Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica


October 22, 2005

Dear FIDE,

Let me first of all congratulate your organisation on finally taking the long-awaited decision to move away from the recent Knockout championship format to determine the
FIDE World Chess Champion (Classical). This format was just not suitable to determine the World Champion in the sport of Kings! The evidence speaks for itself with the unpredictable nature of the previous knockout format choosing many champions who are not by any stretch of the imagination even one of the top five best players in the world.

The decision to finally return to the Classical time controls is also commendable and demonstrated that even the best players in the world require the time to think through their moves properly in an effort to provide the 6 billion people on the planet watching the quality games they deserve. I trust that this is a precursor to returning to classical time controls in tournament chess and abandoning this ridiculous notion of accelerating the game to add more excitement. Our sport has suffered enough seeing champion, after champion being named playing ridiculously poor quality chess in the faster time controls.

FM Grantel Gibbs

I also want to take the opportunity to congratulate the most deserving FIDE World Chess Champion (Classical) Veselin Topolav. Enough words cannot describe how his aggressive, decisive and exciting play has ignited the chess world. His attitude of no draws during the first half of the tournament was simple phenomenal. I firmly believe that Garry Kasparov is the only other player in the world today who would have played with such an attitude and do so successfully.

(I think the day has come when chess games must reach a certain number of moves before a draw can be agreed. It's comparable to playing a Match championship between two golf players and deciding that the match is a tie at the 9th or 10th holes because the scores are even. Another comparison is in boxing where the contest looks even in the sixth round and the players agreeing that the match is a draw.)

However the real reason for me writing this letter is to make it clear that the San Luis format is not a suitable format and should not be considered as the future format to decide the undisputed World Chess Champion. I read a recent article where Topolav commented on the possibility of a Unification match between himself and the other World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik. I agree with Topolav that it is not necessary for him to unify the World Champion title with Kramnik, but not for the reasons he mentioned. I have been a fan of Vladimir Kramnik for a long while, but unfortunately he has lost the claim to be the undisputed champion today because his chess play has declined ever since winning the title over Garry Kasparov. He has not even come close to demonstrating to the world that he is the best player in the world, on the contrary Veselin has. Why this has happened to one of the finest players in the world and forever one of my favorites is a mystery. There are several things that could have contributed this, but I will not even begin to speculate as to what could have led to Vladimir's decline.

For Veselin Topolav however to say that due to difference in rating points he cannot unify the title is totally ridiculous due to the simple fact that the recent championship in San Luis had players with similar ratings to Vladimir Kramnik who could have won the championship. Hypothetically
Peter Svidler could have won the championship if he had won the first game between himself and Veselin Topolav and the rest of the scoring in the tournament remained the same. Then we would have had a totally different scenario where the World champion today would not have been one the top three players in the world. Would we then say Svidler should accept the Unification match with Vladimir Kramnik on the grounds that their ratings are similar.

Another scenario is this. What if going into the final round, Grandmasters Anand, Topalov, Svidler and Leko were all tied. Then in one moment the championship could have gone to either of these players based on their last round result. It takes me to the point that even the double round robin format with eight of the best players in the world is not the most suitable or practical format to decide the undisputed FIDE World Chess Champion.

I draw another golf comparison, if you took the top ten golf players in the world and put them in one weekend or two consecutive weekend tournaments. At the end of the tournament would we consider the player who won, the undisputed Champion of Golf. Absolutely not! This happens every day, the champion must demonstrate that chance plays very little in his title assertions. However if you took the two best Golfers in the world by ranking and put them in this same match situation, it would be more convincing to name the winner the undisputed World Golf Champion. In a similar way, it is hard for anyone to logically think that the San Luis format can be adopted as a future format to decide the World Champion, because practically it gives too many players the chance of claiming the title of undisputed World Chess Champion.

FIDE, as the world governing body must continue to try and resolve this situation, even though after years of living with different Knockout Champions, we can finally take comfort in the fact the Veselin Topalov is the FIDE World Chess Champion (Classical). However, the future world champion must be undisputed and the only format that historically demonstrated this was one similar to the format that made Vladimir Kramnik World Champion today. One with a certain minimum number of games between the Champion and a deserving challenger (likely to be one the top three players in the world) coming through a qualification candidates cycle. One-event Knockout tournaments or One-event Round Robins will never resolve this situation. I suggest that the next qualification must select a suitable player to challenge Veselin Topolav for his title in a deserving match of a certain minimum number of games and that this qualification cycle will have Classical time controls and also have the presence of Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand in addition to the other top players in the world (maybe the greatest player ever would decide to turn up for such an event for one last Hurrah).

We have waited too many years to have an undisputed World Chess Champion, we need this situation resolved soon.

Yours truly,

FM Grantel Gibbs
Former President of the Jamaica Chess Federation

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 October 2005