January 11, 2001

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Karpov acknowledges Anand as champion

The Rediff Team

So now it is official -- Vishwanathan Anand is the 15th champion of the chess world.

Though he won the title in Teheran in December 2000, there was a shadow cast on his claim, with Anatoly Karpov going in for arbitration.

For those who came in late, a quick backgrounder -- FIDE handed the world title over to Karpov when Kasparov rebelled and formed his own Professional Chess Association. At that point, the format was that the various contenders would play a qualifying round, with the winner meeting Karpov in the final.

Following widespread criticism, FIDE changed the format last year. As per the new format, all contenders for the title had to take part in the league phase of the championship. The two players who came out on top would then face off for the title.

Karpov repudiated this format, demanding that he be seeded straight into the quarterfinal stage, at the least. When FIDE turned down his request, Karpov refused to play.

Once Anand was crowned world champion, Karpov went in for arbitration to press his own claims. A three man panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, chaired by Jan Paulsson, heard the two parties on January 9.

At the end of the proceedings, the following decisions were arrived at:

1) Both FIDE and Karpov acknowledged the FIDE decision as pertains to the new format for the world championship. Further, FIDE's decision to change the World Championship cycle from a two-year affair to an annual one was accepted by Karpov.

2) Karpov formally stated that he had no objection to FIDE conferring the world title to Vishwanathan Anand.

3) Karpov undertook to cease all criticism of FIDE's world championship cycle in any forum. In return, FIDE promised to stop its own stringent criticism of Karpov.

4) FIDE offered, and Karpov accepted, the sum of US $50,000 to compensate the latter for financial losses arising out of not having played the championship cycle over the last two years.

With this, FIDE's new format for the world championship becomes official, and unchallenged. The following are the details:

By January 1 of each year, FIDE will announce its list of the 32 best chess players in the world. This list will be based on their performance during the previous World Chess Championship, and will be led by the current champion. In 2001, the transitional year for the new format, the best 32 chess players will be determined according to their rating.

This group of 32 will form the Championship League in world chess.

During the year, FIDE will organise a series of Grand Prix qualifying tournaments, to be climaxed by the Grand Prix final.

The Grand Prix qualifiers will be a series of events on a monthly basis. This series will comprise existing tournaments plus new ones to be organised by FIDE. Players taking part in the Grand Prix will earn points based on performance.

The 14 players with the most points will be invited to the Grand Prix final. Two others players will be added to this list, as nominees of the President.

The 16 players will compete for the FIDE Grand Prix final in a knock out system for the cash prize. The winner will be named world champion for the year, and will be awarded the Golden Chess Board.

New time controls will be in place at all FIDE events. As per these controls, each player gets 75 minutes for the first 40 moves, with an incremental time of 30 seconds per move in the first session. He will get 15 minutes in total for the rest of the game, with an incremental time of 30 seconds per move.

Further, FIDE will each year organise National Championships and 4 Continental Championships, which overall will determine the 117 candidates for the World Chess Championship, to whom will be added 3 President nominees and 8 best chess players selected from the Internet.

In order to determine the winners from the Net, all who intend to participate are invited to play on the official FIDE site. Each participant will receive a base rating of 1600. The knockout format will result in the selection of 128 players, who will then play another knockout tournament on the Net, to select the final 8. These 8 players will participate in the next World Chess Championship.

The World Chess Championship will start every year on the 25th of November. All 128 players participating will have to play all the rounds, and the final prize will be in the region of US $3 million.

There will be a three week break after the semifinals. The finals, between the two surviving players, will be fought over eight games.

FIDE's list of 32 players, which flags off the start of the world championship cycle, is as follows (Please note that the players are listed as per rank, and all ranks are based on their performance in the FIDE championship cycle last year, and in selected tournaments that, from here on, will form part of the FIDE Grand Prix):

Vishwanathan Anand, Alexei Shirov, Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Michael Adams, Peter Leko, Alexander Morozevich, Vaselin Topalov, Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Bareev, Loek Van Wely, Peter Svidler, Mikhail Gurevich, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Alexander Khalifman, Ilia Smirin, Alexei Dreev, Viktor Bologan, Anatoly Karpov, Ruslan Ponomariov, Kiril Georgiev, Judit Polgar, Nigel Short, Vladislav Tkachiev, Jiangchuan Ye, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Alexander Grischuk, Sergei Movsesian, Ivan Sokolov, Michal Krasenkow, and Joel Lautier,

(Editor's note: The series on Vishwanathan Anand's career will resume tomorrow. In the remaining three parts of the series, we will examine the 1997-1998 FIDE world championship cycle, and the latest one. Annotated games from these tournaments will feature, as usual)

Mail Sports Editor