluded from the Grand Prix series after FIDE already had published that he was included, and offered draw after ten moves against Ivanchuk:

"Gata Kamsky was apparently still reeling from the shock of first being included in the list of participants for the new Grand Prix series and then removed from that list a day later"

"it was a cruel blow both financially and in terms of playing for the World Championship. Kamsky felt terrible and is quoted as saying: 'I could only see a black wall in front of me.'"

The Russian Chess Federation demanded THREE nominees to allow the Grand Prix event in Chelyabinsk to take place (i.e. three of the six nominees should go to ONE organiser!)

And the series haven't even started yet :-) Oh, and Radjabov's suddenly playing a GP tournament the week after the Candidates finish is because the Russian Chess Federation wanted FIDE to change the published allocation of events so a Russian player was included in the first event. So FIDE did just that and moved Radjabov :-)

The Russian Chess Federation website had noted the curiosity that the London event, which was a last minute replacement for Chelyabinsk in Russia, would have no Russian players. It's now set to feature Sergey Karjakin (and also Alexander Grischuk, after another change over the course of the day).

valg321's picture

" Kamsky felt terrible and is quoted as saying: 'I could only see a black wall in front of me.'" "

i'd expect such a statement from a 17-year old drama queen, not from a top GM. Keep your pants on Mr. Kamsky

Anonymous's picture

Chill bro. It's hard to do everything right with so many involved. Nothing big went wrong yet.
Kamsky can't have expected to participate untill he saw the first list. The Russian request led to the inclusion of just one Russian Agon nominee: Morozevich, which is great! And the "spread" of Russian players will only lead to approximately equal tournament strength and fewer complains about Russian collusion. So be happy!

noyb's picture

Blah, blah, blah and none of this will ever happen because there will be no funding due to world-wide financial collapse. Hope people enjoy watching online play, because that's the future of chess!

randi's picture

Well everything sounds very cool with the grand prix n' all, but...what exactly did FIDE concede to AGON once the deal was made?
I mean it's a really big thing to give so much power to a single person (Andrew Paulson, through a newly formed corporation - AGON). First of all, his projections are quite optimist, cool but based on what? His dedication for chess is, at this stage, discursive, and AGON already has, apparently, the legal right to nominate 6 participants. So, players who participate in the Grand Prix should look deep into the contract, and virtually into every legal aspect of the new partnership between Paulson and FIDE before comitting themselves to a long term cycle. We´ve all seen what FIDE is capable of doing even with contracts signed. Just a question, what happens if, for whatever reason, AGON does not succeed (economically) in the first leg or two legs?...or simply, what happens if the venue and schedule change once the cycle starts? I think the top ten players have a huge say in the matter.
Anyway, i hope this Paulson guy respects the game and everyone involved in it, specially because FIDE, the reigning body, has demonstrated the opposite.

Anonymous's picture

Valid points, however I don't think that Paulson really has "much power".
Well, he officially got the right to nominate 6 players,
but also if FIDE had retained this right I don't think the nominees would be much different.
From what I've read so far Paulson is "just" the manager of the events.
The "big ideas" he's talking about refere to technical issues and marketing.
But he doesn't know much about elite chess and the top chess players,
and FIDE kindly "helps" him with that.
For example FIDE totally dictated him the structure of the WCh cycle (6 x GP, Worldcup, etc.),
or rather FIDE convinced him that their ideas about that are the best (which wasn't so hard to do with the novice).
Now that Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian (and Anand) do not participate in "his" Grand Prix
(which clearly means much less revenues / less audience !),
Paulson maybe starts to doubt FIDE's "expertise".
For how long will FIDE be able to "milk" him?
In case Paulson quits his engagement mid cycle, FIDE will whip out the usual Caucasus resorts once more
and somehow manage to pull off the rest of the GP.

Septimus's picture

"GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov"

Does this mean he is no longer going to help Anand prepare?

Thomas's picture

If Kasimdzhanov ends up qualifying for the candidates event and Anand also "qualifies" (by losing his next WCh match), they will compete against rather than helping each other. Same story if Anand defends his title and Kasimdzhanov becomes his next challenger.

In all other cases, it just means that Kasimdzhanov plays the FIDE Grand Prix Series (he also played the previous one) to earn some money and to face stronger opponents than he usually gets with his current rating.

Gorsky13's picture

I guess everyone missed the fact that FIDE/Agon tried to ditch 3rd Azeri player from qualification. If you'll compute average rating for July 2011 and Jan 2011, then Gashimov has 2760.5 vs. Kamsky's 2736.5. With all due respect to great player Kamsky he cannot complain here. What is more interesting average ratings for Radjabov (2753.5) and Mamedyarov (2756) are lower than Gashimov's, so it is not clear what FIDE was playing here.

mishanp's picture

If you read the article above, it says Gashimov's exclusion was:

"as a result of a misunderstanding (and, as one source told us, a missing contract!)"

So it wasn't about rating. Agreed, Kamsky can't have any complaints about not qualifying by rating but he has every reason to be deeply upset that this wasn't cleared up before the information was published (and presumably communicated to the players). Being in the series or out of it has enormous implications for him (financially, career-wise), so to be included then excluded is a huge blow.

bronkenstein's picture

Since AGON = Azeri oil money, it is, in fact , quite clear what is happening - anything but ditching 3rd Azeri on purpose. Just standard FIDE confusion + intransparency.

Connected to that, from the ACP Golden Classic site (gata is playing there ATM) : ´...The former US champion claimed, immediately after the game, that he was not in a condition to play because of a serious ailment: "I could only see a black wall in front of me" where his exact words. Rumor has it that Gata spent a sleepless and bitter night over FIDE's unexpected decision to oust him from the 2013 Grand Prix...´

redivivo's picture

At least Gashimov was actually qualified on paper, ahead of Kamsky, so to get Gashimov a spot they only had to follow their own rules. Then of course they should be professional enough to find out who is supposed to participate before publishing the list, but that's probably too much to ask of FIDE.

So if the Azeris may have some money involved in the Grand Prix cycle they at least aren't getting any player spots for it, while the Russian Chess Federation demanded to pick no less than three more Russian participants to allow an event to be held in Russia. That's a bit rich.

Thomas's picture

Apparently the missing contract was Gashimov's, the most plausible or least awkward interpretation would be that his signed contract was somehow lost by AGON/FIDE and then found back. Then the only injustice done to Kamsky was that he was given false hopes for one or two days. Which is bad enough, but what should have been done instead?
- tell Gashimov "you are out, it's our own fault but you are out" !?
- give a wildcard spot to Kamsky, which would mean un-inviting one of the other wildcards?
As wildcards partly follow a geographic pattern, the victim might have been Dominguez. Dominguez recently lost or surrendered his spot in Biel to make room for Carlsen .... apparently I am the only one who found this a bit strange, various other sources (Chessvibes hasn't yet reported) seem to consider it perfectly normal.


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