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World Chess Championship
2002-03 Unification


Interview with Garry Kasparov
By Ilya Gorodetsky

"It is necessary to understand, that this encounter was dictated by blind situation at all fronts."

On the evening of May 6, Kasparov was attacked from all sides. The phone in his hotel room the eighth floor of the hotel "Radisson" was literally torn up; someone congratulated, someone was being compassionate. I, nevertheless, did not have to wait until 3 a.m. in order to have a talk with the thirteenth World Champion. However, journalists, who tell about the all-night vigils with the Dictaphone, somewhat deceive by cunning: four hours earlier, four later - it cannot be verified. As it happens sometimes, Kasparov was the one to begin talking.

Garry Kasparov: It is necessary to understand, that this encounter was dictated by blind situation at all fronts. It's an absurd to think that Ilyumzhinov will always pay. I know that Kirsan Nikolayevich searched for an escape from this situation. Unfortunately, many of my associate chess players did not understand that sooner or later, it would be necessary to search for a solution. Their life was good; Ilyumzhinov pays - they play. Nobody cares if there is television - there is no television, there is a return of money - there is no return. This could have continued infinitely, and now, in my view, the solution, which satisfies the basic sides of conflict, was found. FIDE, in principle, obtained the main thing they wanted: the complete acknowledgement of its rights to the title of the World Champion and acknowledgement as the universal organization, which does not have competitors in the chess world. On the other hand, FIDE recognized the need to create the professional organization, which could carry out the World Championship cycle. Bessel Kok and his command can be included actively even now. These are the key positions, which make it possible to hope that this construction will not prove to be unsteady.

What are the approximate dates of your match with Ponomariov?

Garry Kasparov: Tentatively, discussion centered on May-June 2003. Probably, the dates must allow the conqueror of this match to be prepared for the final, planned in October-November. On the other hand, to play earlier would not be desirable as it could imperil Wijk aan Zee and Linares. I do not know if I will be at both tournaments, but, in principle, I would not like to see traditional competitions suffer. If we speak about the maintaining of classical chess as a primary task, then tournaments like Wijk aan Zee and Linares cannot be sacrificed for the good of the new cycle.

At which moment did you begin to believe that the agreement would be reached?

Garry Kasparov: In principle, the basic parameters of the agreement were already developed before Prague through the initiatives of Seirawan only two months ago. However, the events were developing very fast. Strangely enough, the key point of the negotiations was the tournament in Dubai. Ilyumzhinov became aware of the fact that FIDE's line is heading nowhere. They put their hopes on concrete people and concrete structures. Ilyumzhinov, possessing the greatest possibilities in the chess world, had to make a choice - to enter into the negotiations or not.

The negotiations went very efficiently after Dubai, because it became understandable that Kirsan understands the concept of transformation of FIDE into a license organization. Certainly, it is possible to lead all and pay for all, but one can divide responsibility and control, but in this case, obtain commission for the rights, which are recognized by all. It became clear that it is possible to grasp the concept, which I was able to eventually generate, and today it was realized. The concept suited Bessel Kok, since it allows him to be actively included into the game; but in this case, he is included not to fight for existence, but in order to prove the commercial justifiability of chess.

This no longer a discussion of "who is right and who is wrong", but matters like conditions of license, for what period it reveals, what financial obligations the new organization will bear etc. I think that if nothing exceptional happens, the chess situation will be stabilized by the FIDE Assembly in Slovenia in November. We will expect serious changes for the best, i.e. chess will see some steady financing. This is what the chess world lacks today, since one cannot consider Ilyumzhinov's personal money as a guarantee of stability in professional chess world, no matter what my young associates say about it.

FIDE obtained the guarantees of Kasparov and Kramnik participating in its tournaments. Can you confirm your participation in the FIDE Grand Prix and the Olympiad?

Garry Kasparov: One of the conditions, proposed by Ilyumzhinov, but not reflected in the declaration, in the case of a successful completion of the negotiations there must not be any obstacles in the way of two leading chess players, Kasparov and Kramnik, to participate in FIDE tournaments. I do not know if he conducted some conversations with Kramnik, but, since I was a direct participant in the negotiations with Ilyumzhinov, representing the side of Seirawan and Bessel Kok, I had to give my agreement. Basically, by signing the contract today, I agreed to take part in FIDE's Grand Prix. After signatures were set, I consider myself morally obliged to participate in these tournaments. I cannot guarantee participation in all remaining four tournaments of this series - the calendar isn't quite clear, there are many questions such as when certain events will take place. I think that I will play in three tournaments at least, the first one being Moscow. My participation in the Olympiad depends also on the Russian Chess Federation. But again, I gave my fundamental agreement to Selivanov to positively examine this issue, if, of course, the natural demands in such a situation will be accepted. However, taking into account good relations between FIDE and RSHF, and the active support of the negotiation process from the Russian federation, I also have specific moral obligations to play for the team of Russia in Slovenia.

After nine years of war with FIDE, how do you feel about the approach of the end?

Garry Kasparov: I was confident, that some solution would be found, because at some moment I felt the readiness of all sides to go for concessions for the sake of the greater goal. The potential of chess is such, what everyone will eventually gain - here I must agree with Ilyumzhinov. No one lost: each side made concessions, but as a result the gain will prove to be bigger. Probably, this is the disease of any professional sport - conflict of professionals with the federation. In my combat actions against FIDE, there were memorable moments, but as a whole, any war ends with a signing of a peace agreement. I would say that some chapter of my life can be closed now - the war began before my thirtieth birthday, and, if everything goes normally, I hope to complete this cycle before I turn 40.

I will try to complete it with grace - by returning the title.

In any peaceful agreement the most important factor is confidence of those agreeing with each other. Can you say that you trust your partners in the negotiations?

Garry Kasparov: It seems to me that the extreme interest of all sides in this process is the main element here. Furthermore, the entire process has long ago left the peace of the office - very rapidly it became of wide public interest. Today the entire world will know about the agreement. Furthermore, there were too many people in the room, who understand, that besides the text on the paper some specific understandings were reached. I will repeat myself; I don't see any of the sides interested in undermining the agreements, although it is necessary to understand that when this quantity of interests is implicated, any coarseness is possible.

It goes without saying, Bessel's negotiations with FIDE will not be cloudless; it goes without saying, many problems will be raised. However, I feel everyone's positive attitude, which should solve practical problems - both from FIDE's part and from the side of Bessel Kok. I cannot speak for Kramnik, but all sides have good will, based on concrete personal interests. It is now best to work on them together as one team.

This article originally appeared at It has been reused with permission.


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