Reports | November 11, 2010 2:50

Grischuk replaces Carlsen; statement by Anand

Today in an official statement the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has announced that Alexander Grischuk will replace Magnus Carlsen in the 2011 Candidates matches. In a first reaction, Grischuk said: "It's nice, I enjoyed his decision." World Champion Viswanathan Anand called Carlsen's decision "sad".

Here's today's statement by FIDE:

FIDE statement concerning the Candidates Matches 2011

FIDE respects that every player makes his own decisions and regrets that GM Magnus Carlsen has expressed his desire to withdraw from the upcoming Candidates Matches. It is always a big loss for any event when a player of Magnus Carlsen's strength is not participating. FIDE's policy is to review regularly the World Championship cycle after consultation with the top world players. At this point in time, the current cycle is in its final stages and it is not possible for FIDE to change its regulations. In the case of GM Magnus Carlsen not participating, according to regulations GM Alexander Grischuk from Russia will be his replacement.

The match system for the World Championship has been in place for around a century with some slight variations such as in 1948 or 1999-2007 when round-robin or knock-out tournaments were also used to decide the world title. FIDE has always been sceptical about World Championship matches instead of tournaments. Ten years ago, FIDE established that the World Champion should not have any privilege when entering the World Championship Tournament (knock-out or round-robin), in accordance with the current suggestions of GM Magnus Carlsen. After 2007, FIDE discussed the format with a number of top players and many of them, including former World Champions Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik still preferred a match to decide the winner of the title instead of a tournament. FIDE accepted this change and returned to the classical system of a World Championship Match but without the privilege of the World Champion keeping his title in case of a tie.

As a matter of principle, FIDE cannot change its regulations upon the wish of a single player, even if this player is the World Champion or the No.1 or No.2 of the world ratings. On the other hand, FIDE is always open for suggestions which can be applicable in the future and which would also support or increase the marketing value of the World Championship.

Best regards,

Georgios Makropoulos
FIDE Deputy President

After his game with Mamedyarov at the Tal Memorial today we spoke briefly to Alexander Grischuk about the news. As he was learning about definitely being the new Candidate for the first time, he reacted in typically laconic style, "It's nice, I enjoyed his decision." Here's the audio clip:

[audio: Grischuk-32Khz-mono.mp3]

We also asked reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand for a comment on Carlsen's decision. He told us that he hadn't had any advance knowledge and only heard from it in the media, and while he declined to answer questions on the matter he did issue the following statement:

"I understand that it is a personal decision of Magnus and he must have thought it over, but it's sad. The cycle has a clear direction and seems to have the pieces in place. We have the most probable venue and organisation for both stages and the match in London would definitely be a high point in chess, something I am keenly looking forward to. The candidiates by itself will be an extremely strong and very keenly contested event."


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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.


SneakyRussian's picture

Haha, Grisha's bubble comment was hilarious! :)

John's picture

The decision taken by MC could be due to fear of losing ELO points, he wants to focus on being No.1 for the business contracts. Hope he will be very soon replaced by Aronian or Anand in the rating list, then he will regret for his decision.

noone's picture

Lol elo points. He plays the top guys regularly. How can he suddenly start losing elo points just because it is a match?

S's picture

Lol@you. In a tournament there are always weak players to beat, players with bad form and so on. In these matches it is just the super elite and their full force- and guys like Kramnik and Topalov who ordinary hold back part of their preparation for exactly these events. You can very well be steamrollered by them.
Playing these matches will also take time, and even if he can win others can win points more quickly when they are not in the cycle.

Silver's picture

Well, lately he lost a lot of Elo points against weaker opponents at Olympiad unlike top tournaments where he has gained manly. E.g loss to a Sjugurov, Adams, draw against Sedlak, Polgar

frogbert's picture

John and S,

you haven't analyzed how Carlsen wins his rating points I take it. I have. As I've analyzed it for every other top 50 player in the world. I've done that over a year already, looking back a "window" of 18-20 months on each iteration. (So I've seen these "performance profiles" for games dating back to 2007.)

What would be the expected gain/loss for Carlsen if the past 20 months is anything to go by in

4 games against Radjabov
4 games against Kramnik

If you assume Carlsen to lose much rating, he would have to be knocked out before the title match, right? Otherwise the "worst case" scenario would be

2-2 in quarter-final (advance in tie-break)
2-2 in semi-final (advance in tie-break)
3-3 in final (advance in tie-break)

Facing Radjabov, Kramnik and Topalov/Aronian (to maximize opponent strength) - what kind of rating loss are we talking then?

My guess is that you haven't thought this through at all. And that you haven't considered any stats on the matter. That leaves us with pretty worthless statements about a topic where it's possible to make a good, educated guess.

S's picture

Wrong guess. Which makes your statement "pretty worthless", not ours.
By the way, I think it funny how you keep saying you "analyze" and "study" for years how Carlsen wins his rating points. All your statistics (well, not your biased ones), and much more, I get out of my database program with 2 clicks. And I even know how to interpret them (btw I have the strong impression that you are no professional statistician, more of an amateur looking at numbers. No harm intended, but I think you often fail to grasp the essence and should maybe follow some courses on the matter)

Anyway, it is quite obvious that there are easier ways to improve your rating than playing a few risky matches with possible world champions.

S's picture

p.s. I am pretty sure you will agree (or stay silent) when I say that there are easier ways to win (or keep) rating points. Magnus himself says the decision to withdraw was based on an analysis of what was good for him. In the same interview he said that being the #1 rated was his number one priority.
All very good reasons to suggest that rating considerations were a big influence in the decision.

By the way, it seems you are not really grasping the (limit of ) implications of Carlsen's results against Kramnik, Anand, Topalov.
So I'll repeat for the sake of clarity:
Those results were not achieved in match play. All those "statistics" and "analysis" can only help to make educated guesses. It is quite normal to assume that playing against the top in wch-cycle matches is the most difficult form of chess. Your statistics only tell a tale about the past, and nothing about the incomparable matches ahead.

Estragon's picture

Obviously no one was intimidated by Carlsen's action. Perhaps he should have put on the leather jacket and the scowl?

I still suspect Liv Tyler put him up to this. She could talk me into doing some silly things, too!

Joker's picture

Just a joke, I am a desparated Mag fan.

Liv told Mag: "poker is bettet than chess, and Gris seems to be better than you". Angry Mag then challenged Gris to a poker match, but the second said he had his very tough demand in case he won. Mag agreed and we all know now what is the outcome.

Kaushik's picture

Lol!! Hillarios!! ;) & I think thats why magnus opted out. . Got *POKED* by Grischuk!! :D

Juan's picture

I would choose Liv as prize instead the candidates ticket :)

pete's picture

“It’s nice, I enjoyed his decision.” - pure and simple, must respect a man's decision LOL

reality check's picture

A hearty welcome to Alexander Grishuk to the Candidates matches! And boy am i glad that Carlsen fiasco is behind us. Now we can all relax and enjoy chess.

bhabatosh's picture

we will miss Ivanchuk :-) .... wish it was Ivanchuk instead of kamsky ..who is not in his prime anymore .Grischuk is certainly extremely good . he is certainly dark horse.
Even though I like Kramnik a lot but I would this time we get a new challenger for Anand . how about Aronian ? I am die hard fan of Anand , thats why I want Aronian to win. Anand needs to settle score with him :-)

pete's picture

my pick would be between Aronian and Kramnik for the challenger. I'm a die hard fan of Topalov but his form is horrendous and I don't think he will recover that fast.

Bartleby's picture

How many more have to decline, until Ivanchuk gets a spot?

Thomas's picture

You are probably joking, but the answer is/would be six to eight players. :) If they go down the list of Grand Prix final standings, next in line are Jakovenko, Wang Yue, Gashimov, Leko, Mamedyarov, Alekseev, Eljabov, Gelfand, then Ivanchuk (but Mamedyarov and Gelfand already "qualified" for the candidates event - scare quotes apply to Mamedyarov).

Bartleby's picture

That's tough. Maybe we can scare one or two away by shouting at them, and another by reasoning with Kirsan, but six is difficult. Rule change!

Dilip's picture

I agree with you. We need Ivanchuk in the list. If Ivanchuk is there, maybe it will be Kramnik , Aronian or Ivanchuk who will win. All have the capabilities of defeating Anand, though Iam a fan of Anand but of chess too.

suleiman's picture

I hope Grischuk will manage to show the same miracle that the Danish football team did in the European Championship in 1992.

Johnny's picture

I wouldn't read too much into Grischuk's choice of 5 words-- he has never seemed very comfortable expressing his thoughts in English. Who knows what AG meant by "enjoyed", probably not even AG himself.... lol

Dr. Wolfgang Berghorn, Germany's picture

Poor boy = Magnus Carlsen! - What a geat statement by WC GM V. Anand!

Mohit's picture

This audio clip does not have the bit with "I enjoyed his decision".
All Grischuck is heard saying is "It's nice".

Macauley's picture

He's quoted from another part of our conversation, not in the clip.

Jan's picture

Also an elegant and fair reaction from FIDE!

misja's picture

What a well written letter by FIDE.

Thomas's picture

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the FIDE letter, to me it reads like "Dear Magnus, sorry you are too late this time - but in the next cycle all your wishes will be fulfilled". With all due respect to him, he isn't the only world top player ... .

Dilip's picture

Iam not happy with FIDE's letter. They should have talked to Carlsen , reasoned with him and then issued this letter. To lose Carlsen from this cycle is a sad thing. FIDE's letter is very diplomatic and trying to belittle MC.

christos (greece)'s picture

The answer by FIDE seems absolutely correct. There could be no other answer.
I wonder about the phrase: "In the case of GM Magnus Carlsen not participating, according to regulations GM Alexander Grischuk from Russia will be his replacement". Does this mean that Carlsen's withdrawal is not completed yet, and he still has time to change his mind?

Paul's picture

Bad management from the Carlsen team they are back to earth now. You must be pretty stupid to give Fide a chance to sound sound. Probably it's all about money and i wonder if that is to great intrest to MC..maybe more to HC!

mamedyarovfan's picture

I believe that Macauley Peterson and Peter Doggers are exceptional interviewers and commentators. They both exude exceptional clarity of expression and articulation in soft and pleasant accents.

Paul V's picture


reality check's picture

Well, If we compared the past two decades (1990--2000 vs 2000--2010) my point wouldn't appear to be too exaggerated, would it?

mike peterson's picture

Look people.

This kid is 19 years old. Give him a break. Maybe he wants to enjoy life some.

Imagine yourself at 19, with Magnus's money, fame and looks.

Silver's picture

Then he should just say it not hide behind rediculous reasons.

Solomon's picture

So, I guess this means Anand can try to get Carlsen as his second again!?

Youssef's picture

Silly decision by Magnus. At least when Kasparov broke from the FIDE, he was world champion! Here, Magnus is just a top player among others.

christos (greece)'s picture

I agree 100%. Furthermore, Kasparov was 30 years old, while Carlsen is almost 20. I think his behavior was way too arrogant for such a young person.

checkersisfortramps's picture

In american pro sports when a player behaves like this he is punished, either fined or benched until his contract runs out and he becomes a free agent again. If Carlsen doesn't want to play, then FIDE should not allow him to participate in any FIDE events again, or withold winnings from him in future tournaments. As a professional athlete he has a good faith duty to play and to play to the best of his ability, if he prefers to play politics rather than chess, he should have been a politician. It's time to forget about him and move on with chess.

bhabatosh's picture

I dont think players have any contract with Fide as such when to play or not. So this is not possible. FIDE also handled it as politically correct as it can be. Any harsh steps would have back fired , since you would get more supporter for MC suddenly.
What Magnus have done to himself is enough, he can not dream for a WC title soon.
This is a life time opportunity he missed. being rated 2800 does not mean he gets automatic qualification to challenge Anand , so he has to go through some sort of difficult challenges that he is trying to avoid now. He does not want to loose by any chance. I dont think he can be certain of winning the title at his will ever . this is a blunder.

noone's picture

That really happens in America? Could not be sillier.

Simmillion's picture

I've the highest esteem also for WC GM VA (and also for Topa en Kramnik), but calling that Trojka an unprecedented unifying force seems a little over the top. Being the big three for a decade now, they are only a little less responsable for the current mess than Fide is.

Mark De Smedt's picture

Indeed, FIDE's statement makes much more sense than Carlsen's (and his team's). I agree that having only 4+4+6 classical games in the candidates' matches is problematic, but all the rest of Carlsen's discourse shows a lack of respect for both his colleagues and chess fans (even if it doesn't seem to be intended). Let's hope that Magnus quickly takes the opportunity to reconsider his decision (if not, it'll be more than fine to watch Alexander Grischuk perform). I believe it must be extremely difficult to reach the top and still be a gentleman. My deepest respect to the few true champions who've made this happen, such as Boris Spassky and Vishy Anand !

checkersisfortramps's picture

I didn't imply that carlsen had a contract with fide, but that he had a "good faith duty" to play to the best of his ability. His refusal to play is a breach of that good faith duty. FIDE needs some teeth to hold players to higher standards of conduct. If MC doesn't want to play chess, that's fine, but any open door policy should only swing in one direction: out.

jmi's picture

Hi checkersisfortramps,

The unfortunate thing about holding players to a higher standard is that FIDE is hardly in any position to lecture people about things like good faith and higher standards. ;-)

voor's picture

No lie! Do as I say, not as I do.

suplexer's picture

i would have loved to see a world championship match between anand and carlsen because as an anand fan i believe he would have crushed carlsen. But this wouldn't have happened anyway as carlsen would have lost to kramnik or topalov if he met them in candidates. Also carlsen has equal record with mr experience Boris Gelfand : so his chances of winning candidates were no greater than 40 percent.

Dilip's picture

Iam an Anand fan too but please be objective. See Carlsen's game against anand in Nanjing tournament , MC was superb and Anand was lucky to get away. There is no doubt that Carlsen is the best thing that has happened to Chess but his action is very sad. Even if the system is wrong why start questioning at this stage.

suplexer's picture

For me it further demonstrates anand's superiority over carlsen if carlsen can never beat anand even when he has a won position. It just shows Anand's defensive prowess, and strong will to survive a lost position


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