The big sponsorship and media pulling-power of Magnus Carlsen looks to have finally won over FIDE, as they bowed to the Norwegian World No.1's demands to change the format to the 2012 World Championship Candidates rules that clears the way for him to re-enter the fray for a possible title clash.
The 2011 Candidates in Kazan a few months back was settled by knockouts that only served to make a mockery of the system, with many games controversially ending in short draws. Subsequently elite grandmasters supported him by voting for an all-play-all format; now FIDE looks to have succumbed to the mounting pressures by switching back to an eight-player, double-round all-play-all.
The all-play-all format clearly favors Carlsen as his tournament record is peerless while 14 games would give far less chance of a fluke result than four. "If the changes that are predicted come true, I am ready to fight for the World Championship title," commented Carlsen in a statement released through his manager on Thursday. Besides the change to tournament format, Carlsen will also have as a requirement a "waterproof contract", as FIDE was unilaterally changing the terms and conditions for the players with scant regard to their contracts.
World Champion for 15 years, World #1 for 20 years and widely considered to be the greatest chess player ever, Garry Kasparov clearly set a standard nearly impossible to equal. But a half-dozen years have passed now since he surprised the chess world in 2005 by announcing his retirement from the game.
After retirement, Kasparov indicated that, although he was giving up the elite tournament circuit and world championship play, he would still play exhibition speed chess for fun occasionally, or indeed to help a worthy cause. His most notable outing in retirement came in 2009 with a rapid match against his old foe, Anatoly Karpov, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their epic first world championship match of 1984; and last month, Kasparov again resurfaced to beat the young French Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a two-game blitz challenge match.
And last week in Leuven, Belgium, he again popped up to take on another former title challenger in England's Nigel Short, this time in a 8-game blitz match as part of the Your Next Move's (http://www.yournextmove.be/) fifth anniversary celebrations, an initiative that supports chess as a sport and aims at creating an impetus among young people. It proved to be an enthralling and exciting battle - including the romantics of a King's gambit, Evans gambit and a Fried Liver - between the two former title contestants of 1993, with Kasparov, by a narrow scoreline of 4.5-3.5, winning the match.
ICC also has a special 50min Kasparov video double-bill that we've made free for everyone to view, including non-members - firstly, GM Alex Yermolinsky annotating 3 games from the Kasparov-Short match in a special 25min Game of the Day, followed by ICC member Atul Vaishampayan (Atul-V) with a 25min exclusive one-on-one interview for ICC with Kasparov, as he answers the winning questions from our members 'Ask Kasparov' competition on Facebook.
One of the great benefits of ICC (apart from all the top-notch online play and tournaments) in recent years has been the upgrade in our popular Chess.FM service - many members agree that the live Chess.FM commentary plus GOTDs from our elite tournament coverage, and our regular weekly shows alone is worthy of their membership fee.
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ICC has now revamped its Facebook page - and we've had a great response from members and non-members looking to take part in the activities there, where we'll shortly be offering prizes and special membership offers.
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