July 23, 2010 3:12

Sutovsky on the Candidates Matches: change the regulations

SutovskyThe Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky was recently invited by President Ilyumzhinov to discuss the current problems in the FIDE Candidates Matches cycle. Here is his open letter to the participants, with some radical solutions.

Dear colleagues!

On July 20 I was invited to meet FIDE President, Mr.Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, in order to discuss the situation with the Candidates Matches 2011. I was given few minutes to submit my proposal, and it was agreed, that I will publish an open letter on this very important matter. Please, find the text below.

Election campaigns are approaching their climax, however, there are some issues related to the professional chess, which should be discussed now. Luckily, despite being a member of the World Championships and Olympiads Committee (WCOC), I am not involved in the political fight, so I took my time to analyze the situation from the professional point of view. Unfortunately, it took me some time to be heard, but hopefully, it’s not too late.

According to the current regulations, the Candidates are supposed to play quaterfinal (4 games), semifinal (4 games) and final (6 games) matches in a succession (presumably in March-April 2011), and the winner of this marathon will challenge the World Champion in 2012.

This format has drawn a serious criticism. Indeed, it is very strange to determine the strongest player in such short matches. And, obviously, the chess world would prefer to see the real battle between the top players, while the present format hardly provides players with a possibility to show their best chess. Actually, there are many more drawbacks to the present format, but instead of specifying them all, I’d rather pass to my suggestion.

I propose to play quaterfinal and semifinal matches (6 games each) in a succession (March-April 2011), while the final match should be organized separately and consist of 8 games (September-October 2011).

The advantages are obvious:

  • A. 6-games match represents much more objective way to determine a deserved winner.
  • B. Two best players would have enough time to rest and prepare for the final match.
  • C. The final match would get much bigger publicity, and its financial value might be much higher than 180.000 Euro, which stands in the current regulation.
  • D. It is much better for the spectators – as we know, the attention span is now much shorter than it used to be – staging final match as a separate event
    will ensure maximal public attention.

Of course, there is a serious drawback – my proposal contradicts the current regulations. However, I know that most of the players would prefer to play longer matches. Still, in order to change the regulations, we need the consent of all the Candidates. That’s why, I ask the players to express their opinion,
and if you support the proposed changes, I will submit an official proposal.

Sincerely yours,

Grandmaster Emil Sutovsky

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Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll


erevnitis's picture

That's an embarrassing open letter by Mr. Sutovsky, he is just proposing more games and more money!!! Very difficult to come up with such a great proposal.

Seriously this is not a new system this is what a 5 year old would think.

mpvank's picture

@Hu? I don't thinks its such a bad proposal. It gives the top-2 more time indeed and propably generates more interest, so no need to ridicule Mr. Sutovsky.....

Btw, does anyone know which players are qualified?

mpvank's picture

I meant ofcourse @erevnitis.....

Thomas's picture

IMO the proposal isn't that bad - leaving aside the "serious drawback" which Sutovsky mentions himself: yet another change to an ongoing cycle ... .

Nor is it new, six-game matches were also held at the last candidates tournament in Elista 2007 - with the difference that four out of sixteen players qualified for the Mexico WCh tournament.

But one question begs to be asked: On which grounds did Ilyumzhinov "invite" Sutovsky, and why now? Sutovsky is a strong GM who doesn't have personal interests - let's ignore the fact that he is, or was working with Kamsky. In his own words, he "know[s] that most of the players would prefer to play longer matches", to whom/how many of them did he actually talk?

Jim Scott's picture

Candidates Matches

The challenger will be the winner of an eight-player candidates matches. FIDE's most recent announcement (June 2009) indicates that the format will be matches.[3] The organiser of the matches will be Azerbaijan; however, matches involving Aronian will be held in a different country yet to be determined.[4]

Place Qualifier

Winner of the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010: Levon Aronian
Runner-up of the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010: Teimour Radjabov
Winner of the Chess World Cup 2009: Boris Gelfand
Loser of the World Chess Championship 2010 match: Veselin Topalov
Loser of the 2009 Challenger Match: Gata Kamsky
The next two highest rated players in the world (average of July 2009 and January 2010 ratings): Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik
Tournament organisers' nominee (must have Elo rating over 2700) To be announced; widely assumed to be either: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov or Vugar Gashimov.

Update: according to Harish in the comments, the pairings for the Candidates matches are: (published in Chessvibes, May 24, 2010 by Peter Doggers)

1. Topalovs vs Kamsky ( 1 vs 8 )
2. Carlsen vs Radjabov ( 2 vs 7 )
3. Kramnik vs Nominee ( 3 vs 6 )
4. Aronian vs Gelfand ( 4 vs 5 )

Grant's picture

Is Sutovsky still Kamsky's second? If so, it makes sense for Ilyumzhinov to have invited him to discuss the candidates matches. I think his proposal makes sense.

PS: Nice picture of Sutovsky -- I think most readers of this site can identify where it was taken :)

Jon's picture

The FIDE president obvious LOVES to change the regulations within the cycle. This is happening over and over again. It should really be put to an end. That's why we need a new President.

This means that Carlsen, and others, will have to wait longer to get the chance for a WC-match. Good for Anand who will reign longer though he is of course not involved in this proposal. Kirsan is involved and he of course whant money, and perhaps to delay Carlsen so that he will not be the youngest classic world champion ever. Bad also for the Kramnik and Topalov who are getting older. Bad for Ivanchuk who will be, let say 45, when the next cycles is coming to an end.

Castro's picture

The word "classic" begins to give me chills, since they called it to that chess-variation London tournament... :-)
On this other context, it smells imediately to Kasparov, who indeed had many classic chess features, but many of them not so good.
As for Ivanchuk, he could be a strong candidate (and I wish he would), but as for now, and in his country alone, he has Elianov and Ponomariov preceding, and that's because Karjakin is no longer there.

Ben's picture

Gm Sutovsky's suggestion is fine. However, instead of that potential behemoth, for the future I would rather see a double round-robin among the eight players, like in Mexico, with the top player advancing (or maybe top 2, for a mini-match first) to play Anand. And, I would try to find a way to limit this event to a 6-player double round robin in the next cycle as well.

Bobby Fiske's picture

The proposal is "not bad" but I think it will not come through in the on-going cycle, simply because it's too late. -Unless all 8 candidates signes a letter of approval, which is unlikely considering the spread in age and style.

john's picture

just bring back the old zonals and interzonals and proper candidate matches with 8 games minimum and a 10 game final.

simaginfan's picture

Lastest story is that - no surprise here then - Topalov is not happy, and refusing to play unless he can play outside Russia. Ho Hum!I agree with john - bring back a proper qualifying system, and candidates matches of enough games to produce a proper result.

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