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Soon after I wrote my summary of the collapse of the Ponomariov-Kasparov Yalta match last month I exchanged e-mail with Pono's manager, Bulgarian IM Silvio Danailov. Despite the fact that I largely blamed FIDE for the disaster, Danailov criticized my article as somehow praising FIDE and Kasparov and putting on the blame on Ponomariov.

Even for the typically shrill and black-and-white (no pun intended) world of eastern European chess politics it was a bit over the top and it gave the impression that either he hadn't actually read my article or hadn't understood it. (I get this a lot from GMs who aren't English first language. Wordplay and sarcasm don't translate well and several times I've received with things like, "how dare you say that about me and by the way, what did it mean?") I pointed out that I had criticized FIDE and saw no reason to criticize Kasparov, since he hadn't made much noise during the entire affair.

To make a long story short, his next message included a letter that he said had been sent to FIDE right before the match was finally cancelled (after the second deadline, or was it the third?). Several things caught my eye. It was in English, the internal Word document properties showed it had been created well after the date he said it had been sent, and it was apparently written by Ukrainian chess journalist Komarov.

I don't know what that all means. The original was in Russian and they were just translating it for me? Regardless, it's four pages of rambling complaints and accusations of injustice. You would think that Pono was being burned at the stake as a martyr instead of being handed the chance of a lifetime. Ponomariov says he signed the earlier agreement, which is sort of true. He signed but he had crossed out several provisions!

As I stated in my article, the agreement itself was a horribly written document and it seems reasonable that Ponomariov would want clarifications and Russian translations. (See 3a in the document.) But why would such things take weeks? Was FIDE dragging its feet? Then (3b) there is bluster about adding the off day to the original schedule and I still say this is a total joke. Nobody in their right mind risks canceling a match because a rest day is added.

Most of the document seems to be about complaining about how FIDE has treated him and used language that he doesn't like. All in all it's a poorly written as the FIDE player agreement, maybe worse. He constantly wonders what Kasparov says, no doubt with the intent to press for the opposite. Ponomariov makes new demands in random spots, guaranteeing more confusion. Overall, it adds to the original impression that FIDE acted in bad faith. But if this is the sort of silliness Ponomariov and his people were sending, there was never any hope of a match. On the other hand, FIDE kept saying that Ponomariov never communicated with them directly until this after-the-last-hour message.

That brings me to the final point about this thing. I've been trying to get confirmation from FIDE that this letter was received by them, and find out when and by whom. So far, no dice. Parts of this letter were released in the press as quotes from the Ponomariov camp. You can download the letter as sent by Danailov with his approval for publication. It's in Word format. If I hear from FIDE I'll write it up at ChessBase.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 9, 2003 3:04 AM.

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