FIDE was founded in Paris, France on July 24, 1924. Its motto is Gens una sumus, meaning "We are one people". Its current president (as of January 2008) is Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also president of Kalmykia, an autonomous Republic in Russia.
It defines the rules of chess, both for playing individual games (i.e. the board and moves) and for the conduct of international competitions. The international competition rules are the basis for local competitions, although local bodies are allowed to modify these rules to a certain extent. FIDE awards a number of organisational titles including International Arbiter, which signifies that the recipient is competent and trusted to oversee top-class competitions.
FIDE calculates the Elo ratings of players and uses these as the basis on which it awards titles for achievement in competitive play: FIDE Master, International Master, International Grandmaster, and women's versions of those titles. It also awards Master and Grandmaster titles for achievement in problem and study composing and solving, and periodically publishes FIDE Albums of the best problems.
Players also made the first attempt to produce rules for world championship matches - in 1922 world champion Jose Raul Capablanca proposed the "London rules": the first player to win 6 games would win the match; playing sessions would be limited to 5 hours; the time limit would be 40 moves in 2.5 hours; the champion must defend his title within one year of receiving a challenge from a recognized master; the champion would decide the date of the match; the champion was not obliged to accept a challenge for a purse of less than $10,000; 20% of the purse was to paid to the title holder, and the remainder being divided, 60% going to the winner of the match, and 40% to the loser; the highest purse bid must be accepted. Alekhine, Boguljubow, Maroczy, Reti, Rubinstein, Tartakower and Vidmar promptly signed them. The only match played under those rules was Capablanca vs Alekhine in 1927.
In 1922 the Russian chess master Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, while participating in an international tournament in London announced that a tournament would be held during the 8th Sports Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 and would be hosted by the French Chess Federation. On 20 July 1924 the participants at the Paris tournament founded FIDE as a kind of players' union. In its early years, FIDE had little power, and was poorly financed.
FIDE's congresses in 1925 and 1926 expressed a desire to become involved in managing the world championship. FIDE was largely happy with the "London Rules", but claimed that the requirement for a purse of $10,000 was impracticable and called upon Capablanca to come to an agreement with the leading masters to revise the Rules.
FIDE's third congress, in Budapest in 1926, also decided to organize a Chess Olympiad. But invitations were late in being sent out, so that only 4 countries participated. As a result, the competition was called the Little Olympiad. The winner was Hungary, followed by Yugoslavia, Romania, and Germany. In 1927 FIDE began organizing the First Chess Olympiad during its 4th Congress in London. The official title of the tournament was the "Tournament of Nations", or "World Team Championship", but "Chess Olympiad" became a more popular title. The event was won by Hungary, with 16 teams competing.
In 1928 FIDE recognized Bogoljubow as "Champion of FIDE" after he won a match against Euwe.
Alekhine, the reigning world champion, attended part of the 1928 Congress and agreed to place future matches for the world title under the auspices of FIDE, although any match with Capablanca should be under the same conditions as in Buenos Aires, 1927, i.e. including the requirement for a purse of at least $10,000. FIDE accepted this and decided to form a commission to modify the London Rules fopr future matches. But the commission never met; and by the time of the 1929 Congress a world championship match between Alekhine and Bogoljubow was under way (neither under the auspices of FIDE nor in accordance with the London Rules).
While negotiating his 1937 World Championship re-match with Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe proposed that if he retained the title FIDE should manage the nomination of future challengers and the conduct of championship matches. FIDE had been trying since 1935 to introduce rules on how to select challengers, and its various proposals favored selection by some sort of committee. While they were debating procedures in 1937 and Alekhine and Euwe were preparing for their re-match later that year, the Dutch Chess Federation proposed that a super-tournament (AVRO) of ex-champions and rising stars should be held to select the next challenger. FIDE rejected this proposal and at their second attempt nominated Salo Flohr as the official challenger. Euwe then declared that: if he retained his title against Alekhine he was prepared to meet Flohr in 1940 but he reserved the right to arrange a title match either in 1938 or 1939 with Jose Raul Capablanca, who had lost the title to Alekhine in 1927; if Euwe lost his title to Capablanca then FIDE's decision should be followed and Capablanca would have to play Flohr in 1940. Most chess writers and players strongly supported the Dutch super-tournament proposal and opposed the committee processes favored by FIDE. While this confusion went unresolved: Euwe lost his title to Alekhine; the AVRO tournament in 1938 was won by Paul Keres under a tie-breaking rule, with Reuben Fine placed second and Capablanca and Flohr in the bottom places; and the outbreak of World War II in 1939 cut short the controversy. Although competitive chess continued in many countries, including some that were under Nazi occupation, there was no international competition and FIDE was inactive during the war.
It did not help that the Soviet Union had long refused to join FIDE, and by this time it was clear that about half the credible contenders were Soviet citizens. But the Soviet Union realized it could not afford to be left out of the discussions about the vacant world championship, and in 1947 sent a telegram apologizing for the absence of Soviet representatives and requesting that the USSR be represented in future FIDE Committees.
The eventual solution was very similar to FIDE's initial proposal and to a proposal put forward by the Soviet Union (authored by Mikhail Botvinnik). The 1938 AVRO tournament was used as the basis for the 1948 Championship Tournament. The AVRO tournament had brought together the eight players who were, by general acclamation, the best players in the world at the time. Two of the participants at AVRO - Alekhine and former world champion José Raúl Capablanca - had died; but FIDE decided that the other six participants at AVRO played a quadruple round robin tournament. These players were: Max Euwe (from Holland); Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres and Salo Flohr (from the Soviet Union); and Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky (from the USA). But FIDE soon accepted a Soviet request to substitute Vasily Smyslov for Flohr, and Fine dropped out in order to continue his degree studies in psychiatry, so only 5 players competed. Botvinnik won convincingly and thus became world champion, ending the interregnum.
The proposals which led to the 1948 Championship Tournament also specified the procedure by which challengers for the World Championship would be selected in a 3-year cycle: countries affiliated to FIDE would send players to Zonal Tournaments (the number varied depending on how many good enough players each country had); the players who gained the top places in these would compete in an Interzonal Tournament (later split into 2 and then 3 tournaments as the number of countries and eligible players increased); the highest-placed players from the Interzonal would compete in the Candidates Tournament, along with whoever lost the previous title match and the 2nd-placed competitor in the previous Candidates Tournament 3 years earlier; and the winner of the Candidates played a title match against the champion. Until 1962 inclusive the Candidates Tournament was a multi-round round-robin (all-play-all) - how and why it was changed are described below.
In 1969 Fischer refused to play in the U.S. Championship because of disagreements about the tournament's format and prize fund. Since that event was being treated as a Zonal Tournament, Fischer forfeited his right to compete for the right to challenge world champion Boris Spassky in 1972. But U.S. grandmaster Pal Benko agreed to give up his place at the Interzonal in Fischer's favor, and other U.S. players did the same. FIDE president Max Euwe interpreted the rules very flexibly to allow Fischer to play in the 1970 Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca, which he won convincingly. Fischer then crushed Mark Taimanov, Bent Larsen and Tigran Petrosian in the 1971 Candidates Tournament and won the title match with Spassky to become world champion.
After winning the world championship, Fischer criticized the existing championship match format (24 games; the champion retained the title if the match was tied) on the grounds that it encouraged whoever got an early lead to play for draws. While this dispute was going on, Anatoly Karpov won the right to challenge in 1975. Fischer refused to accept any match format other than the one he proposed, and eventually FIDE awarded the title to Karpov by default. Some commentators have questioned whether FIDE president Max Euwe did as as much as he could have to prevent Fischer from forfeiting his world title.
In the 1984 world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov the winner was to be the first to win 6 games. In the first 27 games Karpov gained a 5-0 lead but by the end of the 48th Kasparov had reduced this to 5-3. At this point the match had lasted for 159 days (from September 1984 to February 1985), Karpov looked exhausted and many thought Kasparov was the favorite to win. After six days of talks, on February 15 FIDE president Campomanes announced that "the match is ended without decision", that a new one would begin in September 1985 with the score 0-0, and that it would consist of at most 24 games. Karpov entered the press conference rather late and said he wished to continue the existing match, and nobody has revealed what had happened behind the scenes. Kasparov won the second match and became world champion.
In 1994 Kasparov concluded that breaking away from FIDE had been a mistake, because both commercial sponsors and the majority of grandmasters disliked the split in the world championship. Kasparov started trying to improve relations with FIDE and supported Campomanes' bid for re-election as president of FIDE. But many FIDE delegates regarded Campomanes as corrupt and in 1995 he agreed to resign provided his successor was Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the Republic of Kalmykia.
In the next few years several attempts to re-unify the world championship failed for various reasons - notably inability to finance a match or Kasparov's opposition to any plan that required him to play in a qualifying series rather than go straight into a re-unification match. In 2000 Vladimir Kramnik defeated Kasparov in a match for what was now the Braingames World Chess Championship (the PCA had collapsed by this time). But Kramnik was also unwilling to play in a qualifying series, and objected strongly to FIDE's attempt to have the world championship decided by annual knock-out tournaments and to reduce the time limits for games, changes which FIDE hoped would make the game more interesting to outsiders.
Finally in 2006 a re-unification match was played between Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, which Kramnik won after an unpleasant controversy which led to one game being awarded to Topalov.
But the split in the world-title had after-effects, as shown by FIDE's complicated regulations for the 2007-2009 world championship cycle. Because Topalov was unable to compete in the 2007 World Chess Championship Tournament, FIDE decided he should have a "fast track" entry into the 2007-2009 cycle. And FIDE also decided that, if Kramnik did not win the 2007 championship tournament, he should play a championship match in 2008 against the winner - and this provision became applicable because Vishwanathan Anand won the tournament and thus became world champion.
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