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Magnus Carlsen Hates the World Chess Championship Format, Apparently

While the World Chess Championship in Dubai continues with a seemingly unending streak of draws, Magnus Carlsen, the defending world champion, has again voiced disdain for the format of the Championship cycle — something he said before and likely to push for in the future.

A Norwegian journalist asked both Nepo and Carlsen about their view of the Championship format. Carlsen’s answer: “You have nothing good to say, it’s better not to say anything at all”.

In his previous comments, Carlsen stated that the system is skewed in favor of the defending champion, who has to take part in the biannual match while his opponents must go through a grueling cycle of questionable logic that does not necessarily produce the best challenger. Carlsen’s idea — to return to the system that was in place in the 90s, where the Champion was decided in a large knockout tournament similar to the current FIDE World Cup.

When this system was used by FIDE to determine the World Champion, it was ridiculed for the fact that it produced random champions, who played well in that particular tournament but were not remotely the strongest players in the world.

The current World Chess Championship system, which includes a series of qualification tournaments (Grand Swiss, the Grand Prix Series, and the Candidates) brings substantial revenue to FIDE, the sport’s governing body, and supports Carlsen’s position both in chess and in business. But it’s a double-edged sword: in an unlikely event of Carlsen losing the Match, he will face a need to win the Candidates on demand — an almost impossible task even for Carlsen — especially if he is out of form.

Having an annual knock-out World Chess Championship with likely random results will mean that the championship title will be slightly debased, giving space to the rankings (where Carlsen has been number one for more than a decade).

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