Grischuk to replace Carlsen for Candidates matches 2011
Candidates matches information, letter by Carlsen, and reaction by FIDE

The Candidates matches 2011, part of the World Chess Championship Cycle 2010 – 2011, have been moved to Kazan, Russia. The Presidential Board in Tromso has awarded the event to Kazan.

Given the previous agreement with Azerbaijan, it has been decided to keep GM Mamedyarov as the nominated player. Besides him, the eight candidates include Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Boris Gelfand (Israel) and Gata Kamsky (USA). The pairings have not been changed and are as follows.

Magnus Carlsen has informed FIDE in an official letter that he is withdrawing from the Candidates matches 2011. As main reasons Carlsen is stating that he is not happy with the system of the cycle, the lengthy process towards the title, and reigning champion privileges.

According to FIDE regulations, substituting players come from the Grand Prix. Thus, Magnus Carlsen will be replaced by Alexander Grischuk.

Following are the letters of Magnus Carlsen and the press release by FIDE.

To: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and FIDE World Championship Committee.

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

FIDE announcement for 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.

Excerpt from the Regulations: 3. 1 Matches Format & System

A – First Round of Matches (8 players)
a1 – Matches System: The player who lost the World Championship Match 2010 (V. Anand or V. Topalov) is ranked No.1, the rest are ranked in rating order using the FIDE Rating List of January 2010. The players are paired the following way: 1 vs 8 (match 1), 2 vs 7 (match 2), 3 vs 6 (match 3), 4 vs 5 (match 4). Each match will consist of 4 games.
a2 – The four (4) winners will qualify for the second round of the Candidate Matches.

B – Second Round of Matches (4 players)
b1 – The Second Round of Matches will start 2 days after the end of the First Round. Any qualified player for the second round of the Candidates Matches can only be replaced by the player he defeated in the first round of the Candidate Matches.
b2 – Matches System: The players are ranked according to the results of the first round of the Candidates Matches: winner of match 1 is No.1, winner of match 2 is No.2, winner of match 3 is No.3 and winner of match 4 is No.4. The players are paired the following way: 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3. Each match will consist of 4 games.
b3 – The two (2) winners will qualify for the third round of the Candidate Matches.

C – Third Round of Matches (2 players)
c1 – The Third Round of Matches will start 2 days after the end of the Second Round. Any qualified player for the third round of the Candidates Matches can only be replaced by the player he defeated in the second round of the Candidates Matches.
c2 – Matches System: The match between the two players will consist of 6 games.
c3 – The winner will qualify for the World Championship Match 2011.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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