The candidates tournament is over and the preparations for the big world championship tournament in September are beginning. Here’s the Fide rankings, with the participants in bold.
1 Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2786 27 1969
2 Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2772 27 1975
3 Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2772 13 1975
4 Morozevich, Alexander g RUS 2762 21 1977
5 Aronian, Levon g ARM 2759 27 1982
6 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar g AZE 2757 3 1985
7 Radjabov, Teimour g AZE 2747 13 1987
8 Leko, Peter g HUN 2738 14 1979
9 Svidler, Peter g RUS 2736 27 1976
10 Adams, Michael g ENG 2734 10 1971
11 Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2733 0 1968
12 Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2729 24 1969
13 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2727 0 1976
14 Navara, David g CZE 2720 19 1985
15 Ponomariov, Ruslan g UKR 2717 13 1983 1
16 Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2717 0 1983
The absense of Topalov, the no. 2 rated player in the world and the previous Fide world champion certainly creates a dilemma. Why he is missing is buried in the politics and agreements of the chess world and I don’t know the ins and outs. I could find out, but life is too short! But it certainly reduces the tournament slightly. It would be better to have a fair contest between all potential champions.
Secondly, the tournament format means the abandonment of the previous matches for the world title. These matches created many, many classics that still endure – Capablanca vs. Lasker, Capablanca vs. Alekhine, Botvinnik vs. Bronstein, Fischer vs. Spassky, and all the Korchnoi, Karpov, & Kasparov matches. We’ve always had tournaments too, like Linares and Wijk an Zee. And Fide have fiddled before with the format of world championships, much to its loss of credibility I believe. Who remembers that Kasimzhanov and Ponomariov were former champions, or who really believes that Karpov was a world champion several years after losing match after match against Kasparov?
I would much prefer a return to the traditional format of a candidates tournament, followed by a cycle of matches to decide the champ for a three year period. And those matches have to be 12 games minimum.
Thirdly, we can note that the top-30 rankings are crowded with names of the future, such as Mamedyarov, Radjabov, Carlsen, Navara, and Karjakin. The next cycle, or the next few after that, will presumably throw up all or most of these players, plus some we’ve barely heard of before. It is an interesting prospect.