Reports | December 07, 2008 19:36

Aronian is losing his motivation too

AronianAfter Magnus Carlsen decided to withdraw from the Grand Prix Series, another top player has expressed his disappointment: in an open letter to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Levon Aronian requests the FIDE President to "critically view and question the GA's latest decisions and the processes to which they came."

Here's the open letter that was sent to us this morning by Levon Aronian. He hasn't yet followed Carlsen's decision to withdraw from the FIDE Grand Prix Series, but he does state that the General Assemblee's decision to approve the change of the current system by suddenly inventing a Candidates Tournament "[...] removes the motivation for players like myself to take part in the World Championship cycle."

Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov and the Fide Presidential Board,

In the wake of recent events surrounding the FIDE Grand Prix and the General Assembly's decision to alter the current World Championship cycle, I feel obliged, as a participant and a leading chess player, to express my disappointment. I must request you to critically view and question the GA's latest decisions and the processes to which they came. I must stress that I am not one for scandals and do not wish to cause unnecessary fights ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú however I believe it is my duty to act as the voice of the players.

Firstly, the decision to alter the World Championship cycle at this time is not in the spirit of
fair competition. We can draw a parallel to the following example: the rules set before a race state that the marathon is 42km, and while the runners are still running, having already completed 20km, the rules are suddenly changed to make the marathon an 80km run. The runners thus lose motivation to run and consequently distrust the rule makers. This is comparable to the situation the participants of the FIDE Grand Prix will be in if the GA's decisions are made final.

After severe criticism for many years over the World Championship cycle, FIDE finally created a promising new system, only now to self-impose new waves of criticism. When the initial World Championship cycle was set in place and the Grand Prix system was created for players to qualify legitimately for a chance to challenge the world champion, we had the belief that there was finally a fair and reliable system (which my federation also supported).

With the GA's recent actions, it seems that there is a democratic deficit within FIDE. The GA did not consult the players currently taking part in the Grand Prix in their decision processes. Please keep in mind a very important point ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú these players, including myself, have a legally binding agreement with FIDE regarding the World Championship cycle and the Grand Prix. Therefore it is FIDE's duty to consult the other party of the contract ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the participants.

Does this mean that the chess players have lesser rights than others? The GA appears to act
with no concern for the players. The decision to suddenly change the World Championship cycle has damaging effects on the career plans of leading chess players. It is also reasonable to ask: why should we go through several tournaments over several years and fight for a place in a tournament that another player gets by losing a match? The GA's decisions remove the motivation for players like myself to take part in the World Championship cycle.

It should be noted that Mr. Mastrokoukos' reason to change the cycle because of the unforeseen events of 2 legs of the Grand Prix withdrawing is not convincing and does not reflect reality ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú because a Grand Prix event in Yerevan has already been announced by FIDE as a replacement. It is clear that the withdrawal of Doha and Montreux are not endangering the system, as he would have us believe in his letter to Mr. Carlsen.

It seems that FIDE was on the right path towards a reliable World Championship cycle, which had the support of leading players and chess federations worldwide. However, with the GA's recent actions, FIDE has left the right path and will lose its credibility in the eyes of chess players world wide ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú not to mention, ruin its efforts to be recognized as a sport by the IOC.

I hope that the above arguments will be heard before finalizing the decisions of the GA.


Levon Aronian
Frankfurt am Main
December 6, 2008

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.


Ian Gibson's picture

In reading the two statements, it becomes apparent that Carlsen is still very naive; he hasn't got the politics 'down' yet. Aronian's statement was stronger but he didn't commit himself to anything.

me's picture

@ xstra

Glad that you figured out on your own what I meant. At the start it had credibility since all the best players in the world werte invited to participate. Nobody was excluded. Fact that Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, Morozevich and Shirov refused to participate changes nothing. It's their own choice.

Now, with all that changes it did lost credibility and we will have another chaotic cycle. This is far from over, we will see many twists and changing of rules in this cycle.

Indian's picture

Aronian the fantasist is too scared to do anything!

Magnus is all man - he has guts.

xtra's picture

what do you mean, of course it loses credibility when players withdraw --with good reason--. if Brazil withdrew from the FIFA world cup because they would actually have to play another tournament i they won, where for some reason some countries qualified basicly for free and for no apparent reason, and the Brazil team just thought this was highly unfair, especially since it broke already exisiting contracts (at least in all fairness, maybe not technicly, anyway the point is valid)....sheesh, it would make the rest of the tournament just look silly! The main reason the cycle loses credibility is of course the actual changes in it, but it defenately adds to it that someplayers refuse. Actually, I think most of the credibility could have been saved eventually if all of the players had remained in the tournament. Fortunately that wont be so, and FIDE wont save face that easily in this matter.

And well, Morozevich just looks streetsmart in the chess world now when the grand prix collapses. :p He hasnt wasted his time with one or two tournaments.

xtra's picture

oop I missed the actual point, which was if it lost credibility because some top players didnt participate. sorry. well that isnt so clear I guess. :p in any case, like I said about morozevich, hehe.

val's picture

It's either returning to the proven old system {zonal tournaments - interzonals - matches) or eternal squabbling with little or no prospect of sorting things out.

praddy06's picture

GP was a failure and lost credibility even before it was started


they did not give a damm to GP and if Carlsen is added to this list is it going to make a difference, GP will continue with or without Carlsen's presence.

he is still not a credibile match player to match the above 5 players, may be in future he will have a say and people in FIDE will hear his voice as a champion but not now as a 18 year old.

and he is not the first player to revolt actually it was Morozevich

and Aronian is not pulling out he now values his chances after Carlsen is gone

Michael Hibbs's picture

Praddy, Levon's chances depend only on his performance, nothing more. So Carlsen' tactical withdrawal has nothing in common with Aronian's pulling/not pulling. Cuz we can say that Magnus is gone because of Aronian's better chances to win the GP ))))).

Manu's picture

@praddy ;
If you are going to copy and paste your comments from one site to another at least you should have the decency to improve from post to post .

me's picture

How did it lost credibility if they refused to participate? Will the FIFA World Cup lose credibility if Brasil for some reason refuses to participate? We can't force players to participate, can we? It is their own decision to participate or not. Besides Morozevich didn't say he gives up a fight for World Championship. He hinted that he moght try to qualify through the World Cup.

From the list of participants in the upcoming Elista Grand Prix, we can assume that besides Carlsen, michael Adams also withdrew, and that Al-Modiahki and Pelletier were kicked out (since their host cities withdrew). Seems like the new host city (Yerevan, Armenia) nominated Vladimir Akopian. the replacements for other players are Eljanov, Alekseev and Kasimdzhanov. It remains to be seen if they are permanent replacements or will at least that part of regulations be followed where it says that in case of withdrawals a new relacement is called in for every tournament.

James's picture

@Imaginary Situation

Your idea of the top chess players usurping FIDE with a new organisation is a good one, but fortunately I don't think it will require anywhere near as much drama as in your post. I wouldn't count on Kasparov forming the association, either - such movement must come from the elite chess community as a whole.

Simmillion's picture

@arne, yep read it and even liked it

Being a kind of newbie in the chessworld I cannot start to imagine why all of you ( ?Ǭ¥us?Ǭ¥ since this summer) put up with an organisation like this.

Organisational skills seem to be absent, and no deal is ever really a deal. Even at the heights of the creditcrunch a word from your local secondhand car dealer is worth more than a email or an open letter of this bunch of guys.

me's picture

Carlsen is better. Aronian is better. Topalov is better. Wang Yue is better, etc.

I see a lot of stupidity here. Sometimes one of them wins, second time another, and on third occasion someone else. They are all world class players that belong to the same class, and they all deserve a chance to qualify for the World Championship match.

Imaginary Situation's picture

Sometime in 2009:

************: 'The players are revolting, aren't they? (smiles)
******: (laughs) Yeah, absolutely! As if they will ever stand a chance against our stupendous organisation.
************: (pauses in surprise) Wait...the players really ARE revolting!
******: You mean Ivanchuk, who totally deserved that 2-year ban?
Mastrokoukos: (gasps) No, they have declared war!
******: (looks out window of palace, returns to laptop) The Federation of Chess Professionals have hacked the FIDE webpage and taken all of our FIDE Ratings information!
A few minutes later...
************: (blinks repeatedly, unable to believe what is occuring) The FCP have officially assigned Hans-Aril Runde the role of FCP Ratings Officer!
******: (panicking) None of the FIDE-rated tournaments are FIDE-rated anymore, they are all FCP-rated!
************: (enraged) Oh no! Our company was going so well, until Kasparov formed the Federation of Chess Professionals to usurp FIDE!
******: (desperate, sweating profusely) Have you assigned any KGB to counter them?
************: No, Medvedev and yourself spent it all to attack Georgian chess players. (collapses, crying loudly)
******: (bangs head on wall) We are doomed...

At least let's hope so!

Christos (Greece)'s picture

Your example is a failure, because Frodo did save the world from the Lord of the Rings in the end.

Mig's picture

Anand would be proud of his Indian loser compatriot....

Manu's picture

If you ask me this is rather timid gesture , but still is something.
Topalov should speak against the match clause with Kamsky , he doesnt need it.

evanhaut's picture

Even if Aronian were to step out of the renewed cycle, I believe Carlsen's withdrawal poses a much bigger problem for FIDE, since running any cycle without Magnus will leave this WC title without its legacy of best player in the world whatsoever.. so no media, no coverage, no credit and no future..
I suggest king Anand takes a stand!

JM's picture

One could say Wang Yue is leading the Grand Prix, as he's having the most points. But statistically speaking Aronian's chances are probably slightly better. The best three results count in the end, so the question is: is it more difficult for Wang Yue to score 180 points in one GP or for Aronian to score 153.3 + 120 points in two GP's? My estimation is that the second is slightly easier.

Boris's picture

Evanhaut - Carlsen is the best player in the world? Really? Maybe one of the best players? Huh? Maybe he is the best player for you? Just like Aronian is for me. Don't you think, that FIDE may disagree with our personal passion for Magnus or Levon? Can't you understand, that this is not a question of personalities?

Ark's picture

Only Topalov is important, he is first in rating he can qualify for practically ANY cycle. Best way to deal with Aronian and Carlsen now is to promise them a special knock-out match to decide one of the finalists, but postpone that match indefinitely.

Ark's picture

besides, Aronian and Carlsen have never defeated Wang Yue before, even with White, perhaps it is best for FIDE to work something out with the Chinese, and let everyone else bow under their might!

Indian's picture

hey losers, who is aronian?! I tell you - he is a hobbit who thinks he can save the chess world from Lord Kirsan.

Vahag's picture

Dear me! ))

Wang Yue is leading after two GP tournaments, Baku and Sochi.

Creemer's picture

As in most cases in which a governing body issues rules or laws that are unwanted with the majority of those governed, the fate of the new rule or law, indeed the fate of the governing body itself, is entirely dependant on the measure and intensity of unified protest against it and the proposals of altrnatives by authorities outside the governing body, which in turn also need to be supported in a unified matter.
Many times in these circumstances, there is a lot of unofficial, murmured discontent, a few public punches but seldom do we see the unification amongst those governed that is needed to provide a real alternative.
For me the key word here is responsibility: we all have it, but few dare to acknowledge it and stand for it.
So far, nobody stepped up in this (chess) matter. Magnus Carlsen is young, he has a thoughtful father who looks after his son. Carlsen's withdrawal is, to me, a personal matter. Levon Aronian does make it political, but as yet does not connect any consequences to his disapproval. But even if he does, it's still an individual reaction.
What the chess world needs, in my opinion, is a joint venture of as many chess players as possible who, each and every one of them, take personal responsibility for creating a new situation that works. The success in any worldly enterprise (be it politics, sports, social, charitable, war) is personal commitment to a common goal.
Let's hope, let's intend for that to happen on a grand scale in chess.

Simmillion's picture

If I wasn?Ǭ¥t such a - concerning chesspolitics- cynical bastard, I would probably see change ahead.

Yes, we can!

And for all the commenters talking nonsens, to ol?Ǭ¥ D H Lawrence

Arne Moll's picture

@Simmillion, then perhaps you like my column about 'yes we can' :-)

Vahag's picture

Anatoy and Indian

Your posts are, quoting ChessGirl, the most stupid.
1. Levon Aronian is in fact the very first World Cup winner.
2. Only In 2008 he won Weik, Amber, Asrian Memorial, Sochi, Chess Olympiad.
3. He leads in GP standings: 180 points after only one tournament (Sochi), while other leaders, Carlsen among them, shared the 1st place in Baku and have only 153 points.
4. We are not comparing Aronian, Carlsen, Ivanchuk and other GM's here. If you are a Carlsen fan, you may join the club of his fans in his blog. We are speaking here of the new procedures for the World Championship, and I find, that Aronian's letter reflects better the problem.

me's picture

Yes, Aronian is doing it the right way. He didn't simply withdraw, he gave FIDE one last chance to revert back to original plan. All Grand Prix participamts should come together and say that FIDE should revert back to what was originally planed, and if FIDE refuses then they should all withdraw.

P.S.: Wang Yue is leading the Grand Prix, not Aronian.

Boris's picture

In fact, Aronian is the first top-GM to send an open letter considering the changing procedure for World Championship. Shirov's one was mainly on Ivanchuk case. As for Carlsen, he just made public his private correspondence with FIDE officials, nothing more. And he did it in his blog, so one must be thankful to ChessBase and ChessVibes for publishin'it.
Maybe that is why Levon's appeal sounds (for me) more thoughtful. At least there is no place for caprice-like - "Going to the new venue Elista in wintertime and over Christmas was not something Magnus wanted to do".

Indian's picture

I don't care for what Aronian thinks or does. Magnus Carlsen is far more important.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

"Caprice-like"? Magnus? He just disliked that they changed the venue and time for a key tournament with a few weeks resite. And it could be he had planned something with his family for christmas time, that is quite normal in his part of the world.
But any how it is great to see Levon joining the forces. He does put his finger on a crucial aspect of the whole matter:
"...these players, including myself, have a legally binding agreement with FIDE regarding the World Championship cycle and the Grand Prix. Therefore it is FIDE?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s duty to consult the other party of the contract ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the participants."
And he is right in stating that the Grand Prix is far from dead. At least five of its legs are still alive and kicking.

Claude's picture

Indian, lol, u r ridiculous, but who cares? Cuz u r nothing, far more important nothing lol )))

ChessGirl's picture

@ Indian: Wow, congrats for the stupidest comment I have ever read on this site.

@ Jens Kristiansen: Yeah, it IS important to point out FIDE?Ǭ¥s obligation towards the other party of the contract, I totally agree.

I just think it?Ǭ¥s great to see some response from the players... sometimes I have thought that FIDE could do whatever they wanted without fearing any response whatsoever, but it looks like the changing of the cycle was the last straw for many players.

Anatoy K's picture

Indian is right. Magnus Carlsen is indeed more important. Dont forget he is the one who took position first in this case. Aronian is a follower concerning this political matter. And he doesnt even take position as he did not withdraw yet.

Magnus Carlsen is the man.

Esalen's picture

Good to see Aronian also joining the crowd in opposite to FIDE. With Carlsen, Ivanchuk and Aronian out of the Grand Prix, together with for instance Morozevich and Shirov, they could have a far more impotrant and interesting tournament than any GP or other FIDE arranged. FIDE is disqualifying itself.

Good to see also Aronian and Carlsen outspoken. They are both great sportsmen.

ChessGirl's picture

Magnus Carlsen is the man.



John's picture

Aronian's letter has much better thought in it than does Carlsen's... Aronian's letter shows genuine concern for the respectability of chess as a whole, whereas Carlsen's letter only seems to show concern about himself and how a change in the Grand Prix would be frustrating for HIM.

James's picture

This discussion is becoming ludicrous.

Aren't any of you grateful that some of the top players (e.g. Aronian) is making some sort of stand against FIDE?


Your last comment reveals only your shallowness and narrow-mindedness regarding the current World Championship Cycle.

Greg's picture

Anand is nothing, Kasparov is everything.

James's picture

Ban FIDE...

Raj's picture

hey stupid "Indian" - if you insist on posting your nonsensical messages, post it with you real or pseudoname - not as if you are the "voice of India". oh what an irony, on the one end we have a genius world champ and on the other such idiots who act too smart with their expert comments and just won't shut up. webmaster, is it possible to block certain IPs from posing?

Indian's picture

Who does Aronian think he is?! He fancies himself as a big shot! The real big shots are Anand, Topalov and Carlsen.

Peter Doggers's picture

@Geeg Well good for you. But it makes no sense, since it's an open forum.

Tyche's picture

It would be great if Anand stood up to Kirsan and his hegemony. But, come on - be real. Since when has Anand stood up to anything. He is a very selfish player, who is really good at promoting his own image, and isn't concerned one bit about the anarachy and autocracy in chess.

GeeG's picture

Indian, please, shut up! U have no guts, no brains, no honor.

Peter Doggers's picture

@Geeg No matter how much you disagree with someone, don't tell them to shut up. Certainly not at an open forum like this one.

Indian's picture

I have read aronian's letter and reread it. I have come to the conclusion that he will not do anything. Aronian has the "sheep mentality" - he follows the herd.

Magnus, on the other hand, knows what he wants clearly and makes no compromises.

GeeG's picture

and if you think, that you are a loser, Peter, (just like Indian called people here present), and Aronian is a hobbit, than it's your personal choice. But my choice is to tell people to shut up, even at an open forum like this one.

GeeG's picture

I will, Peter, if people will keep on insulting chessplayers on your forum.

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