The Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) is a non-profit organisation which aims to protect the rights of professional chess players', address their concerns and to promote chess worldwide through the organisation of high-level chess tournaments and maintaining a ranking system of the top professionals (see The ACP Tour).
Besides these activities, the ACP encourages and promotes the civil engagement of chess players into the decision-making processes of FIDE (the world chess body). This was particularly evident with the formation of the joint ACP-FIDE panel Anti Cheating Committee.
In the summer of 2014, the ACP announced the initiation of the new Veteran's Programme along with FIDE, which seeks to provide a stipend to a few deserving Veteran players who could benefit from such support. - since then 12 veterans were awarded with an annual stipend.
At the summer of 2015 the ACP united about 1100 chess professionals (International Masters, Grand Masters, International Arbiters and Organisers) from 85 countries. While the World Champion Magnus Carlsen is a notable exception, most of the World's top players, including the previous World Champion Vishwanathan Anand can be found among the ACP members.
The current Board of the ACP consists of ACP President Emil Sutovsky, ACP Board Director Yuri Garrett, ACP Secretary General Bartłomiej Macieja, ACP Treasurer Pavel Tregubov and Board Members Yuliya Levitan, Parimarjan Negi, Aleksandra Dimitrijević, Jeroen van den Berg.
The ACP Board coordinates all activities of the ACP. The main activities are the following:
The ACP Tour is the unique system that unites about 100 high-level chess tournaments in 25 countries. Best players of the ACP Tour qualify to participate in the annual ACP Cup - one of the most prestigious events of the global chess calendar. The idea and points system of the ACP Tour was envisioned by Pavel Tregubov, who managed the technical details from 2004-2006. During 2007-2011 the ACP Tour was managed by Yannick Pelletier. Finally, from 2012, Pavel once again took the role of the ACP Tour Coordinator.
Also, based on the rankings of the ACP Tour, the top performing players received wildcards to important international events. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave went on to reach the semi finals in the 2013 World Cup, after qualifying due to his results on the tour. Also, in 2014, a wildcard for the top ACP performer was given to Ivan Saric in the Poikovsky Cup. This was followed by another wildcard to Alexander Motylev in the prestigious Biel GM invitational.
Besides this, during the period of 2012-2015, the ACP organised seven world-class tournaments with the participation of world's best players: The ACP Golden Classic 2014 in Begamo, Italy, the ACP Women Cup in Tbilisi, the Women's World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Batumi, the ACP Golden Classic in Amsterdam (2012) , the ACP Cup in Riga (2013) and European - ACP Women's Rapid Championship in Kutaisi (2015). More than 150 players have participated in these events where prizes over USD 750,000 were at stake.
The organisation was founded in June 2003, the catalyst for its foundation being disagreement with the European Chess Union and professional players during 2003 European Individual Chess Championship in Turkey. The first players meeting organised during that event by three GMs Almira Skripchenko, Pavel Tregubov and Igor Glek was followed by the formation of an initiative group headed by the same players. The first ACP Board started its work in 2004 with the following people: the ACP's President French Grandmaster Joël Lautier, secretary Bartłomiej Macieja, Treasurer Almira Skripchenko, Deputy Treasurer Pavel Tregubov, Board members Igor Glek, Anna Hahn, Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Heine Nielsen and Yannick Pelletier. First members of the ACP were such prominent players as Viswanathan Anand, Péter Lékó, and Judit Polgár, but not Garry Kasparov.
The organisation was founded in 2003, the catalyst for its foundation being disagreement with the European Chess Union over the choice of hotel that all participants in the 2003 European Individual Chess Championship were required to stay in. It has since been involved in a number of matters relating to professional play.
The organisation has been compared by some to the Professional Chess Association, the body established by Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short as an organisation under which to play their 1993 World Championship having broken away from FIDE, the official governing body of chess. However, unlike the PCA, which was in competition with FIDE over the running of the world championship, the ACP initially stated that they "hope to work together with FIDE, as well as other international and national chess bodies" . In March 2005, however, Lautier commented that "at present FIDE avoids any contact with us, does not respond to our mails, and we don't expect any positive changes of the situation."
The ACP has been extremely critical of FIDE on a number of issues, including its selection of Libya as the site for the 2004 Championships (thus putting the ability of Israeli players to take part under question) and aspects relating to the contracts with players in that championship.
As well as these political activities, the ACP has organised a number of online chess tournaments (open only to its members) on the Playchess server (run by Chessbase). On 31 July 2004, at a press conference held during the Dortmund tournament, Lautier announced plans for the inaugural ACP tour in which the eight ACP members who perform best in tournaments over the course of a year (as determined by a points scoring system) will play in a final event (the ACP Masters) to determine the best player of the season .
But recently, there was more contact and co-operation between ACP and FIDE, and many ACP suggestions were approved by FIDE to improve the conditions of the players. Also some ACP officials were involved in FIDE anti cheating committees. Thanks to this increased influence, ACP has managed to push through many important changes in the FIDE regulations, raising the prize funds and improving the financial conditions of the professional chess players.
As the first act of his presidency in December 2011 Emil Sutovsky outlined the basis of his programme, which will be centered around the fostering of the interest of chess professionals. There are four main guidelines: