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World Chess Championship
Garry Kasparov: My 'negotiations' with FIDE
Interview of September 13, 2001
Editor's note: Earlier this week Garry Kasparov in his exclusive interview for KC gave his comments on the latest events in the chess world. His interview is now being prepared for publishing, but because on September 13th the Russian periodical 'Sport-Express' published FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's interview titled 'FIDE is holding negotiations with Kasparov' we had to adjust our plans and I asked Garry to give his comments on this.
Garry Kasparov: Everybody knows that the FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov loves to indulge in wishful thinking. But his report at the General Assembly of the last FIDE Congress goes beyond all limits. It's nothing else than shameless boasting. Take for example his trumpeting about including chess in the Olympics. According to him all major issues were already agreed upon, and that it's just a matter of time. However last summer it became clear that Ilyumzhinov's project had proved a complete flop: the FIDE president seems to have forgotten about his previous plans and promises regarding the 112th IOC session in Moscow, where - as we all know - not a word was said about chess. Now all he can do is put the best face on it.
But what I'm most interested in is of course Ilyumzhinov's pretentious statements concerning the relations between FIDE and me. To avoid accusing the FIDE president of intentionally falsifying facts I will say that all the facts are turned upside down. All claims about Emmanuel Omuku supposedly having negotiations with me are simply absurd. To make things clear I'll describe here all the attempts that FIDE made in order to contact me after the London match.
The first attempt was in April when Omuku contacted me and said we should meet. I immediately referred him to my agent Owen Williams. If my agent decided that there was anything substantial behind Omuku's offer - then I would be ready to meet with him. This contact produced no results because Omuku - as much as he tried - failed to come up with anything more than the usual, 'It's time for Kasparov to come back to the united family of FIDE'. But I still have a different opinion about this.
A couple of weeks later their side in the 'negotiations' was reinforced by Octagon [a large sports-marketing company. -ed.], which - as we know - cooperates (or at least cooperated at the time) with FIDE. They started a more serious conversation with me that had a chance to bring some positive results. People from Octagon claimed they had contacted Kramnik as well. They wanted to organize a triple match-tournament between Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand. Our conversation was quite long. I made it absolutely clear for them that the only possible position that I can hold in my negotiations with FIDE is declared in the well known '3 K Letter.'
Let me remind you of the three main points of the letter: First, FIDE has to recognize Kramnik as a legitimate World Champion, or, to be more precise, they have to recognize the whole line of historical title succession. Second, they have to apply only the classical time control for all the games at the final stage of the World Championship. Third, they need to change the whole format of the event and forget about the crazy KO lottery system. Our negotiations with Octagon ended in nothing because the FIDE conditions, which Octagon was authorized to communicate to us, openly ignored all the issues mentioned in the '3K Letter.' I'm not sure if the nature of their talks with Kramnik was exactly the same, but I suspect that the outcome of their meeting was very similar to ours. (By the way, here's one more important question regarding the future of the championship. After one World Championship is over, what's next? Keeping in mind the fickle nature of the FIDE Congress, I think it makes no sense to discuss anything unless a long-term agreement is signed. This to prevent them, for example, from later introducing a ten-minute time control - should they fancy that).
At the end of August I got another phone call from Omuku, who said we should urgently meet. My answer was still the same: contact Williams, and if he tells me you have anything new - then I'll listen to what you have to say. Omuku talked to Williams. All we heard was the same old stuff. Owen even started writing him a letter but in the end sent just a short reply. The real negotiations with FIDE must resolve a great number of issues because without them openly admitting that we are right, and considering the problems discussed in our letter, we don't see any point in starting a conversation with them. Moreover, I told Omuku (and I will hold to this principle in the future) that I will consider only those offers that are also made to Kramnik. Otherwise all this makes no sense, because I believe that the only legitimate World Champion today is Vladimir Kramnik. Thus our conversation finished.
After this some things happened that I was not going to discuss, but now I consider it my duty to talk about them openly - though without unnecessarily mentioning the name of a very famous and respected Russian man who was used by Ilyumzhinov in his hoax. One of the people involved in this was Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who can confirm all I'm going to say. [GM and top Georgian chess politician. -ed.] Zurab was one of those who called me from the FIDE Congress and offered a very considerable sum of money if I refused to participate in the Botvinnik Memorial in favor of the FIDE World Championship. Naturally our conversation immediately ended. I told Zurab that I couldn't even discuss this. There are principles that everybody must stick to, and negotiations are possible only under this condition. Theoretically, these principles are already becoming more and more popular because the chess world has longed for unification for quite a long time. But unification will never happen under the condition that we should give in to FIDE and Ilyumzhinov. The cornerstone of any negotiations - if they ever take place - should be preserving the traditional format that saw the crowning of the fourteen world chess champions. I will repeat - I was not even going to mention this event because in my understanding nothing actually happened. But Ilyumzhinov so impudently distorted the facts that I had to speak up. If I have to, I can give the name of the person I mentioned, who unfortunately fell victim of this shady transaction.
I'm not very well aware of the details concerning the situation around the upcoming FIDE World Championship in Moscow, but if there's as much truth in Ilyumzhinov's words about his contacts with Putin and the Russian and Moscow governments as in his words about 'negotiations' between Kasparov and FIDE - then I must presume he's on the verge of bankruptcy and disaster.
This article originally appeared at KasparovChess.com. It has been reused with permission.