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Don't Book that Flight!

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Oy. An interview with FIDE Prez Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the Russian paper Sport Express explains some of Ponomariov's protests (see DD140 below) and really makes it sound like the Ponomariov-Kasparov FIDE world championship match will not happen as scheduled. Here is the original article in Russian and here is a quick English translation posted to the ever-more-essential ChessNinja message boards by new member Siberian. Thanks to him and Penguin for their timely assistance in making the Dirt the place to be for your daily dose of disaster.

To sum up: 1) Ponomariov wants to eliminate the rest day before a potential playoff if the match is tied. 2) Wants to keep his title until the end of the unification process. 3) Wants $100,000 as compensation for the cancellation of the match, which was originally supposed to take place in Argentina in June. 4) He wants all of these items reviewed in a Yalta court, or even in a European court in Strasbourg.

Bizarre, really. Items 2 and 3 have already been categorically rejected by FIDE and Ilyumzhinov loudly and clearly. Item 1 convinces me further that Pono is protesting just to protest as a form of gamesmanship. Threatening not to play because of a rest day?!? With such trivial claims and delays and such rapid recourse to the court system to keep his title for a few hours more, Ponomariov really does seem to be a combination of Fischer and Karpov, but not at the board!

Ilyumzhinov also states that Kasparov signed the contract already, "without any clauses or remarks." Well, you would expect that if he helped draft the thing as Ponomariov seems to suspect!

All in all I do feel sorry for Ponomariov. He feels pressured (IS pressured) and wants to hit back to show he's not going to be pushed around. But he's picking his fights poorly thus far and is very much outgunned. I suppose it's easy for outsiders to wonder why the 19-year-old wouldn't just say, "Cool, a match with Kasparov to prove I'm the top dog and a pile of money too, and all in my home country! Fantastic!"

Ponomariov clearly feels that this off-the-board fight is an important part of the psychological over-the-board fight. Maybe he's right, but so far he has barked up the wrong trees. Fischer could do this against Spassky, among others, because he was Fischer. If Kasparov started pulling these stunts it would also be taken more seriously because he's Kasparov. Off the board silliness is only tolerated when your credibility and indispensability have been established on the board. Ponomariov's win at the FIDE knock-out never gave him that credibility and it seems no one is taking him seriously. FIDE believes that they can put in Ivanchuk instead of Pono and the resulting winner will be just as credible.

That may or may not be true, but since this was supposed to be a quickie extracurricular match to unify the title, I'm inclined not to care. I'm far more interested in unification and the real cycle that follows and would just love to have this charade over with. The deadline for Pono to send in the signed contract is today, the 25th. If he doesn't sign, says Ilyumzhinov, "If needed, I'm obliged to change the player that did not obey to the regulations of the General Assembly and the Presidential Council."

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 25, 2003 3:26 AM.

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