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FIDE receives 3 bids for the World Championship Match 2024 between Gukesh and Ding Liren

by Rasika Ratnaparkhi - 14/06/2024

The World Chess Body, FIDE, has received three bids of US$8.5 million for the World Championship Match 2024 between Gukesh and Ding Liren. The bids are 2 from India (Chennai and Delhi) and one from Singapore. We speak to FIDE's CEO Emil Sutovsky about this development and he sheds more light on this. With Gukesh being the youngest ever World Championship contender, there is a lot of interest in the match. The entire chess world is on the edge of their seats to know where the match is going to.

Insights from FIDE CEO Emil Sutovsky about the World Chess Championship Bidding Process

The CEO of FIDE Emil Sutovsky speaks with IM Sagar Shah on the Bids that FIDE received for the World Championship Match 2024

While many chess fans around the world are eager for the World Championship match, they may not realize the extensive preparations that happen behind the scenes to arrange such top-notch events. Before the players even begin their intensive training, several people and organizations already start working months prior to ensure the event's success. This process involves a lot of effort in securing bids, evaluating venues, and coordinating with local governments and sponsors. FIDE would like to deliver a world-class World Championship event that meets the expectations of existing fans while actively engaging new audiences. Their aim is to contribute to the growth and popularity of chess on a global scale. The fact that two bids for the World Championship came from India shows that chess is booming in the country.

The World Championship Match will be held between 18-year-old World Championship Challenger Gukesh and the reigning World Champion Ding Liren

Sagar Shah interviewed the CEO of FIDE, Emil Sutovsky, to discuss the end of the bidding process for the upcoming World Chess Championship. The official bidding date concluded on May 31st, and the excitement among fans surrounding the bids had reached a peak. Sutovsky revealed that they received three bids – two from India and one from Singapore. He elaborated on the significance of these bids, the standards set by FIDE, and the evaluation criteria that will be used to determine the final venue for this prestigious event.

Emil Sutovsky is the FIDE CEO | Photo: David Llada

Sagar Shah (SS): Emil today is a big day because the bids for the world championship, the official bidding date has come to an end. It was 31st of May… and we are all very eager and excited to know what are the results of it or what is the information you can share with us!

Emil Sutovsky (ES): Yeah. Thank you Sagar! We are also excited because it was a moment of truth. Even until the last moment we didn't know exactly the number of bids we will be receiving. So, at the end of the day, I am happy to convey that we got three bids and all of them are very serious bids. And I think it's a record number in recent history. At least I can't remember anything similar in 21st century. Three bids, two of them coming from India and one from Singapore. All of these bids are backed by relevant guarantees and by government support as well. So, these are all very profound ones. They stipulate that the event will be a top notch event, at top notch venue like we really requested to if you remember our previous conversation. So, there will be a lot of discussion inside FIDE and it will not be an easy choice.


But, it's great to have such a choice and I am happy that our policy proved itself if you remember our previous discussions. We did raise a bar significantly in terms of how the events should be staged. The financial requirements, the logistical requirements, the quality requirements and it seems that the organizers realize that the world championship match does deserve such a profound spending and I believe that it will be a top-notch event no matter what would be our choice! And once again, the choice is difficult and as one of the people who would be decision makers and in this regards, even I am inside myself, split.

This video speaks about the breakdown of US$8.5 million dollars

SS: Have all the three bids agreed to this condition of $8.5 million?

ES: All of them are at least 8.5! I cannot disclose the financial details but all of them are at least 8.5 million USD.


SS: Let's talk about the bids. Firstly, two bids coming from India in itself is a bit surprising. But taking into consideration that Gukesh is one of the players, it is understandable. But Singapore… what is their interest in bidding for this match?

ES: I think Singapore has done a tremendous job preparing this bid. I have been in constant touch with Kevin Goh Wei Ming who is the CEO of Singapore Chess Federation, also a Chess Grandmaster. Not playing proactively anymore, but understands very well all sides of Chess events, both from playing perspective and organizing perspective. And I can tell that Singapore is also aiming to leverage on its geographical and multicultural society. They have a community which includes many ethnic Chinese and Indians there. So, it's natural for them to want to host a match which would engage Indian and Chinese players. And in general, they are located in the region where they are perfect hub for any sort of events, be it economical events, sportive events, entertainment events and so on. Last year, we started cooperation with them during the project together with IOC which was about Esports and Chess was a part of it. And we saw the potential for big events. And once again, it's great we are welcoming this initiative coming from Singapore and we see that it's a very serious bid. It's not like local Chess Federation alone pulling it. It is backed by the government, it is backed by some private companies. So, it's a very serious one.

FIDE has been working with GM Kevin Goh Wei Ming, the CEO of Singapore Chess Federation for the bid that has come from that country.

SS: And with India there are two bids which is very interesting. Because generally to make one bid in itself is tough.

ES: Yeah. There are two bids. Basically, the first one came from Chennai. It was the first party to send in the bid. It was hardly surprising, because Chennai is the home land for Gukesh. But also, Chennai is known as a host of incredibly successful events we had in past. The chess Olympiad was a huge success recently. And we know how chess is loved and cherished in Chennai. You remember also Vishy’s match, because Vishy played with Magnus also in Chennai back in 2013. So, yes it was natural that the local government backs it and we are welcoming it very much. FIDE is always looking to find this balance between long-term strategic partners and also those who are newcomers to provide an opportunity for somebody new, to emerge. And here we have this mix, because Chennai being already established partner for FIDE and we know that it is not only just the governmental interest but people are also interested. To remember what kind of interest it basically brought when we had the Olympiad. Gukesh would be playing. So, this is very serious and again we take it very seriously and we respect the fact that Chennai is ready again to host the top-notch event.

The grand opening ceremony of the FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022

SS: It will be a huge thing in Chennai that the homeboy is playing in his home City. It happened with Anand in 2013 and now 11 years later, if it happens then with Gukesh, wouldn't it be amazing? Which is the second bid from India?

ES: And the second bid came from New Delhi. It is actually a bid which arrived last but certainly not the least! Because it's a very profound bid and has a very prestigious venue - the same place as G20 summit was held in India. It is backed by AICF and also backed by Sports Ministry. So, there is a bit of internal clash with the two bids from Chennai and Delhi. But, due to intricacies, I would not enter in these details. FIDE welcomes this kind of internal competition. We have to be here very sensitive to all these matters, not to offend anyone, because FIDE is FIDE, but we obviously do not want to create any extra internal tension within India, as organizers or with cities and governments. We actually are very keen on building the joint work with India for many years to come, not only for this particular event. So, for us it's also important, no matter what, some party would be disappointed by not having event. Because you have three bids. Even if you go and there is an idea in the air which we will discuss as part, if you go and split any between two which happened in history.

Bharat Mandapam is the venue for the G20 summit

SS: Is it possible?

ES: If you remember Kasparov-Karpov, two of their matches were split. So, they played New York and Leon in 1990 and they played London and Leningrad in 1986. So, even if you consider that still you would not split for three venues, so anyways, someone is going to be disappointed. So, we have to tackle it very fairly and very openly. Because FIDE is from one point of view in a very good situation. Because we have a choice, we can leverage on an interest of the parties to stage it. But then again, we also do not want to harm and we also want to the organizers who would not make it this time, to keep being interested in hosting top level chess events. Maybe the match next time, maybe not the match, we have a lot of other big events like World Cup or World Rapid and Blitz or Candidates. All these are major events and there are ways to discuss all this in broader view. So, my task as a person immediately in charge of these negotiations, is obviously difficult and you don't envy me.


SS: Is there some tiebreaker that will be used to decide the host?

ES: There are a lot of different criteria. Let's say, I can name you of one of the simplest criteria which is in favour of Singapore - being a neutral country, that's one of the criteria. And it's natural, you have a country which is neutral, you have a country which is not neutral. Once again, it does not have to be and we know that in past, many times it has happened that one country hosted was one of the player’s. We can remember that Vishy played with Magnus. But, before that, Topalov-Vishy. And these things happen and there's no taboo on a country of one of the players to host it.

When the Chess Olympiad was held in Chennai in 2022, they painted an important bridge in the city - the Napier Bridge in the colours of a chess board

We have to take into account the package which includes all the rights preserved by the organizers and rights which FIDE reserves which could be commercial rights, which could be broadcasting rights. Once again, I cannot at this point enter into a very detailed analysis and break down what was proposed by each of the respective bidders. But these are different, let's say, it's not that every bid has the same story behind it right. So, these are important factors. Now, another factor which we would obviously take into consideration is what scope of activity is planned around the match and how it would be promoted. I mean one party can spend certain figure on ceremonies and another party could maybe go with side events. So, these are different things you know. And for us, it's also important how this match would feel, not only during the match, but what would be the aftermath. How it impacts the chess society, how it impacts the further development of Chess, not only in this country or region, but say the broader audience.

The capital of India, the city of New Delhi has a lot of structures that are extremely well-known like this one - the India Gate.

Another one which we will be looking into as well is what kind of backing the each of respective bidders is having. Because it's also important whether the event is fully backed just by government or also by some bigger brands. A lot of things honestly and obviously once again I have to stress it, as people like it or not of course, FIDE’s role in distributing and having a part of a commercial rights is also important. Let's say, how many sponsors or what could be the sponsored packages retained by organizer and which are retained by FIDE, this is important. Broadcasting rights are important. But again, it's not something that we'll be deciding just during one internal meeting and that's it. We will be having consultations internally, talking to bidders and towards the end of next week, we will summon a FIDE council meeting with the council members and representatives of each bid. It's important also that they have a chance to talk about a wider involvement of government, rather than purely chess aspect. I think after this discussion, we would know more about the mood inside the FIDE Council. But I do not expect immediate decision right afterwards. I think it would probably take our options maybe a bit down, maybe from three to two or something, but not an immediate decision. And that decision would be taken in June, but not at the beginning of June.

Singapore has extremely modern infrastructure and as a neutral venue has its upsides!

SS: When would the world know where the match is happening?

ES: No. I think less than a month. Because a month already will be taking us to July. I think it would be second half of June.

SS: There are many so many possibilities and it's very interesting for a chess fan to kind of think what will happen next here.

ES: I think it's very exciting that we have this. For us it would be simpler just to have one very good organizer and to go with it. But for chess, is much better that you have so many interested parties. Because then you can plan further, maybe with some of the organizers you can discuss, So, that provides you also a very serious reason to plan further events on a bigger scale. We made quite a serious jump this time from the budget perspective. I told you from the beginning, it will be a requirement to stage a top notch event. For us, it's very important. Because we could actually just raise FIDE’s fee and without raising the standards and say, okay now will be the budget not 5.5 million but 6.5. Just FIDE fees grow, because FIDE needs to earn money. But no! For us, it's important that the event is of a high stature, gets a lot of exposure, gets a superb broadcast, gets a venue where people would want the ticket. I have been pushing for this policy from the beginning and I am happy and grateful to my colleagues for supporting it and it turned out that there is a huge interest and I think this interest is only going to grow.


I remember the discussions with Mr Levitov who was pushing for, ‘You don't need any more world championship match because who needs a world championship match these days, it's a long event and particularly when Magnus is not there’. and I told him world championship match is a unique thing in the World of Sports, not only in chess. I mean it's a title contested since 1886. it's the oldest matchup for any sports. It is a tradition. It is a brand. It is a product by itself. So, I think it's very important for us not only to claim that we are so important and we are so meaningful, but also to raise the level of organization. And I am very happy that all the counterparts we have been dealing with realize that yes indeed, it's not only about the amount of money involved but how the event should be promoted, how the event could look like for the wider community of people, not our chess world, hardcore chess world of few million people, who would watch anyway, but those who have this opportunity to get into chess world to follow the world championship match and maybe become fans after watching it. I will remind you, last time when Ding played Nepo, many said, ‘Okay this match after Magnus went, it would not be anything special. But you remember what an excitement it was!

From Steinitz winning the title in 1886 to Ding Liren winning it in 2023 - the World Championship format has withstood the test of time!

SS: It was the most exciting match ever you know, in terms of decisive results and everything.

ES: I don't know if ever, but certainly very exciting! I mean so much excitement for every game. So many emotions, characters. It's a clash one to one. It’s always a clash of personalities, of characters, of playing styles, of different background, of fans who are rooting for this or that player. So, I think it's going to be a huge thing and once again it's only a beginning, because we are approving one of the bids. We will just start this campaign and I think it will be like a snowball. It will be amassing more and more interest in World. Maybe more interest from our partners and of course, for us it's important that whatever co-organizer will that be together, is able to share our vision and try to not to look only specifically for this match and its impact, but the broader picture, how we take chess to the higher level, how we use it and leverage the match towards making chess more, let's say attractive, to the wider community and to make it an exceptional event.

SS: Will the players’ viewpoints be taken into consideration in deciding the venue or that is not something that you would look at as FIDE?

ES: There is no formal stipulation that players have to agree or have to make the choice of the venue. I think that in a situation when there will be a very close call between ourselves, we may do so as an additional argument towards this or that statement although has to be said that with Gukesh coming from India, it is a bit let's say offbeat to ask if you want to play in India or not. Because even if he doesn't want to play in India and it would be too much of a pressure, he may not say so. All the important talks are ahead and if we reach a situation where we have to take a very difficult decision, having a very close situation, we may ask players for their opinion. But it's not stipulated in regulations that it has to be done.

Gukesh at the chess Olympiad scored 9.0/11 winning an individual gold. The lad doesn't really have a problem performing in front of the home town. | Photo: Stev Bonhage

SS: Well Emil, thank you so much for sparing time and also for sharing your thoughts on this! We are all going to wait for the next announcement of which venue, it is either in India or in Singapore.

ES: Thank you Sagar! Keep doing great job! Thank you!


While the excitement surrounding the World Chess Championship bids is at its peak, chess enthusiasts will have to patiently wait for around a month for the final decision. Should India be selected as the host, it would be a momentous occasion for Indian fans, offering them an opportunity to witness the event on their home turf. Yet, regardless of the outcome, the bids from India and Singapore demonstrate the growing interest in chess uniting audiences worldwide.

A further update on the bids | Video: ChessBase India

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