FIDE - Topalov, Kramnik, World Cup, Grand Prix

Friday June 29, 2007

The latest news from the World Chess Federation (FIDE) on the next World Championship cycle was good news for former World Champion Veselin Topalov and great news for chess fans around the globe: Presidential Board Maps New World Chess Championship Cycle ( After being excluded from the current World Championship cycle (2005-7) because of his loss to Vladimir Kramnik in their Unification Match last year, Topalov was fated to enter the following cycle (2007-9) in the qualifying World Cup event, Khanty-Mansiysk 2007. Only if he won that World Cup would he be entitled to a new World Championship match in 2008 or 2009.

Fortunately for world no.2 Topalov, when the 13 year schism in the World Championship ended with Kramnik's victory over the Bulgarian, FIDE had not yet established how the fight for the unified title would be organized in the future. Reacting to widespread disappointment over the injustice of Topalov's situation, FIDE had the courage to alter plans for the 2007-9 cycle. In its latest announcement, the World Federation declared that the format of the 2007-9 cycle would depend on the results of the forthcoming World Championship tournament, scheduled for September in Mexico City.

If reigning World Champion Kramnik retains his title in Mexico, he will meet Topalov in a match in 2008. The winner of that match will go on to play a title match against the winner of the 2007 World Cup.

If Kramnik loses his title in Mexico, he will be entitled to play a match against the winner of Mexico. Topalov will be entitled to play a match against the winner of the 2007 World Cup. The winners of those two matches will play for the title in 2009.

At the same time FIDE announced the format for the 2007-9 cycle, it provided a preview of the plans for subsequent World Championship cycles. The first of those two year cycles, tentatively scheduled for 2008-10, will have two qualifying events: 1) a World Cup in 2009, and 2) a series of tournaments in 2008-9 to be called the Grand Prix. The winners of the World Cup and the Grand Prix will meet in a Challenger Match in 2010, and the winner of that match will play the reigning World Champion later in the year.

That cycle should serve as the model for subsequent cycles -- a Grand Prix in years one and two of the cycle, a World Cup in year two, and Challenger and World Championship matches in year three. Year three of the cycle coincides with year one of the following cycle.

Can FIDE execute this ambitious plan? Their chances look excellent. They will be aided by Global Chess as FIDE 'marketing support agent'; press release: FIDE and Global Chess agreed on key points ( While we can expect some tweaking of the FIDE plan for the 2007-9 World Championship cycle, the structure should be solid. The rest of the cycle depends on the results in Mexico.

The new FIDE map lacked details on the organization of the Grand Prix, which starts next year. The next major announcement from FIDE / Global Chess should be for the 2008-9 Grand Prix.

[For all our reports on this event, see our ChessChrono, 2007 World Championship.]

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