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The Year 2007 in Review
The World Championship

When we left the World Championship at the end of 2006, its future was the brightest since the 1993 schism, when Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short tried to wrest control of the championship title from FIDE. After many years of failed attempts, the world chess organization succeeded in reunifying the title in 2006, when Kasparov's successor Kramnik beat FIDE champion Topalov in a bitterly contested match. Near yearend 2006, FIDE announced that Global Chess BV would assume responsibility of all commercial aspects for the unified World Championship.

FIDE started the year 2007 by confirming that a World Championship tournament would be held in Mexico in September. The four players seeded from the 2005 tournament at San Luis, with Kramnik taking the place of Topalov, would be joined by four players to be determined by Candidate Matches in May. The winner of the tournament in Mexico would become World Champion.

FIDE also announced that a World Cup scheduled for December 2007 would be the first event in a new World Championship cycle for the period 2008-09. It issued a tentative format for the cycle, where the winner of the 128-player World Cup would meet the reigning World Champion in a match.

Topalov, odd man out after his match loss to Kramnik, was faced with starting the new cycle at the World Cup. Grasping at a pre-unification rule that had never been fully utilized, he issued a direct challenge to Kramnik for a title match. FIDE rejected the challenge because its Swiss bank deemed Topalov's bank guarantee unacceptable. Topalov scrambled to offer a new guarantee, but FIDE rejected it too at the end of January.

The Candidate Matches took place as scheduled. The 16 players, who had qualified via three different paths, were reduced to eight players in a semifinal round of matches. Those eight were further reduced to four in a final round. Those four -- Aronian, Gelfand, Grischuk, and Leko -- were given tickets to Mexico.

During the months preceding the Candidate Matches, FIDE continued to tinker with a format for the post-Mexico championship cycle. The job was taken over by Global Chess, which commenced operations at the Max Euwe Center in Amsterdam. Bessel Kok was appointed chairman of the new company, with FIDE Vice-President Geoffrey Borg as CEO.

In June, the FIDE Presidential Board announced the new shape of the World Championship. The winner of the World Cup would meet the winner of a new series of Grand Prix tournaments in a match to determine a challenger for the World Champion. Starting with the 2009 event, the World Cup would be held at the end of odd-numbered years; the Grand Prix would be held over the preceding two years (2008-09 for the first cycle); with those events followed by the challenger match and a title match (2010).

Recognizing the need for a transition cycle, Kramnik would play a match with the winner of Mexico 2007, Topalov would play the winner of the World Cup 2007, and the winners of those matches would play for the title in 2009. If Kramnik won Mexico 2007, he would play Topalov and the winner of that match would play the winner of World Cup 2007 for the title.

The Grand Prix was announced as a series of six tournaments for 21 players, each player to play four tournaments. In each tournament the 14 players would compete for Grand Prix points. These would be added up across the six events to determine an overall winner. The format was reminiscent of a series of events organized in 1988-89 by the Grandmasters Association (GMA), where Kok also played a key role.

Anand won the World Championship Tournament at Mexico City, a point ahead of Kramnik and Gelfand. Kamsky won the World Cup, a seven round knockout event, by beating Shirov in the final. The stage was thus set for an Anand - Kramnik match and a Topalov - Kamsky match in the second half of 2008. The first tournament in the Grand Prix would be April 2008.

Next : International Events 2007

 More of this Feature
• The Best Players
• World Championship
• International Events
• National Championships
• Opens
• Computers
• Passages
 Related Resources
• World Championship 2006
  Glossary (offsite)
  ChessChrono (offsite)
• 2007 Candidate Matches
• 2007 World Championship
• 2007 FIDE World Cup