Open Letter from GM Loek van Wely
In case of the cycle 2005-2007, in my opinion changing the format should not be done, unless a) the existing conditions were not acceptable or clearly inferior to what is proposed now; or b) all parties agree.
The “already old” cycle was certainly chaotic, but also given the circumstances, acceptable. The new cycle is still chaotic, but unfortunately favours some players more than others. Some players are getting privileges, where the intent was to abolish them as much as possible.
FIDE claims they have consulted both ACP and the players present in San Luis. Since I am an ACP member I am very curious what the role of ACP has been in these consultations. For sure I am not happy with the outcome of it. As far as the players from San Luis concerns, they certainly got themselves a good deal. Five of the eight got themselves a sure seat into the second or final phase of the next cycle (and most likely two more). Seven of the eight players in San Luis qualified by rating. Maybe someone can explain me why someone with a slightly inferior rating has to start his trip via Siberia, whereas those players can quietly wait (and prepare) for the world championships tournament?
In my opinion only Topalov, the winner of Siberia, the highest rated player in the world, and perhaps Kramnik (although he did not do much to deserve this) should be seeded for the final eight. The last four places could e.g. go to the winners of supertournaments , such as Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Sofia and Dortmund, or according to ACP ranking list. Also Fide managed now to devaluate the Siberia World Cup. Finishing in the top ten does not bring you much further in the cycle.
All what Fide needs to do is to make a good and clean cycle, to have clear dates, so that other organisers and players can program their schedule better, and to have a guaranteed prize-money, which after the Fide Grand Prix and the Kasparov-Ponomariov matches is no excessive luxury.
Now that I am finished with the World Cup in Siberia, I would like to say also something about the World Team Championships in Israel. Between the WTCh 2001 and the WTCh 2005 three European Team Championships have taken place, of which The Netherlands managed to win two. Unfortunately this did not give us the right to participate in the WTCh. As you can see, Fide really appreciates winning the strongest continental championships. Nevertheless we Dutch still thought that we would have a chance based on our eighth place in the Calvia Olympiad. If you start counting: 1) host = Israel; 2) World champion = Ukraine; 3) European champion = Russia; 4) Asia = China; 5) Africa = Egypt; 6) Amerika = Cuba; then start to count from Olympiad 7) Armenia, USA 9) India 10) The Netherlands.
Unfortunately this logic did not work out, and somehow Georgia’s third place at the European Team Championship in 2003 (for those who remember it) was rewarded with an invitation. Given also the fact that a Chinese women team was invited did not give us a more positive feeling towards the WTCh. Then however, due to cancellation of Africa, we received an informal invitation three weeks before start of the event. On such short terms it did not seem possible to find the necessary sponsorship, so we had to decline the invitation.
A few days later we suddenly got hope to get the necessary pecunia. On our inquiry if the invitation was still open, Fide answered that 1) we should not have been invited in the first place, according to regulations it should have been India; 2) India is not going to be invited because they need a visa to enter Israel and the time was too short to arrange that; 3) the reserved rooms had already been assigned to others (as if such a small problem can not be dealt with). All I can conclude that Fide prefers to have a World Team Championships with nine weaker teams than with the ten strongest teams.
Loek van Wely (1972) is Schaakgrootmeester. Hij heeft een eigen site: http://www.kingloek.nl