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World Chess Championship
2002-03 Unification


Interview with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
by Yuri Vasiliev (Sport-Express)

"I am glad that this mess in chess is over."

Kirsan Nikolaevich, my congratulations with the unification of the chess world!

Thank you! It is a historical moment. The most important and universally recognized thing is that there is only one organization representing chess players in all the domains (not only in Olympic movement) - FIDE. It is neither debated nor discussed anymore. It is just a historical fact. I am very pleased, that Kasparov himself suggested recognizing the World Champion title as FIDE's property. From now on neither 'Coca-Cola', 'Pepsi-Cola', nor 'Einstein' or any other organization can call it into question. We will settle all the legal issues later on. However, the main document is already signed.

When you became the president of FIDE, you promised to put Karpov and Kasparov at the chess table in the world championship. However Kasprov pulled himself out from under your jurisdiction for seven years. He was harshly criticizing you all this time. Everything is forgotten? No hard feelings? We see a new alliance now. How did it happen?

Andrei Makarov (a well-known lawyer, politician (in the past) and former president of the Russian Chess Federation - Y.V.) gave me a call and suggested meeting with Garry Kimovich in his office to discuss the unification of the chess world. We met and had a several-hour discussion. We realized that our opinions on the future of chess coincided. The unification is necessary for the further development of chess.

Many chess professionals of the 'middle echelon' are concerned: what will happen with your favorite brainchild, knockout championships? They offered everybody a real chance to fight for the title and to earn money. Will knockouts sink in the whirlpool of the unification process?

No way! The knockout format remains in force but it will be more extended. The final will be the 12-game (not 6-game as it was last time) classical chess world championship match. 5 people qualify for the Candidate matches from the knockout.

How will the time control issue be settled?

There was a time when a classical game could have lasted even a few days with adjournments. Who knows, maybe a few years down the road two-hour games will be classical? Let's wait and see how the market will react.

In other words, the question of time control is still open?

There will be an official poll of 100 best players, FIDE General Assembly. Besides, the Players Council should express its opinion.

What about the institute of commissioners, suggested by Yasser Seirawan?

The General Assembly will decide it.

Apparently, the unification of the chess world should make chess more attractive for sponsors.

I hope so. By the way, I am going to meet with the director of the biggest sport-marketing firm IMG on May 25.

Is 'FIDE Commerce' already history? The word is out that you fired the head of this structure Artiom Tarasov.

Officially, I did not dismiss him. However, someone should have born responsibility for what happened in Dubai.

You often called Kramnik the 'champion of a pumping-station'. Has your attitude toward his title changed?

The reunification process has already started, but until the unifying match is played Kramnik remains the 'Brain Games' champion, under the aegis of which he won his title.

Do you have a feeling that you accomplished something grandiose?

I am glad that (using a common language) this mess in chess is over. I have an impression that both Kramnik and Kasparov are satisfied too. They are feeling relieved.

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


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