The Candidates and World Championship 2020/2021

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  • The Candidates and World Championship 2020/2021

    The Candidates and World Championship 2020/2021

    June 29, 2020

    From an interview with Arkady Dvorkovich

    — The Candidates Tournament and the World Championship Match are scheduled for this year, but both got suspended due to the pandemic. Is there any certainty about them?

    — Until September, most of our activities will be online. And the main event after the completion of the Women's Speed Chess Championship is the Chess Olympiad, which will also be online. This year's Olympiad was supposed to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk and Moscow, but we moved it to next year. And this year we will stage an online Olympiad, and in two or three days the registration of national teams for the tournament will begin. We want as many teams as possible to take part in the tournament — we have 195 FIDE members. I don't know if all 195 teams can be involved...

    — But you will try.

    - Yes, we will do our best. About 70 percent of the countries will participate. The Olympiad will last almost a month. And then, indeed, we are determined to hold the second part of the Candidates Tournament in the autumn. As for location, the main option did not change — Yekaterinburg. But if the current restrictions and the epidemiological situation do not allow us to hold the second part of the Candidates in this city, we will consider other venues. Let me reiterate: it is very important for us to hold the second part this year, and if for objective reasons it is not possible to do in Yekaterinburg, we'll have to move it to another place. I would like to stress that we will do this together with our partners from the Ural region, SIMA-Land, and the city authorities. It will be carried out only with full consent. But I hope that we will finish the Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg.

    The match for the World Championship will almost certainly be postponed to the next year due to the current situation. We have already discussed this informally, and I think a formal decision will be made shortly. We are discussing various options — both spring and autumn 2021, but we will announce everything later.

    — You said that all chess would be online until September…

    — I should clarify here - national tournaments are already held offline. In particular, there were tournaments in Iceland, Norway, and we will hold them as soon as the restrictions are lifted. I was referring to international competitions. We are not able to announce the start of tournaments as usual because of travel restrictions. But I am almost sure that if not in August, then in September-October international tournaments can take place. Not those under FIDE aegis, but commercial ones; still it will be an important step, as people will realize that it is already possible to fly abroad.

    — A few days ago, the FIDE Council was held, also online. What important issues were discussed?

    — We mainly discussed online activities, summed up the results of completed tournaments, and talked about upcoming ones. We also discussed the coaches and referees training system. We didn't make any revolutionary decisions, but we have once again confirmed that the Chess Olympiad will be held in Khanty-Mansiysk and Moscow next year. It is an important decision.

    — There was also information that a FIDE office might be open in Moscow. Is that so?

    — It is a long-lasting story. A few years ago, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (former President of FIDE) asked the authorities of the country and the city of Moscow to provide FIDE with office space. It was about the second office since the main one is in Lausanne. Since there are a lot of chess activities in Russia, a few months ago the government of Moscow decided to accommodate our request. Now there is a good location for our second office. Some minor repairs are needed, but I hope that this will happen soon and we will make preparations for the Olympiad directly from our Moscow office.

    Peter Doggers in

    The FIDE World Chess Championship Match, which was scheduled to start on Dec. 20, 2020 in Dubai, has been postponed to 2021. The second half of the Candidates Tournament is still planned to take place before the end of this year, said FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky.

    While many countries are easing up their lockdowns, others are seeing new spikes of COVID-19 cases. The coronavirus crisis is far from over, and long-term planning has become almost impossible—also for the chess world.

    The likelihood of a world championship match still happening this year was already small. That was not just because the Candidates Tournament, which will select the opponent for World Champion Magnus Carlsen, had to be paused half-way.

    The title match was supposed to start on December 20, 2020, in Dubai, UAE. However, it was planned to be held alongside the Dubai Expo, which was postponed to 2021 a few months ago. Now it is certain that the chess match won't be held this year either.

    The International Chess Federation still intends to hold the second half of the Candidates Tournament before the end of this year. Sutovsky mentioned September or October, and noted that FIDE is considering other locations than Yekaterinburg, Russia, where the first half was held.

    Scheduling the second half will be an arduous task. Current amounts of corona cases and deaths in countries are based on infection events that occurred two to three weeks earlier. Therefore, even if a country like the Netherlands is doing well now, it's hard to predict if it would be safe to host a candidates tournament in a month from now.

    Asked how to deal with such uncertainty, Sutovsky said he couldn't go into detail because it depends largely on the safety and health regulations of the hosting country. He hopes that it will be possible to make a decision in July, adding: "Of course, even once taken, we will monitor the situation and be ready to adjust if needed."

    The 2021 World Chess Championship match will be played between Carlsen and the winner of the Candidates Tournament. There will be 14 standard games and a rapid/blitz tiebreak in case of a 7-7 tie. The prize fund hasn't been announced yet. In the regulations, FIDE "recommends" a prize fund provided by the organizer of two million euros net of any applicable local taxes.


    - In my humble opinion, the current champion should retain their title unless they are clearly beaten by the challenger with the entire match played under a classical long-game time control. I guess you'd call that "draw odds". I suggest setting a fixed number of games, maybe 24 or some other significant number. If the match is still a draw at that point, the current champion remains. No shifting to shorter time controls. Play the entire match under a classical long-game structure. If the challenger cannot find a way to beat the champion under the classical time control, the champion remains. Shorter time controls have their own championships.