Friday, November 19, 2010

Quah Seng Sun on Magnus Carlsen

After reading Quah Seng Sun's article on Magnus' withdrawal from the Candidates matches, I found it very disturbing that Seng Sun failed to paint a balance and true picture to the whole issue. So, to do the whole world justice and give them the whole truth, let us read what Magnus had to say when he withdrew from the World Championship cycle (with my comments in bold and parentheses).
To: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov & FIDE World Championship Committee.

Reference is made to the ongoing World Championship cycle.

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my decision not to take part in the planned Candidate Matches between March and May 2011.

After careful consideration I’ve reached the conclusion that the ongoing 2008 - 2012 cycle does not represent a system, sufficiently modern and fair, to provide the motivation I need to go through a lengthy process of preparations and matches and, to perform at my best. (OK, Seng Sun pointed this out, but I will return to this point later)

Reigning champion privileges, the long (5 yr) span of the cycle, changes made during the cycle resulting in a new format (Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go through since Kasparov, puzzling ranking criteria as well as the shallow ceaseless match-after-match concept are all less than satisfactory in my opinion. (These are the main points why Carlsen withdrew. Seng Sun did not point out at all that CHANGES were made DURING the cycle. Carlsen's frustration should be noted because how would you feel if the tournament directors were to change the format of the tournament after playing a few rounds? This is just common sense)

By providing you with 4 months notice before the earliest start of the Candidates as well as in time before you have presented player contracts or detailed regulations, I rest assured that you will be able to find an appropriate replacement.

Although the purpose of this letter is not to influence you to make further changes to the ongoing cycle, I would like to take the opportunity to present a few ideas about future cycles in line with our input to FIDE during the December 27th 2008 phone-conference between FIDE leaders and a group of top-level players.

In my opinion privileges should in general be abolished and a future World Championship model should be based on a fair fight between the best players in the World, on equal terms. This should apply also to the winner of the previous World Championship, and especially so when there are several players at approximately the same level in the world elite. (Why should one player have one out of two tickets to the final to the detriment of all remaining players in the world? Imagine that the winner of the 2010 Football World Cup would be directly qualified to the 2014 World Cup final while all the rest of the teams would have to fight for the other spot.) (While Seng Sun dismissed Carlsen's comparison to football, I believe that Carlsen could have just as easily picked another sport, like badminton or squash or pool or snooker or darts or swimming or athletics or... (need I say more...), where the World Champion is not seeded into the final. Seng Sun totally ignored the point that the champion is seeded straight to the final. The argument was that this system was not fair. Carlsen may have picked the wrong sport to compare chess against, but the point still stands. In what sport do we see a champion seeded right into the final, be it team or individual?)

One possibility for future cycles would be to stage an 8-10 player World Championship tournament similar to the 2005 and 2007 events. (Seng Sun also made a big hoo-hah about this in saying that Carlsen totally wanted to throw away the match system and preferred a tournament system. Carlsen's intention was to provide an example of a fair system. He did not in any way say that he preferred a tournament system)

The proposal to abolish the privileges of the World Champion in the future is not in any way meant as criticism of, or an attack on, the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who is a worthy World Champion, a role model chess colleague and a highly esteemed opponent.

Rest assured that I am still motivated to play competitive chess. My current plan is to continue to participate in well-organised top-level tournaments and to try to maintain the no 1 spot on the rating list that I have successfully defended for most of 2010.

Best regards,

IGM Magnus Carlsen
Now, my take on the issue. While my comments above may appear to defend Carlsen's actions, rest assured that my intention was only to straighten out the facts misconstrued by poor reporting. I still think that Carlsen is being a stupid spoilt child for withdrawing from the cycle. Yes, the system is flawed. Yes, it is not fair. But it would only seem very unprofessional to just quit the World Championship cycle, considering his goal would be to prove that he is the best in the world. He should find added motivation that by winning the world championship with the odds stacked against him is even more proof that he is that great a player.

Despite all the muck-ups by FIDE throughout all these years, almost every other chess player has chosen to abide by the decisions of FIDE (poor or otherwise), and continue to compete. The renegades here are none other than Bobby Fischer, Kasparov and a few others. Is Carlsen trying to go down that road? Unlikely. However, I do think that he still has much to grow in terms of maturity and conduct. Even Kasparov has discontinued from working with him because of his poor work ethics. Maybe he is beginning to think he is too good for the system. While the technique and finesse in Carlsen's game is my cup of tea, I have always found it hard to root for a young upstart who has very little regard and respect for the system.


  1. This Message is uploaded simul in Ninja/FirstGM blog,
    Dear Ninja/Raymond,
    (Raymond Gambit was played and declined-by a delete! 18nov & 20 nov)

    Quote, “Raymond says, “I also sincerely do not have any personal axes to grind. I have moved past that now. I hope my evaluations to date will be helpful in getting us our own GM” (First GM dated: November 9, 2010; titled: Reviewing Technical evaluation-Final part)

    Dear Raymond,

    Did I hear “no axe to grind?”
    With hatreds douse with brine?
    Or case of slipshod “read my lips slops”
    Another “over my dead body flip flops”

    Peace smoke pipe seems a bit late
    Still Raymond’s nod shall not berate
    If not for my wife hail from Sungai Siput
    Queen’s play means no Perak, no output

    Tricky negotiations still hang on the balance
    Raymond’s overdue motion is revived solace
    Pardoned Queen’s play upsurge for Perak chessing
    Why Raymond’s assent have everybody guessing...

    $$$ a bit like Amazing Asia Race
    $$$ influx set for brilliant chess Ace
    $$$ look and sound like Treasure hunt
    $$$ proudly present treasured chess stunt

    $$$ teams came in trios
    $$$ third member Junior bios
    $$$ leader must be Malaysian
    $$$ second member local or Asian

    $$$ legs are plentiful
    $$$ each read bountiful
    $$$ without chess ego coerce
    $$$ 8K payout apiece de force

    $$$ good support legs are fifty
    $$$ better responses add fifty
    $$$ best cheers increase by fifty
    $$$ extraordinary deeds bid fifty

    $$$ (8K X 50)
    $$$ (8K X 50) + (8K X 50)
    $$$ (8K X 50) + (8K X 50) + (8K X 50)
    $$$ (8K X 50) + (8K X 50) + (8K X 50) + (8K X 50)

    All in all I needed “hands on decks”
    All in all there’s plenty of “cheques”
    One for all, 1.6 million ready for the take
    All for one, don’t make me look like a mistake!

    Yes! Negotiations is tough and knotty to the absolute
    With corporate body rest on nothing less but resolute
    At the very least one less Raymond with axe wielding
    If succeed, all come with intent to oblige and yielding

    best of regards/Lee”, Unquote.

    PS: My pledge; since I had played the “Raymond Gambit & Ninja Gambit”, the moment the deal had its conclusion (up to 15 legs in Perak?), I will reveal it through these two blogs. Contractually, details will be withheld for the sponsor to announce.

  2. What's all this nonsensical rambling about ?