FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov gave his interview to "Sport Express" journalist Yuri Vassiliev. Read the English version here. Sport Express gives the original interview.
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov gave his interview to "Sport Express" journalist Yuri Vassiliev. Sport Express gives the original interview.
Recently the FIDE official site published a draft of the World Chess Championship cycle, with a lot of new and unexpected things. Our reporter requested President of the International Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for comments.
New Is Not Totally Forgotten Past
- Mr. Ilyumzhinov, please give a gist of the proposed innovations for our readers.
- As you can recall, on our way back from Elisa after the unification match between V. Topalov and V. Kramnik, I was telling you that FIDE is working on a draft for a new World Championship Cycle, where we would like to consider the interests of all the parties, players, organizers and sponsors. We were trying to create a system, which would be harmonious and clear and would embrace all chess professionals. The draft has been prepared by the FIDE World Championship Cycle Commission. The main idea is as follows: to have the World Cups in odd years, with the winner of this Cup to become a challenger for the match against World Champion, and in even years to have the World Championship match.
- During 10 years I have been always telling, that it is not likely to invent anything better than old good World Championship matches. The three K – Kasparov, Karpov and Kramnik have been also tirelessly repeating the same. Garry Kasparov left professional sport, Anatoly Karpov will not be able to really participate in the race for the highest title, but Vladimir Kramnik should be satisfied with this project. In his latest statements he repeats the importance of preserving the institution of the World Championship matches.
- Yes, we have listened to the voices of the World Champions and also to the permanently heard criticisms to the tune that in knockout championships a lot of results are accidental and interminable tie breaks ending on many occasions, are not serious and we produce Champions for an hour etc. But we are not giving up the most sporting in its essence Olympic system (which received a nickname “knockout” from chess players) totally as we will use it in other tournaments.
World Cup as Candidates Tournament
- What about the system in the World Cup, will it be something different from the Olympic system?
- Now we are carrying out a survey among top Grandmasters and representatives of all National Chess Federations. We are criticized in the past for taking decisions in closed meetings, without consultations with professionals. We take criticisms into consideration and now I try to visit a Federation-member on a weekly basis and be informed about the most burning issues en site. Each of such trips usually counts from 5 to 15 such problems. So, the draft of the new World Championship Cycle is widely discussed. Our experts propose a variation of the World Cup which would be at the same time, a tournament of the candidates. 128 participants of the World Cup will be divided into 16 groups. Each group will play a round robin tournament to have 2 winners. Then the 16 best ones will play other two round robin tournaments. Then the winners will play a match of 4 games, the winner of which will become a Challenger.
- In terms of duration, the same three weeks as in the previous knock out system.
- The duration is increased in 3 days, including the days for opening and closing. With such a system, weak players, who cross in same cases, half of the globe for this tournament, will not have to go back after the first round and will play other 7 games against stronger opponents to get some experience. This is positive for sponsors, for organizers who used to send home after each round half of the participants. One of the main advantages – incidental results are eliminated, and nobody can call this tournament roulette, nobody can say that a “chess tourist” has won: all the games will have same time control, and the fate of the games will not be resolved in the rapid mode. Thus, the status of the World Cup is increased and a complicated system of selecting a challenger becomes simpler. Top Grandmasters will need a serious reason for not participating in this important tournament. It will be easier for us to find sponsors.
- When will the draft become or not an official regulation for the chess world?
- After the meeting of the FIDE Presidential Board, 26-29 January in Turkey. There all the opinions from Chess Federations, members of our International Chess Federation will be summarized, and recommendations of professionals will be considered as well.
Duel Man vs. Machine Is Not Over
- How did you manage to combine this project with the current situation, the Mexico double round robin of eight, and the candidates matches in Elista?
- Very simply. In half a year, from 26 May to 14 June, in Elista there will be the Candidates’ Matches. From 12 September to 1 October Mexico will be hosting the World Championship, which will be played according to the same system as in San Luis – two rounds with 8 participants. In November-December Khanty-Mansiysk is planned as the venue for the World Cup, which will produce a challenger, who will play the match in 2008, (so far consisting of 12 games) against the World Champion who will be determined in Mexico.
- The question which is important for all chess lovers: will the title holder Vladimir Kramnik play in Mexico?
- I do not understand why this question arose. Vladimir has never said anywhere that he will not play in the Mexico tournament of eight. When we saw each other in Bonn, during the opening ceremony of his match against the Machine, I understood that in his capacity as World Champion, he is interested in 2 things: to have a harmonious system of the World Championship Cycle finishing in a match for the world chess crown. Our reforms and his aspirations are to the same tune.
- As you mentioned the recent match in Bonn, what do you think of its result?
- It is a pity that Man lost to Machine. As all human beings, I was with the “albuminous” species. Computers are becoming more and more sophisticated, but people also change. In my opinion, the duel Man vs Machine is not over. Vladimir just did not manage to recover in full after a very difficult match in Elista. I think next time it would be better.
- This next time will depend in many aspects from the result of the Mexico World Championship. So far we know four of the participants: V. Kramnik, V. Anand (IND) and other Russians – P. Svidler and A. Morozevich. Other four are to be determined.
- I can add that the Organisers of the Mexico World Championship have transferred the prize fund to the FIDE accounts. The participants will stay and play in one of the best hotels of the Mexican capital – Sheraton.
- We will not see either in Mexico, or in Elista the player who is number one in the world rating – Veselin Topalov. He will have to start his way up from zero – from Khanty-Mansiysk. During the match in Bonn – there was a statement of his Manager S. Danailov that Sofia is ready to host a new match between World Champion V.Kramnik and ex-Champion Topalov, for which there is a sum of 2 mln USD. Will Kramnik accept the challenge of Topalov, and will all FIDE financial conditions be satisfied?
- I am aware of this statement, so far no official proposals from the Bulgarian side have not reached FIDE. In my opinion, they are little late with this initiative. According to the existing regulations, a gap between the end of such a match and the start of the Mexico Championship should be minimum half a year. (When this interview was ready for publication, FIDE received an official bid from Bulgaria, without bank guarantees. After they are received, the FIDE President’s office informed me, the bid will be considered in accordance with the existing regulations – Y.V).
We Will Use Special Equipment Again
- The Candidates’ matches will be played in Elista in May. Where will the 16 Grandmaster stay and play?
- They will stay in the cottages in City Chess and play in the Government Conference Hall of Kalmykia, the venue of Topalov-Kramnik match. You did see that the stage can accommodate 8 tables. The press-center will be in the same place as before. The Chief Arbiter is an IA from Poland A. Filipowicz, who will be assisted by an IA from Greece P. Nikolopoulos. All organizing issues will be handled by the Vice President of the Russian Chess Federation, Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kalmykia V. Bovaev.
- There was information on the FIDE site that you paid a major part of the prize fund from your personal funds. What is the total amount of the prizes?
- It would more correct to say that sponsors provided 320 thousand USD and FIDE provided 160 thousand USD.
- Will be the anti-computer equipment be used in Elista, as during the Topalov-Kramnik match?
- Not only in Elista, but in all future official FIDE events such equipment shall be used, which would not allow any outside signal. By the way in the next FIDE Congress all conditions for the World Championship matches will be regulated in details as well as all tournaments under the aegis of FIDE. The “toiletgate” which now we can recall ironically, has taught us a lot.
A Spot On The Map
- Last year you attended a closing ceremony of the Russian Women’s Superfinal in Gorogets, which was won by E. Korbut from Saint-Petersburg. As I heard you gave a exhibition of simultaneous play there? Is it true?
- Gorodets is a small town of 32 thousand inhabitants, but with wonderful traditions! This is where Alexander Nevsky was buried, this is a native town of Valery Chkalov, here is a nestle of great Russian dynasties of Ryabushinskie, Morozovy, Tretiakovy, Golitsine. A deputy of the Russian Duma Alexander Khinshtein is an author of the idea of holding a chess festival in Gorodets and then a Women’s superfinal. He was elected from this town to the Parliament. The authorities of Gorodets provided their assistance, renovated their club and presented it to the local chess players. During my meetings with the grass root organizations, attended by the chess fans from the surrounding places, I had an idea of founding an international association of chess clubs, where only those who were born in these places, could play, not as in super clubs, inviting best Grandmasters from all over the world. So I decided not to ask any Grandmaster for help and gave a small exhibition of simultaneous play for the local kids. My last exhibition was in the army where I used to serve. The children played according to theory, but I managed to win 3 games and finished 4 games in draws. Next year we decided to organize a Russia-China match in this place at the banks of the Russian great river Volga. So we have another bright spot on the chess map – Gorogets, Nizhny Novgorod region.