Interview with the ECU President Boris Kutin

Mr. Kutin, were there any discussions about Plovdiv’s candidature to host the ІХ EICC for men and women?
No, there were no discussions at all. Plovdiv’s candidature was unanimously voted. I would like to underline that Plovdiv is an original record-holder. Two European Team Championships were organized here, and now the individual championships are coming as well. No other city in Europe can praise with that. Moreover-here were organized and took place many tournaments on high level.
You were here in 2003 as well. What are your impressions about that Championship?
I know Plovdiv very well. I was here at the Championship from 1983. My impressions are excellent. You have very good fundaments for conducting chess (and not only chess) events of highest rank. I cannot add anything. For us, as ECU, and for you, as organizers, the most important thing is the opinion of the players. And their attitude is quite positive.
What are your impressions about what you have seen now, during your last visit?
I think that the preparation of the championships is going fine. It is wonderful that every player would receive the tournament bulletin on his email address, that there will be a life-transmission of the top 36 men and 12 women boards. The venues are very good. For the prestige of Plovdiv, and Novotel hotel speaks the fact that 450 players from 40 countries already announced their participation.
What are your expectations about the coming Individual Championships that will start within a month?
Most probably we will not be able to break the record from Dresden 2007 in number of participants, but we can break the record of participating nations. We already took a decision to send an additional invitation to those countries that did not declare yet their participation. We shall do that, and I hope that we will beat the record.
What do you think about the system of the qualification, the quotas given to them, the way that the players qualify for the World Championships? In the last few years these criteria differed. Probably your last decision caused so many hectic debates.
The system is clear- Swiss tournament, eleven rounds, one free day, and finally tie-breaks for determining the winner. The main problem is not the number of the qualifiers, but the fact that until two years ago FIDE was taking part in formation of the price fund of the EICC every second year. Thus the Championships in even and odd years were incomparable. In the years when World Championships and later World Cups were conducted our championships were much stronger, with good price funds, and naturally the quotas were higher. This was very good, but unfortunately does not exist anymore. After FIDE stopped their financial support we had a tough time to think seriously. Why should one of the Championships be different than the other then? There were no reasons. That is why we decided that quotas for the championships are equal. This meant that their price funds should be approximately equal as well. By doing this our Championships have now absolutely equal rights. Some people did not want to understand that, I mean the reasons for the decision to equal the quotas, and unnecessary discussion started. I think that they are wrong, and this is not in favor of chess.
What do you think about the new system in determining the World Champion?
Personally I think that this system is too complicated. It is not popular. In the system we counted on the Grand-Prix tournaments. The expectations were that the best players will take part in the Grand-Prix series. But now, when the first tournament in Baku is coming we see that they are not playing, and FIDE had to face major difficulties in determining the participants. Why are not the best players there when all considered the idea very interesting?
At the President’s FIDE Board in Istanbul, which finished a couple of days ago a decision in organizing a Master-Tournament, was taken. This should be tournament where all the top-rated players can play. The idea is that the winner of the tournament plays a match against the World Cup’s winner. Grand-Prix tournaments are too expensive, unpopular, and the system in determine the world champion’s opponent-too clumsy. They tried to resemble it to the Candidate tournaments in the past.
It is well known that Veselin Topalov was the first World Champion who did not receive the right for a return-match. Much later a decision was taken that he starts into the next world cycle for a World Championship from the semi-finals. It was decided that he will play a match against the winner of the World Cup (Gata Kamsky) and that this match will be played in Bulgaria. Our Federation responded positively, and as far as I know started concrete actions in providing the required price-fund and in undertaking all the expenses in its organization. But in the meanwhile FIDE changed their decision.
Well, the things are not exactly this way. It was never on the agenda that Topalov will have the right of a return-match. The main mistake was made in San Luis (Argentina), when FIDE decided to democratize the fight for the world title by providing all 2700+ rated players the right to challenge the world champion if, they can assure the required price fund of 2 000 000 dollars, but admitted to assure to the champion the possibility (in case of a loss of the title) the right to play in the next cycle for a world championship. When this decision was approved it was still unclear who will be the future champion. This was a huge mistake, and it appeared later that is very difficult to be correct. Still, I think that comparatively good solution was found. Topalov received the chance to participate in the new cycle and will play against the World Cup’s winner Gata Kamsky in September or October. My personal opinion is that the match should be in Bulgaria. FIDE tried to find another country to organize the event and raised the requirements about the price fund, but I am not optimistic that candidates will be found. Kamsky should sign the match contract within a few days. If he does not, he will be replaced by Alexei Shirov. Everything will be clear until 11 April.
Thank you, Mr. Kutin.
Interview by GM Venzislav Inkiov

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