Elsewhere on the Web : FIDE World Championship 2005-2007

Saturday May 21, 2005

In a stunning series of unexpected announcements, FIDE has changed the landscape of the World Chess Championship. • Flash back to January 2005. Garry Kasparov had withdrawn from his unification match with Rustam Kasimdzhanov and the FIDE World Championship looked deader than an endgame with two lone Kings

In his announcement withdrawing from the match, Kasparov said, 'As for unification, I cannot see an avenue to contribute further. For those who saw me as an obstacle, I will be one no longer. I am not giving up on chess. I will compete as well and as long as I am able to play my brand of chess.' • See our report Garry Kasparov : Reunification++ (4 February) for more.

In its ACP statement of 21 January, the Association of Chess Professionals announced, 'We have taken note of Garry Kasparov's recent press release, where he has announced his refusal to proceed any further with the FIDE title match against Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Given the circumstances surrounding the organization of this event, Mr Kasparov's decision is understandable. This officially marks the end of the Prague Agreement signed in May 2002.' The Prague Agreement had been declared dead by the players. • [Confused about acronyms like FIDE and ACP? See Chess Glossary : World Championship.]

FIDE had apparently concluded the same about the Prague Agreement and had calculated its next move. As we noted in passing (Elsewhere on the Web, An Eventful Season, 19 February), FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said, 'I am looking into the future optimistically. And I see a united World Champion in this future.' Commenting on the FIDE World Championship, Ilyumzhinov continued, 'As for the next World Cup (this is how it is now called), it is to take place in this year’s December. We have the consent of the Government of Vietnam to organize this tournament in Ho Chi Min.'

World Cup? What was that all about? The last time a World Cup had been seen was in 1989, and that was organized by the GMA, not by FIDE. Another hint appeared in Federation trying to reunify chess world by Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili • 'The World Chess Federation said Sunday it would hold a tournament this year in an attempt to unify the chess world that splintered nearly a decade ago with the world champion's walkout.' [27 February; Associated Press]

Without these tantalizing hints, FIDE's announcement of 1 April could have easily been taken as an April Fool's joke. • Bidding Procedure for the World Chess Championship Tournament 2005 • 'The World Chess Championship Tournament (WCCT) with the participation of 8 players shall be organized in October 2005 at a venue and exact date to be approved by FIDE. The following players are invited to participate in the WCCT 2005: World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, GM Michael Adams of England (runner-up of the Tripoli World Championship), GM Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, GM Peter Leko of Hungary; and the 4 top players of the FIDE rating list: GM Garry Kasparov of Russia, GM Vishy Anand of India, GM Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, GM Alexander Morozevich of Russia.'

The only problem was that none of the players on the list had been informed, and at least two could be counted out. • When Kasparov had said, 'I will compete as well and as long as I am able to play my brand of chess', he meant until the last round of Linares 2005, where he announced his imminent retirement from professional chess (see Join the Discussion Garry Kasparov retires, 13 March). • As for the owner of the other half of the non-unified title, no one really expected Kramnik to accept his invitation. He had little to gain and everything to lose by competing. He later confirmed that he would not participate.

It was a real surprise when a few weeks later FIDE announced 2005 World Championship in Argentina, (21 April). • 'The World Chess Federation (FIDE) is pleased to announce that the World Chess Championship Tournament 2005 will take place September - October in the city of San Luis, Argentina under the aegis of the Province of San Luis. The offer is also backed by a financial guarantee [of 1.000.000 US$]'.

The FIDE surprises weren't over yet. A new announcement Regulations for the 2005-2007 World Chess Championship Cycle, (30 April), explained that the Argentine event was the first in a series of events to replace the much maligned FIDE Elimination (Knockout) as a determinant of future World Champions. • 'The World Chess Championship cycle shall be organised in 2005/07 and will include the following events : National Championships, Zonals and Continental Championships, World Chess Cup (the 128 player knock out tournament), the Last Chance Super Tournament and the World Chess Championship matches.'

FIDE has promised big events in the not-so-distant past and has failed to deliver. Their record is mixed and they know it. Will these plans be any different? • Communique of the 2nd quarter FIDE Presidential Board Meeting 2005, 15 May. • 'The Board meeting, which was chaired by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, approved the final list of participants who have all confirmed their participation in the World Chess Championship Tournament, 27 September - 16 October 2005 in San Luis, Argentina' • The confirmed participants were Kasimdzhanov, Anand, Topalov, Leko, Adams, and Morozevich; plus GM Peter Svidler of Russia and GM Judith Polgar of Hungary. The last name was icing on the cake. For the first time in chess history, a woman was to have a direct and realistic shot at the title of World Chess Champion.

Now we know who's in. Let's also look at who's out.

Big expenses deter Vietnam from hosting World Chess Championship • 'Vietnamese chess fans have shown much interest in the possibility of hosting the World Chess Championship, but the 2.5 million USD price tag required to host the event seems to have deflated any Vietnamese hopes.' [Thanh Nien Daily; 4 April]

Vladimir Kramnik on boxing, Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and Albert Einstein • '"Everything is relative," says the classical chess world champion in a long interview conducted with German chess journalist Dagobert Kohlmeyer. In high spirits during a preparation session for the Super-GM in Sofia Vladimir Kramnik speaks candidly about his many interests and the situation at the top of the chess world.' [ChessBase.com; 8 May] • As long as we're on the subject of boxing, let's follow up Elsewhere on the Web, Chess Proverbs and Boxing (26 February), with a quote from one of Kramnik's pals. Playboy Interview with Vitali Klitschko : 'In chess, nobody is an expert, but everybody plays. In boxing everybody is an expert, but nobody fights.'

If the FIDE plans go through as announced, we can expect a lot of playing and a lot of fighting: over the board, that is. • Join the Discussion : FIDE World Championship in Argentina?


Correction: (June 2005) Re the remark 'the last time a World Cup had been seen was in 1989', FIDE held World Cups in Shenyang 2000, Cannes 2001, and Hyderabad 2002. The World Cup 2003 became the World Chess Championship (Knockout) Tournament when the Ponomariov - Kasparov match was cancelled.

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