Carlsen «not exactly a big fan» of billionaire’s controversial proposal

Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Yerazik KhachatourianMagnus Carlsen. Photo: Yerazik Khachatourian

The World Champion speaks out against the idea, while ACP President Emil Sutovsky warns that there is a «real danger» that the proposal will be approved.

by Tarjei J. Svensen

Last week Peter Doggers of published a thorough story on FIDE’s financial status. The piece, titled «Is FIDE Going Bankrupt?» has received worldwide attention revealing an alarming decrease of the world chess organization’s assets.

For the second year in a row FIDE has spent more money than earned. At the start of 2014 FIDE’s balance showed roughly €2 million. Two years later the amount has dropped to just €333,000.

Andrei Filatov. Foto: Smirnoffals, Wikipedia

Andrei Filatov. Foto: Smirnoffals, Wikipedia

The numbers are alarming for a global organization that was only able to generate an income of €2 million last year.

While 2016 is likely to be a considerably better year due to fees from the upcoming Chess Olympiad in Baku and World Championship match in New York, chess’ governing body need to take steps before the situation gets worse.

Billionaire with controversial proposal

Andrei Filatov, president of the Russian Chess Federation and among FIDE’s vice presidents, seems to believe he has a possible solution taking chess back to the system that was used in the 19th and 20th century.

The billionaire has submitted a proposal that the World Champion can be challenged by anyone who are able to put up a minimum required prize fund and cover the costs holding the match.

Filatov suggests FIDE will receive 50 percent of the prize fund and that the President will have the power to veto any proposed match.

The proposal that will be considered on FIDE’s congress during the Olympiad, is strongly opposed by the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), launching a petition that at the time of writing has been signed by more than 200 grandmasters worldwide.

«First one – it will make a mockery of chess. Secondly, this has nothing to do with chess as a sport. And it is not quite clear, why should the player be provided with such a right if he can’t earn it? Why?» ACP’s president Emil Sutovsky told Matt & Patt.

What does Carlsen think?

Magnus Carlsen and his manager Espen Agdestein on Tuesday. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

Magnus Carlsen and his manager Espen Agdestein on Tuesday. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen

While World Champion Magnus Carlsen has not yet signed the petition, he does have his opinions. On Tuesday he spoke publicly on the matter for the first time in an interview with Matt & Patt.

«I am not exactly a big fan of that», he says with a shrug.

«But what if the proposal is approved?»

«I don’t believe the proposal will be approved.», he says while looking at his manager Espen Agdestein, who shakes his head.

«In general I favor World Championship matches, or tournaments, where the system is democratic. This proposal will lead to a system that is far away from that.», Carlsen says.

Espen Agdestein also disapproves.

«I’m skeptical of a proposal where money is the only criteria to decide a challenger for a World Championship match. The normal thing is that sporting criteria decides. It’s importnat for the integrity of chess.» Agdestein says.

ACP president: – Important to hear Magnus disapproving

Emil Sutovsky. Photo: Facebook

Emil Sutovsky. Photo: Facebook

Emil Sutovsky is pleased to hear Carlsen speaking out.

«It is important to hear Magnus clearly disapproving the idea», the ACP president says

«As long as Magnus is a World Champion, you can’t force him to play with the «commercial» challenger. And if FIDE will try to force him, it may end rather bad, for FIDE and for the entire chess world. However, ACP was clearly against the proposal, even without knowing Magnus’ position.»

While Sutovsky appreaciates Carlsen’s support, he does warn that there is a serious chance that the proposal will be approved.

«Unfortunately he underestimates how real the danger is. Once approved, it can not be changed until at least the next Congress in two years. ACP put a lot of effort explaining why RCF proposal is bad, we are glad to be supported by over 200 Grandmasters and a lot of federations, organizers, and chess fans alike.», the Israeli Grandmaster says.

«Neither economical nor political considerations should serve as an excuse for ruining the system which brought a stability and fair sportive qualification in the last decade. We urge FIDE leaders to listen to the opinion of the chess community – World Chess Championship Cycle should not become neither a mockery, nor a marketplace.»

The petition on ACP’s website is open for anyone to sign until its deadline on September 1st.

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2 kommentarer på "Carlsen «not exactly a big fan» of billionaire’s controversial proposal"

  1. I think you glossed over (or even misunderstood) an important distinction in Filatov’s proposal: the champion can refuse any challenge if he doesn’t like the offered terms. This is unlike the 2005/2006 years, when the champion was obliged to play.

    The Filatov proposal reads «the World Chess Champion can accept the challenge of any player…»

    There is the additional fact that English is not the native language of many people involved, and combined with the recollection of the 2005/2006 rules (without noting how Filatov’s proposal differs), together these likely mean there is some confusion on the point.

    Saying anyone is able to «challenge the champion» might strictly still mean the champion can refuse, but in ordinary English usage would be more reasonably construed as implying some sort of obligation. This is particularly true when one mentions that the FIDE President can veto (but no consideration of the Champion’s veto is noted), that the «minimum prize fund» is the only requirement (actually Filatov makes no mention of a minimum, just saying the person «can contribute» to prizes/costs), etc.

    The ACP petitioning also uses language that obscures this point, again implying that anyone with money can «challenge the champion», without discussing the Champion’s role in the acceptance. Their own 2016 poll had approximately 60% of respondents saying there should be no capacity for anyone to challenge other than the Candidates cycle, while a decent minority (40%) would allow it under various conditions.

    In short, I really don’t see why Carlsen (say as a businessman) has much reason to be against the proposal on the whole, when he can just refuse any specific challenge he doesn’t like. However, as a chess sportsman, I can see why he might dislike the idea.

  2. Sutovsky notes the «danger» of the proposal and intones «Once approved, it can not be changed until at least the next Congress in two years», but his timeline does not seem to be in fact true.

    Someone on Chess News Russia pointed out that the FIDE Regulations allow changes to be made in the interim (not just every 2 years), particularly at a quarterly board meeting.

    «Upon recommendation by the World Championship & Olympiads Commission (WCOC), the body responsible for any changes to the regulations of the World Championship Cycle events is the FIDE Presidential Board (PB).»

    As Carlsen can tell you, the PB has turned the cycle upside-down before, and might again find it necessary to act in the upcoming cycle if the FIDE Grand Prix does not emerge. For this reason, IMO the vote in Baku is perhaps better seen as a consensus feeling rather than an irrevocable measure.

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