Aronian: It’s a pity, I think. I don’t know — I actually like the system with the Grand Prix and this candidate matches. I think bringing back this tradition is not a bad idea, but, everybody can have their own view on this. I remember once we had this big conference [call] with Illymzhinov and then we were all telling our view to the president, and then one of the players, I won’t mention him, said, “oh, but I think this system is unfair. We should have two World Championships in a year, and they should be knockout.” So, you know all the great players have a different kind of understanding.
Aronian: Maybe in the future the number can be changed, but I don’t see anything wrong with four games as well. I mean, you know it’s still a match, after all. Maybe in the next years it can be altered, but now I don’t really see a — I mean I think that six games would be better or eight games would be better, but… you should look at the financial side of it, and since I’m not one of the sponsors, I don’t really care. The system is right. If you’re willing to change the number of games, that’s fine with me.’
Gelfand: Very strange to withdraw from the cycle with no obvious reasons. OK, he’ll be here you can ask him, but I don’t see any reason. Actually it’s one of the best cycles for many years. It’s more or less returning to the historical cycle, what was praised also by Kasparov and Karpov, whom Magnus supported during [the FIDE election] campaign. So I don’t see [an] obvious reason. I remember, lets say, seven or eight years ago there [was] no cycle whatsoever. And I am an old man, I have a good memory, yeah? While now it’s a very decent cycle, so I see no reason whatsoever for him to withdraw. But it’s his choice, maybe he’ll be here, he’ll explain.
Mamedyarov: I don’t know, it really is bad news for all because he won all tournaments — last tournaments — but he decided not to play in world championship. It will be not easy for FIDE and for all. We will see, yeah.
Mamedyarov: Maybe he’s right about — it’s more interesting eight players and seven games. I like it because all players will play against all and it will be a good tournament like San Luis and Mexico. But now is quite OK — for me it’s very dangerous to say something, because — I don’t know — it’s the first time if I will play, and for me [it’s] not easy to say something. But I think it is very bad that Carlsen [will not] play. It’s very bad.
Kramnik: I saw, yesterday I read his letter — well it was very surprising to me… I still didn’t really understand the real reason because he mentions a lot of different reasons, but I don’t actually understand exactly why, so — anyway, of course it’s his choice although of course it’s a pity for the whole world of chess. I guess there are a lot of fans which he has and… it was pretty surprising, I mean I didn’t expect this because now it seems that at least, well, everything seems to be more or less under control — this candidate tournament seems to be fixed, and everything is there, it’s a pretty nice tournament — OK, I see there can be different systems, but it’s all right, this system is not the worst one — we’ve seen worse with knockouts and everything so, it’s all a bit confusing and strange. I don’t know what to say about it.
Kramnik: Well, I think it’s OK, you know it’s been like this for more than a century. We can discuss whether it can be changed or not, but it’s been like this — I don’t have any problem with it. I think it’s OK the World Champion has certain privileges — I mean it’s just a different structure, a different idea. In a way it’s like a monarchy, a World Chess Championship is like a monarchy. In football, in soccer it’s a bit different, but here the chess king has some kind of value, and he stays there, and you have to come and to beat him. This kind of general idea — well, you might of course argue with it. You can say whether it’s good or bad, but it’s been like this for the whole history of chess, so I think it’s OK. At least for sure, in my opinion, it’s not a reason not to play the World Championship.
Full article by Peter Doggers here.