Carlsen Proposes Choosing the World Champion in a Knockout

Время публикации: 11.08.2015 16:37 | Последнее обновление: 11.08.2015 22:25

"It will make the title more accessible for all"

Carlsen has spoken before about the need for changes in the world championship system, even before he himself became champion. But since winning the title, he has been more restrained in what he has said on this topic. In particular, in an interview on our site in the spring of last year, he said the following: "It is easier to accept and agree that I, as champion, should await a match with the next challenger. I have that moral right, because I have won many tournaments and have the highest rating. Yes, the system is not ideal overall, but it is easier to accept it than to fight it." 

But now, for the first time as champion, Carlsen has openly suggested FIDE should look at changing the system:

"I have long thought that moving to an annual knock-out event, similar to the World Cup, would be more equitable. This change would in effect improve the odds of becoming World Champion for nearly every chess player, with the exception of the reigning World Champion, and potentially a few other top players who would no longer be favoured by the current format", he writes on his Facebook page. 

Carlsen suggests players could qualify for the knockout from zonal tournaments and also by rating. All this, "and the undisputed World Championship title at stake", would, the Norwegian believes, make the world championship system more accessible to all. 

The world number one prefaced his comments with the obligatory lip-service in respect of the great respect he has for his predecessors and those who take part in professional chess. He warmly remembers his matches against Anand in Chennai and Sochi, which were organised on a high level, and also impatiently awaits his next match against the winner of the 2016 Candidates' tournament. 

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The first world championship knockout was suggested by Kirsan Illyumzhinov soon after he became FIDE President. The first event was held in 1997, but was still controversial, in that the winner Anand then had to play a final against Karpov, who had not qualified, and Anand lost. The first "real" knockout champion was Alexander Khalifman in 1999, and the knockout title was later won by Anand (2000), Ponomariov (2002) and Kazimdzhanov (2004). 

Illyumzhinov's proposal attracted much criticism and the winners were not accepted as genuine world champions. Even so, the system was retained and since 2005, has been the World Cup. 

What seemed like 1990s nonsense is likely to be perceived more sympathetically today. In an age of instant gratification, a two-year cycle seems less and less attractive and talk from grandmasters about changing it has already been heard. Not long ago, Topalov spoke in favour of the KO system during the Stavanger tournament.

UPD. Carlsen's manager, Espen Agdestein, isn't fond of his protege's proposal. "The approval of this system would mean that Magnus would put at risk his title and also a lot of money. However, I respect his point of view", Agdestein told


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