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Grandmaster Profile: Joel Lautier

While in Delhi, I discussed with many GMs the new FIDE World Championships and time controls, both of which FIDE is proposing now. Here I would like to offer to your attention the interview with France’s No. 1 player Joel Lautier (one of Kramnik’s seconds during the match in London), that I conducted on the 7th December 2000. - Alex Baburin

This interview was original published in Chess Today.

Joel, yesterday we discussed the system of the World Championship, which you are suggesting. Could you please repeat your main ideas?

Instead of having just one tournament, I am suggesting having four tournaments, with the same total prize fund. One of them will be a final with the eight best players, who qualified from the first three tournaments. Half of the total prize fund should go to the final. In three qualifying tournaments there will be 100 players. All of them can and should play in all three events. If the prize fund remains the same as now, each of these qualifiers would have a prize fund of $500,000.

How do players qualify for the final?

You sum up all results (points scored) for each player in all three tournaments and those 8 players, who have the highest sums, enter the final. Three qualifying Swiss tournaments can have 9 or 11 rounds each, but these are details. (I think that 10 rounds would better then, as otherwise some poor souls may end up playing a lot more with Black —A.B.)

What happens if somebody gets sick during the tournament, or just before it, and thus he or she cannot attend one of the qualifiers? That would be the end of the championship cycle for such a player, right?

Yes, this is a problem. First I suggested counting only two best results, but then there is a risk that somebody, who did really well in the two first tournaments, will not try his best in the third. I understand that the system I am offering is very tough, but this is sport!

What happens if after 3 tournaments some players have the same total score?

They play a tiebreak tournament in rapid chess — no Buchgoltz or anything like this should be used, only play!

How will that ‘lucky hundred’ be formed?

Some will enter that group because of their high rating; some will qualify from the zonal tournaments.

What do you think of the time control?

I suggest 2 hours for 40 moves without any accumulation of time, then 30 minutes for the rest of the game - again without gaining time for each move made. When a player is down to his last 10 seconds, after the move he makes, he will get 10 extra seconds, but this time cannot be accumulated. So, you have 10 seconds to make a move, but not more.

OK, this seems to be almost the same as Vassily Ivanchuk suggested, when we spoke two days ago.

My other suggestion is to prohibit a draw offer before 40 moves are made.

Completely prohibit?

Completely! Take this example: yesterday a game Morozevich-Tkachiev ended in a draw. By the way, that was the only game, which was really fought, apart from those where somebody won: other drawn games were very peaceful affairs. So, in the game Morozevich-Tkachiev at a critical moment, in a very complicated position, both players agreed a draw. I understand — the stakes are high, etc., but try to explain to sponsors why the game was stopped. Of course, perpetual check will still exist — sometimes a draw is just inevitable.

I know this idea — Veselin Topalov and his manager Silvio Danailov advocate it as well. Well, let’s hope that FIDE will listen to your proposals. Thank you for the interview, Joel!

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted