Global Chess
FIDE Grand-Prix is a series of six invitational chess tournaments, held over two years, managed by Global Chess. Global Chess is co-owned by FIDE’s President Kirsan Ilymzhinov and Chess Lane LA company of David Kaplan, a Russian-Israeli businessman. Global Chess BV was established in Prague on the 21st day of December 2006, when Memorandum Of Understanding was signed by FIDE’s President and Bessel Kok. It appears that subsequently Bessel Kok, the Chairman of Global Chess has left the company.

The original Grand-Prix schedule The current Grand-Prix schedule
Apr 20 – May 6, 2008
Apr 20 – May 6, 2008
Jul 30 - Aug 15, 2008
Jul 30 - Aug 15, 2008
DOHA, QATAR - Cancelled
Dec 13 – 29, 2008
Dec 13 – 29, 2008
Apr 14 -30, 2009
Aug 8 – 24, 2009
Dec 7 – 23, 2009
Not confirmed

2008 FIDE Grand-Prix

21 players were selected to compete in the FIDE Grand Prix tournaments. Two events have been organized so far, in Baku and Sochi. Four more events were scheduled, but shortly after Doha was cancelled and moved hastily to Elista, the organizers of Montreux tournament cancelled their plans as well. To make things worse, top seed Magnus Carlsen as well as England’s number one player Michael Adams have withdrawn. At the present time, there is no answer what is to happen to their scores. FIDE removed nominated players Mohamad Al Modiahki (Qatar) and Yannick Pelletier (Switzerland) from competing in the Grand-Prix. It looks like the four players are replaced by Vladimir Akopian, Evgeny Alekseev, Pavel Eljanov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Tournament organizer of the 6th Grand Prix event, Pavel Matocha is not pleased with negative publicity surrounding FIDE’s Grand Prix. What started as a promising series of tournaments has rapidly turned into a sinking ship states Peter Doggers at the Chessvibes news site.

The winner of the Grand Prix was originally announced to play a match against the winner of the 2009 World Cup, for the right to challenge the World Champion in 2010. FIDE has changed the rules, introducing a Candidates Tournament, for which the top two placed Grand Prix participants would qualify. FIDE has changed the rules and format for the World Championship Cycle so many times, that it's hard to depend on any announced format actually holding up by the time the matches or tournaments are expected to be played states Mark Weeks at Chess.About.Com.

The Global Chess predecessor, a London-based company called FIDE Commerce International Ltd. organized the Grand-Prix in year 2002. Octagon, a global sport marketing firm was hired for promotional purposes. Results from five chess tournaments, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Bangalore, Dubrovnik, and Rio de Janeiro were to be combined to produce an overall Grand Prix winner. The first tournament was moved to Dubai and held in April. The second was held in Moscow in June. The other Grand Prix events were cancelled.2008 FIDE Grand-Prix Open Letters

Open Letter from Henrik Carlsen re Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen

We have just informed FIDE by e-mail that Magnus withdraws from the Grand Prix series due to the dramatic change to these regulations approved by the General Assembly. According to the regulations the final decision on changes to the regulations is the responsibility of the FPB - and not the General Assembly - but we have been informed by several FIDE executives that the Presidential Board will endorse the GA decision shortly if necessary. Magnus is simply not motivated to continue the GP series with the dramatically changed conditions approved in Dresden, and the uncertainty related to any future changes that may be decided by FIDE.

To mention one thing, it is hard to understand how diminishing the value of the Grand Prix series can be interpreted as a way of saving the ongoing cycle. Having withdrawn from the Grand Prix series Magnus does not have to spend more time and energy on the uncertainty involved, and may fortunately now concentrate on playing several well organised and interesting top level events elsewhere. In the first half of 2009 he has agreed to play some Grand Slam events as well as some great rapid events, starting with a rapid tournament in Gjøvik, Norway January 2nd - 5th and the Corus A from January 16th onwards.

Henrik Carlsen
Norway, December 4, 2008

Open letter from Grandmaster Michael Adams

I have regretfully withdrawn from the whole Grand Prix series. Some of the reasons I took this decision are the sudden switch of venues at very late notice, the replacement of players whose results thus far will affect the results of the whole Grand Prix both in terms of prize money and World Championship qualification and the fact that when I made my decision the status of some of the future GP events was still unclear.The changes to the World Championship cycle also concern me as making major changes to a cycle in progress in such a sudden manner is very undesirable. There also seems to be no guarantee that further changes will not be made in a similar manner in the future. The changes are obviously immediately very negative for all Grand Prix participants but also in general it seems to me that the rewards for success in such tough events as the Grand Prix or the World Cup are now much too minimal.Michael Adams
England, December 11, 2008

Open letter from Grandmaster Levon Aronian

Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov and the FIDE Presidential Board,

In the wake of recent events surrounding the FIDE Grand Prix and the General Assembly's (GA) decision to alter the current World Championship cycle, I feel obliged, as a participant and a leading chess player, to express my disappointment. I must request you to critically view and question the GA's latest decisions and the processes to which they came. I must stress that I am not one for scandals and do not wish to cause unnecessary fights – however I believe it is my duty to act as the voice of the players.

Firstly, the decision to alter the World Championship cycle at this time is not in the spirit of fair competition. We can draw a parallel to the following example: the rules set before a race state that the marathon is 42km, and while the runners are still running, having already completed 20km, the rules are suddenly changed to make the marathon an 80km run. The runners thus lose motivation to run and consequently distrust the rule makers. This is comparable to the situation the participants of the FIDE Grand Prix will be in if the GA's decisions are made final.

After severe criticism for many years over the World Championship cycle, FIDE finally created a promising new system, only now to self-impose new waves of criticism. When the initial World Championship cycle was set in place and the Grand Prix system was created for players to qualify legitimately for a chance to challenge the world champion, we had the belief that there was finally a fair and reliable system (which my federation also supported).

With the GA’s recent actions, it seems that there is a democratic deficit within FIDE. The GA did not consult the players currently taking part in the Grand Prix in their decision processes. Please keep in mind a very important point – these players, including myself, have a legally binding agreement with FIDE regarding the World Championship cycle and the Grand Prix. Therefore it is FIDE's duty to consult the other party of the contract – the participants.

Does this mean that the chess players have lesser rights than others? The GA appears to act with no concern for the players. The decision to suddenly change the World Championship cycle has damaging effects on the career plans of leading chess players. It is also reasonable to ask: why should we go through several tournaments over several years and fight for a place in a tournament that another player gets by losing a match? The GA's decisions remove the motivation for players like myself to take part in the World Championship cycle.

It should be noted that Mr. Mastrokoukos' reason to change the cycle because of the unforeseen events of two legs of the Grand Prix withdrawing is not convincing and does not reflect reality – because a Grand Prix event in Yerevan has already been announced by FIDE as a replacement. It is clear that the withdrawal of Doha and Montreux are not endangering the system, as he would have us believe in his letter to Mr. Carlsen.

It seems that FIDE was on the right path towards a reliable World Championship cycle, which had the support of leading players and chess federations worldwide. However, with the GA's recent actions, FIDE has left the right path and will lose its credibility in the eyes of chess players world wide – not to mention, ruin its efforts to be recognized as a sport by the IOC. I hope that the above arguments will be heard before finalizing the decisions of the GA.Sincerely, Levon Aronian 
Germany / Armenia, December 6, 2008

Open Letter of the Association of Chess Professionals

The ACP objects to the modifications imposed by FIDE in the World Chess Championship cycle. The system of the World Championship cannot be changed once the cycle has started. This statement relies on an opinion study made by the ACP among chess players rated above 2700.

Changing the Regulations of the World Championship in progress negatively affected top players who were already involved in the cycle, and eventually led to several withdrawals. The ACP therefore suggests that FIDE regularly consults with top players on all essential questions such as the World Championship.At the end of November in Dresden, FIDE put forward a new format for the World Championship cycle started earlier this year. The General Assembly approved this proposal. The ACP Board subsequently contacted all players rated above 2700. Many of them eventually sent their answers, while some others expressed their views directly in the press. The whole procedure took a couple of weeks but enabled the Board to determine how the ACP had to react in order to represent top players' opinions in the most objective way.

The ACP draws the following conclusions:

  • The essence of the World Championship is to let all greatest chess players fight to obtain the precious title of World Champion. Changing the regulations once the cycle has started means changing the qualification process which participants have agreed to go through. Thus, players' rights have been neglected.
  • Considering its pure content, the new system proposed by FIDE has the right to exist. It actually bears a certain resemblance to what has been tried in the past few years. However, the problematic point, which has been contested by numerous players, concerns the selection to the candidates tournament (or matches). The ACP believes that the qualification system has not been worked out in the most adequate way. It is crucial to select players according to the most objective criteria, so that the World Championship can be held at the highest possible level.

Taking into account the aforementioned points, the ACP recommends FIDE to build a sustainable dialog with chess players, where the ACP could play a role of mediator. Consultation and discussion are the key words to lay the foundations for a fair World Chess Championship cycle.ACP Board
December 16, 2008


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