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Abu Dhabi Doo

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After months of disquieting quiet, an announcement has been made for the Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov FIDE championship match. As previously rumored it will take place in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates in January, 2005. Combined with Leko leading his Brissago match with Kramnik, this is the brightest title unification has looked since Prague, 2002. Leko would have more to prove than Kramnik and a high-profile match against Kasparov would be all he could hope for.

As mortal as Kasparov has been in his past few events, I doubt I'm alone in giving Kasimdzhanov scant chances to beat him in a match. The Uzbek will have a cultural home-field advantage of sorts. Earlier he spoke of how comfortable he felt in Tripoli.


I wouldn't be so optimistic. As far as I know, this announcment was a surprise for Kasparov(www.dachess.ru - in russian)

That's been his position since the start, however. "Call me when the deal is done and the money is in the bank." Since the Ponomariov mess he refuses to waste any more time stressing about FIDE's organizing. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, he's still going about his business.

I, for one, would be more interested in the announcement from ACP and thw winner once the Kramnik-Leko match is over. I would assume Lautier would do it during the closing ceremony.

I think the half-baked annoucement from FIDE is to pre-empt such a move from Lautier/ACP/winner of KL. At least the timing suggests that. If there was no FIDE announcement of a K-K match, Lautier could clearly have used the closing ceremony to outline alternate plans by ACP (FIDE didn't fulfill their terms and unification stands null and void etc.). Remember Lautier's press conference when the Kramnik-Leko match was announced. He could still do that but he has to deal with the announcement.

Needless to say, a lot depends on who wins. Kramnik has been a lot closer to ACP and not getting along well with Kasparov. Leko has been mild and could be more amenable to FIDE dictates (however, so was Kramnik before beating Kasparov and probably that was why Kasparov hand-picked him).

Any thoughts on the possibilities post Kramnik-Leko?


What is driving this whole thing is Kasparov's understandably strong disinterest in having any part of a WCC match with Kramnik. At the end of London 2000, down two points with four games to go, Kasparov was so demoralized he agreed to a 14-move draw with the white pieces. Even the great but insane Fischer submitted himself to an interzonal and three candidates matches in order to get his match with Spassky. If Kasparov had participated in the Dortmund "Candidates" tournament and had won it there would have been plenty of interest and funding for Kasparov-Kramnik II a few years ago. Demoralized by his loss to Kramnik, not to mention lesser lights here and there, and feeling his age, Kasparov is busying himself with outside interests. He'll beat Kasim, content himself with joining the FIDE champion pantheon of Khalifman, Pono and Kasim (will he include them in a "my great predecessors volume?) and will find a way (demand for draw odds, or whatever) to avoid playing the Kramnik-Leko winner.

To add to what Greg has said, I feel that Kasparov made a big mistake by not participating in the Dortmund qualifier (probably he was still entertaining hopes of bullying Kramnik into a rematch). He was playing well at that time and would have been the clear favorite. Facing Kramnik after winning the qualifier would have been more credible for him as opposed to the shortcut option of a rematch.

In that sense, Leko (if he wins), will be a credible champion as he beat the reigning champion and came through a qualifier comprising most of the top players.


Well I certainly hope that the match takes place. The Kramnik-Leko match has been rather dissapointing , and I'm looking forward to see some spectacular Kasparovian displays of brilliance! Sure he's older now, but Kasparov can certainly rise to any challenge , if he so desires.
And by the way, what's the news on Fischer? It's gotten quiet.

Personally, I think Kasimdzhanov should pray that Dubai has *allot* of mules. Unless Kasparov tragically gets kicked in the head by one, Rustam's chances of winning are 3: slim fat and none.

I just wish someone would announce a sensible WC cycle based on matches so we can wrap up this charade and start something that makes sense.

I certainly agree that Kasimdzhanov will be the underdog, but no one predicted him to win the Libya event either. True, most of the top players were no-shows there, but Kasim still had to beat a lot of people rated higher than him. I wouldn't overlook his chances.

How many games will they play in Dubai? Traditional W.C. matches were 24 games, but Kramnik-Leko are playing just 14. The shorter the match, the greater the chances that Kasim catches Kasparov in an unlucky blunder or two. Given Kasparov's performance lately, that is not inconceivable, especially given that quick draws are a much bigger part of the game than they used to be. In a 14-game match featuring just 2 or 3 decisive games, it's quite possible that one blunder decides the whole match. If they play at FIDE time controls, that also favors Kasim, as it's easier for the weaker player to get lucky that way.

If you want a single world champion, your best hope is that Leko wins in Brissago and Kasimdzhanov in Dubai. Those two will have a lot more incentive to agree to a unification match than either Kramnik or Kasparov. (Then again, people can act against their interest--witness Ponomariov, who ridiculously refused to meet Kasparov.)

I have absolutely no inside information on any of this, but I am often a bit surprised that some fans feel that Kasparov is turning to nonchess activities in some way to distract himself (either from "age," the difficulties of organizing reunification, or any specific event/opponent).

As far as I can tell from discussions with nonchessplayers, Kasparov is very sincerely involved in the incredibly complex issues of current Russian politics. Russia faces a huge number of challenges, economic and social, and there are very real political and philosophical differences regarding the best way to meet them.

It has been surprising to me that Kasparov has managed to save any energy for chess at all in these circumstances, and I think, more than anything, that demonstrates his true love and commitment for the game. (And perhaps a practical consideration that he will be a more effective spokesperson if retains his sports hero status.)

His games and his books are one kind of legacy, and I know it is one that chessplayers greatly appreciate. But his political activities have the potential of impacting literally millions more people, on a much deeper level, even if his own part there is relatively so much smaller.

If these two fields of endeavor are competing for his attention and resources, it hardly seems surprising at all that his performance might be somewhat affected, particularly in less critical events.

just a thought,

Hmm,I wish him well, but Kasparov's chances to make any real impact on russian political scene are close to zero. Maybe it's not so clear from your american perspective, but it's quite obvious from my - central-european.You know, democracy is not very popular word in Russia just now.

Oh, I'm not saying he WILL have an impact--just that the stakes in the political area, perhaps even for him personally, are much, much higher. And of course part of what he has been trying to do over the last few months is to reframe the European and American views of what has been happening on the Russian political scene.

As for my "American perspective," I do live in the United States, although I have also lived elsewhere. But my mother's family is European (Duif is my real name), and I have many relatives and friends there with whom I speak often.

I do understand the point you are making, and, as I mentioned and I'm not in disagreement with your assessment of the practical realities. But that doesn't necessarily change the amount of energy devoted to a cause, yes?


So let me get this straight. Kasparov tried to bully Kramnik into a rematch because he's trying to do anything he can to avoid playing a match with Kramnik? I guess as long as it bashes Kasparov, logic isn't necessary. To that add that the FIDE KO wasn't a good qualifier because Kramnik, Leko, and Anand didn't play, but Dortmund was a great qualifier because Anand, Kasparov, and Ponomariov didn't play. (They were both terribly flawed.)

Criticize political machinations all you want, such as getting a pass into a match with Kasimdzhanov (definitely dubious), but Kasparov's career is nothing other than taking on the hardest challenges. Even while you whine about how Kramnik was hand-picked in 2000 you ignore that Kramnik was the only player with an even score against Kasparov and was clearly his toughest possible opponent, as well as being next on the rating list when Anand declined to play. There is nothing to indicate that Kasparov has been lying for four years about wanting to play Kramnik.

If you think Kasparov, who held the REAL title for 15 years, is going to be content with Kasimdzhanov you are living in a fantasy world. Apart from his considerable personal ambition, ego, and the revenge factor, he feels unifying the title would in some way make up for what he considers the worst mistake of his career, the 1993 split with Short that caused the title schism in the first place.

I was only referring to "potential of his political activities" :) But I see your point and I do not question his commitment to politics.

Kasparov was eager for a rematch in 2000. That was four years ago. He sure doesn't look eager lately. -- Kasparov fractured the chess world in 1993 and lately seems to be sitting back waiting for sponsors and others to put it back together. Given the difficult finances and Kasparov's lack of interest and support, the Dortmund "Candidates Tournament" was the best anyone could do to unite the world's top 8 to find a WCC challenger. The Dortmund organizers gave Kasparov and Anand an invite and a fair shot at the championship and they can't be criticized if their invitation wasn't accepted. The Dortmund format can't be compared to the recent FIDE "world championships" crapshoots which have produced Khalifman, Pono and Kasim. Even the dumbest heavyweight title contender constantly promotes the title he's seeking. Kasparov, on the other hand, sits back, rarely playing, giving scant notice to the FIDE and the Classical world championships, basking in the fading glory of his #1 ranking. If he wanted to play for the championship he'd have played at Dortmund. If he wanted to fairly unify at least the FIDE half of the chess world he would not have accepted the bye into their championship. A fading Kasparov has other priorities, namely the preservation of his reputation at the least possible risk.
But you're right. Just as he deludes himself into thinking his loss to Kramnik may have been fortuitous, he will delude himself into thinking he can walk over Leko or Kramnik and, after losing, will explain the negative result with references to his more important outside activities, and implicitly assure us that he could have won if he'd had more time to devote to match preparation.

The winner of the Kasparov – Kazimdzhanov match gets $1.2 and Kazimdzhanov gets?

they split the prize pool. in the event of a draw, they each get 50% and proceed to the rapid/blitz/armageddon tiebreaks and regardless of the outcome, each keep 50%.

I'm inclinded to think that if Kasparov doesn't seriously prepare for his match with Kasimdzhanov, he's Barney. FIDE's rating list gives Kasparov a 163 point advantage; I wonder what the true playing strength difference is.

I tend to agree with Jason. If Kasparov is foolish enough to treat the match with Kasim as a "gimme," he is likely to have his head handed to him on a plate. Kasim is no joke. His results over the last year have been much better than Kasparov's, he is young and ambitious, and he appears to have excellent nerves, something which might play a big role in such a short match. I still think Kasparov should be considered the favorite if he makes a serious effort, but he needs to be in top form to make victory a certainty.

The real question in my mind is whether Kasparov is sufficiently motivated that, in the relatively short time remaining before the January 2005 match, he can achieve the form necessary to win. I don't think Kasparov's motivation and commitment re: chess can be assumed given his relatively lackluster results in the last couple of years. If he treats the match with Kasim and a subsequent match with the winner of Leko-Kramnik as his last chance to regain the title of World Champion (which I think it probably is; with young players like Leko constantly improving and with his increasing age, time is not on Kasparov's side), and commits himself 100% to the process, I think he has excellent chances of doing it. Any lesser commitment and he may find himself losing to someone who is 100% committed (possibly Kasim, more likely Leko or Kramnik). And if he loses, he might arguably still be considered a top player based on his (steadily declining) rating, but he no longer will have any right to be considered THE top player with the privileges that appear to be associated with that status (such as being seeded into what amounts to the semi-finals of a unified world championship).

I don't mean to be overly negative about Kasparov, because "historically" he is, along with Karpov, one of my two favorite all-time players. But, at least in my opinion, he needs to adopt a little more of the Fischer attitude about "going out and proving yourself every time you play," and a little less of an "entitlement" mindset based on his historical performance. To paraphrase Janet Jackson: what have you done for us lately, Kaspy?

- Geof

Mig wrote:
"The Uzbek will have a cultural home-field advantage of sorts. Earlier he spoke of how comfortable he felt in Tripoli."

The above quote made me feel slightly uncomfortable. In *what* way would Kasim have a cultural home-field with a match in Dubai?

If the reference point is only based on religion and the guess (?) that Kasim fancies islam and that Dubai is a islamic country, then it's just silly.

If there is any such thing as "home-field" in this match I would definitely say that *Kasparov* is the one who has been favoured. He's probably been to several more parties at Sheiks palaces than Kasim and he's definitely more used to living in fancy hotels in rich countries like Dubai than Kasim is...

Well, well... Kasim is gonna win anyway against the old ex-champ I hope...

Jens in Stockholm, Sweden

ps And concerning Kasim's reference to being comfortable in Tripoli I think that many of us would feel comfortable even at Antarctica if we got a chance to play for (any) WC-title in chess.

The cultural homefield advantage bit made me uncomfortable too even though I am not a muslim ..

And a match with Kasparov is the best Leko can hope for???? I would reverse it and say Leko condescending to a match with Kasparov is the best the latter can hope for even with Kirsan getting sponsorship from other places where Kasim could have cultural homefield advantage ... dont let access and loyalty blind you Mig. Leko will be the Classical Chess champion and Kasparov winning against Kasimdzhanov proves nothing.

That said I am happy we will see some more top level chess even if this match appears as lopsided as some of the TONC first round games ...

Prices for the rooms at the Burj Al Arab hotel run from very roughly 3500 to 11,000 AED (roughly 1000 to 3500+ dollars US)for a single bed, two adults. I'm sure both players will be very comfortable indeed. If I knew chess had this big a pay-off I'd have spent more time on my rook-pawn endings :-)

It's a sad state of affairs when the obvious makes people uncomfortable. Trying to ignore religious and cultural elements won't make them disappear. Kasimdzhanov is a Muslim playing a match in a place where co-religionism is more important than nationality. Dubai is more cosmopolitan than Tripoli of course, but Kasimdzhanov will be rooted for by many locals and his religion is always mentioned in the Arab press.

gansy: why can't a Kasparov-Leko match be the best BOTH players can hope for? You are so eager to bash. Chess fans are the worst playa-haters I've ever seen. I didn't say Kasparov would be doing Leko a favor. I wasn't writing an evaluation of who would benefit more. I pointed out that Leko would, as a chessplayer, have more to look forward to and to gain from a match with Kasparov than Kramnik would.

Titles aren't worth the press releases they are printed on these days. I'll give lip service to the Leko-Kramnik winner because it's required for unification, but everything is 'better than nothing' right now, no more. Ponomariov failed to realize that. Let's hope Leko is different.

Am I the only one who is a little bewildered by the FIDE press release? Apparently, the match will consist of three games and a rest day...?

I.e. a rest day after every three games, as opposed to the usual more relaxed schedule of four games a week. (Which was three games a week not too long ago.)

Mig wrote:
"It's a sad state of affairs when the obvious makes people uncomfortable. Trying to ignore religious and cultural elements won't make them disappear."

And emphasizing these elements when there's no need for it will make them exist forever, which is why your comment made me uncomfortable.

Mig wrote:
"Kasimdzhanov is a Muslim playing a match in a place where co-religionism is more important than nationality. Dubai is more cosmopolitan than Tripoli of course, but Kasimdzhanov will be rooted for by many locals and his religion is always mentioned in the Arab press."

Anybody care to bet about if the people attending the match will be local muslims or rich jetset westerners?

But, yeah, alright: maybe the location of the match will make it a little bit easier for Arab press to cover it. And maybe Kasim is favoured in this press. Fine and good for him, them, the muslim world and chess what so ever! It's not like I wouldn't cheer if a Swede ever got close to the title (or atleast an EU-member like Leko!)).

Would you, Mig, even have reacted in a similar way if the game had been situated in Moscow?

And what was your reaction to that the press conference announcing the game was held in Moscow? This clearly gave Kasparov an advantage, didn't it? (These days there are hardly any less pro-muslim media than the russian ones...)

And what about poor orthodox christian Kramnik who's gonna lose against Leko? But, hey, what else could you expect when the catholic Leko had the advantage of the game being played in catholic Brissago?!


I hate to be so harsh, but that is almost all complete silly stuff, Jens! I'm not interested in pretending differences don't exist, for one. Two, there is NOTHING WRONG with people sharing a religion and feeling sympathy and supporting each other. It would be bizarre if they didn't. Nor is there anything wrong with pointing it out. You talk as though this were some sort of terrible prejudice that would be extinct in free, open-minded societies.

People are so afraid of hints of discriminating language that they overreact to any mention of race or religion. If everyone in Brissago were rooting for either Leko or Kramnik because of a shared religious background, it would be newsworthy.

Why would a press conference give anyone the advantage? Feeling comfortable in a playing site for ANY reason is obviously nice. Kasimdzhanov himself spoke about how he felt at home in Libya because of similarities to his native Tashkent while many other players felt fish-out-of-water. This isn't slanderous or discriminatory, simply a harmless and interesting fact.

There will be very few local spectators in Dubai, just like in Libya. Since there is rarely cheering, doing the wave, or hooliganism in chess, that's a non-factor anyway. Nobody is saying it's going to be a factor in the chess, it's just something to point out, particularly after Tripoli.


Maybe I was a little jumpy on the religion issue, but in the US environment of political correcteness, anything even hinting at race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc. bias begins to grate.

Going back to Kasparov- Leko:

"Titles aren't worth the press releases they are printed on these days. I'll give lip service to the Leko-Kramnik winner because it's required for unification"

Now this is BS. If you change the above to Kasparov-Kasim winner, I will agree. But to devalue the winner of Kramnik-Leko is to devalue the only decent thing about the Chess World Championship.

"gansy: why can't a Kasparov-Leko match be the best BOTH players can hope for? You are so eager to bash. Chess fans are the worst playa-haters I've ever seen. I didn't say Kasparov would be doing Leko a favor."

No you didnt .. but you did say a match with Kasparov is ALL Leko could hope for. That is so blatantly untrue. Even for Kasparov version 2001,that would not be true although a match with Kasparov would probably have been the best. A match with Kasparov v. 2004 is not even the best option for Leko let alone the ONLY option. First of all, Leko would want to enjoy his reign a little longer .. after all he would have just won the title. Second he would want a challenger to go through some kinda grind of a challenger tournament .. and not be waiting for him a la Karpov in Lausanne. So why not a challenger tournament with Kramnik, Anand, Shirov, Kasparov (if he plays) etc. So if I were Leko, I would organize a challenger tournament and play its winner like Kramnik did.

(of course many Kramnik supporters will say let's wait for a couple of rounds before we talk of Leko defending:))

"but everything is 'better than nothing' right now, no more. Ponomariov failed to realize that. Let's hope Leko is different."

This is just the type of journalistic hogwash you have been feeding us for a while. To justify Kasparov's legitimacy for a match with the reigning World Champ, all you can come with is that it is "better than nothing". I am sure the Chess World can and will do better. I would rather have a proper challenger tournament and have the winner challenge Leko (Kramnik). I am not even going to comment on the atrocious Ponomariov-Leko comparison.

Feel free to be as harsh as you like, Mig. I love you and your site anyway! (And I shared your critizism of letting Libya arrange the WC.)

And, Ok, to some extent I may be overreacting. But I also think that you overreacted from the beginning when you assumed that Kasim' would be favoured simply becaused of religious/cultural similarlities with the organisers/playing site.

I think that the elements that speak in favour of an advantage for Kasim are so few and vague that they are indeed *not* newsworthy and compared it to what one might speculate on in the Kramink-Leko game ("silly" according to you, a "bad attempt at humour" I can admit to afterwards).

Instead of focusing on religion making Kasim' more at home in Dubai than Kasparov, why not mention some of the other cultural differences which might favour one of the two:

The culture of comfort:
As I said before Kasparov is surely more used to fancy hotels than Kasim'.

The culture of money:
Playing for 1,2 million $... Surely no doubt who can be the more relaxed one of the players...

*These* cultural differences are in my humble opinion definitely making the set-up a given home field match for Kasparov. The possibility that Kasim' may have some small compensation in the fact that he's in a muslim surrounding will not outweigh this and is not worth focusing on.

offering a draw in the p*****g contest...

I fight against idiotic self-censorship on issues that shouldn't be offensive to anyone if we are to live in the real world.

gansy, I'm not sure if you really don't understand the expression "all he could hope for" or are just carrying on, but it's rather silly. It means the same as "everything you could hope for" and means it would be great for Leko.

I hope you can define "journalistic hogwash" for us. Sounds both meaningless and insulting to me. I guess I can't have an opinion? I would rather have a proper candidates tournament too, but there hasn't been one since, oh, 1994. If Dortmund 2002 was great for you, fine, that's your opinion. If the winner of Leko-Kramnik is the one true and only world champion to you, fine. But you are in the minority and you don't have to insult me or anyone else to state your opinion.

You may have forgotten the Prague agreement, but I haven't and I hope Leko hasn't. This was where everyone agreed that unification was necessary as soon as possible for the greater good. As soon as possible doesn't mean "enjoy his reign a little longer" or insisting on a new qualifier.

I really wouldn't have minded throwing FIDE in the trash at one point, but they actually managed Libya as flawed as it was. Prague wasn't about creating a perfect system from the start. It was about unifying the title asap and then building around the new champion. It's ALL better than nothing, and purposely or through ignorance misinterpreting my words won't change that.

If you want to take issue with Kasparov getting a match against Kasimdzhanov by virtue of his #1 rating, fine. All sides of that discussion were beaten to death two years ago. It happened. Some people believe that rating, prestige, and the FIDE KO are relevant qualifiers to unify the title.

Jens, I'm not the one focusing on religion, you are. I only pointed out that it replicated a facet of Kasimdzhanov's surprising Tripoli win, a facet he credited with helping his result. (And I said and meant "culture" and all it entails, not just religion.) I'm sure there are a million more things to write about the match, its location, the food they eat, and the shoes they wear, but SOME of us have limited time!


What makes you say that most chess fans (or chess players) would like to see a unified match (most likely Leko vs Kasparov)? You and most of the chess world had recognized Kramnik as the champion as he had beaten Kaspaov. So why won't they also recognize Leko as the champion even if he refuses to play the winner of KK match? Probably it is a good idea to have a poll on that issues what chessfans want (same could be tried with players in Olympiad).

There has been a major delay in unification and a number of promises of the Prague agreement have been broken by FIDE and others so it is difficult to bind anyone to the agreement. In fact Seirawan, the architect of the plan, considers it irrelevant now and has proposed another one.

The plan was unfair to begin with. Kasparov had conveniently switched to the FIDE side (by aligning with FIDE and Kirsan, who he had always opposed) to get a shortcut to the title. In that process he also lost some goodwill, credibility and moral high ground. With Kasparov slipping in performance and rating and low-rated Kasim winning FIDE KO, the unfairness is even more obvious.

Given all this, why would Leko play Kasparov (assuming both win)? By beating Kramnik, he has inherited the title that is quite credible. In that case, it will be better for him and the chess world to have a fresh qualification cycle that is fair and inclusive. There is no benefit is delaying that by a year in waiting for another match lacking in credibility. The chess world cannot wait forever for unification.



Another question. Do you honestly think Kasparov would have agreed (or was inclined) to participate in a qualifier (instead of a rmatch) to face Kramnik even if it was perfectly fair?

Mig, during Kramnik-Leko match you have written Daily Dirt articles about:

–Kasparov packing his suitcase for a tournament. (9/25)

–Q and A with Kasparov (9/26)

–Kasparov’s arrival in Turkey for the Euro Club games (9/27)

–The bidding for Kasparov’s book project (9/30)

–The Euro Club games, and that Kasparov didn’t play in the first round. (10/4)

–Kasparov hitting the lecture circuit (10/7)

–The Kasparov-Kasim match (10/12)

About Kramnik-Leko you’ve written:
–a mention that Leko had won a game. (10/03)
–a note on the half-way mark of Kramnik-Leko (10/6)

Let’s hope you’ll somehow find more to interest you about a match between the ex-world champ and the world’s #47 than you did about a match between the world champ and a player who’s been hovering for the last few years around the world’s #4.

Kasparov is still the World No. 1 player. He has been for the last 20 years. Kramnik, Leko, Kasim and others have still a lot to prove to the world for many years to come.

Thanks for the list, Greg. So I shouldn't even mention Kasparov's name? You really shouldn't be here if the mention of his name horrifies you so. You even list an item about the Turkey website that dared mention the dreaded name in passing. Not that any of this deserves much in the way of response, but it serves to illustrate how people will always find evidence to back up something they already believe.

1) This is mostly a gossip, entertainment, and polemic blog, not straight news coverage or analysis. I've been doing that at ChessBase.com on Brissago and Cesme. I'm not in Brissago and have little access to behind-the-scenes stuff I would usually write about here. On the other hand, I was with and have spoken with Kasparov, which provides just that sort of material. (I.e., things you can't read about anywhere else.) I do not wish to conflict or compete with ChessBase.com. When I was in Seattle for the US Championship I wrote about it EVERY DAY and there wasn't much whining about that. I mean, Wijk aan Zee was on at the same time. But since I didn't have any inside info on Corus and I did on the US Ch, I wrote about that. Simple.

2) Once you have an item on an event and a good discussion going about it, starting another one on the same event is a waste of space. I ran a few Kramnik-Leko items and they kept good momentum. If I had anything pithy to say in a separate item, I'd say it. With the match wrapping up and headed toward a significant conclusion, I'm sure I'll have more.

3) I write about what interests me and what I think will interest and stir discussion among others. Often these coincide, sometimes they don't.

4) If I have access to information others don't about the Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match of course I'll write about it here. Unlike some, I prefer to write about things I know about and about which I can ofter useful or interesting perspectives. Otherwise this blog wouldn't be any more interesting than one by someone with no information or access.

That said, I think outsider/amateur opinions are always valuable and often accurate and I wish there were more good amateur chess blogs. Plus, that would give me a chance to visit them and complain they they weren't writing about the things *I* consider important!

I think most "chess fans" do think the winner of Kramnik Leko is the true world champion. Yes there is the "FIDE world championship" and Bill Goichberg's "World Open" in Pennsilvania but hardly anyone really thinks the winner of those torunaments is the world champion. I think more people believe Bobby Fischer is the world champion than Rustam.

If you are one of the few in the world who does not believe Kramnik is the true world champion, then when do you think Kasparov stopped being the true world champion?

As far everyone thinking unity with FIDE is "necessary" I disagree. I think everyone thought it would be beneficial but not necessary. The most beneficial aspect of the prague agreement was that FIDE would establish a candidates match cycle to determine future world champions. This was, by far, the most important part of the agreement. When Kasparov plays rustam and then plays kramnik or Leko it is not going to solve anything.

Sure it will be fun to watch the winner of Kramnik Leko play Kasparov. As a chess fan the more matches between top players the better. I would also love to see the loser of Kramnik Leko or some other strong Player play a match with Anand. Just for the heck of it. Any of these matches would be great but the real important thing in prague is for FIDE to figure out a sensible world championship cycle for the future. Otherwise after these matches we will be back at square one.

The worst thing that could happen is the KL winner plays the KK winner before the next cycle is clearly laid out and agreed to by all involved and the ACP.

Does anyone have any idea why FIDE hasn't done this already? Why is Kirsan still talking about future World championships with even more competitors?? FIDE seems to want to insist on declaring a world champion based on a system no one believes in. If this is true, unity with FIDE is not only unnecessary its disasterous.

Yes, everyone likes to claim their side is the majority. All I know is that I work full time talking to chessplayers and chess fans and just about all of them would rather have unification with FIDE than declaring the Kramnik-Leko winner the only world champion. Again, Prague. Do you think all the players in Tripoli like to hear people saying the title they were playing for is meaningless? Or that they think so?

Pretending everything is black and white is not helpful. Some things are better than other things. Kramnik is one of the world champions we have today. His validity is entirely based on beating Kasparov in 2000. Things have been diluted progressively since 1993. Flawed qualifiers and politics have made things worse. Dortmund 2002 didn't have Kasparov or Anand, but it was the best thing available. (This is the "better than nothing" I keep repeating.) Kasimdzhanov beat Grischuk, Ivanchuk, and Topalov, but in rapids. Kasparov is the world #1 but hasn't played like it for over a year. All pretty lousy, but spouting utopian dreams is unhelpful.

I don't have a problem with Kramnik as title holder (although you should remember he didn't qualify for 2000, unless you count losing to Shirov in 1988), but I was disillusioned by Dortmund 2002. That's why I say Leko has more of a credibility problem, but it's all about degrees.

Clearly coming through Dortmund 2002 and then beating Kramnik in a 14-game match is more rigorous a "best player" test than the FIDE KO. The rating list could be considered best of all in some ways, but its lack of dynamism means the top guys like Kasparov can sit and not drop.

So sure, Leko will be more of a world champion in my eyes than Kasimdzhanov, but you can't cut them in half by percentages. That's why we need unification, so we can stop arguing degrees of legitimacy.

The problem with the planning is that sponsors balk at long-term commitments. I believe FIDE plans (using that term loosely with FIDE...) for a next big tournament to be a qualifier.

FIDE is a joke and I'd be happy to see them replaced with an effective organizing group for professional events like world championships. It has been tried several times, including by Kasparov (the PCA). But I think national federations are still relevant and should be represented. FIDE or an organization like it is required. And as long as it is putting together an event like Tripoli that does so much for so many players, it shouldn't be discarded trivially.

I personally think that a unification match is a must, and I am more hopeful that it will happen now that a firm date has been set for the Kasim-Kasparov match. I don't know what Kramnik's and Leko's attitudes toward unification are, but I would guess that a strong majority of the world's professional chess players and chess fans are hoping the unification process is completed. Anyway, if the winner of Kramnik-Leko refuses to play the winner of Kasparov-Kasim (or vice versa), then they should be shunned by the entire chess world and the winner who IS willing to play should be declared the unified world champion by default. Enough already of having two titles and arguing over which is more legitimate.

- Geof

Something regarding Anand.

I think it's good that the unification is to take place, and the idea that anything is better than nothing is supported by structualism. People often say that Anand was left out of this and it's unfair.

He is clearly a candidate for the strongest player right now but according to him he has already been WC (when he won the FIDE KO). MAny of hi interviews suggested he thought himself the payed up WC.

HE deserves to wait having put all his eggs in the wrong FIDE basket.

Sorry Vishy

Mig Of course everyone "prefers" to have unity. But that doesn't mean in the meantime everyone knows Kramnik is the true world champion. Well ok Kirsan may not know this, but I wouldn't be surprised if after he builds his glorious city of chess pieces, he declares the letter "N" stricken from the alphabet. Fischer still thinks hes the world champion and some may agree.

Anyway I have read numerous interviews and opinions online. I even did a poll on your message board. 40 something of the sixty something that answered picked Kramnik. Not one picked Kasim! Not one. I think 3 picked Fischer and 4 picked kasparov. A handful said there is no world champ. Another handful said "someone else" Anyway these people are if nothign else chessfans otherwise they wouldn't be visiting a chess message board.

Now I find it very interesting that when I asked when you think Kasparov stopped being the true champion you said it started gettign fuzzy around 1993. Do you believe he stopped being the "true world champion" in 1993? If its not clear or "black and white" then take your time and try to think it through. :)

Geof you say the unification match is a "must." A must for what? Lets say we have the match between the winner of KL and KK and krazy kirsan continues his knock out extravaganzas. Will anything be solved? What if the champions then says yes I will play the winner of this FIDE knock out system?? If Kramnik and FIDE did this is there even a question that statistically the champion would have had better luck defending agaisnt the Ponos and kasims of the world rather than the winners of a match cycle or dortmund? Kramnik could have just said OK FIDE Ill play Pono and then the winner of the next KO and then he would be playign Kasim now. No leko No kasparov. Certainly it is a good way for him to stay champion for a long time. Of course it would be terrible for chess.

I agree Leko and Kramnik should honor thier agreement if FIDE does. But if FIDE does not explain how future cylces will be decided or its not a way that the world can respect then this won't accomplish anything. If FIDE doesn't talk about a future championship cycle but instead continues to delay delay delay then I at least hope they don't play the final match. I hope they go to ACP and develop a match cycle with them.

The only thing that "must" be done now is someone (preferably FIDE but if they continue to sleep at the switch then maybe ACP) needs to estblish a sensible candidates match cycle.

This is FIDE's obligation and it should take some refining and be sent to ACP for approval etc.(read: other future world champions who may or may not follow it if it is jsut a crazy Kirsan "Declaration") Unfortunately FIDE seems to be dropping the ball and hasn't even come up with *anything* to propose!

Tripoli - we can agree to disagree on what a wonderful world championship that was.

Yes, being the one asking the questions is always the best way to find the answers you want. I would also vote for Kramnik if we lived in your fantasy world and had to vote for one champion. But we don't, we live in the real world with several world champion titles and the possibility for unification.

Perhaps you've noticed that the ACP isn't considered an almighty savior by many, including quite a few GMs. I'm a member and support most of their aims, but organizing a few internet tournaments isn't exactly a model for putting together a world championship cycle. And that means more than on paper.

Where are all these FIDE plans you speak of? Or are they something else that "everybody knows about" except me?

Kramnik could have done many things to aid unification. My thoughts on this have been well documented since 2002 and I tire of repeating everything in every thread here.

A sensible (by your standards, of course) cycle, yes. Please let us know when you have the sponsors lined up too. If you have the gold you can make the rules.

Since everyone is so keen to tell me what I think, please remind me how I feel about the Tripoli KO. I don't know which side of the agreeing to disagree I'm on unless you tell me.

Anand played in the same event that Ponomariov qualified from. So he did participate in the reunificaiton qualifiers, but didn't qualify.

I do agree with eveyrone that it would have been nicer to see him involved now, but that's what happens when there's a 2 or 3 year cycle. The same thing used to happen in the old Candidates' matches formats.

You may remember that Benko gave up his slot for the 1970 Interzonal so that Bobby Fischer could play, because there was no other way to get him into the sequence for another 3 years.


As long as there is a qualifying process for the World Championship that takes more than a few months, there will be the possibility that the strongest players at that moment are not included.


There cannot be 2 World Champions. We need this unification match to crown an absolute World Champion. Kirsan is no good for the Chess. We need a change.


I also would prefer that we return to a more traditional Candidates cycle. But I don't agree with you that having an undisputed (except maybe by Pono) unified World Champion is worthless by itself. In my opinion, unification and a sensible modification of the world championship cycle are pluses each on their own, although I agree it would be better to have both.

I sort of understand your attitude, but I think you need to be practical. If you require that all problems in the chess world be solved at once or not at all, you will never make any progress. Unification is clearly progress in terms of making chess more attractive both to sponsors and professional players. Maybe with an increase in sponsorship, there will be both the will and the money to fix the Candidate system.

Just my opinion.


P.S.: Considering religion/culture as an element of life is not the same thing as denigrating it. So the radical-PC response to Mig's comment about Kasim's comfort level in an Islamic state seems to me to be just so much hot air. It's much harder to actually think about these things and make sensible judgments than to have knee-jerk reactions, but we all should endeavor to do the former rather than the latter.

Mig,You are clearly loosing in this arguement.Prague was never agreed by every one.Many a player gone on record denouncing Kasparov's seeding.Save couple of web sites and staunch supporters like you, this was the view shared by many on Kasparov the great.Kasparov not playing much,or play at hardly 2700 level in last couple of years made sure this so called unification a laughting matter.Your arguement that Kasparov's participation may attract sponsorers is no longer true and will not be true any more.Hundreds of tournaments big and small are being conducted every year without the participation of his royal highness.Even for the likely kasim-kasparov match , the money is coming not because Kasparov is there.You know this more than anyone.Kasparov is no longer holds any greater marketability than say...Kramnik,Anand Polgar or Leko.Chess as a sport does not depend on this senseless unification but some pointed out here, it will depend on conducting a proper cycle everything, adopting and sticking to the professionalism.Above all by getting rid of psedo journalism.

You don't get sponsors "lined up" until you figure out what you are selling them. This shoud be obvious. FIDE has not figured that out yet and that is the first step.

The idea of saying lets get a unified world champion and only then decide what happens next strikes me as a bad idea. At that point the winner may just say no. He may then wait 5 years before defending his title against an opponent of his choosing. Not only that but unless FIDE explains exactly what they are intending to do that may actually be better than whatever it is FIDE will propose.

The Prague plan talks about agreeing with principles but what does that mean? Does that mean they agree to do zonal type matches and then do a double elimination instead of their single elimination? Or does agreeing with the principles only mean that the champion loses rights and the system needs to be more inclusive? E.g., continue KO system or some permutation. Wasn’t the plan supposed to be submitted and approved within 90 days or something? What happened?

As far as being practical I’m sorry I think I am the practical one. I think those who think everyone will somehow just get along after we have a unified champ are the idealists with thier heads in the clouds. It is much easier to have everyone involved decide what rights the future unified champ will give up *before* someone becomes the unified champ.

Also I really don't see what is so hard abotu this. It certainly shouldn't take more than a few days to get plan circulating. This isnot like putting a man on Mars.

As far as attracting money I think we need to understand something here as well. If you want to do that you need a business model. FIDE recent world championships are not business models. Begging rich friends for prize funds is not a business model. For a business model you need people interested in the event. Did you see the crowds in Tripoli? Danneman is a real sponsor. IBM and Intel were sponsors. Asking Rich political friends to pulls strings is not. So please don't tell me how much better FIDEs ideas - faster time controls and blitz games - are for sponsorship.

Also don't say we will get more sponsors for what FIDE wants and all the fans hate becasue you don't know this. (see this site for yet another poll showing thishttp://home.comcast.net/~zugz/SurveyResults/ResultsMainPageWith2Frames.htm) Having good players in each zone competing in the actual matches would be great for sponsors becasue peopel in the various countries woud be interested in the matches. If by the time we get tot he matches we have 6 Russians and a Bulgarian well the market is limitted. Thats fine with me but the players shoudln't expect big prize funds. Even if there are matches that have a variety of zones represented then there still won't be allot of money for the candiate matches. But the final match will be respected and shoudl draw some money. Also some global sponsors may be interested in covering a few diffrent candidates matches and the final. Take Danneman Of course they would be even more interested in being a sponsor of the match if there were more matches - maybe not much more interested but it has some sort of value.

Anyway, I'm sorry set up a candidates cycle woudl be easy. There is no problem with sponsors using this format than there are with any other format. Kirsan just doesn't *want* to do it.

Mig: Above you said Kasparov "...held the REAL title for 15 years..." (emphasis is yours) So that would seem to answer my question. Kasparov lost the REAL title when he lost to Kramnik. Or was there some caveat that I missed that only *part* of his real title was on the line? Thus when he lost the world championship match to kramnik he only lost *part* of his "REAL title". Or perhaps I guess you could say yes Kasparov *lost* the entire REAL title when he lost his WC match to Kramnik but somehow part of the REAL title evaporated before Kramnik could *receive* it?
I guess I just don't see why you have such a hard time admitting Kramnik earned every claim to be called world champion in 2000 that Gary Kasparov had throughout 1999.

Pavani, I don't agree with you. Did you forget about those New York matches Kasparov played. ESPN and how much publicity Chess got around the World. He has become a hero of a legend in his own life time. As I earlier wrote, these Leko, Kramnik and other top players have lot more to show. Its not a good thing, already comparing Kramnik with Kasparov. Kramnik should pass the test of time like Kasparov, and Karpov.

I agree with NYC Knight that Kasparov and Karpov are among all-time greats and other top players have a lot more to do to catch up. However past glory (and ability to attract sponsorship) should not be the criteria to give someone an unfair advantage in qualification rounds. Why not include Kaprov (and for good measure Korchnoi) directly into the semi-final or final as he is an all-time great.

Anand is big in India and can attract big sponsorship money but that does justify him skipping qualifying cycles. In fact, before Kasparov played Kramnik, he wanted to play Anand and only when Anand rejected the offer to be biased in Kaspy's favor did Kaspy go with Kramnik. Thus it has nothing to do with sponsorship but only terms and conditions from Kasparov.


Historical revisionism at its finest. Anand rejected the 1999/2000 match because the sponsors wouldn't deposit the loser's share of the purse in his bank account before the match started as a guarantee. Call it issues with sponsorship or whatever, but it had nothing to do with "terms and conditions" from Kasparov. What would they be, anyway? If you believe Kasparov had his way with the Kramnik match, what were these favorable conditions? He didn't (to his regret) even get the old rematch clause.

I don't doubt that Anand was telling the truth when he said that as with the 1995 experience he felt that Kasparov would be calling too many of the shots because of his ties to the organizers. But if Braingames had deposited the money there would have been a match.

I personally believe that Anand has in the past had some psychological issues when it came to matches (or potential matches) against Kasparov. It's possible that Anand's refusal to participate in this World Championship cycle is partly motivated by a (reasonable) belief that Kasparov should not have been seeded into a match with the winner of the FIDE KO. However, I also have got the feeling over the years that Anand has been looking for excuses to avoid playing Kasparov again. And as we all know from the history of the world championship, a top player (Fischer, Pono, etc.) can always think of some excuse not to play.

Even if I am correct and Anand has had some sort of inferiority complex when it comes to Kasparov in the past, I think that may be no longer the case given the disparity in their respective performances over the last few years. In any event, Anand probably realizes that he is now at his peak and needs a shot at the title relatively soon before the next generation of chess players matures. I suppose it is even possible that Anand has already missed his chance, and that someone like Leko will surpass him in strength before Anand gets another shot at the title. Unfortunate for Anand, but you can't win if you don't play.

I think one of the worst things about the fragmented World Championship is that you don't have all of the really top players participating in one system of qualifiers for the right to play for the World Championship. A generation of chessplayers and fans are left with a lot of speculation as to what might have happened if so and so played so and so at a certain point.


Re Niceforkinmove's question's to Mig about when Kasparov's REAL title evaporated:

A contemporary world chess title is REAL as long as Kasparov either holds it or can play for it on his terms. Thus, when Kasparov lost the Classical Chess Championship to Kramnik in 2000, Kramnik's title was REAL. And Mig's columns at that time will reflect that. And Kramnik's title was REAL while Kasparov was abandoning his previously announced stand against championship rematches and began demanding a rematch. But the REALness of Kramnik's title began evaporating precisely when the Dortmund "Candidates" match was announced and it became clear that if Kasparov wanted a shot at the championship he'd have to fight his way through other top players who had the same goal. Somewhere around this point Kasparov and his good friend Mig decided that the Classical World Championship was losing much of its "REALness". They began lumping the Classical cycle (all top players invited, longer matches, longer time controls, which produced Leko v. Topalov) with the FIDE cycle (short matches, short time controls, Khalifman, Pono and Kasim). Mig dismisses both cycles as "fatally flawed"). During this unREAL period, the only thing that mattered was who was ranked #1. And to remind us of this important fact, Kasparov started a web site with that title. The #1 ranking retains its importance, its REALNESS, even if its holder has rarely played lately, because it is held by Kasparov. As Kasparov is soon headed for a match for the FIDE title don't be surprised if that title gains REALness. And when Kasparov's on tap to play the classical champion that title will gain REALness as well, and, if successful Kasparov will proudly boast of having beaten the (REAL) classical champion. If, however, Kasparov loses to Kasim or Leko/Kramnik, AND loses his #1 ranking, something else will become more REAL than either of those achievements. Probably elder statesman "Obviously I'm better than these guys but am too busy with Russian politics and writing chess books to play them," status.

The tragedy for Anand has been that his career has largely overlapped with that of Kasparov, arguably the greatest ever, at his peak. In that sense, it is no mean achievement for him to have been #2 or #3 for over a decade.

In terms of play level, most people would admit he has been the #1 for about a year. Whether Kasparov's dip is temporary or whether he's fading away remains to be seen. Anand isn't that young himself and time is running away for him (and Ivanchuk, Adams and Shirov etc.). The next round is probably the last shot for him and his contempraries like Ivanchuk to have a stab at the world championship.

Delaying that opportunity by another year or so because of the unification with all its delays, flaws, unfairness and broken committments seems cruel and unfair.



As I have mentioned several times in this forum, Kasparov seems to value the #1 ranking a lot. At least ever since he lost the title to Kramnik as the #1 ranking is the only thing left with him and could be useful for bargaining. He has been playing a lot less in the last two years (at least with humans) to minimize the impact on his rating because of bad performance.

The #1 rating would help with negotiating on various things such as where he fits into qualification, apppearance fees, computer matches, simuls etc. World #2 or lower doesn't quite have the same ring in publicity brochures.


Greg,already Mig declared Kasparov's Privillages are not due to his ranking or playing strength but due to the fact that he is the biggest name (just like Kirsan)in Chess.He also assured us this will continue to be so for years to come.None of the circumstances that lead to Prague agreement are relevent now.Remember when Kasparov lost the tittle(???) he played likea woonded tiger pouncing on every player enroute.Infact he peaked after that loss.He had to prove he was the best.He did it.At prague everything was offered to him on platter.A shortcut to tittle.That was the beginning of his decline.He need not toil anymore to get a shot.It was pre-cooked and offered to him just the way he likes.And anyway he has a bunch of sychopants alongside who do not mind sugarcoat this utterly biased,one-sided and self centered plan as the best thing to happen to chess.Now why should anybody really care Kasparov.At best he is one among the group of Anands,Lekos,Moros,Topolovs or Kramniks.He is no different from this group and there is an equal chance any one of them can beat him.While they are sweating out at the board,what all Kasparov is doing all along is not playing busy with other things.I am surprised Mig being so close to Kaspy, why he could not get one single good interview on these topics in a professional way in these two years.Instead what we see is a oneliners or informal chats.Why?

I really need to keep reading so I know what it was I wrote. Actually, I said Kasparov's fame was doubtless a factor in Ilyumzhinov's decision. Not the only factor, not the most important factor, not a publicly stated factor.

Kasparov has done probably a dozen long interviews in the past few years. Several at KasparovChess before it disappeared, several at ChessBase.com. You may as well say you are surprised it's impossible to buy bananas today when you never go to the market. It's amazing what you can find when you look. Everyone would rather shout opinions than do minimal research that might contradict them (or, god forbid, support them).

I will be very happy to take back my words if you can show me a link or info or the article itself that contradicts what I mentioned in my previous post...(please read everyword and the emphasis)

"I am surprised Mig being so close to Kaspy, why he could not get one single good interview on these topics in a professional way in these two years.Instead what we see is a oneliners or informal chats.Why?"

Dear Chessfriends:

I'm agreeing largely whith niceforkinmove views on the subject of a (pseudo) reunification and fide's nefarious acting in general; some new developments occured in the last weeks, and so also little points can be considered:

* Dubai's sponsor wants a Kasparov vs Winner of Tripoli - because (a)Kasparov is Kasparov (b)Winner of Tripoli is from a Muslim State; (c) Tripoli was a victory over "Israel and his Friends" (remember Dubai Ol 1986, another 'zionists-free' event...

** Tripoli is sub judice in a Lausanne Sport Court - In what a decision in Vadim Milov's favour will change something in the status of a possible Dubai match and in the claim of the winner to face Kramnik in a legitimated WC match... TRIPOLI CAN ALREADY BE DECLARED ILLEGAL

*** Why Kasparov not yet pronounced on the FIDE (= Kirsan) announcement about the fullfilment of the financial guarantees to a January Dubai match - He's now simply "FIDE Challenger" as i read already or is still himself?

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