Reports | July 27, 2010 15:58

'Candidates Matches moved to Kazan'

Candidates Matches moved to KazanAccording to a report in Sport Express by chess journalist Yuri Vasiliev, the FIDE Presidential Board in Tromso decided that the Candidates will be moved from Baku in Azerbaijan to Kazan in Russia. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov retains his position in the Candidates as the Azerbaijani representative.

Last week we reported that FIDE was intending to move the Candidates Matches (scheduled for March-April 2011 to determine the challenger of World Champion Viswanathan Anand in the 2012 WCh match) from Baku, Azerbaijan to Kazan, Russia. This report focused on Veselin Topalov's open letter in which he stated that he 'would not participate in any stage of the cycle for the World Chess Title that takes place in Russia'.

Yesterday, Sport Express journalist Yuri Vasiliev broke the news that the FIDE Presidential Board, currently together in Tromso, Norway, have announced the move to Kazan. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov retains his position in the Candidates as the Azerbaijani representative. The players (and pairings) are:

Topalov vs Kamsky ( 1 vs 8 )
Carlsen vs Radjabov ( 2 vs 7 )
Kramnik vs Mamedyarov ( 3 vs 6 )
Aronian vs Gelfand ( 4 vs 5 )

So far it's not clear whether FIDE has responded to Emil Sutovsky's open letter of last week in which the Israeli Grandmaster suggested some changes. However, according to Vasiliev, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov did respond to Veselin Topalov's open letter.

Sport Express mentions that Ilyumzhinov would send Topalov a letter 'asking not to take hasty decisions'. If Topalov still refuses to go to Kazan, he will be replaced by the third player in the final standings of the 2008-2010 FIDE Grand Prix Series, Alexander Grischuk from Russia.

Update: as Colin mentions in the comments section, it looks as though Sutovsky’s proposal was rejected. On his LiveJournal page ( he says that it wasn’t FIDE’s fault, but one of the players insisted that there shouldn’t be more changes made during the cycle, even though the player accepted the changes were logical (no mention of who the player was). He also made it clear that his meeting Ilyumzhinov & being photographed with him in no way means that he supports Ilyumzhinov in the presidential campaign (he said he’s staying out of chess politics).

Update 2: Mr Sutovsky couldn't confirm whether his proposal was rejected, but did say that one player rejected it: Boris Gelfand, who said "I think that your proposal is very interesting for the next cycle, but I strongly oppose any change of official regulations while the cycle is in process. I hope you'll inform all interested parties about my opinion."


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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.


marpada's picture

As the Candidates won't be played in Azerbaijan, why still give Mamedyarov a wild card? It's difficult to do things worse

ebutaljib's picture

So now ALL candidates are moved to Kazan, or just the Aronian part?

Jon's picture

It's terrible how FIDE is conducted. Changing and changing all over again and played in minor cities in the former USSR.

Bert de Bruut's picture

This FIDE presidency should be moved to outer space.

Thomas's picture

@Jon: You may have a point about "former USSR" (at least others, e.g. Arne Moll, share your view), but "minor cities" is a bit odd:
Kazan is the 8th Russian city. By the same standards, St. Louis is a minor US city, Dortmund, Bonn, Dresden and Mainz are minor German cities, Wijk aan Zee is ..... . What's a priori wrong with going where money and playing venue is available?

It is rather ironic that Grischuk may end up taking Topalov's spot. Chessdom (always at Topalov's service) writes in bold "Stay tuned for more information on the Candidates matches on later today as the story unfolds." What's going on behind the scenes?

KingTal's picture

Grischuk showed in Linares that he is not worse than Topalov... so who cares if Topalov withdraws because of being a stubborn donkey. :D

gg's picture

"Aronian, Gelfand and Radjabov all qualified within the current cycle – the first two convincingly"

Gelfand played good rapid and blitz in the World Cup but compare his results with Radjabov's in the long GP series:

Mike's picture

Candidate matches should give opportunities for more players. I propose four double round-robin micro tourneys, each one composed by three players, then the champions of each tourney will fight in two semi-final matches eight games each, and the winners would play for the final match also with eight games. The winner faces the World Champion. I do not agree to leave Grischuk, Eljanov, Ivanchuk and Ponomariov out of the cycle.

Sherman's picture

This sounds more like Topalov's punishment than Aronian's courtesy.

Mike's picture

Of course doesn't matter if we talk about twelve of sixteen players in the micro-tournament phase, each one with three or four players. The a.m. tournaments, each one should be organized in a different city, say: One in USA, other in Europe, other in South America, and other in Asia, for example.

Mike's picture

FIDE should follow the steps of FIFA and IOC, to get some cooperation and partnership with them. Two years cycle for the chess world champion is a mistake. FIDE should get an agreement with FIFA and organize the chess world championship cicle parallel with the FIFA one. The chess world championship finals should then take place at the same city and year of the FIFA football world cup. This will give to chess more visibility and infrastructure.

guncha's picture

Topalov didn't have any rights to play against Anand because he has never won candidates tournament. This match wasn't fair to Anand.
I don't understand the logic of Topalov's statement. He knows very well that he caused the scandal in Elista and now he simply wants to get rid of his priviledges.
I don't care who plays in candidate matches unless there is Carlsen. If Topalov withdraws it will be his loss not FIDE's.

bondegnasker's picture

I'm not a Topalov fan (to put it mildly), but this is clearly not fair to Topa given the animosity between Russian and Bulgarian top players.

And it's funny how Russia suddenly becomes involved in solving Aronian's problem after it is clear that their man (Grischuk) is the first replacement.

Sherman's picture

@guncha. Topalov won San Luis 2005. Kramnik never won candidates tournament
This is your logic, but topalov has more rights to play in Candidate matches than Kramnik, Kamski, Radgabov, Mamedyarov, Gelfand, Aronian and now Grishtchuk.
any questions?

Thomas's picture

Maybe Sutovsky's proposal to separate the final from the first two rounds still comes in, it could be moved (back) to Baku if it happens to be Topalov-Kramnik, or even in all cases that don't include Aronian? Chessdom hints that "things happen behind the scene", then it's odd that the decision for Kazan has already leaked out to the press ... .

Fine with me as long as
- the final isn't suddenly held in Sofia, and
- Topalov doesn't get further privileges: Colin McGourty hinted, based on Vasiliev at Chesspro, that he could be automatically seated into the next cycle!!?

True, Topalov won San Luis 2005 (and lost two WCh matches in the meantime). Aronian, Gelfand and Radjabov all qualified within the current cycle - the first two convincingly. Your turn, Sherman ... .

tesholama's picture

First: I do not mind Mamedyarov or Grischuk but why for God's sake Kamsky? Second: Among the stuffed major chess players and really unpleasant characters Topalov holds a leading position ...there is something repelling about him, extremely low class...I hate to be vulgar…but an enema can help sometimes. Third: Not that I care for men, but I noted a large density of ugly faces among the young GM. It can be some genetic trend?

Colin McGourty's picture

Thomas, to be honest the speculation wasn't exactly based on Vasiliev, and I doubt Topalov could get nearly as much as a seat in the next cycle.

What Vasiliev did say on the forum was that he thought the letter was "pure PR" by Danailov/Topalov (which does perhaps suggest they want something in return) - after all they've claimed in various interviews (with Vasiliev) that they wanted to put Elista behind them. Also perhaps of interest is that Vasiliev says Azerbaijan are still partly funding the tournament (effectively paying for Mamedyarov's place). And he's also of the opinion that FIDE should have gone with UEP's bid to hold the matches in Bonn when they had the chance.

He says he's meeting Ilyumzhinov on Wednesday, so maybe there'll be another Ilyumzhinov interview to enjoy...

VladimirOo's picture

Nevermind folks:

Morozevich is back in Pamplona!

moo's picture

Topalov is a douche bag that wouldn't win anyway, so it doesn't matter if he just forfeits outright.

Sherman's picture

@VladimirOo: Who cares...

Sherman's picture

@Thomas: What is fide rating of players you talked about?You nothing talk about Kramnik, Kamski and Carlsen? How they qualify?

Arne Moll's picture

Sherman, Topalov won San Luis in 2005 - 5 years ago. It got him the match against Kramnik - which he lost. Losing this match still got him the match against Kamsky if I recall correctly. But all that is ages ago. We're in a completely different cycle now. If Topalov can get rights from losing against Kramnik, why shouldn't Kramnik, who lost to Anand, have rights to play in the Candidates now? Seems to me it's the same difference.

By the way, I agree the whole system is flawed, but that's no reason to abandon all logic, is it?

Septimus's picture

Topalov is joke, plain and simple. However, FIDE have shot themselves in the foot yet again by helping Aronian and not being fair to Topalov (although he is a Class A punk). As much as I dislike the 2006 garbage he pulled, I think he is receiving unfair treatment here. Venues once decided should not be changed. Don't tell me FIDE were not aware of the AZE-ARM tensions before making the schedule? This is what happens when you have clowns running the show...

Arne's picture

Answering to one of the posters, the eigth largest city of Russia is not equal to the eigth largest city of the United States or Germany. Ask around the globe to see which one is more popular, Miami or Kazan?

TM's picture

Ok, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how people qualified. Here it is:

Carlsen & Kramnik qualified due to their high rating
Topalov qualified due to losing his match to Anand
Kamsky qualified due to losing his match to Topalov
Aronian & Radjabov qualified from Grand Prix
Gelfand qualified from World Cup
Mamedjarov is the Azeri wild card

So, just to make it clear: Kramnik DID legally qualify for this cycle; in the same way Carlsen qualified.

Thomas's picture

@Arne (apparently not Arne Moll?):
Disclaimer beforehand: Sorry for the somewhat aggressive tone, puns intended!
So you haven't heard of the eigth city of Russia (or China, or India, or maybe the entire continent of Africa) - neither had I, neither had many others. Does this or - now referring to Arne Moll - lack of direct flights from Europe make Kazan a minor city, let alone (as someone else wrote) an obscure village? As "yet another someone" pointed out, the Wikipedia article on Kazan is rather detailed and worth a look.

Anyway, I didn't compare Kazan to Miami but, among other cities, to Dortmund which happens to be the seventh city of Germany. How and why have people heard of Dortmund?
- chess fans because it has a supertournament
- football fans because it has a club which used to do well also on an international level
- me primarily because I am German, and have relatives living there.

There is nothing wrong with being ignorant, IMHO there is quite something wrong with boasting about one's ignorance and being unwilling to learn new things.

Colin McGourty's picture

Perhaps I'll add it here rather than at my site... it looks as though Sutovsky's proposal was rejected. On his LiveJournal page ( he says that it wasn't FIDE's fault, but one of the players insisted that there shouldn't be more changes made during the cycle, even though the player accepted the changes were logical (no mention of who the player was). He also made it clear that his meeting Ilyumzhinov & being photographed with him in no way means that he supports Ilyumzhinov in the presidential campaign (he said he's staying out of chess politics).

Arne Moll's picture

@Thomas, you can't even begin to compare Kazan and Dortmund. Kazan is much bigger from an economic point of view!
A more important point when it comes to media attention is that Kazan is pretty isolated in its region (relatively speaking), whereas Dortmund is surrounded by hundreds of pretty larger towns. It is 'standing on the shoulders of giants' as we say in chess.
But the main point is that I believe the Russian chess community, huge though it may be, is pretty much isolated from the rest of the world because of its language and script. The English-speaking and Spanish-speaking population is simply unaware of what's happening in Russia. And this is still a HUGE part of the chess community. This is a sad fact, but it is a fact nevertheless.
Look at the chess books industry: almost everything appears in English or Spanish nowadays - Russian chess books are for the absolute connaisseurs only. Even Russians often prefer English chess books (it used to be the other way around!).
And if such great cities as Moscow and St. Petersburg are isolated already, what about Kazan - or Astrakhan! - or other such towns? They're just completely unknown! You can regret this - and I think in fact Kazan is a very interesting city, much more interesting than Dortmund - but from a PR point of view, it just doesn't generate a lot of interest from outside Russia. (And let's not get started about the media attention such a tournament would get in Miami...)
I don't see how you can deny this. It's just the way it is. Sorry.

P.S. No, don't worry, I am not 'Arne' :-)

Peter Doggers's picture

Just spoke to Mr Sutovsky - he couldn't confirm whether his proposal was rejected, but did say that one player rejected it: Boris Gelfand, who said "I think that your proposal is very interesting for the next cycle, but I strongly oppose any change of official regulations while the cycle is in process. I hope you'll inform all interested parties about my opinion."

Arne's picture

@Thomas, thank you for confirming what we´ve been saying all along:

Dortmund has a known football team
Dortmund hosts one of the most important chess tournaments
Dortmund is in Germany
Kazan.... has a Wikipedia article. Thank you.

Bartleby's picture

Kazan. Haven't they won the European Team Cup once?

Mauricio Valdes's picture

I have the solution for Topalov!!!
He should play on the Bulgarrian embassy!
Topalov´s side of the board should be on the embassy!

Thomas's picture

@"Arne not Moll": Bad habit to write "we" when you actually mean "I" ... . For what it's worth, Kazan also has a football club that won 2-1 in and against Barcelona in the last Champions League .... .

@Arne Moll: Fair points altogether, but doesn't this mostly indicate that the average Russian is better at English than the average Western European at Russian (and Spanish people are comparatively bad at English)? And if Russian language sources had nothing to offer, or everything was commercially translated, Colin McGourty and mishanp :) would need to find a new hobby ... .

In terms of mainstream media attention, other events also get little coverage beyond the respective country - how much can one find about Corus in English, French or German newspapers? Similarly, London had apparently good coverage in the British press but hardly beyond.
For chess fans, it is important to have English language Internet coverage - here I think all the "Soviet" GP events did a good job, better than Dortmund and Linares.
It may be preferable to have the candidates event somewhere in Western Europe, best in a major city, but having it in Kazan is at least not a complete disaster!?

BTW there might also be downsides to a chess event in Miami: Didn't a former world champion, now - among many other things - writing for New in Chess, refer to chess players in Miami as "tourists"? Oh wait, that was about another American city, an isolated one in the middle of the desert ... :)

Henk de Jager's picture

I´m willing to bet Topalov will find a way to squirm backwards if FIDE holds on to Kazan for all matches. The ever irritating Danailov will ,,demand concessions" and later boisteroulsy announce ,,all demands have been met for grandmaster Topalov to participate".

kees's picture

Why do you care about this cycle?

Sherman's picture

@?Arne Moll on July 27th, 2010 18:05 Arne, make me right if i wrong, but Kramnik once lost for first from Anand in tournament in 2007, and for second in WC match in Bon 2008. OK, Kramnik and Carlsen participate by rating, but Topalov's rating is higher than Kramnik's or I again wrong something?

bhabatosh's picture

can not believe Dortmund is going to be compared with Kazaan.
I bet you ask any non soviet you will most likely get the answer I dont know.
to be honest I have heard kazan before but can not believe it has got same
presence such as Dortmund.

Anyway , the biggest problem is how a World body organizes/handles top players and a world championship . beyond any doubt it is pathetic .
have you heard World cup football is move from SA 2010 to Kenya 2010 .
Or Champions League final from one city to another just like that .

bunch of Id***t , get the World championship out of russia / soviet please.
i dont like topalov , but he has every right to complain if FIDE is changing venue/plan like this ................

Thomas's picture

@bhabatosh: I will come up with four scenarios, two which did happen and two which could have happened:

1) At some stage, there were doubts whether the stadiums in South Africa would be ready in time for the World Cup. Some country (was it Brazil?) would have been ready to jump in. This didn't happen, maybe the South African organizers just needed such a warning. [else it would have been organizer's fault and breach of contract]

2) Three Grand Prix events had to be moved to other locations because the initial organizers were unwilling or unable to honor their financial commitments. [I will, for the sake of simplicity, ignore FIDE's role in this and call it organizer's breach of contract]

3) Imagine the latent cold war between Armenia and Azerbaijan turns again into an armed conflict and the security of ALL players would be at stake. Should the event still be held at Baku, just because it had been previously announced? IMO no, and this would be force majeure - many people would correctly say "I told you".

4) In the current situation, only Aronian's safety or comfort is affected, and maybe only subjectively. Still, his concerns are legitimate, whereas Topalov's are - again obviously IMO - propaganda and paranoia. FIDE could have anticipated these problems much earlier, before honoring the Azerbaijani bid, but I still say "better late than never".
Yet another, but secondary issue is whether Kazan is an ideal venue - maybe not, but what are the alternatives? Short of Arne Moll's radical suggestion to abandon the entire event and proceed with a match between Carlsen and Anand ... .

Thomas's picture

@sherman: In my opinion, it was wrong that - after losing against Kramnik - Topalov was provided with a shortcut to yet another WCh match against, in the meantime, Anand. At least, his ridiculously unfounded demands for an immediate rematch against Kramnik weren't honored. Never mind, that's all history ... .
Kramnik's situation was different: it was clear before the Mexico WCh tournament that the title would ultimately be decided in a match - he probably preferred a friendly match against Anand to yet another hostile one against Topalov.

On to the current cycle: IF the candidates event comprised only four players, these should include Topalov and Carlsen by rating, plus Aronian (GP winner) and Gelfand (World Cup winner), no spot for Kramnik. Does this make you happy as a Topalov fan and Kramnik hater?
With eight players, only Kamsky (World Cup winner in the past, before he dropped out of the world top) and Mamedyarov (wildcard) are questionable. I just don't get it why Aronian, Gelfand and Radjabov would have less rights than Topalov. It's a FIDE event, and they all qualified via previous FIDE events against strong opposition.

@gg: For me, Radjabov's result is less convincing because he only qualified in the final round of the final event, and because there are some doubts about his win against Mamedyarov in the Astrakhan GP - which eventually meant a candidates spot for both players. Two respectable GMs - Yemelin and Eljanov, present in Astrakhan as journalist and player - wrote (in the German magazine "Schach") independently that this game may have been manipulated. Indeed, it was a strange game with Mamedyarov losing on time .... .

Grand Prix and World Cup are separate events requiring somewhat different skills, both were qualifiers for the candidates event. Gelfand won the World Cup. And rapid and blitz skills may also be relevant in the candidates event or even in a WCh match .... .

Arne's picture


Hahaha, if a major sporting event is going to be moved from say, Johannesburg, Paris or London, I assure you the new hosting city is not going to be Unknownistan, although it might be that countries largest city.

Is this you trying to be stubborn or do you really, honestly and sincerely believe that Kazan in the Republic of Tartarstan equals Las Vegas, Barcelona, or anything of that sort?

Cancun, Mexico is a much better place than Kazan and it is not one of Mexico´s top cities. Heck, I´d argue Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is more interesting than Kazan. Come on, really?!

Jon's picture

It's not about Kazan, though not on the top 10 list of most populated cities in former USSR is nevertheless a great city in many respects. It's also not about Baku or Jerevan or any other of "these" cities. The problem arises when "all" of FIDEs tournament, including the Grand Prix, are taking place in the former USSR. However, the comparison with Dortmund or LInares for that case, is not relevant. If Kazan was to host a top tournament year after year, nobody would care about the cit being the number 8 or 80 among cities in Russia.

The problem is the leadership of FIDE, who seemingly cannot finds sponsors outside USSR, and when somebody comes with a bid, like UEP, is turned down, because you cant fool, i.e. ignore contracts etc, with westerners like the USSR states. Sad, because the people and states of former USSR should be respected in the same way as anybody else.

Peggy Sue's picture

No question that Fide is once again completely unprofessional ... considering that there's still enough time left in this cycle, we can all rest assured that there will be more changes.
But, sorry to say this, this discussion about Kazan is utter nonsese IMO. Since when does the importance or attractiveness of an event depend on the venue? Will the next Winter Olympics be less interesting for sponsors because Sochi is smaller or less known than Vancouver? Should the Golf Masters move to Atlanta because nobody knows where Augusta is? The important point for any chess event is reliability and a professional organization, that given it doesn't matter where it's held.

Call Me Ishmael's picture

IMO nobody should qualify based on ratings alone. What's the point of having qualifying tournaments if people can just circumvent them? Why not then determine the World Champion based on ratings alone?

Kramnik and Carlsen have no business in the Candidates Matches.

FIDE needs to go back to the old system of Zonals, Interzonals, and Candidates Matches. This system worked perfectly for so long and it always allowed the best of the best to emerge as WC. Does Mamedyarov really deserve a shot because he's Azeri? Chess will never be taken seriously as long as FIDE behaves this way.

noyb's picture

FIDE needs Karpov to win back any legitimacy whatsoever. He may or may not "do better" than Kirsan, but he certainly couldn't do more harm.

As for Topalov, he's shown he's incapable of defeating either Kramnik or Anand, so if Grischuk replaces him in the current cycle, it's no loss for chess and perhaps a pickup for fans to get a chance to see what Grischuk can do!

Mr X's picture

As much I dislike Danailov/Topalov antics from the past the he is being treated here badly by FIDE. How he qualified? Ok, they can say he qualified from the lost match with Anand, but if Kramnik qualified based on his rating surely Topalov would have done the same - after all he is #2. So of course he belongs to the Candidates. Once more FIDE has shown its complete incompetency to arrange anything properly. In this they excel time after time.

D.M.Modak's picture

It seems a pity if Topalov does NOT play in the Candidates Match vs Kamsky simply because the venue is Kazan. He is certain to 'progress' till he clashes Carlsen and taking into account Carlsen's form Topalov will find it going tough against Carlsen. BUT TOPALOV IS NOT TO BE BLAMED AT ALL IF HE DECLINES TO PLAY IN KAZAN ESPECIALLY AS THE CASE WAS MADE FOR ARONIAN AND TOPALOV MAY HAVE BITTER EXPERIENCE OF THE 'POLITICS' WHILE PLAYING CHESS IN RUSSIA! I request FIDE to drop Kazan and stick to the earlier schedule as not only has the Azer Chess Federation signed an Agreement with FIDE but also transferred euros to FIDE Account.. If this could NOT be done the best thing is to take the concerned single match into account as Kamsky has also defected long back from Russia and would be glad to play Topalov anywhere except in Russia!

Colin McGourty's picture

Perhaps cause for an "Update 3":

Yury Vasiliev quotes Danailov in Sport Extress:

The full interview's coming tomorrow, but for now these comments are given:

"They understand us incorrectly. Topalov isn't refusing to play in Russia. He'll go to Khanty-Mansiysk for the Olympiad and he'll play on the first board for Bulgaria. Topalov is refusing to play a match with a Russian player in Russia, if it's a title match. The probability of Topalov meeting a Russian player in Kazan isn't great, as they'd both have to get to the final, but..."

i.e. Topalov's now only refusing to play a final match with Kramnik (there aren't any other Russian players). Of course the idea of being understood "incorrectly" is a bit comical if you go back and read how clear the original official letter was...

Colin McGourty's picture

I probably shouldn't type before a morning coffee!

Sport Express, not Extress...
understood, not understand...

And just to make it clear, rather that "if it's a title match" better is "if it's a match connected to the title" - i.e. the final of the Candidates Matches, as that's the only time Topalov and Kramnik could meet, unless they change the pairings...

Simaginfan's picture

Thanks Colin. The original Topalov quote is - "Having in mind all this, I would like to declare that I would not participate 'IN ANY STAGE OF THE CYCLE'' for the World Chess Title that takes place in Russia, in order to avoid problems and conflicts that already took place there." Presumably this will be called a 'mistranslation'.
Perhaps mssrs Topalov and Dannyboylov would like to tell us the reason for the change of heart? Obviously this will be nothing whatsoever to do with the oganisors being prepared to replace him with Grischuck!!!!!

Sherman's picture

Bad job Mr. Grischukfan :)) Good joke from Silvio:))


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