Elsewhere on the Web : World Championship Unification

Saturday January 14, 2006

No sooner had Veselin Topalov won the FIDE World Chess Championship than the pundits started speculating on a possible unification match between the new FIDE World Champion and the non-FIDE World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. (For background on the FIDE World Championship, held from 28 September to 14 October 2005; see ChessChrono, 2005 FIDE World Championship, San Luis, Argentina.) Let's track the progress of these speculations through the reporting of ChessBase.com, the world's premier source of news about the world's top chess players.

Initial Speculation

Before the San Luis event had even ended, Topalov's manager Silvio Danailov told Russia's 64 magazine that his man was interested in a match with Kramnik.

A few days after winning the title, Topalov disagreed with his manager.

Kramnik's reaction was immediate.

ChessBase closed the series of reports with a sample of comments received from its readers.

Universal Event Promotion

A few weeks passed without any news. Suddenly the chess world learned that the match was not to be.

The gist of the story was a press release also dated 14 November 2005.

The press release continued, 'It is obviously clear that the drastic change in Mr. Topalov’s stand was caused by FIDE', and then gave a statement by Kramnik, who said, 'The commitment of UEP and my readiness to play against Veselin Topalov were a further attempt to take the decisive step towards a final unification of the chess world. However, it has once again become obvious that currently the opposite side does not show any serious interest in realising this aim in a concerned and professional manner'.

Topalov's reaction came via a press release from Danailov.

The same day, ChessBase published a letter received from FIDE.

The battle of press releases continued with a response from Kramnik's manager Carsten Hensel.

The chess world settled down to watch the FIDE World Cup (see ChessChrono, 2005 FIDE World Cup, Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, 27 November through 17 December), the first event in establishing a FIDE World Champion in 2007.

Kramnik Announces Medical Leave

A few weeks after the World Cup finished, Kramnik ended a disappointing year by finishing 7th out of 12 in the 58th Russian Championship Superfinal, with two wins, two losses and seven draws (+2-2=7). Not long afterwards, Kramnik announced that he would be leaving professional chess for at least a few months.

[Along with the rest of the chess world, we wish Kramnik a speedy recovery and an eventual return to the form that made him one of the world's best players for so long.]

FIDE Issues Its Terms for a Match

FIDE took no notice of Kramnik's absence, but issued the rules governing an eventual 12 game match between Topalov and Kramnik, or any other challenger capable of meeting FIDE's demands.

The most important demands were

FIDE further stipulated, 'Should the above-mentioned provisions be fulfilled, the World Champion is obliged to play the match', and that the, 'match should be terminated at least six months before the start of the World Championship Tournament, due to be held in September/October 2007.' FIDE also specified the continuation in case of a tied match: four rapidplay games followed, if necessary, by two blitz games, followed by 'a single decisive sudden death game. The player, who wins the drawing of lots, may choose the colour. White shall receive 6 minutes, Black shall receive 5 minutes, without any addition. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared as winner.'

Finally, FIDE specified what would happen, 'if there is more than one proposal for a World Championship Match'. Given all that has already happened in the unification process that started in May 2002, we are fairly confident in predicting that this will not be an issue.

Index of all World Championship blog posts