Ilyumzhinov Supports Carlsen out of Respect

The World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen proposed to replace the traditional title match system with the knock-out system in order to determine the championship title. He shared his thoughts in the interview given to the Dutch magazine Volkskrant.

According to the Norwegian chess player, the title match system "does not correspond to the spirit of the times" as the Champion has "too many privileges." In particular, the latter is released from participation in the championship cycle (i.e., selection of participants of the main event) and has to win only one match in order to keep his title.

A contender has to go through the ‘complex and long-winded way’ of playing in the qualifying competitions - Grand Prix, World Cup and Candidates tournaments. Carlsen is not satisfied with the two years’ cycle time. In his view, the title should be competed for on annual basis.

At the same time, Carlsen believes that the appropriate format already exists. He means the World Cup. "If you ask the chess fans what tournament they consider as the most exciting in 2015, they would choose the World Cup in Baku", - said the Norwegian.
This observation seems to be the most paradoxical. The fact is that the World Championships knock-out system, in which the winner is determined by results of several rounds of play-off, was one of the most essential ideas of the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the 1990s.
"We had to save the world of chess, because chess began to turn into a parlour game. 90 per cent of money went to the top while the middle class preferred, say, poker. That is why I proposed to abandon the classical match scheme. This had contributed to the involvement of a large number of players in the chess life", - told Ilyumzhinov.
However, the new system has been criticized by many grandmasters, who believed that in case of its implementation anyone could get the prestigious title by coincidence. It was due to their pressure that FIDE abandoned the knock-out system, reviving the traditional championship cycle in the last decade.
It is noteworthy that Carlsen, who won his title in 2013, seemingly belonged to the supporters of the classic system. Moreover, he ignored the World Cups and did not play in the World Cup in Baku, which he so admired.
Commenting on the initiative, Ilyumzhinov stressed that Norwegian, as a member of the Presidential Council of FIDE, can "formally put forward his idea for discussion." Incidentally, earlier Kirsan Nikolayevich has said that he would vote for the proposal of Carlsen out of respect for the Champion.

Aleksey Dospekhov