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Sunday June 17, 2007

The 2007 FIDE Candidate Matches ended with four players qualifying for the next step in the current World Chess Championship cycle. That event will be an eight player, double round robin tournament to start in September at Mexico City.

They started as 16: The 16 candidates were qualified by three different paths. The top ten finishers at the 2005 FIDE World Cup (Khanty-Mansiysk, December 2005) joined five players qualified by rating, plus the winner of the 2004 FIDE World Championship knockout matches.

Then they were 8: Five of the eight matches had clear winners after six games using standard time controls. Two matches were decided after four rapidplay (25') tiebreak games. The last match (Aronian - Carlsen) was decided after two additional blitz (5') tiebreak games.

Semifinal Round:
Aronian,L 3.0 (2.0; 2.0) • Carlsen,M 3.0 (2.0; 0.0)
Bareev,E 3.5 • Polgar,Ju 2.5
Gelfand,B 3.0 (2.5) • Kasimdzhanov,R 3.0 (0.5)
Grischuk,A 3.5 • Malakhov,V 1.5
Kamsky,G 3.5 • Bacrot,E 0.5
Leko,P 3.5 • Gurevich,M 0.5
Rublevsky,S 3.5 • Ponomariov,R 2.5
Shirov,A 3.0 (2.5) • Adams,M 3.0 (0.5)

Then they were 4: The eight winners of the semifinal round played a second match using the same format. Three of the matches were decided after the six standard games.

Final Round:
Aronian,L 3.5 • Shirov,A 2.5
Gelfand,B 3.5 • Kamsky,G 1.5
Grischuk,A 3.0 (2.5) • Rublevsky,S 3.0 (0.5)
Leko,P 3.5 • Bareev,E 1.5

Soon they will be 8 again: Levon Aronian, Boris Gelfand, Alexander Grischuk, and Peter Leko will be joining the four players -- Vladimir Kramnik (who earned the right by defeating Veselin Topalov), Peter Svidler, Viswanathan Anand, and Alexander Morozevich -- already qualified from 2005 FIDE World Championship, San Luis, Argentina, in September 2005. The eight players will be competing at the World Championship tournament, September 2007, in Mexico.

Will they be 9?: Will Topalov also be given a chance to play? When the former FIDE World Champion lost the World Championship Unification Match to Vladimir Kramnik in October 2006, he was unceremoniously dumped from the current World Championship cycle. The cycle would be even stronger if world no.2 Topalov were playing.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the 2004 FIDE World Champion, failed to place in the first four at the San Luis 2005 event and was not qualified for the Candidate Matches by rating. Ranked world no.32 in April 2007, with a rating of 2677, Kasimdzhanov played in the matches only because FIDE had given him a special pass when the matches were first announced.

In April, Topalov was ranked no.2 at 2772, behind Anand's 2786 rating. FIDE has changed the rules so many times for the current cycle that it is hard to understand why they can't be changed once more to give Topalov the chance to play. He is, after all, one of the most exciting and controversial players in the world. Is he too controversial for FIDE?

[For more on the matches, see our ChessChrono: 2007 Candidate Matches.]

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