24.12.2008 – The Association of Chess Professionals thinks that FIDE failed to demand sufficient bank guarantees from the Grand Prix bidders, and that players who were deprived of their participation should be compensated. Meanwhile, Nick Faulks evaluates the previous ACP report, and Magnus Carlsen provides further background information on his withdrawal from the Grand Prix. Info and opinions.
The ACP draws the attention to the
exclusion of players from the FIDE Grand Prix
The ACP expresses its concern about the management of events which recently shook the FIDE Grand Prix. The withdrawal of two host cities as well as the changes made by FIDE to the Regulations of the World Championship caused a disruption of the participants' field in the middle of the cycle.
At the end of November 2008, FIDE and Global Chess announced that the organizers of the third and fourth Grand Prix tournaments in Doha and Montreux would not be able to fulfill their obligations. Both events were therefore cancelled. Elista managed to spontaneously host the tournament planned in Doha, while it is said that Montreux will be replaced by Kiev. FIDE and Global Chess stated that such actions had solved all problems with the Grand Prix.
However, the switch of venues automatically led to both players, who had received wild cards as host city nominees, being thrown out of the Grand Prix. Replacing participants in a cycle in progress should be done only in case of absolute necessity, as it disrupts the natural course of the cycle and contradicts the most basic laws of sports and management. Players' rights have been neglected, inasmuch the Tournament's Regulations and the Player's Undertaking do not foresee such a possibility.
The Association of Chess Professionals would like to draw the attention of FIDE and Global Chess that such a situation mainly arose because the organizers were not asked for bank guarantees in advance. The ACP Board certainly understands all the difficulties linked with the organization of such an important Grand Prix, especially at a time of worldwide financial crisis, and hopes that the cycle will be ended in 2009 without interruption.
The ACP calls for an even higher standard of management and recommends tournament organizers to act carefully when announcing events which are not completely guaranteed yet. The ACP finally believes that both players deprived of their planned participation in the FIDE Grand Prix should be compensated for in some way.
The ACP Board
December 23, 2008
More background info on Magnus' withdrawal from the Grand Prix
Written by Henrik Carlsen
We have noted some of the comments related to Magnus' quick withdrawal from the Grand Prix. Following an interview with the FIDE President addressing the decision process around the introduction of a new candidate tournament, we find it reasonable to provide some more background info on the withdrawal.
In the days prior to his withdrawal we discussed at lenght the uncertainty involved regarding the FIDE decision process of changing the cycle, as it was clear from the wording of the regulations that the General Assembly could not change these regulations. The final decision on changes to the regulations shall be made by the FIDE Presidential Board.
Upon receiving the earlier reported response from Mr. Mastrokoukos on December 4th, I sent a reply (by e-mail) the same day containing many questions regarding the Grand Prix and the cycle change. The two first questions were:
- "Has the FIDE Presidential Board already finally decided to change the Grand Prix regulations, and if so, can you please forward the new regulations?
- If such new regulations are not in place yet, could you please let us know on what basis you have announced the process of staging a bid for a 2010 Candidate tournament instead of the planned match between the GP and World Cup winners?"
Later the same day I was contacted by a senior FIDE Vice President, and I asked him some of the same questions. Below are some excerpts from the discussion we had. (The following is of course subject to my memory serving me right and also my understanding of what was said.)
His first response was that the General Assembly had decided the matter as the GA is the highest authority in FIDE. Upon my reference to the wording of the regulations he agreed that the change had not yet been administratively decided by the FIDE PB and there were no new regulations in place. The FIDE PB would anyhow follow the decision of the GA.
When asked if this meant that there were basically no regulations in effect governing the Grand Prix until the next FIDE PB meeting in March 2009, he said that if necessary this was a formality that could be handled quickly by distributing a memo on the GA-approved-change to the members of the PB for their signature.
When discussing this with Magnus afterwards we had to conclude that either the GA decision should be considered a "done deal", or we would probably not know the outcome until late March 2009. Neither of these alternatives was acceptable to Magnus, also partly due to the need to respond to other tournament invitations.
Having already missed Nanjing due to the GP Magnus definitely wanted to avoid similar occurrences in 2009.
December 17th, 2008
Remarks on the ACP's FIDE Congress report
By Nick Faulks, Bermuda
I have always felt it was a shame that the ACP, while frequently complaining about FIDE's management of chess (not always without cause!), chose not to contribute to the many committee meetings where changes can be made. It was therefore very pleasing to see GM Macieja in attendance at a number of meetings last month, and keen to put forward the views of himself and his colleagues. The Polish team's loss was our gain!
I read with great interest his summary of events in Dresden, and was pleased that you gave it such prominence. I have a few comments based on his, and hope you will be willing to publish them. Please note that, while these thoughts are influenced by my membership of the FIDE Titles & Ratings Committee, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
New "Elite Grandmaster" title
The comparison of the number of GMs with the population rated over 2200 is rather unhelpful. In 1972 the vast majority of players of sufficient playing strength to fall into the 2200–2400 range had no rating simply because they had never played in a rated event. I should prefer to compare the number of GMs with those of a certain playing strength, let's call them "experts". The GM population has increased by a factor of 14 since 1972, so we are being asked to believe that the number of "experts" has increased by an even greater factor. There is no objective way to check this, but I am skeptical.
K-factor (development coefficient)
GM Macieja is quite correct that reducing the period between rating lists effectively reduces the K-factor, although he is not, as he appears to think, the first to notice this. I cannot justify an effect as great as he suggests without assuming an average of more than ten rated games played per month, which seems high, but agree that, other things being equal, a 20% increase in the K-factor might be warranted in response to the move from two lists per year to four, and now to six.
The point about other things being equal is important. The Titles & Ratings Committee had a lengthy and, I felt, well-informed discussion about the K-factor, and it was agreed that a significant increase was probably in order. However, it was also agreed that the issue was a complex one, and that there might be unforeseen consequences. Therefore, since the results of tournaments played since 2005 are now available in an easily manipulable form, the conclusion was that a historical investigation should be undertaken, with a view to a final decision next year which would be underpinned by solid analysis.
The General Assembly instead chose to pass an arbitrary doubling of the factor. Of course they had the right to do that, but we can look forward to some interesting and unpredictable results. Among others, I suggest that
- we shall see numerous players breaking through the 2800 barrier, and
- the rating requirements for GM and IM tiles will become irrelevant.
I'm not saying these are bad consequences, but are they intended or unintended? Who knows? If anyone doubts the chaos that can be caused by radical and untested changes, they need look no further back than to the effect on the Dresden Olympiad of the "revolutionary" new Swiss pairings system.
Standardisation of time controls
I was puzzled by the conclusion of this debate. Essentially, the only permitted increments will be zero or 30", even though each of these has drawbacks. Furthermore, it will not be permitted to introduce an increment only for the final section of the game - I had always been told that the top players favoured this but the clocks could not handle it, but now that the new DGT clocks have this feature it has been banned.
The problems with a zero increment are well known – it can lead to the nonsense of K+B chasing K+N around the board until someone's flag falls. Note that this behaviour would become entirely rational if the trendy 3-1-0 scoring were to catch on. Still, if FIDE and the ACP are united in seeing this as the way forward for chess, I suppose it's not my place to stand in the way of progress.
The biggest problem with the 30" increment is that, despite having been forced to play on this basis for many years, many players still don't seem to like it. This may be partly because, at the end of a long game, the issue of bladder control can become crucial. For these reasons I have always argued that it should be routine for the sudden death phase of any game to be played with a 2" increment, but that will now be prohibited.
Coming late for a game
This is vitally important. Macieja reports that
"The Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee proposed to add the following article to the FIDE Laws of Chess: "Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game, unless the arbiter decides otherwise. Thus the default time is 0 minutes. The rules of a competition may specify a different default time.". The proposal was accepted by the Executive Board and recommended for the General Assembly to be approved. The final decision was however postponed till the Presidential Board Meeting."
I believe that is not the full story. I could not attend the GA, which clashed with an Olympiad round, but am told that the proposal which the Presidential Board will be considering is in fact far different from the one described above, and immensely controversial. In the absence of any minutes from the meeting, it would be interesting to hear the impression of anyone who was there.
A draw offer
It was of course necessary to alter the rules, since tournament organisers have been acting as if the change allowing them to restrict draws had already been made. Interestingly, it was noted in two committees that the Dresden Olympiad was in clear breach of the FIDE Laws of Chess as they then stood, but nobody seemed to think this was very important.