February 21, 2012 12:14

FIDE confirms agreements with CNC/Agon and Tretyakov

FIDE confirms agreements with CNC/Agon and Tretyakov

FIDE has signed an agreement with the companies CNC and Agon for the next World Championship cycle. CNC will be responsible for media, web and software rights, while Agon will be organising and funding the events. The contract with the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, where Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand will play the 2012 World Championship match in three months from now, was signed as well. These agreements were announced on the FIDE website on Tuesday morning.

Two small reports were published on FIDE.com on Tuesday morning concerning chess events of the highest level. We'll start with something that concerns the current World Championship cycle - in fact the final part of it. On Monday, February 20th, a contract was signed by the Russian Chess Federation and the famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

The Tretyakov will be the venue for the World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand, in May 2012. The small ceremony was attended by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Chairman of the RCF Supervisory Board Arkadij Dvorkovich, Tretyakov Gallery Director Mrs. Irina Lebedeva, sponsor Andrey Filatov and RCF President Ilya Levitov.

The Tretyakov State Gallery | Photo Andrey / Wikipedia

Let's quickly move on to recent developments concerning the upcoming World Championship cycle. Here's FIDE's press release of this morning:

Last Thursday 16 February, FIDE completed the negotiations with CNC and AGON and proceeded to sign the respective agreements with both companies.

CNC keeps mainly the media, web and software rights of events included in the World Championship Cycle such as the FIDE Grand-Prix, the Candidates Tournament and the World Championship Match.

FIDE and CNC also agreed in co-operating to create chess projects based on the web and the organising of mass chess events.

AGON at the same time undertakes to organise the above events of the FIDE World Championship Cycle and secure the necessary sponsorship funds. The total obligations which AGON accepted are worth over 9 million euros and has provided FIDE with a series of financial guarantees.

In the following ten days FIDE and AGON will announce their proposal for a calendar which will include the schedule of the World Chess Championship events and the Chess Olympiad for the next 4 years.

So, CNC keeps the "media, web and software rights" for the events in the World Championship cycle. This is surprising to read, because Ilya Levitov told us last week that at the recent Presidential Board meeting it was decided to cancel the agreement with CNC and to sign an agreement with Andrew Paulson. We also got the impression that Mr Paulson was interested in more than just providing money and basic organisational tasks.

Chess Network Company

CNC stands for Chess Network Company, the joint venture created by FIDE and Chess Lane in 2009 as exclusive commercial partner. Chess Lane is a business run by the brothers Ziyavudine and Mohammed Magomedov from Dagestan, and represented by David Kaplan of Israel. Kaplan was appointed CEO of Development by FIDE in November 2007, and announced a revolution in the chess world in May 2010. However, thus far the most revolutionary aspect has been the absence of any substantial news about Chess Lane or CNC since then - or did we miss something?

The second part of FIDE's press release can be read as a confirmation of the deal between Agon and FIDE, which FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov already mentioned in an interview with Sport-Express on February 10th. Further details are said to be announced "in the following ten days". However, yesterday Ilyumzhinov again leaked more information in his favorite news outlet. Colin McGourty translated a big part of this new interview.

To start with, Ilyumzhinov is happy that FIDE has new financial guarantees.

So, for example, the Candidates Tournament will, as I announced in your newspaper, start in London on 23 October, and half a million dollars is already being transferred to FIDE’s account this week. For the running of the coming cycles FIDE should receive around 10-12 million Euro. As well as that, FIDE will, as before, get the 20% cut of the prize fund and a percentage of the profits that the head of Agon is counting on making in the next four years.

Grand Prix

Ilyumzhinov also confirms the return of the Grand Prix tournaments. After the first cycle of six tournaments, the Grand Prix Series seemed to have disappeared, but new events were suddenly included in the FIDE 2012-2015 Calendar which was quietly published in November last year. However, later they were removed from the page again. Yesterday Ilyumzhinov mentioned them again, and named a number of Western cities:

In the next one or two weeks chess fans and professionals will get a clear schedule for the major events – with a list of the cities, dates and size of the prize fund. By the way, the prize fund will be increased, the tournaments will become more appealing and we hope that all the best players will take part. This year we’ll start with Chelyabinsk and Tashkent, and next year Agon is planning to hold these prestigious events in major world capitals: Paris, Madrid, Vienna and Lisbon.

Still, one question remains: what exactly happened with the 2012 FIDE Candidates tournament? It is known that FIDE received bids from Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, and then Levon Aronian announced that he cannot play in Azerbaijan. Later it became clear that FIDE was planning to hold it from October 23-November 13 in London, and Teimour Radjabov was invited to play.

Azerbaijan sponsors London

As it turns out, the Azerbaijan Chess Federation is paying for the Candidates, not Agon. Mahir Mammadov, Vice-President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation, recently said the following:

As you know, we have applied for the Candidates Tournament. We have given all the necessary guarantees, fulfilled FIDE's financial obligations, and the application has been accepted. (...) Let me remind you also that Aronian again refused to come to Baku, which he advised in his letter. In order to resolve the situation we have agreed to hold the tournament in London, if FIDE will insist on it. Thus the financial burden of the Candidates Tournament will be on the Azerbaijani side. We are currently awaiting a final decision on this issue by FIDE.

Now Ilyumzhinov confirmed this:

The sponsor of the London Candidates Tournament will be Azerbaijan. By the way, long before the end of the Candidates Tournaments their representatives are going to announce that they’re planning to bid to hold the World Championship match in 2013.

Dates for the Candidates

Although the dates October 23-November 13 were widely criticised, FIDE doesn't seem to be planning to change them. Ilyumzhinov explains why this period was picked:

FIDE chose precisely those dates for compelling reasons. As you’ll recall, due to various circumstances we had to move the Anand – Topalov World Championship match and the Candidates Tournament. As a result the cycle dragged on for years. We were heavily criticised for that, and Grandmaster Carlsen was one of the critics.

This year two stages of the Grand Prix will take place and next year we have to hold four, so we need to keep to the schedule. When it came to London there was an additional motivation: this outstanding chess event will take place immediately after the Summer Olympics. That will work to enhance the prestige of chess.

The second half of 2012 is already quite busy for the top players, and if these two new Grand Prix tournaments will indeed be held before the end of the year, the tournament calendar will be even more crowded. But perhaps we should just consider that a good thing. There will be plenty of opportunity for professionals to play and earn money, and the chess fans can enjoy even more high-level games. These are complicated, but not so bad times for chess!

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


bayde's picture

"As well as that, FIDE will, as before, get the 20% cut of the prize fund and a percentage of the profits that the head of Agon is counting on making in the next four years."

"This year we’ll start with Chelyabinsk and Tashkent, and next year Agon is planning to hold these prestigious events in major world capitals: Paris, Madrid, Vienna and Lisbon"

Sigh. We've heard this allllllllllll before, many times. I think Kirsan's biggest offence now is that he has become so, so, tiresomely boring.

And once again, he has someone convenient to point his finger at, when it all crashes and burns, again, as it will, inevitably.

As Moriarty would say... Bo-ring!

redivivo's picture

The last time all Grand Prix events were also supposed to take place in major world cities and just because they for some reason are starting with Chelyabinsk and Tashkent there's no reason to assume that the major world cities will be the same as then (Jermuk, Astrakhan, Sochi, Nalchik, Elista) and not Paris, Vienna etc. :-)

S3's picture

So what? It's a miracle that the GP even exists and thanks to the internet the venue is not really important.

Xeno's picture

I guess the venues matter to FIDE since they keep talking about major world cities also this cycle. Last time it wasn't just GP but all World Cups, Candidates, title match were placed in Russia. The biggest problem was of course not the venues but the fact that FIDE during the GP decided that the series wouldn't lead to the final Candidates match according to their own rules. This killed the whole point of the years long series since Aronian's winning it gave him nothing, not to mention the interest of organisers. Maybe FIDE will manage it better this time, I hope so.

Zeblakob's picture

"... CNC will be responsible for media, web and software rights, ... "
I start wondering if other sites like Chessbase and Chessbomb have the right to broadcast the games live. (e.g. Dainalov/Chessbase affair).

S3's picture

Dainalov lost his court case against chessbase so I wouldn't worry about it.

noyb's picture

You'd think that chess players would get tired of FIDE's incessant bumbling since the 70s... You'd think...

S3's picture

Good job FIDE.
Also good reasons for timing the candidates like this.

Lennart's picture

FIDE states "Tretyakov Gallery is a venue for the World Chess Championship match"

Why not 'THE venue'? What happened to Skolkovo Technology Centre, the FIDE announced half a year ago? http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/anand-and-gelfand-both-happy-to-play-i...

redivivo's picture

Does anyone else see it as interesting that Tashkent is one of the announced GP venues? Uzbekistan is ranked behind Syria and Afghanistan on the Democracy index. Human Rights Watch talks about "wide-scale violation of virtually all basic human rights" with arbitrary arrests, religious persecution, and torture employed by the government.

Now the top chess players are supposed to go there to help FIDE make PR for Kirsan's pal Karimov (it's just to Google the Andijan massacre in 2005 or the reports about his security forces executing prisoners by boiling them alive to see what kind of regime we are talking about).

Of course a win-win situation for FIDE since any player not wanting to go there to shake hands with the dear leaders would be branded cowards afraid of participating in the cycle. Naturally the players have to sign up in advance for all six GP events and there's no guessing what the next stop will be after Uzbekistan.

KingTal's picture

Nothing interesting there. In the USA there are over a million prisoners, also torturing bases like Guantanamo, and of course every single one prisoner is a criminal there, of course... you see, Democracy index and stuff like that is just a piece of crap and no one really give a damn about human rights anyway, despite for political reasons, but generally noboby really cares.

KingTal's picture

Correction: Not despite, except was the right word.

Greco's picture

Well said!!

bayde's picture

Oh Berik, Yuri.... you funny guys!

redivivo's picture

"no one really give a damn about human rights anyway"

Karimov's regime is ranked as one of the most repressive in the world, and FIDE's continued connections might well be cause for some concern, just like in the days of Gaddafi and Saddam. If it's good PR for chess and FIDE is one thing, and one can always use the excuse that no one cares about human rights and support anything, but another problem is that players have to sign up for lots of events in advance without knowing when and where they are supposed to be played. Last time around Kramnik, Topalov and other top players made it clear from the start that they had no interest in participating, and FIDE later efficiently killed the whole point of the GP by changing the rules, so it remains to be seen how excited all those dream organisers in Vienna and Paris will be.

KingTal's picture

You can live in your little world, but the reality tells that noone cares about human rights, an example is the Bush regime which invaded Iraq for no reason with falsified "evidence". As result millions of people abondoned their home and ten thousands of people were killed...
and guess what, no one minds to play in the USA, so who cares...

anonymous's picture

Lancet actually maintains that the number of Iraqi civilian deaths is over 600,000.

S3's picture

The Uzbek regime just does what needs to be done, naive whiners like the HRW have always something to complain. No chessplayer will refuse to go there.

redivivo's picture

The regime just does what needs to be done?

"Government troops shot and killed civilian protesters on the orders of President Islam Karimov. According to the official data, the death toll was 187. However, witnesses and experts say much more people, including women and children, were killed there and the estimated number ranges from several hundreds to nearly 1,000"


I don't think there will be much discussion about playing in Uzbekistan though, most chess players know little and care even less about politics. It is funny though that Kirsan's friends are easiest to find in these places.

S3's picture

What's your point? They probably had it coming.

RealityCheck's picture

Now, from today on, the focus shd be on aggressively promoting the upcoming World Championship between GM Anand and GM Gelfand.

Thomas's picture

Did anyone ever complain about chess events (and Danailov's friends?!) in China - a country that also doesn't score high in terms of democracy and respect for human rights?

In general, the original concept of the Grand Prix isn't bad (as even redivivo seems to half-acknowledge): The strongest players willing to participate play an equal number of events - as opposed to private events such as the Grand Slam where it all comes down to organizers' preferences. Slightly weaker ones who don't get (m)any supertournament invitations also get their chance - if not to qualify for the candidates event (though Gashimov, a "product" of the first GP series, came close) then at least to play strong events and earn some prize money. Let's see how it will work out this time rather than talk badly about it before it even started?!

Among the potential venues, for me Lisbon is the most surprising one for two reasons:
- Portugal doesn't have much of a chess tradition (will there be a wildcard for GM Galego, Elo 2481?)
- Where would the money come from??
The earlier 'hidden' announcement by FIDE mentioned an event in New York (supposed to take place right now) so other venues are no more than preliminary or potential. But this also happened to the Grand Slam organizers: talking about events in Seattle, Mexico and Argentina that never took place.

redivivo's picture

The Grand Prix concept is good, the problem is to get the best players to participate (and for FIDE not to change the rules again), since they don't like to sign up years in advance for events they know nothing about. As for Uzbekistan, I don't know how controversial that venue is to most people. The distance up to Syria is far bigger than the distance down to North Korea in the democracy rankings, but most people aren't interested in the reasons the country is ranked where it is ranked, and that's quite understandable since it's less fun than chess.

Thomas's picture

I guess there would basically be two reasons to skip the Grand Prix:
1) you give yourself very good chances to qualify for the next candidates event by rating (assuming there will be rating spots)
2) you have a busy agenda with lots of invitations to private supertournaments
The first is the case for three or four players: Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Anand? (who, even if people predict a win against Gelfand, might well lose a WCh match against whoever wins the next candidates event). The second is also the case for a few more players: Nakamura, Ivanchuk, Topalov (if his career continues), who else?

The venue probably doesn't matter a lot for the top players as they already play in all kinds of places: villages (Wijk aan Zee, Bazna), small cities (Linares, Reggio Emilia), medium-sized cities (Dortmund, Bilbao), major cities (London, Moscow, Shanghai). BTW I am not even sure that the players themselves prefer major cities, see Kramnik's recent interview (NIC 1/2012): "I must agree with what Magnus said in New in Chess, that Moscow is an energy-sapping city." Anyway, most important might be that conditions (prize money, maybe even more so appearance fees) meet their expectations. Here I wonder if the GP series can, or even should meet their demands - should some of the participants a priori (i.e. appearance fees) earn more than others?

Dare I say that it wouldn't be a disaster if a few top players are missing from the Grand Prix Series: The last one had Aronian (who was "just a top10 player" before the series) as convincing winner, and Gashimov as overperforming wildcard. If the next one has, say, Karjakin or Caruana winning, and Austrian wildcard Ragger doing well, it might well be good enough and worth the effort?

Steve Giddins's picture
redivivo's picture

One couldn't be less surprised about Kirsan's voicing his support for the Syrian leadership in today's Chessbase article :-)

"NATO is mounting a personal attack on Assad"
"Assad has already gone the way of dialogue."

etc etc

anonymous's picture

Is this the same Kirsan that complains about players 'politicizing' chess when express some reservation about a particular venue?

redivivo's picture
S3's picture

Kirsan is right, but why do you post that here and how is this related to the candidates?

Harish Srinivasan's picture

So typical of Danailov to start shouting and creating problems every chance he gets http://www.chessdom.com/silvio-danailov-with-strog-reaction-about-the-ca...

He seems to want to go to court as often as he wakes up.

redivivo's picture

But it's also a question of a misunderstanding since Danailov says that "Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have made their bid on time, while London does not have such". Further down the article points out that "the London and Azerbaijan bids are obviously the same application", so it isn't some kind of mysterious third bid that won the Candidates bidding as Danailov thought, it was the Azeris that won and place the event in London since Aronian has refused to play in Azerbaijan.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Thats precisely the point, Danailov always wants to make a show irrespective of whether he knows the full story or not. He does bring some good to chess in terms of finding sponsor, now if only he can shut his other side away.

redivivo's picture

Indeed, and in this special case the reporting was also quite strange at many places. Chessbase wrote that FIDE had accepted Carlsen's "demands" to hold a Candidates tournament (of course he demanded no such thing, but said that his "preferred" format was a "World Championship tournament", for example Kramnik on the other hand said that he wanted a Candidates tournament and that the format used in Kazan must be abolished). Chessbase also wrote that the bidding wasn't won by the Azeris but by an American, and that the Brits for some reason would pick the wild card just because the event was to be played in England. A new rule for this cycle maybe since it wasn't like that last time the Azeris won the bidding. The London organisers (that doesn't even exist yet) decided not to pick an English player "since here is no English player in sight who has an adequately high rating" according to Chessbase, also that was of course wrong, Adams is higher rated than Gelfand at the moment and 2700 is enough to be organiser's pick. But it isn't that easy to get everything right when there is no information from FIDE about what they decided, even if this Chessbase report managed to get many incorrect statements in a few lines


Thomas's picture

To put it mildly, it isn't all absurd to interpret 'suggestions' or 'preferences' by Carlsen as "demands", taking the following into account:
- Carlsen stated that he will participate in the forthcoming candidates event if (only if?) conditions are "satisfactory" - for him.
- Carlsen dropped out of the previous cycle.
- Organizers want to have Carlsen in the event, Carlsen (and those advising him?) is/are well aware of this.

Also for the rest, the Chessbase article (dated 10/2/2012) represents the state of knowledge or ignorance at the time - it wasn't known yet that Azerbaijan still pays for the event. IMO it wouldn't make much sense for Adams to participate, he would be clear favorite for last place - maybe "adequately high rating" could be replaced by simply "adequate". The problem for the tournament as a whole could be that "who does, and who doesn't beat Adams" could become a decisive factor.
As to Gelfand: like it or not, he qualified. The same would hold for any other qualifier - he is and remains in even if he loses many rating points in the meantime (as Ivanchuk had done in the past).

redivivo's picture

"To put it mildly, it isn't all absurd to interpret 'suggestions' or 'preferences' by Carlsen as "demands""

The linked "demands" of Carlsen, that were accepted by FIDE according to Chessbase, consisted of holding a World Championship tournament instead of Candidates, with no privileges for the World Champion. This "demand" was obviously not accepted by FIDE.

Kramnik was much more clear about his preferences, or "demands" as you would call them: "I personally prefer a round robin tournament", "I think the double round robin is the best system", etc etc. So one could just as well say that FIDE accepted Kramnik's demands if one wanted to use such terms.


"IMO it wouldn't make much sense for Adams to participate, he would be clear favorite for last place"

"As to Gelfand: like it or not, he qualified"

Germany picked Lutz in 2002 and he was much weaker than Adams. Adams is higher rated than Gelfand at the moment, that has nothing to do with how much one likes the fact that Gelfand qualified for a title match. A British organiser would probably rather pick Adams than Radjabov, even if players of his and Gelfand's level would need a system like the one used in Kazan to have serious chances to finish ahead of the stronger players.

Thomas's picture

Half-quoting Kramnik is misquoting him, the etc etc in your link includes "If the match system is used, there must be definately six or even eight games matches" and "Both variations are acceptable for me". So Kramnik expressed a preference but nothing more than that. Things are less clear in Carlsen's case, to my knowledge he never said which kind of matches (how many games? breaks between quarterfinals, semifinal and final?) would be 'acceptable' for him, only "I want a tournament". At most you can say that a tournament pleases Kramnik, but not that his participation would otherwise be at stake (also less clear in Carlsen's case). It may even be considered 'smart' from Carlsen to suggest something very controversial und unprecedented for many decades (no privileges for the World Champion) - so his fans can claim that he didn't get everything he wanted, only most of it.

The advantage of a tournament may be that it is shorter than a series of 'reasonably long' matches, even a bit shorter than the Kazan format (14 games plus up to three tiebreaks). The disadvantage, IMO, is that it is basically "just another tournament" - while matches made the WCh cycle special [at least one match is remaining, which wouldn't have been the case if Carlsen got everything he suggested]. A tournament also won't necessarily produce a clear winner: Tal Memorial, most closely comparable to a candidates event, had clear winners in three out of six editions.

Mentioning Lutz may be half-relevant, but the Dortmund qualifier included matches: so Lutz was eliminated at an early stage and then no longer affected the final result.

"players of ... Gelfand's level would need a system like the one used in Kazan to have serious chances to finish ahead of the stronger players"
Hmm, the Mexico WCh tournament had a system like the one to be used in London, and Gelfand DID finish in shared second place ahead of (nominally) stronger players - BTW right after a disastrous result (2.5/7) in Dortmund. Only Anand was ahead of him but he won't play the candidates tournament (or if he does Gelfand will be absent ...).

Honni soit qui mal y pense...'s picture

I would be interested to know if any FIDE officials are shareholders of either AGON or CNC?

anonymous's picture

Can someone explain to me how a TOURNAMENT (which may be decided by a rapid and blitz tiebreaker) can produce the best challenger for a world championship MATCH?

The two skills seem to be very different from each other as evidenced by Kasparov losing a match to Kramnik but still continuing to dominate tournaments after that.

Latest articles