World Chess Championship

About CNC

The phrase ‘world champion’ when it comes to chess competitions first appeared in 1845, but it was not until 1886 that the chess world championship officially was created. In fact, the match between Steinitz and Zukertort in 1886 is regarded as the first championship games. At this time there was no a single organization to arrange this competition, and players themselves were organizing and financing the event in the form of stakes. This system was being applied until 19848, when players attempted to set rules regarding the frequency and conditions of matches, financing and division of purse. First successful organization that managed to develop and maintain a regular system for managing the contest was FIDE in 1948. The system was functioning quiet well until 1993, when at that time reigning champion Kasparov and challenger Short, being so displeased with FIDE’s organization of their match, decided to play under the auspices of a new organization. This split lasted until 2006.

Until 1946, the title World Champion was acquired by defeating the former champion. The problem occurred when the world champion at that time, Alexander Alekhine suddenly died in 1946. It was difficult to resolve the interregnum and different suggestions were coming from respected players and commentators as well as from FIDE. In additions, the Soviet Union had long refused to join FIDE, and they had a great deal of credible contenders. However, the Soviet Union finally realized that it is not at their best interest to stay out of the title discussion so they in the end joined FIDE. Their proposal was rather similar to the one earlier made by FIDE. It was agreed that the 1938 AVRO tournament will be used as a basis for the 1948 Championship tournament. At that time, there were 6 participants at AVRO since the other two, Alekhine and former champion Capablanca had died. It was arranged in a way that 6 participants will play four games against each other. In the end, there were 5 players participating in this competition since one of the participants dropped out, and the title of the world champion went to Botvvinik. In this way the interregnum was resolved, and the procedure of selecting the challengers in a three-year cycle was specified: countries which are members of FIDE will send players to Zonal Tournaments, the highest-placed would then play in Interzonal Tournament, and those who gained top places in Interzonal Tournament would compete in Candidates Tournament together with whoever lost the previous title-match and the second-placed player in the previous Candidates Tournament 3 years earlier. Winner of the Candidates Tournament will play a title match with the champion.

In the 1963-66 cycle, FIDE had to replace the round-robin tournament or candidate tournament, practiced at AVRO competition, by a series of elimination matches due to violations and frauds done in the previous cycle. Therefore, the quarter-finals and semi-finals were best of 10 games, and final was best of 12 games.

In the 1969-72 cycle, Bobby Fischer, an American player, refused to play in US Zonal Tournament. He had also previously withdraw from the Interzonal Tournament in 1967 for private reasons. FIDE president adjusted the rules and enabled Fischer to compete who in the end won the right to challenge reigning champion Boris Spassky. However, Fischer once again raised difficulties, this time about money, and the prize money was doubled. Fischer won the match, and the line of FIDE champions remained unbroken. However, in 1975, Anatoly Kaprov won the right to challenge Fischer, and Fischer was once again causing crisis. He objected to the ‘best of 24 games’ format used since 1951 suggesting that the match should be won by whoever won the first 10 games. In the end, FIDE deposed Fischer and Karpov was the new champion.

Championship was at the beginning financed by players with the assistance of finance backers who would contribute to a purse. The money was distributed in a way that a half would be given to the winner’s backers and the larger share would go to the winner. Players were also paying travel and accommodation expenses out of their shares of the purse. In U 1894 Lasker introduced a new system where challenger was to arrange for the whole of the purse. This practice was followed until WWII, and this made the organization of the matches very difficult because very often players were willing to challenge but could not raise the money.