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A Losing Endgame

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In ten years of chaos in chess politics this may be the most bizarre storyline yet. The FIDE championship/unification semifinal between Ruslan Ponomariov and Garry Kasparov has been cancelled. Now things move to the next cycle with 128 players in December, and with the winner playing a match with Kasparov next year to qualify for the unification match against the winner of Kramnik-Leko, which FIDE is now helping to put together. Sigh. Details here. FIDE press release here (Word format). (It actually says that Ponomariov signed "with reservations," so at least he's alive.)

Several sources in his circle told the Russian press that Ponomariov would, or even that he already had, signed the contract and sent it in. His final protests had an air of desperation about them and made me wonder if there was something going on behind the scenes.

Rumors of health problems have been discounted. His final two issues with the contact were 1) he didn't want any language in the contract that would allow FIDE to remove either player. This is saying, "I'm going to hold the match hostage unless you make remove the part that can punish me for taking the match hostage." 2) The original schedule formulated months ago did not have a rest day before the potential play-off day required if the match was tied. One was later added. Ponomariov wanted that rest day removed. Huh?

These are not things over which to scrap the big-money match of your life. They make so little sense that it was almost like he was trying to make a point of some sort. I guess he made it.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 29, 2003 3:23 AM.

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