November 05, 2010 16:10

Magnus Carlsen steps out of World Championship cycle

Magnus Carlsen steps out of World Championship cycle

By declining to play in the 2011 Candidates matches, Magnus Carlsen has decided to step out of the current World Championship cycle. In a letter to FIDE Carlsen expresses his dissatisfaction with the current cycle, like "reigning champion privileges, the long (five year) span of the cycle and changes made during the cycle resulting in a new format (Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go through since Kasparov." Poll added.

The following letter, signed by Magnus Carlsen, dated November 4th, was sent to FIDE. We received a copy from Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein.

To: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov & FIDE World Championship Committee. Reference is made to the ongoing World Championship cycle. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my decision not to take part in the planned Candidate Matches between March and May 2011. After careful consideration I’ve reached the conclusion that the ongoing 2008 – 2012 cycle does not represent a system, sufficiently modern and fair, to provide the motivation I need to go through a lengthy process of preparations and matches and, to perform at my best. Reigning champion privileges, the long (5 yr) span of the cycle, changes made during the cycle resulting in a new format (Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go through since Kasparov, puzzling ranking criteria as well as the shallow ceaseless match-after-match concept are all less than satisfactory in my opinion. By providing you with 4 months notice before the earliest start of the Candidates as well as in time before you have presented player contracts or detailed regulations, I rest assured that you will be able to find an appropriate replacement. Although the purpose of this letter is not to influence you to make further changes to the ongoing cycle, I would like to take the opportunity to present a few ideas about future cycles in line with our input to FIDE during the December 27th 2008 phone-conference between FIDE leaders and a group of top-level players. In my opinion privileges should in general be abolished and a future World Championship model should be based on a fair fight between the best players in the World, on equal terms. This should apply also to the winner of the previous World Championship, and especially so when there are several players at approximately the same level in the world elite. (Why should one player have one out of two tickets to the final to the detriment of all remaining players in the world? Imagine that the winner of the 2010 Football World Cup would be directly qualified to the 2014 World Cup final while all the rest of the teams would have to fight for the other spot.) One possibility for future cycles would be to stage an 8-10 player World Championship tournament similar to the 2005 and 2007 events. The proposal to abolish the privileges of the World Champion in the future is not in any way meant as criticism of, or an attack on, the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who is a worthy World Champion, a role model chess colleague and a highly esteemed opponent. Rest assured that I am still motivated to play competitive chess. My current plan is to continue to participate in well-organised top-level tournaments and to try to maintain the no 1 spot on the rating list that I have successfully defended for most of 2010. Best regards, IGM Magnus Carlsen

The next step of the current World Championship cycle is formed by the Candidates matches, which are scheduled in Kazan in the Russian republic of Tatarstan in the spring of 2011. The winner of these matches will meet Viswanathan Anand in a World Championship match, which will probably be held in London in 2012. FIDE has confirmed to have received Carlsen's letter. "Currently we have no comments on this matter. We must treat it in the World Championship committee first," said FIDE Executive Director David Jarrett of FIDE to VG Nett.

Now with such breaking news and a discussion that's going at top speed, we added something we wanted to do for a while already: threaded comments. You can now reply directly to certain comments instead of using the '@' symbol. Let's see how this works.


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


chess's picture

but Carlsen still did not beat everyone in chess matches.

Brecht's picture

true, he didnt beat Fischer yet....

ebutaljib's picture

Fischer beat everyone in matches??? I thought he only beat 4 players.

ram's picture

what is Carlsen's head to head record against Anand, Topalov and Kramnik? That would be important to know before we make claims such "..if we already beat everyone out there.."

Chess Fan's picture

Magnus's record against Anand current is well in the negative in the classical matches. I think he has beated Anand only once in a classical game in 2008 or 2009 if I remember right.

john's picture

Whether the system of short matches was good or not, the actual experience of facing Kramnik and other top players in any sort of match would have been priceless!

what a waste Magnus

I think he will regret this.

fun's picture

when Carlsen do not have a good chess trainer, for preparing for the candidates then he can try to practice with the chess engines rybka 4 and houdini 1.0.3a:)

Brecht's picture

Who needs a world champion title...if you already beat everyone out there...?? The title shoes has to go spontanously to Carlsen.....awarded based on his tournament victories ....

It's like Fischer...he didnt need to defend his title.....he knew he was the best out need to prove it anymore....

What u guess think of this reasoning?

Nydrre's picture

Carlsen was never the best in the world, his rating may have been tops, but that doesn't mean anything. He never proved it by beating a world champion.

Brecht's picture

I think in a year's time, Carlsen will beat Wang Yue in ping pong!

LMedemblik's picture

Half naked top models playing chess?

Brecht's picture

Great idea! Let's organise it!

LMedemblik's picture

Ok do the chess part ..then I fix the dropping...

Bert de Bruut's picture

Carlsen is both wrong and right. He is right in much of his criticism -although he is wrong to compare chess to soccer-, but he is mistaken to quit the current cycle, as for now there is no alternative to it.

KingTal's picture

Carlsen throws himself out... what a dumb decision he made, a seriously retarded one. Its a checkmate to himself. What a disapointment. :(
FIDE should keep world championship cycle as it is now i hope, as matches.
Chess kings are made in matches, not in tournaments and little boy Carlsen should accept that.

Eivind Salen's picture

Short and clear.

noi that hoa phat's picture

Agree, that's a dumb decision. Now it is result, Carlsen will not be a World Champion for at least 4 years more. Sad but true

LMedemblik's picture


vladimirOo's picture

Instead of Football, compare with boxing: should we take all of boxers and make a huge tournament with the Champion starting at the same level as the others?

Chess is not standard sport event (such as running, football, swimming) but a fight between one mang, the strongest in the World, and his challengers.

ultima's picture

Carlsen isnt interested in participating in a competition where one of the competitors has an tremendous advantage. Good for him, and probably good for chess in the long run.

AnandFAN's picture

Perfect Diwali gift for Anand.... whats more, like the previous championship cycles, he can still assist Vishy for his title defense !!

ops's picture

you could add to the poll:

bad idea, because he could have a good practice for the feature:)

ops's picture


TMM's picture

No, you're right, for Carlsen it is not so long, even though he did play some Grand Prix tournaments at first since FIDE then said you could only challenge the WC by winning those Grand Prixs. Now afterwards with these rules Carlsen didn't have to do anything but win the Challengers tournament.

But in general, for non-Carlsen players, the cycle is just too long. To challenge the WC you first had to either win a Grand Prix series of 6 tournaments or win the World Cup, and after that win a strong Challengers tournament with the whole world elite.

Maybe FIDE could make the ratings mean something by saying that in the Challengers Tournament, only the top 10 of the World Rankings could play. Of course that has disadvantages too (people would stop playing once then reached the top 10) but it (a) encourages players outside the top 10 to try to win rating, and (b) gives players like Carlsen and Kramnik a break, making it easier for them to challenge Anand.

LMedemblik's picture

I liked this reply idea from the beginning but instead of going down the page all the time it seems as If the wheel of my mouse got the rhythm of love now....

Arjo's picture

Just WOW... The boy got real guts.

Gunner Topalov's picture

Now it is up to all the other candidates to step out of the cycle as that would get the FIDEs attention..

...and Anand should refuse to play unless Carlsen is involved...

Topalov wont play Russians in Russia....or at least not venue gotta move to Kiev???? or do as Carlsen???

I guess Aronian is happy with the changes made?...Aronian got his will with the venues move to Russia...understandable that he did not want to lay in a country at war with his belowed Armenia

ebutaljib's picture

Aronian and Gelfand have no reason to withdraw, because they are the only two who are qualified by original regulations for this cycle.

Also, why would Anand have to do anything? World Champion should have absolutely nothing to do with chosing of his challenger! Unless you want the old times, when World Champion could duck real challengers, to return.

Antonius's picture

He is perfectly right, chess needs to evolve in a more fai and modern system.
I hope, considering MC status and wide popularity, this decision will have a great resounding outside the chess world, to let transpire what incompetence and lack of capacity from FIDE.

I think he made the right decision, but he will lose a great opportunity to shot at the World Title, I hope he doesn't regret this decision.

unknown's picture

Big.... PITY!

Ganesh's picture

He just doesnt want to spoil his reputation as he knows that he has very little chance of beating kramnik and aronian in the candidates......Ridiculous comparison with football world cup..... This was his opportunity to show that he is not just about beating the tier-2 players....

Ola Dunk's picture


No swearing please.

Skúli Bernhard's picture

This is a baseless attack from you. Your statements about his motivations clearly shows your own motivation.

You are obviously trying to defend the current system with out any arguments.

Full Name's picture

No, his comparison makes sense. The people making the rules are out of touch with reality, and chess-players too apparently, considering the poll shows most people agree...

Andre's picture

carlsen has poor overall record against kramnik and aronian , two top seeds in candidates , its a very cunning decision.

reality check's picture

As you can see now he's nothing but hype in the real world.

Zeblakov's picture

Kasparov again is behind the kid.

Mahendrakumar's picture

Carlsen's decision is not correct. Vishy Anand is the current world Chess Champion. Even he had to play many world championship candidates matches. Even he was treated unfair against Karpov in 1998 when he had to play against a most rested opponent. In 2000when Anand won a knock out tournament, everyone said it was not that difficult. In 2007, he was criticised of his title saying Kramnik was not there in the tournament. And since Kramnik had beaten Kasparov, the world will accept if Anand beats Kramnik. When Kramnik was beaten by Anand in 2008 and Topalov in 2010...still people have doubts about his credentials as a World Chess champion. During the post Kasparov era, there was problem two chess governing bodies..and a unification was the solution. Now when a legitimate World Chess Champion is existing, a Challenger is a must to dethrone him and here, again going back to knock out or tournament format is insane.

Full Name's picture

Let me guess, you are from India as well? Please look at the poll, and you will see that most people agree the current system is wrong. While I understand that you like the concept of a Master that defends his position, it does not make any sense for most people that a player who in the time-period may have passed his peak is given automatic entrance to the main match. He could certainly be given some kind of seeding advantage though. Today, there are too many players that compete on the same level, to reserve one of two spots to a person that happened to win earlier.

Suresh's picture

Let me guess, you are not from India and believe that Anand is not a worthy world champion !! I can understand from the 1000 odd people polls here that people want Magnus to win, and therefore the system is unfair (god know when the system will be fair), and being a die hard Anand fan from india I would want Magnus to prove his might by going through the same rigour as Anand has gone through to win the title! You say there are too many players that compete on the same level and so Anand by retaining the title twice playing with such players is a really big deal then! I agree whe you say that the defending champion is given an unfair advantage since many pass their prime (peak) , guess what Anand is currently no1 in FIDE rankings (now are the live ratings really live??? ). Last 2 decades has been this hue and cry about unfair systems then why not suggest an immpeccable solution to FIDE who everybody thinks comprise of a bunch of aliens and do not solve the practical problems which at times arise due to the Elite players tantrums!! I think chess is an individual sport and a player is entitled to his/her opinion so always an individual player can question a format however perfect it may be by his or her rationale (ofcourse suiting his pathway to the title).

wibble_wobble's picture

@Suresh, It's quite funny to see how you get worked up and think this means the whole world is against anand, and they want magnus to win. It shouldnt matter what country you are from, the best players should play for the title and i really don't get why you would be against that. All world championship matches i have followed i have rooted for anand(though not from india), while he played and beat the world elite. Now there is a player rising, highest rated in the world, and if he does not want to fight for the opportunity to challenge the world champ because of bad procedures, do you really want to stop progress of chess and make sure the world champion and the world's highest rated player will not fight for the championship? I say this does not add up.

meshrath's picture

Please, no racist comments here. It distracts from the discussion when people start trading insults.

Andre's picture

Some people want to decide world championship by polls not by matches.

ablos's picture

Think about the book how his predecessors deceive him (Kasparov). The workings oh their minds are predictable.

Joran Aulin-Jansson's picture

Ref : Ganesh
I honestly do not beleive Magnus is afraid of any chessplayer in the world :-)

Dilip's picture

Agreed , Magnus is not afraid. There are lot of players on the same level. The world champion is having an advantage. But all this can be discussed and protested by Magnus Carlsen in a mature fashion.
a) Participating in the world championship
b) Sending a letter to FIDE seeking for review of the system.

LMedemblik's picture

The start of the revolution....All chessplayers of any influence should join!

harami's picture

I think the boy made a stupid decision. Garry's record of being the yougest ever World Champion is safe, and Anand has a great chance to remain World Champion till 2014-15.

ChessGirl's picture

Except that the youngest ever World Champion is not Kasparov but Ponomariov.

TMM's picture

Even here one can see the big influence Kasparov has had on Carlsen...

He's right though, and the requirements to be able to challenge the World Champion are just ridiculous and take too long. And I bet the conditions for those Candidates matches are also not what you'd expect from a tournament with Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, ... (after all, since players will want to play in this tournament anyway to have a shot at the title, FIDE won't have to offer as much money to get a strong field).

And the only way to actually make a change would be if other elite players did the same and withdrew, but I doubt they will.


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