FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich on Hybrid Format

Dear chess friends,

I would like to clarify FIDE’s intentions and goals regarding the introduction of the newly adopted regulations for Online Chess, and in particular, for what we have named «Hybrid format».

First, there was an unambiguous demand for a coherent set of guidelines regarding running online chess competitions, based on our experience throughout 2020. FIDE delivered, by setting clear technical requirements, recommendations for arbiters, and anti-cheating provisions.

Second, the Online Chess Regulations do not contain any provision for ratings and titles. Those are being regulated by rating rules developed and implemented by the FIDE Qualification Commission. QC is generally not against rating and giving titles based on hybrid competitions, but firmly believes that it requires both testing (which we intend to do) and a very cautious implementation. The FIDE Council fully agrees with this approach.

Third, a number of national, zonal, and continental federations are exploring the option of holding their championships under a hybrid format, in particular for the purposes of qualification for the FIDE World Cup due to take place in July 2021. It is now their right to do so. However, FIDE will be monitoring those projects closely, to make sure the events are in full compliance with the Online Chess Regulations. Any decisions regarding ratings and titles shall be taken separately, on an individual basis.

Fourth, we are fully aware of the anti-cheating challenges related to the hybrid chess format. It is both about qualification and independence of arbiters, meeting technical requirements, and behavioral aspects playing online. While having improved substantially FIDE anti-cheating algorithms and allowing the use of statistical analysis as proof of alleged cheating, we believe it would still require a reasonable amount of time to make cheating in chess a high-risk and non-tolerable thing.

Finally, we are in agreement that online (including hybrid) competitive chess is not entirely the same kind of a sports game as «over the board» chess. It lacks the same kind of emotional component and psychological pressures that are experienced when playing face-to-face. At the same time, it requires slightly different technical skills and attitude. Although it is acceptable to use it when circumstances do not allow us to continue with OTB activities, or in order to provide better connectivity of the global chess world, it is not intended as a full-scale substitute for traditional chess, which we are committed to supporting. As a matter of fact, FIDE has just adopted a new program of support for classical chess opens, which details will be announced shortly.

There are many other things to discuss as well (time formats, better visibility of chess for a global audience, and many more) and we are willing to continuing this dialogue on a permanent basis.

Arkady Dvorkovich
FIDE President