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When In Doubt

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I'm not right all the time, but my prediction about Kramnik's attitude toward reunification were accurate. In his post-match comments he states that Prague and Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov should be thrown out in order to have a different qualifier that would include Anand and Ponomariov.

Of course that would be great, and similar things were suggested in 2002, but it's the same old "when in doubt, hold another qualifier" argument. Nothing is ever good enough, nothing is going to be perfect. If you include Ponomariov, why not Khalifman? Why not Shirov? Why not Leko (this is a separate title, after all)? If we include the #1 and the #2 on the rating list, why not the #4? That's Morozevich, and Topalov is just one point behind him. In 2002 Kramnik said rating and tournament success weren't good reasons to include Kasparov in unification. Now he gives the same as reasons to include Anand. Why have we be sitting around for two years waiting for something that he's going to junk when it finally moves forward?

New qualifiers ALWAYS sound great; that's the problem. You keep talking about new ones and nothing ever happens. The qualifier in the hand is worth two in the bush. The more people you add, the more potential you have for disagreements. What if Moro takes over the #2 spot in the meantime? If you organize something based on current circumstance you can't keep changing it with the circumstances or you never do anything at all.

And try using the "well, it's obvious" argument on the guys who are shut out. Anyway, a quadrangular would be dandy. It would be even better if it were a five-player event with Kramnik tossed in. If Prague 2002 is tossed out and Anand dropped in, why weren't Dortmund 2002 and Leko dumped? We all know that FIDE screwed up their part of the unification plan. Using that as an excuse when it took Kramnik-Leko two years to happen seems a bit petty, or disingenuous.

David Levy's prediction for 2005 is disturbingly realistic:

2005 FIDE President Ilyumzhinov announces Kasparov vs Kramnik reunification match to take place in Dubai in December 2005 for a purse of $2.5 million. Also announces that if either player refuses to sign the match contract within 30 days he loses his right to play and will be replaced by the highest available player in the FIDE rating list. Kasparov signs. Kramnik refuses to sign, saying he wants to play the winner of a 4-player tournament with Kasparov, Anand, Kasimdzhanov and Ponomariov. Ilyumzhinov agrees to Kramnik's proposal, in the interest of bringing peace to world chess. Kasparov also agrees. Anand agrees. Ponomariov's lawyer sues FIDE on the basis that Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov have both held the FIDE WC title since the Prague agreement was signed but Anand has not. Leko's lawyer announces that if Ponomariov wins the case, thereby eliminating Anand, Leko will sue FIDE unless he is given the fourth spot in the tournament.

I think Kasparov is a little tired of agreeing to things that he figures will never happen, but you never know. Perhaps such a qualifier could be organized in time for his 50th birthday in 2013. Seriously, if we start over again we would be looking at a qualifier in 2006 and then 2007 for a new cycle. Assuming we don't need another qualifier, of course.

UPDATE: It should be obvious that we're all Anand fans. Taking the very real problems with starting over as an attack on Anand is a strawman. There are serious logistical and legalistic concerns. The fastest way to get Anand involved in the world title fight is probably to continue with Kasparov-Kadimzhanov and unification. Then Anand and the rest of the world can play for the unified title. Scheduling a new unification qualifier would take at least as long. Anand (and Ponomariov) is playing in Wijk aan Zee in January. Players have schedules and contracts.


This sort of comment by MIG is insulting. Everyone in the chess world likes Anand, and everyone knows he deserves to be involved in any unification process. When MIG points out some hypothesis like "What if Moro becomes No2", he is not being realistic. Anand has conclusively proven over the last decade he is in the class of the top 2 K's.

What this sort of unjournalistic stuff shows is that MIG is nothing more than a Kasparov yes-sayer. Over the last couple of years MIG has given of the impression that Garry can do nothing wrong and he has in a way self-proclaimed himself Garry's official spokesman.

MIG used to be great with his articles in the past, now I am beginning to wonder. He is taking sides, not that that is wrong, but he is taking sides in a sweeping dictatorial kind of manner.

I want Anand in the qualifiers to play Kramnik and so does 99% of the chess world...MIG may think it a dream. It's his dream not everyone elses.


I disagree. Mig's comments are not insulting, they simply reflect the frustration of many Chess enthusiasts over the lack of progress in the reunification process. When FIDE President Ilyumzhinov announced that the Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match will take place in January, in Dubai, many of us (Mig included) breathed a sigh of relief that the reunification process was at last on track. Kramnik's recent announcement throws this into some doubt, which is a great pity for all the Chess fans who are itching to see a Kasparov-Kramnik rematch.

Hmmm, Mehul really no comment needed. Yes clearly Mig is the Anti-christ, but perhaps you missed reading the the bit that said 'of course that would be great'? Still I hate to defend Mig as he is big and ugly enough to do this for himself (hey is that just a UK expression?).

Anyway I think what you write Mig is sad and sadly true. And my predictions about Kramnik's attitude toward reunification were also true; that is to say I was completely 100% wrong but like a politician I don't like to admit my mistakes so just claim I was right all the time.

In your opinion (knowing the great man - strangely GK does not answer my calls, I'll ask him why as soon as he lifts the restraining order) is there any chance that, if we suspend disbelief and think it is possible to arrange a four player tournament, GK would play? Do you think Anand would? My outsiders opinion is that neither would agree, Anand because Kasparov is included and he does not feel this is fair, Kasparov because he thought he had an agreement and because he feels he should be on a level with Kramnik, not forced to qualify when VK did not (the rights and wrongs of these arguments have of course been debated ad nauseum). I was just trying to put the rights and wrongs aside and wonder if in my little fantasy world they could be persuaded to play. I guess enough money would resolve the situation but that is not likely either.

Kramnik is a gutless wimp. He is beginning to sound like former President Clinton rationalizing what the the meaning of "is" is. Well Vladimir, right now instead of being a Russian bear, most of the chess-playing world looks upon you as a little girlie man, to use the Governor of California's term.

Have some balls man!

My name is "Mig," not "MIG". It's not an acronym.

Who am I insulting? Whose side am I taking? The Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match was already announced! What does this have to do with Kasparov doing anything, right or wrong? What would you like him to do? You are so eager to bash Kasparov that you ignore the discussion.

I would love to have Anand involved in everything. I'm pointing out how hypocritical it is to have 1) complained about Kasparov getting in because of tournament success in 2002 and now demanding Anand for the same thing and 2) played Leko instead of Anand and then demand Kasparov play Anand, or Kasimdzhanov play Anand, etc.

So instead of whining about what we DO have, give your perfect solutions. Don't forget to include how to explain to the other players why they are not included. Maybe Morozevich and Ivanchuk aren't part of your 99%. Maybe the other top players don't want to wait until 2006 or 2007 for a real open qualifier for the unified title. Yep, Anand and Ponomariov (and whoever else you would care to nominate) may already have plans for early 2005. In fact, both are playing in Corus in January.

That leaves maybe October-November for a new unification tournament. Maybe. Then it's a unification match with Kramnik in 2006, unless he demands a new qualifier, of course. Maybe a new cycle could start after that. You couldn't start it earlier because the losers of the unification event need to play, although maybe you could drop the challenger into the candidates matches, if there are any.

If you are here for "journalism," whatever that may be, you are in the wrong place. This is a personal opinion blog.

In my view, the main problem with the Tripoli tournament is not that the strongest players didn't participate in it, but that the players of one nation, Israel, were de facto excluded from it (and the case of Milov proves that). This is completely and categorically unacceptable.
If now Kasparov plays the winner of Tripoli, and Kramnik plays the winner of that match as part of the "unification process", wouldn't that give legitimacy to what can only be described as a scandal of enormous proportions?

Wait, the biggest irony of this just hit me. Where are the complaints that Kramnik is trying to hand-pick his challenger? Kasparov picked Anand as the world #2 in 1999, and then moved to #3 Kramnik when Anand declined. Ever since, people have been screaming about how Kasparov hand-picked his challenger. Now Kramnik names Anand, and even though it's for a small qualifier it's hardly democratic. Of course I would agree that Anand should be included on general considerations. But if we are to live in a world of laws, such things have to be justified on paper.

seriously, i think Pono is out of the equation. He refuses to play, hence disqualifying himself.
Anand ? yeah, he deserve to be in the unification loop simply because he's one the strongest for some time.
So my solution (like it or not)?? have kaspy, anand, and the fide champ(whoever he is) play a battle royale... winner plays kramnik. winner of the outcome is hence, holds the 'precious' to rule the world. ;)

I have just found it strange that Anand is excluded from all these unification plans. Any unification must involve the top three who have remained top three for a long time indeed. That is the public opinion. A simple poll will show that the majority will want Anand involved. It surprises me that Kasparov doesn't attempt to put in a stance, like Kramnik just has, to say "Anand must be involved."

I don't understand by what "Mig" means when he says Kramnik is "hanpicking" opponents. I think Kramnik only expressed his opinion. If anything he increased the number of opponents! I don't know how Ivanchuk and Moro are involved in this...they have done nothing to prove themselves to be world championship material...they are simply super gm's and should wait after the current unification is done with.

Kramnik's opinion is an important one! If he refuses to play the winner of Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov we are doomed to many more years of schism. If FIDE cancels it we are still stuck with a long delay at best. I think the best way to get Anand, and everyone else, involved is to just get the unification over with as planned asap so we can start with a real cycle. It would likely be a faster way to get Anand involved, actually.

So, would you rather have Anand and the rest of the world playing in a new cycle for a unified title in late 2005 or early 2006 (current dream) or four players (Anand, Pono, Kasparov, Kasimdzhanov, for example) playing in the same time frame in order to unify the title?

Mig says:
Maybe the other top players don't want to wait until 2006 or 2007 for a real open qualifier for the unified title.

Mig, that is one question many of us have been asking without any answers. Has FIDE come up with what they plan to do after the unification? Will it be another KO with the FIDE time control(and not classical time control) and rapids and blitzes. If so, is unification worth it? How fair and inclusive will the qualifying be? Is Kramnik wrong in demanding claification on those issues? Is Kasparov be ok with whatever FIDE plans (we know how much he hates qualifiers) or do we see another breakup by him and another unification? Can we have a committment from him that he will go with FIDE plans post unification and not cause any further breakup? Given all these possibilities, it appears that unification that is unfair and delayed is meaningless if the plans afterward are not clear. Since FIDE broke most of the obligations, why blame Kramnik for questioning his own.

What about the player's body that was promised by FIDE? Kasparov is justified in being impatient about the next match but the rest of the chess world should be interested in what lies ahead.

I disagree with all those who say you are against Anand or Kramnik. You are simply being pro Kasparov and simply ignoring questions or arguments (in this and other forums) that is not in Kasparov's interest or inconvenient. I was surprised to see that all the reader comments in the chessbase article are against Kramnik. Then I guessed that you might have been the author and filtered out inconvenient stuff. You are using chessbase to build anti-Kramnik sentiments.

At least TWIC and chess today are supporting Kramnik. And most of the responses in your blog seem to be pro Kramnik. Above all, it is ludicrous to suggest Kramnik is doing all this out of fear. He convincingly beat a much stronger Kasparov earlier. If anything, he will be worried more about Anand (or Leko/Moro) more than Kaspy.


No way in hell is this qualification tournament with Anand, Ponomariov, Kasparov and Kasimdzhanov going to happen.

That said I'm sure next week it will be announced with all the players accepting the invitations. Oh well.

Anyway, if you are going to throw the Prague agreement out and organize a new qualification tournament, why not invite the top ten of the rating list and have them fight it out? Of all the imperfect solutions imaginable, this seems the most fair.

Oh wait...

Kapalik, "pro-Kasparov" is not an argument. Speaking of, what arguments and questions am I ignoring? Just because you don't like my answers doesn't mean I'm not answering the questions.

Yes, the future is uncertain, so let's do nothing to make sure we never get there? Great! One step at a time is not unreasonable, especially when you are scratching for sponsors. Or has Kramnik announced a new qualification cycle and system for his classical title and I missed it? And yet he went ahead and played Leko. Should he have waited too?

I didn't write or have anything to do with the ChessBase.com article on Kramnik's comments. I don't get the ChessBase feedback mail. Sorry if you're stunned to see that quite a few people think that Kramnik is in danger of being part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Maybe you missed that we published Keene's love letter to Kramnik.

I have never said anything at all about Kramnik being afraid of Kasparov. Did you just make that one up for fun?

If you read Seirawan's various epics, you'll find out what happened to the FIDE Grandmaster steering committee in Bled, 2002. You can't force the players to participate. Many who ignored the steering committee later joined the ACP, so clearly they wanted something outside FIDE, which is probably for the best anyway. But I didn't see Kramnik at the steering committee meeting in Bled.


What does it mean to be "pro-Kramnik," by the way? Unconditionally supporting him instead of thinking about what he says and whether or not it's good for the game and other players? You are always saying that's the way I am about Kasparov, which I flatly deny. But if it's a positive thing where Kramnik is concerned you are welcome to it.

I agree with the bad, ugly and dirty Mig, in that it is in the interest of the chess community to keep on the track previously agreed. It is non sense to propose new ways to unify the world champion title every time oneīs status position has changed. Thumbs down to Kramnik. BTW, I have my own proposal to increase the mess: A unification tournament with the top 5 players and Bobby Fischer, who should be invited for losing the title without a match. Of course, all his demands should be fullfiled.


Who cares what Kramniks motivations were. Point is: as it stands now unification is toast and a next cycle further away than ever.

Should they wait until a next cycle is completely organized? It would be nice, but it's never going to happen, not even with the best of intentions. The plans of Prague are still perfectly valid, you just need sponsors and those are always very hard to find and a factor impossible to predict.

About the GM steering committee: we have the ACP now, they are taking that role.

This "business plan" that Bessel Kok supposedly was going to come up with: again it would be nice but you could wait forever for that to happen.

They had worked out detailed schedules for a WC cycle at Prague. What needs to happen is for the current world champions together with FIDE and the ACP (as representatives for the rest of the players) to agree to it and cooperate.

I understand Kramnik's (ACP's) position: "unification" ? wh-a-at?

The winner of a circus called "FIDE WC" (which, among other "doubious things",
uses rapid time controls) plays an inactive (hand-picked, --self-picked??)
"number 1" to select a FIDE candidate to play the real Classic
World Champion (Kramnik) to "unify" the crown??

Why would any WC(not just Kramnik) want to "unify" his crown with a devaluated
FIDE crown?? ---I mean, other reason beyond the obvious "money" ;) --

Likely he would be more interested in defending it against a properly selected
challenger (e.g. by using ACP Grand Prix + the Masters Final, as proposed
by Kramnik himself as a further "candidate-cycle" at the end of his interview,
so that nobody will be in/excluded by arbitrary procedures)

Agreements?? why should one side (Kramnik) follow Praga, if nobody
else does? That's a good "excuse" (reason) not to follow previous
treats anywhere, especially in (chess)politics...

As a chess fan, I don't want such "unification", instead I am happy with
the current situation with a Rapid WC (FIDE), and the real classic WC (ACP).
Why "unify" two totally different things??
--I never made the mistake of interpreting FIDE WC as real Champions, neither
Kasparov (did)does in his Books ;)

Didn't Ananad have to chance to play in previous qualifiers and, unlike some, I don't think Libya considered him to be the enemy. Play K-K so they can then play K-K and then there can be 4 qualifiers a year ad infinitum so everybody can somehow fit it into their busy schedule.

Kramnik with his unreasonable demands, this Unification match according to Prague cannot happen. I think, the best solution is to organize a 4 player match for the Unified title between Kramnik himself, Kasparov, Kasim, & Anand. Pono is out of question as he refused a match earlier.

Kramnik cannot have everything. If he wants Anand to bring in, then the above solution will be fair enough. Lets see, how Kramnik can respond to this. I know for sure, he will better play the winner of Kasparov-Kasim match. This man is really playing a dirty game. The Chess world should unite behind the Unification match. I think, Anand and other top players have a chance to play in a new cycle after the Unification gets done. Lets not delay this anymore.


My point is that unification is not an end by itself. It can only be good if it paves way for further unity, fairness, and sponsorship. Thus it makes sense only if all the parties involved signal their committment to a plan post unification, otherwise unification is meaningless.

Here are my questions again. Care to answer them?

What are FIDE's plans after unification? Are you (and Kasparov) and the chess world ok with continuation of the current KO format and time controls? BTW, FIDE is already discussing the 2005 KO. What happens if there is disagreement on the format etc. after unification? Shouldn't it be discussed now?

All these plans were to be based on inputs by a player's body. What about the player's body that was promised by FIDE?

The current plan does nothing but appeases Kasparov as he effectively get a direct shot at Kramnik (he has been helped by the shappy way Tripoli was organized). Why will such a match have more credibility with the chess world?

Why do we keep coming back to money and sponsorship? The important thing is fair unification (even if money is less) that is broadly accepted by most. Once the chess world is unified, there won't be a shortage of sponsorship or money after unification. Can the top players (particularly Kasparov) sacrifice on the monetary aspect for long term benefit of chess?

Do you find anything wrong Seirawan's arguments declaring Prague agreement dead?

Can we have a committment from him that he will go with FIDE plans post unification and not cause any further breakup? If not, why have the match?

In fact, the whole argument seems meaningless as Kasparov himself had recently admitted interest in a more inclusive qualifier if there are concrete plans for it. Does he have the same stand?

David Levy has a horrifying prediction of chaos if Kramnik sticks to his stand. I feel there will be even more chaos if the prague agreement is strictly followed. Because FIDE will continue to break promises and committments and ignore player views and interests (that's why they will never go for a player's body as agreed in Prague). And that is more important to most chess players than having a unfied champ.


Hello chessfanatic:

Please. ACP is like our own UNO. It is irrelevant at this moment in this Unification match. It is FIDE and Kramnik. Everyone knows that Kramnik is using ACP for his own benefit.

I am supporting Kramnik because he had been consistent in his stand and done so with rational and well-reasoned arguments. All this shows integrity in the man.

He has always complained about Prague being unfair to Anand (more than Anand did) and rewarding Kasparov. Now Seirawan and many others support his view. In the current circumstances, his objections are even more valid.

He had always considered FIDE KO and time controls a joke. Others (like Mig and Kaspy) who complained of that and more (that it is supported by Kirsan's ill gotten money) are now supporting it because it feeds a large number of players (wasn't it doing so earlier).

He has been against FIDE's arbitrary policies and lack of regard for players' views. Others who similarly criticized FIDE earlier are now supporting it even though FIDE has broken most of the promises made in Prague. I can understand Kasparov changing his stand as he gets an illegitimate shot at a rematch. But why others?

He has been for a player's body and is now playing an active tole in ACP. Basically, he is walking the talk. Doesn't he deserve our respect for thinking of player interest (unlike Kasparov who mostly thought of how much money he would get in sponsorship, appearance fees, breaking chess world etc.)?

His stand is not because of fear of Kasparov (many against him, not Mig, are saying this). He has won the title fairly and after a hard fight. The unification is about him putting that title in line. Why should he do so to the KK winner when neither of them have the credibility?



Anand didn't play Tripoli because the winner there was supposed to play Kasparov. And Anand didn't consider that to be fair. He certainly didn't go around screaming hsi views on the matter. I am sure there are others who consider Kasparov's seeding unfair (he was the only one seeded to the semifinal despite losing and treated equally with Kramnik, the man who beat him fair and square).


One last remark. The argument that Kramnik's plan delays unification considerably is nonsense. It only adds one additional match which is a delay of 3-4 months (Anand can play Pono when Kaspy is playing Kasim - just book two more suites in Dubai). Having waited 2+ years after Prague, a delay of 3-4 months isn't going to kill anyone.


I'd like to take a stab at some of the questions posed by Kapalik.

>>What are FIDE's plans after unification?
I not sure if even Kirsan knows. I think some would like a return to the old way of candidates matches and interzonals.

>>Are you (and Kasparov) and the chess world ok >>with continuation of the current KO format and >>time controls?
I think most players prefer classical time cotrols. One benefit of the KO format is that everyone is in contention until they're knocked out. Thus there is less of an incentive for a pair of unscrupulous players to collude since each player still has a chance to win it all.

>>BTW, FIDE is already discussing the 2005 KO. >>What happens if there is disagreement on the >>format etc. after unification? Shouldn't it be >>discussed now?
Unless a large number of players object to the format, I don't foresee any changes. Where does the KO fit in after unification? Will the champion be the winner of the KO, or will the KO be a sort of qualifier?

I'm going to have to give up on this soon; too many obvious mistakes to keep up with. Kramnik PLAYED in the FIDE KO! Kramnik, like Kasparov before him, can afford to criticize FIDE because he has his own set-up.

Other players support FIDE because it has done something for them, unlike Kramnik. It has put money in their pockets for years. Nobody is saying FIDE is perfect, or even anything less than a group of corrupt bunglers, but Kramnik and the ACP haven't done anything yet.

He is for the ACP (is one of its directors), but wasn't for Seirawan's GM steering commmittee. Much better to start your own organization, no? The ACP is still run out of Madame Ojjeh's kitchen.

I respect Kramnik, but making him out to be some Lone Ranger champion for justice is BS. Nothing he has said or done has been in any way against his personal interests. If his arguments are so consistent, why was he against including Kasparov in 2002 and for including Anand now?

3-4 months? What, it's supposed to be three matches instead of a tournament now? If you actually read posts you would see Anand is playing with Ponomariov in Wijk aan Zee in January when Kasparov is playing Kasimdzhanov. It's not the duration of the event that is the problem; it's scheduling it. Top players schedule for many months in advance and aren't going to squeeze in such a serious event out of the blue.


Yes Kramnik defeated Kasparov in a impressive manner. But on the traditional basis, he did not show any respect giving a rematch to Kasparov. The rematch win over Kasparov should have easily made him greater or atleast equal to him in Chess. But Kasparov was not given a rematch. This itself raise many doubts about Kramnik as the absolute WC.

If this Unification fails under Prague, and FIDE goes organizing its own WC under new classical time controls etc, the FIDE WC will have same prestige as the so called Classical WC.

How can ACP with Kramnik proposing to organize a qualifier for this Unification WC title without FIDE? Tomorrow, other players will start their own Organization like CPA etc and will have their own WC. Its a mess. The ACP was created to protect the rights of players primarily and not to divide the Chess world. Whether you like FIDE or not, it is true, FIDE is the official international Chess organization. In the long run, you will see FIDE WC will have better recognition and prestige than the ACP WC.

Everyone screams "unification! unification must occur!" Chessfanatic and Kramnik are right to ask unified title then what? Is he supposed to take Kirsams word that he really truly had a change of heart and no longer wants to have KO circuses decing future champs? Are we to simply takes Kasparov's word that he had a change of heart and if he wins the title he will no longer just use it however it benefits his best interest? No matter how bad things seem they cna alwasy be made worse. Giving a unified title to the current FIDE without any concrete commitments from them on how thye will treat it, will almost certainly be worse.

Sorry Kramnik is correct this needs to be in writing and detailed exactly what they hope to do. People have been saying this over and over but Mig and chessbase ignore this. FIDE has ahad years to explain this pursuant to prague but has failed. Yes gettign the second cycle committed to before we thrust ourselves further into a mess after reunification is what we need to do.

With respect to Kasparov Kasim the *fact* is Kasim is not a realistic challenger like Pono was. If in 2002 kramnik was asked to agree to play the winner of Kasparov Kasim I'm sure he wouldn't have agreed. Kasim is simply not strong enough. Kasparov will be able to beat him and save all of his preparation. Whereas Kramnik had to pull every trick out of the hat to defend agaisnt Leko.

Would Kramnik have agreed to paly the new KO winner before tripoli was decided? Maybe but of course FIDE didn't bother to ask! They just acted in thier normal dictatorial way which is unaccpetable and needs to end.

So what needs to happen? Exaclty what Kramnik is asking for. FIDE needs to start discussing what they have in mind for future world championships and we need to get it down on paper. FIDE word on general principles is far from adequate.

Maybe I'm being simplistic, but I don't see all the speculation, delays, proposals as having anything to do with Anand, Ponomariov, Kasimdzhanov, Morozovich, Ivanchuk, Leko, or even fairness by anyone's definition. They all have to do with only one thing (one person, actually). That person is Garry Kasparov.

The longer it takes to hammer out an agreement for unification, the less likely it is that Kasparov will be his historically dominant self. Time is definitely not on his side. Eventually, of course, time won't be on anyone's side. For now however, the person hurt the most by the delays is Kasparov. He's the oldest top player.

Kramnik, Ponomariov, and the others are obviously smart guys. They know this. Their tactics have been terrific. We're four years out from the K-K 2000 match when the title changed hands and Kasparov has been artfully kept from a rematch. This certainly seems wrong to me, but if the other two guys are afraid of him, you've got to appreciate their success in keeping him out.

This all must be very conflicting ... for Kramnik especially. On the one hand, he won the championship fair and square. On the other, until he gives Kasparov a rematch, he'll never get the recognition he probably seeks and assumes he deserves. He'll also never get the money he'd (or any future contenders) would like. The fact is that Chess has only one name who can draw the really big bucks consistently. Again, that's Garry Kasparov.

So, without unification and without Kasparove, the chess world is left fighting for smaller purses. Hence, the conflict.

So, what's the solution? Well, I think that we now have enough evidence to know -- rhetoric aside -- that not everyone is interested in unification, at this time anyway.

To make progress, we need a solution -- a plan, that is independent of personalities. The plan has to be put together without considering any of the players in a way that's fair to the chess world (as opposed to being fair to any combination of its current participants). It needs to be a plan that can go forward with regularity and with reasonable frequency. And, here's the best part, as long as it's clear and unambiguous, it doesn't matter which of the myriad of options is chosen.

It's pretty clear that no matter what plan is chosen it will be unfair to someone. So, live with it! A decision should be made, letting the "chips fall as they may."

Of course, there are still a couple of unanswered questions here. The most important one is who is going to make the decision? It's not clear (to me anyway) if FIDE still has the clout to do it. The ACP? They've got to show more than they already have, I think. A long-term sponsor, should one exist? Not clear. And that brings up the second unanswered question. How important is money? If the amount of the prize fund is of overriding significance, we might as well all admit it, and build a plan that maximizes the players' gain -- and that, of course, again means including Kasparov.

But we'd better hurry. If that's the ultimate goal, time is not on our side either.

The bottom line is simple:

Kasparov himself started this mess. He's the one who has consistently cheated the chess establishment by almost destroying FIDE when it was convenient to him. Now, he's trying to use FIDE as a shortcut to a world championship match.

Any semi-intelligent person knows Kramnik (not a great character himself!) is the real World Champion. He took the title form Kasparov.

Kasparov should, like anand or any other player, play by the same qualification rules every other title aspirant has to play by.

As simple as that. Anything else is just good old-fashioned cheating, no matter who it comes from.

My mistake. Re-reading the letter by Ray Keene, it doesn't look like there will be even a 3-4 month delay. Schedule Dubai so that Anand and Pono can also play. And the winner plays Kramnik (as was the plan earlier). What's so difficult with that and why will there be such a huge delay? Even if there is a clash, Anand and Pono might prefer to go to Dubai in their interest(assuming there is a concrete plan and not the usual vapor from FIDE).


ps: I never thought I would ever agree with something proposed by Ray Keene :)

Oh, and unification is absolutely an end unto itself. As long as the principals agree and everyone agrees that there is only one world champion afterwards, how it is achieved is almost irrelevant and what comes after will almost certainly be an improvement. Utopian thinking is fine for internet comments, but don't confuse it with reality. A perfect and well-funded plan isn't going to drop out of the sky. Things are likely to be easier to organize and fund after the title is unified. At the very least we'll know what we're dealing with. Writing a proposal with a dozen "ifs" in it is a waste of time.

i agree with Kapalik. Ray Keene's proposal is brilliant. It's more inclusive, more honorable and appropriate, sets nothing back, and wastes no time.

Why didn't Kramnik make his proposal while the Ponomariov discussions were first going on? (Before that match plan failed.)

Or before the most recent FIDE KO?

Or right after the most recent FIDE KO?

Why wait until the Kasparov-Kasimdhzanov match is actually announced with a date to propose an alternative?

It is this which makes sponsors and fans crazy, not to mention those trying to qualify for the various events.

If Kramnik was going to say I will play the winner of the FIDE match if and only if it is Ponomariov and Kasparov, well, perhaps something different might have happened back in December 2003.

If Kramnik wanted to say I support all those who were not invited to Libya, I will not regard that winner as appropriate for reunification--why not say that BEFORE the KO started? When it might have affected a change?

This is the part I don't understand.

Kasparov suggested an alternative single event format back in Spring 2004 that WOULD include Anand. He did so before the FIDE KO and before Kramnik had found a sponsor for the Fall. Kramnik said nothing about it then. If Kramnik felt he needed to give Leko a chance first, well, why not just say so?

(And as for Anand, remember he did play in the same event that Ponomariov qualified from, and he did receive an invitation to the event that Kasimdhzanov qualified from. Not ideal, but not shut out.)


Any suggestion that proposes throwing out an existing event that already has a sponsor annoys and disturbs ALL potential sponsors.

If ACP truly wants to create an atmosphere that is good for chess professionals, they need to make this particular point clear to ALL participants. No matter how you feel about your opponents, show some respect for the sponsors.

Irvin and niceforkinmove has said a lot of what I was planning to say and did so a lot more cogently.

Regarding NYC Knight's comment: I am not for keeping FIDE out of unification. All I am asking for is a committment from FIDE on what they plan after unification (hopefully no KOs, rapids, blitzes, and FIDE time controls).

Similarly a promise from Kasparov that if he wins, he doesn't go his own way and hand-pick a challenger after a long gap.

Is that too much to ask for?


Curmudgeon: Kramnik defended his title 4 years after he won it by playing a challenger who qualified fairly. Kasparov waited 5 years after beating Anand and hand-picked Kramnik (his excuse for the delay: money as always). I didn't see Mig or others criticizing him at that time.

Irvin, I dont know what's going on with you. Sure we need a solution, a fair solution. First of all, the truth is Kasparov is not like any other player around today or in the history of Chess ever. His results prove that, he is the greatest chess player. Give honor where it belongs. No one cannot deny the historical facts.

Now tell me what kind of Unification are we going to have without Kasparov? FIDE understood this, but not Kramnik. This is getting clear now, this guy is not for the Unification at all. Instead, he wants ACP to organize the WC mathes. What a tragedy for Chess because of one man. Kramnik has agreed to play the winner of Kasparov-Pono match. But this guy Pono who is a good friend of Kramnik refused to play Kasparov. Now its natural, that Kramnik is supposed to play the Kasparov-Kasim winner. Now this is backing out. Everyone knows for sure now, Kramnik does not want this to happen.


I think Kramnik didn't speak earlier because he hadn't played his match with Leko yet. Making all those statements without beating Leko would only have been presumptous and arrogant. He probably also wanted to be fair to Leko.

Besides, I am not saying Kramnik has been perfect. But of all the players, he has been the most consistent and principled.

AFAIK, Kasparov's proposal came after Kramnik-Leko was announced and FIDE was silent of the Kasparov match.


Anyone who thinks clearing up the miniscule doubt caused by the FIDE "world championship" is automatically going to make everything better, has thier head in the clouds. They are the idealists without a grip on reality. Only Kirsan and maybe Ponomariov thinks the FIDE title holder is the real world champion. Correcting thier misconception is hardly important.

The problem with the world championship is that for years neither Kasparov or FIDE proposed a legitimate system to compete for the title. Most of the top ten players have *never* in thier whole career had *any* opportunity to try to win that title. Finally Kramnik won it and he wants to be sure that doesn't happen again. He wants to be sure that someone nobody ever heard of doesn't win some blitz games and be declared the "World champion" when those who have really proved they deserve a shot at the title are left empty handed. So he is the villian for this?

Just because we have a "unified champion" FIDE will not suddenly change into this wonderfull organization that helps chess players. FIDE has made one bad decision after another. How can unconditionally giving them a unified title be good for chess?

Kramnik did not cancel anything he has pointed out the *fact* that FIDE did not follow prague, but he is still interested in working out a solution with them. I believe, he has said his most important concern is the future cycles. This is indeed what everyone who isn't short sighted should be concerned about. Will FIDE continue to drag thier feet on this issue like they have for the last 2 years since Prague? That is the real question.

There have been some posts by niceforkinmove saying that Kasim is not a strong realistic Champion as Pono. Its not true. He has showed it in Tripoli. Yes, no one has heard of him before. So what, now atleast he is in the news now. I tell you, Kasim is even more dangerous than Leko as a challenger. Leko played more professional and lost the won match. But Kasim is not Leko. He is very unconventional. He sits motionless, quiet. But he is a great weaver at the Chess board. Please don't underestimate him. Pono on the other hand has not won any major tournament after he won the FIDE WC match. Now, how can you say that Kramnik would have played Pono, not Kasim because he is not a realistic Champ?

Kapalik, you are saying that Kramnik of all the players has been the most consistent and principled. There is truth in this. Kramnik has been the most consistent, principled, successful player so far to keep Kasparov from the rematch, or this Unification match agreed under the Prague.

Just to be clear...of course it is appropritae for anyone to criticise any individual sponsor or any individual event or process. I just meant that we do need to develop a greater understanding of what sponsors in general need and want in return for their sponsorship, and to have respect for that. If that is, we hope to see the usual commercial sponsors return to the process.

Kapalik, I agree with you that FIDE should promise that they are going to implement classical time controls etc for a new cycle. Also Kasparov or any other player who wins WC title should not go on their own way making unreasonable demands. The Chess world should be united, should work to promote it faithfully as we are all debtors to this greatest and purest of all sports.

It doesn't really matter to me whether FIDE or Kasparov or any individual organisation or person is involved in reunification.

What matters is that there be a PROCESS that has a regular time frame.


The process has to hold regardless of the actual names attached. If you want to qualify Anand because he is the #2 rated, or because of specific events that he won, or because of a formula that takes into account rating and events won, fine.

But make it a formula that will apply as well to others.


At this point, to be honest, I don't care who the "current" world champion is, as long as there is a process created that can stand for multiple repeated future cycles and that we can legitimately start signing up sponsors for.

Most commercial sponsorship is not the result of a single individual writing a large check. It is instead about a 2 year process just to put a sponsorship in place. If you can't keep your event regulations pretty stable for 4 years, you won't get commercial sponsorship. ("Here's how we do it, we'd like you to sponsor the next cycle.")


At this point, I see only one way to bring commercial sponsorship back in.

1. Kramnik keeps his classical title.

2. Kasparov and Kasimdzhanov play for the 2005 FIDE World Championsihp title as already announced.

3. Both titles hold as historical facts. Then we throw out BOTH processes, and start over completely. NO ONE GETS A FREE PASS.

The ACP or some other organization starts a NEW process, based on accomplishments, not names. Just do it. Just start.

Design a qualification process that makes sense and can be repeated. If Kasparov/Kasimdzhanov and Kramnik want to participate, presumably they'll qualify on some basis for invitations. But their existing championship titles will have nothing to do with qualification into the new process. There is NO defending champion in the first event.

We've tried "reunification" and "unification." They don't work, because the process doesn't stay stable.

So, we acknowledge and admire the accomplishments of the past. But we do not allow them to control the shape of the future.

Kasimdzhanov deserves his match with Kasparov, and the sponsors deserve to have it happen. FIDE can take its payday from that.

But the time has come to admit that there is no unification process that makes sense any more. It's time to move on to something focused on the process rather than the individuals.

What odds woudl you give kasparov? 2 to 1, 10 to one? Heres the link to a website from someone who likes stats. He shows that based on rating Kasparov has a 94% chance of winning. Kasim has a 2.6% chance of winning and thier is a 3.4% chance that the match will be drawn. If it goes rapid games tiebreaks Kasim's chances increase dramatically. But the chances are very small. Is this what you consider a real qualifier?

Look Kasim needs to win real classic time control games and get his ratign up before people will seriously consider his claim to be the best chess player in the world. Kasim seems like a nice person and a terrific chess player but to say tripoli proved he should jump infront of the 40+ people with a higher rating is crazy.

kramnik is right. Kasim has showed the world that he is an amazing rapid chess player. But what should that have to do with the world title?

Pono never struck me as the best chess player in the world either. He did manage to become rated in the top 10 in the world over and above winning the FIDE KO circus. Not wonderful but Kasparov would have had to at least show up and probably reveal at least some of his preparation.

The problem isn't Kasimdzhanov's playing strength but rather the kind of tournament he won: excluding Israeli players, the strongest players not participating in it.
You can't have a "world championhip" worthy of that name if the players of one nation are prevented from playing. That simply is no "world championship".
And you cannot build legitimacy (the legitimacy of the unified world champion title no less) on the basis of something as rotten as the Tripoli event.

Hello Duif,
I do not know how your ideal solution can be helpful at all. The pressing problem is about the Unification not to start from the scratch. It is useless. No one is going to agree on that. Why would Kramnik wants to give away the title without defending? Not like in any other sport, in Chess, we have this grand tradition from time past that, only a Challenger can get that chance to play a match against WC. Why would any wise man just give away the WC title for which , he has worked hard all his life. What we need is Unification. Good news is that atleast all the parties are for it except Kramnik with his new demand. We all have to put pressure on Kramnik and get the process started.

Duif is right. Working on a new cycle that is fair is what needs to *finally* get done. We will waste more time patching Prague and arguing about prague and end up with nothing really accomplished. Instead organaizations should finally start working with the top players and put together a fair and legitimate cycle. This is the only way to really accomplish something of lasting value to chess. This should start immediately. If Kirsan is going to insist on WC lotteries in the future the sooner we find out the sooner ACP can take over.

Martin you are right too. Tripoli is a disgrace to chess on many levels but most of all because of the reasons you give.

Its time to stop whining about what happened in Prague 3 years ago and start creating a fair and legitamate world champ cycle.

I think it's Kramnik's move now. He is a world champ. He rejected FIDE qualifier, so he must propose his own system - fair and widely accepted. His recent proposal - tournament for 4 candidates - isn't fair (what about Moro and Topalov, and others?)and will never be accepted. But if Kramnik didn't propose anything sensible in a near future his credibility will drop dramatically. So I'm rather optimistic. It is in his best interest to bring forward some solution - a system with large group of top players participating. This is bad news for Kasparov and Kasim and FIDE of course. But maybe not a bad news for chess.

NYC Knight,

If anyone can come up with a unification process that Kramnik, FIDE, Kasparov, and Kasimdzhanov can all agree to, I'm all in favor of that.

But if, as it looks like now, unification can NOT be accomplished, then I'm in favor of a process that doesn't require any agreement from Kramnik or Kasparov, but that produces a classical time control championship at the end.

That is, just say, "Great, you guys have the old titles. Congratulations. Here's a new title. Play for it or not as you like. But it will have a process that remains consistent and stable for the next 4 cycles."

I know--we tried it with the FIDE Knock-out. But the format just wasn't quite right. In other words we need to learn from that experience.


First, we have to get rid of the idea that rapids decides the match. If they're tied, use a roulette wheel to advance. Why is that better? Because it doesn't reward one kind of chess over another.

It says, if you two players are equally matched, you're equally matched. Only one can advance, so we'll let luck decide.

That's how it worked in the classical candidates' matches, by the way--Smyslov advanced over Huebner because of a roulette wheel spin. And for the finals, OK, if tied the champion retains the title.


Second, Khalifman's proposal looks pretty good. The KO determines 7 candidates, so it's really taking the place of the old Interzonal, not the old Championship. They are joined by the defending champion to make 8. (In the first cycle, just qualify the top 8. No special seeding.) Start traditional classical time control quarter finals, and play to a champion.


Costs are MUCH lower than in a traditional classical cycle. LOTS of people get to paritcipate, including rapidly rising juniors. But the final stage is at classical time controls. And rapids chess has nothing to do with the outcome.

If Kramnik and Kasparov want to play for this title, they have to be willing to go through the Interzonal stage, So, maybe they won't be willing. So maybe they remove themselves from the world champoinship cycle, as Fischer did. Maybe they continue to try to organize title matches based on their personal prestige. It won't hurt anything. Because players like Morozevich and Radjabov will be competing in a legitimate format for a legitimate title.

One caveat, of course--this format MUST include players from all countries of the world. Or it, too, foregoes its claims to legitimacy.

So...if unification can be made to work, great.

All I'm saying is that if unification fails yet again, it's time to move on, without worrying about the particular names that might or might not play.

Look hard at the FIDE KO and ask WHY wasn't it accepted as the legitimate title? In other words, take the year that Anand won. What could have been done to that format to make fans accept it? I think eliminating the rapids factor and changing the quarter finals stages would probably be enough.

But then, what do I know? :)

From the point of view of an average IM/GM
it is better to have the current status quo: a chance to play
the 128-FIDE KO, and a chance to play the ACP Grand Prix with
real chances to have a shot at the (rapid) FIDE WC or at the
classical ACP title. I can't see why, for the ordinary GM Joe,
the "unification" is a blessing...actually must be bad news:
FIDE (that very same "group of corrupt bunglers") will control
a lot of money --since the pro-unification
group predicts sponsors will flood the FIDE bank accounts--
they will feel like ducks in clear water..
The average GM Joe will have little hope to get that cheque for
US $ 10k as it was(is) in the current KO version: eventually all the
(remaining after corruption)money will go to the (semi)finalist only...


The problem with the current situation is that it isn't stable.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find sponsors for the FIDE KO. And the prize fund has gone steadily down from cycle to cycle.

The same is true for the classical title held by Kramnik.

So unless something is done (either unification or a new system), there won't be any prize fund to play for in a WC cycle, at least for those below the semifinals level.

Still, the ACP Grand Prix shows promise, as individual private events have continued to be held. But then I don't see too many "average IMs" invited to those...

The situation is complicated because FIDE is organising Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov match, which is, well, almost absolutely senseless (and in fact hardly has anything to do with Prague agreements - FIDE is just cheating). Do you want to see the Unification or do you want to see Kasparov, playing matches? Please decide this first. What Kramnik proposes, sounds great but the problem with Dubai sponsors is obvious. So, if Kramnik proposal fails, the best is to wait for outcome of the Kasimdzhanov vs Kasparov match. Then, some new situation in chess will arise, and the new ideas will be needed. Now, the situation seems to be just conceptually unsolvable (unless the Dubai sponsors and involved players will all accept Kramnik's plan).

To me, the most interesting thought experiment is this: could we design a repeatable process in which Anand becomes the world champion and is accepted as such even if Kramnik and Kasparov do not participate?

That is, Anand becomes World Champion and there is a pre-announced process in place for selecting his challenger which involves qualifications, not names. So that we all start to get excited wondering if Morozevich or Adams or Topalov, or why not? Radjabov will be the next challenger? Or will Kasparov and Kramnik re-enter the cycle and challenge?

That to me would prove we had achieved what we need--a title that anyone can aspire to, and that commercial sponsors can imagine sponsoring for 2 or 3 cycles.

If the answer to this thought experiment is that it is impossible to imagine ANYONE, even Anand, winning a world championship and being considered legitimate if Kramnik and Kasparov do not participate, then we know what the problem is.

But if the answer to this is, "Well, yes, I could imagine that" then at least we have an interesting place to start.

Mikhail, the situation has become complicated because of Kramnik proposing a new qualifier match. As planned before, FIDE is organizing the match between FIDE winner and Kasparov to decide a winner to play Kramnik. How do you see this as senseless and complicated? As you know all the parties have said yes to the Prague Agreement. If Kramnik and his friends ACP thought this is senseless, why did not they raise any objection at that time? Who is a flipflopper here? FIDE or Kramnik? When you sign an agreement, one must honor it. Kramnik was ready to play Kasparov-Pono match winner. But I doubt it now. If Kramnik likes the idea of Unification, why he is proposing a new qualifier? Did he not sign the Prague saying he will play the FIDE champ? It is easy to blame FIDE for everything.

GMJoe, I agree with Duif that with 2 parallel systems, there is confusion and very difficult to find sponsors. First and foremost thing is get the Unification done.

Duif, lets be optimistic about the Unification process. We all know for sure to have it start again from the scratch is not realistic at all. Kramnik is not going to give his title to start from the scratch.


You agree with Duif about starting on a new cycle. Yes indeed, it is fair and just for me and you. But not for Kramnik atleast. Do you expect Kramnik to give away his title for the Unification? You are in the clouds if you are thinking that way. The man is not even ready to play a K-K winner, how can you expect us to believe Kramnik giving away his title for this noble cause.

Ok, lets get to the current situation. Look, we have to be optimistic on the Unification process that has already begun. It is the 2nd stage. The match has already been announced by FIDE. Please at this moment, you cannot expect Anand, Pono to bring in. If you think, its fair (according to Kramnik)for them to play, why not bring in other top players like Shirov, Leko, Moro, Adams and even Fischer? So it makes no sense and this can go on forever trying to find who is really qualified. I mean Kramnik, I dont think, he is anyway stronger than these guys. Lets finish what we have started. The Unification has begun and we need Kramnik to complete this process.

I can understand choosing to-play-or-not based on monetary concerns but this foolishness exhibited by Pono, Anand, and others about protesting seeding makes one think that they were afraid to play! If they think someone is unfairly seeded the surest way to demonstrate it is to step up and beat them decisively - otherwise quit whining.

I agree with you. Anand kept quiet when the Prague Agreement was being signed. Maybe he was expecting his friend Kramnik will come to rescue him later. And Kramnik is very faithful as we all know now.
What can one say about Pono? How foolish he is everyone knows. Not only He lost a chance to play a match against Kasparov, but even the pay too. Now Pono's faithful friend Kramnik wants him in. Its a joke. Why cant these guys play in the new cycle? Why Anand is keeping quiet as always? He did not play in Tripoli just because Kasparov is seeded to play the FIDE winner. But Kasparov has earned the position for being No. 1 for 20 years. I dont understand why there is so much of opposition to this present plan.

>As planned before, FIDE is organizing the match >between FIDE winner and Kasparov to decide a >winner to play Kramnik.

Sorry. This is both factually and conceptually wrong. In Prague it was planned that the winner of the FIDE Wch 2001/2002 (where everyone except Kasparov and Kramnik have played), namely GM Ruslan Ponomariov, will play Kasparov. The Prague agreements reflected a temporarily balance between some interests, some results and some realities. It was all extremelly time sensitive. And it was necessary to proceed quickly. Basically, the delay with ratification till FIDE congress 2002 as it was later proved, became critical. In the meantime FIDE+Kasparov managed to do very unfair things to Ponomariov, latter angered, and everything simply collapsed. The "official", ultimate and unrecoverable end of the Prague was the closure of Ponomariov-Kasparov match by Ilyumzhinov in 2003.

People (especially Kasparov's supporters) have right to have their own opinions on these matters. This is a basic right of humans.
However, I did not see in Prague agreement anything about possible new knockout as qualifier to GM Kasparov. Kramnik say that Prague is dead, and by all means it is true. I can only suggest to everyone to forget about this once and forever.

To be clear, I'm not saying Kramnik should give away anything if unification doesn't happen.

He can keep the title he has, of classical world champion under a system with a very limited pool of challengers. He can continue to try to find challengers and sponsors.

I just think that IF unification doesn't happen, the chess world should move on to a process based on qualifications, not names. A process that doesn't require the participation of any one player to identify a new World Champion.

All of that said, I'd much rather see unification happen. So I agree to be optimistic for awhile. :)

Duif, thanks for raising the hopes! great!!

Mikhail, its true that winner of FIDE Wch 2001/2002 ie., Ruslan was to play Kasparov. This match did not happen. Who is responsible for this? What evidence you have that FIDE+Kasparov was responsible. Cmon, Kasparov was dying to play Pono. Why would Kasparov did not want the match to happen. There must be some justification to your suspicion about FIDE+Kasparov. Pono has to be blamed.
Also, thinking that Prague is dead on the basis that, the match between Kasparov-Pono did not happen will not be profitable to the Unification process. The theme of the Prague Agreement was the Unification. Its not a biggy if Pono did not play Kasparov, that Prague is dead. Kramnik and his supporters think this way. But we are not. The thorn in the flesh for Kramnik is not Pono nor Kasim. Here the thorn is Kasparov. Why it is hard for you guys to accept Kasparov? afterall he has been World No. 1 for 20 years.

you are right I misunderstood Duif. Kramnik should not simply give up his title. He should be able ot defend it like it has been defended for ages.

Basically my idea was for FIDE to finally get realistic. Since they strip the previous world champ of the title every year they could just acknowledge the new cycle as the true world champ.

Kramnik should be seeded into the semi-finals or finals but FIDE shoudln't mind this. After all they seeded Kasparov who held no title into the finals of thier world championship. So perhaps I don't agree with Duif if he indeed thinks we shoudl simply discard the world championship title.

I do think we shoudl stop arguing about what was or wasn't agreed to 3 years ago in prague. We are not in the second cycle and it hard to find *any* obligation under th prague agreement that has been fulfilled. Only Kramnik playing the dortmund winner has been accomplished but even this was done way too late to be considered in compliance with Prague.

Kramnik has the title lets get a cycle in place to compete for it.

In order to have a "unification" the chess world must start from the basis of respecting the status of both world champions. Otherwise, the word "unification" is actually meaningless. The very concept of quadrangular qualifier or something like that to select an opponent for Kramnik is insulting for FIDE because it does not give Kazim the same status as Krammik, it does not place them as equals. We would have to make some concessions. Kazim won the world championship under the FIDE rules: he IS a world champion. The tournament was not perfect? Sure. But I am sure one could also find many imperfections in the process that produced Kramnik as a challenger and then as a champion.
This mutual acceptance and respect of the status of the other champion lies in the heart of any possible unification plan and without it, all would be dead letters.

Best regards,

Francisco: I totally agree with you!! Thanks for sharing.

niceforkinmove: Thanks for the reply. Ok, lets stop for a moment arguing the case on the basis of Prague.
What kind of match-plan for the Unification you have at the moment? Who is going to play the Kramnik for the Unification match? Is Kasparov-Kasim match winner? or a winner of quadrangular match which was proposed by Kramnik?
Please reply.

>Mikhail, its true that winner of FIDE Wch >2001/2002 ie., Ruslan was to play Kasparov. This >match did not happen. Who is responsible for >this?

I have my own, quite clear opinion about who is responsible, but I would not vaste time for this, I must apologize. Because it is just unimportant in the light of what we are discussing today: the legitimacy of Prague.

In Prague it was decided: Kasparov plays Ponomariov, Kramnik plays vs the winner of Dortmund. Ponomariov didn't play Kasparov, for any reason. So, the unification within frames of Prague didin't happen, and entirely new plan is needed. Period.

The Ilyumzhinov's idea to organize a new FIDE Ch as qualifier to Kasparov could only have been sold to Mig Greengard and other Kasparov fans. We will never find an agreement on this.

Mikhail, the match between Pono-Kasparov did not happen for whatever reason. Lets leave that to Pono & Kasparov fans.

You tell me, how this has effected Kramnik? Why he is refusing to play the FIDE qualifier? Why Kramnik kept quiet till last week? There is more to this than the Prague Agreement itself. The Prague agreement was meant to unify the Chess. Kramnik played Leko. Kasparov-Pono match did not take place.So what, FIDE is atleast doing their part organizing the match between Kasparov-Kasim. Why it is hard for kramnik to accept this? Sure, if Kramnik is really interested in this Unification, he will have no problems playing a Kasparov-Kasim match winner. Kramnik's new tactics at this time show that he does not like the idea of facing Kasparov. If Kasim wins the K-K match, sure Kramnik will agree to play him. Kramnik thinks Kasparov is going to meet him for the Unified title. If Kramnik thinks he is the best in the world, why he is afraid of Kasparov? C'mon the chess world is looking for the ultimate battle between Kasparov and Kramnik.

NYC I gave my opinions on what a match system should involve in comments under "Kramnik wins sort of" I didn't give an exact method, not becasue its impossible, but becasue I think it should be very well thought out.

Consider this: Why do you think Fischer was the best chess player in 1972? Why do you think Spassky was best in 1969? Do you believe this because you looked them up on chessmetrics? Or do you believe this because they won matches against the best opponents in the world? Having players win the recognition as the best in the world by playing matches agaisnt eachother is in my opinon still the best way to decide a world champ.

In sum I think we have to ask: what if a player thinks he is better at chess than anyone in the world and wants a chance to prove it? Does a Tripoli type event help them? No. Any player in the top 60 can win that. Two game matches tell us nothing in chess. IMO you need to have at least a 10 game match before you start drawing conclusions.

Our rating system is not perfect for deciding the pecking order for the top ten, but clearly it is good enough that we can rule out players who are rated 160 rating points below the top rated player. Where we draw that line may be a tough decision and we shoudln't get too worked up on that but we should draw it somewhere.

We should just have enough players so that they can then start proving thier case (that they play better chess than anyone in the world) by letting them start playing matches against other competitors. The lower you are on the rating list the more evidence (read: match wins) you will need to prove your case. So its fine to have a few wild card events that may throw someone who is rated 25th into the mix but he shoudln't start at the same point as someone who is rated 2nd in the world. In other words the ratings set up a certain presumption.

I gave the starting points that should be considered and discussed which include considering people becasue of 1)rating 2) ACP points 3) National titles which could lead to geographic qualifiers 4) winners of certain established tournaments. The new cycle can take into account any or all of the above to choose players who would then start a series of matches.

As I said above, I do not think all players who play in the matches should start at the same level. For example, the top four rated players (other than the World champ) could be seeded into the qurterfinals.

For example if we took the top four players directly to the quarter finals they could then play the 4 surviors of 16 others: 4 zonal winners the players rated 4-12 and 4 other other players decided by any other preset criteria. Thus these "extra 16" players would have to win 2 extra matches first to prove they didn't just have one good tournament etc. (I know I didn't include the world champ in semifinals or account for him in the finals but the ideas should be tweaked.)

Saying the FIDE WC has an equal footing with the real world champ is simply false. If everyone had to agree to this before there will be decent match cycle there never will be one. FIDE's WC lottery winner has never been accepted as *the* World Champ. FIDE either has to face this fact or they simply shoudln't have a role in the new cycle. If ACP can get credible system (ie., a system that we can really say has a great chance of being won by the best chess player) in place that the top players believe gives them a fair shot at the championship then FIDE is irrelevant on this issue.

Tripoli was illegitimate therefore it's results are illegitimate, therefore it cannot be the basis of anything except more garbage.


Ok, let's agree with the following: Prague agreement has been modified by circumstances and time and action of parties. And that that is almost inevitable in chess. There are therefore two questions, one, has the spirit of the agreement been violated and two, is there any ethical problem with continuing to participate in the deal?

To one, I have to say no. Ponomariov pulled out and was replaced with the person who qualified in the exact same way: winning a FIDE knockout championship. Kasparov is playing. Kazimdzhanov may not be the greatest player in the world, but he won Tripoli and deservingly so. I would argue with Kramnik who said that he won in active chess, he had victories in regular chess against many tough grandmasters there and delivering many beautiful knockouts in rapid tiebreaks--you don't beat that many grandmasters in a row by luck alone. If this is not the way to qualify for the title, I don't see how Kramnik can accept Ponomariov as a contender. No, Vlad must accept Rustam as an apporpirately chosen replacement.

Which brings us to the second question. You know there was one and only one angle which I think Kramnik could have pursued to legitimately refuse to play. That is the dirty anti-Semitic tricks of Tripoli organizers which tainted that championship and if they didn't prevent the Jewish grandmasters from participating they certainly were a valid cause for many to refuse to participate.

Had Kramnik spoken out about this before or after the match, I would have given his argument a second thought. Seeing as he didn't, I view him as a coward, no more. He refused a rematch to Garry, hoped to out-draw Leko and is now refusing to fight Garry again.

Vishy, Peter, Garry or Moroz knock him off. Please. Oh wait, he is refusing to play you on the grounds I left Khalifman out.



You have questioned Kramnik's stance as "hypocritical" and not being "consistent". This can only be possible if there is a symmetry in the two positions. You have (unfairly?) balanced the two arguments with the word "including". "Including" does NOT mean the same thing on both sides. On the Kasparov side it mean "placing Kasparov into the semifinals". On the Anand side it means "placing Anand into a semifinals tournament."

Pono didn't qualify by winning a KO event. He "qualified" because everyone who signed Prague agreed that *he* would be an acceptable opponent for Kasparov in a semifinal. Period End of Story. We can not sit here and say we can change oponents around without gettign everyones agreement to do so before hand. No one agreed that whoever would win a highly flawed KO tournament in 2005 would be acceptable. Thats your own proposal but no one signed that proposal. Kasim (ranked @ 50) is not an acceptable substitute for Pono who was ranked about 10th in the world.

Also the spirit of Prague was to get the first cycle done fast. While the flawed first cycle was getting arranged the second cycle was to be lined up AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. (emphasis in the original document) So the spirit was yes the first cycle is flawed but the idea is we will just get it over so we can quickly get going with a fair second cycle. By now the second cycle should have been underway and but it hasn't even been *sketched out*. This is way too unfair to those not included in the arbitrary first cycle and we need to get the real deal going now. It was a noble attempt to get things done quick and dirty. Now so much time has passed its just dirty.

Yuriy, I agree with you 100 %. Winner of Kasim-Kasparov match deserves to play Kramnik.

NYKnight, but why should Kramnik risk his title and deal with the dirty FIDE guys - without, at least, obtaining possibility to get truly unified title? It's just not prestigous (correct word?) for him to play the winner of Kasimdzhanov vs Kasparov match. Also, he, as I guess, wants to give a chance for all the top players. For example, Kasparov or Kasimdzhanov wins and Kramnik will play. In eyes of Anand, Shirov, Svidler, Morozevich, Ponomariov it hardly would be called the fair world championship. Kramnik is more interested in colleagues' opinion than Kasparov (who is arrogant, what always provokes disrecpect and hate).

Mikhail, I understand what you said about Kramnik's concern about the title. Whatever the format of the qualifier whether it is Bi-Quad etc, it is good for all of us if this Unification happens as soon as possible. All the parties should reach an agreement. Its hard, but it is still possible.

All the top players will get their chance in the new cycle. Trying to include them all right now will only delay the process. If we include Anand and Pono with Kasim & Kasparov....it does not look fair for other top players like Adams, Moroz etc.


Based on the information available from this site, and particularly your posts regarding Prague, it does not appear that Kramnik is obligated to defend his title against anybody at anytime. If that is true, why would there be serious effort made to develop a challenger process? Ultimately, Kramnik will only play the winner of that process if he wants to. Why not remove the veil and just tell Kramnik to pick someone? How is that any different from him agreeing to some form of challenger circuit when he can change his mind at the last minute without losing his title?

I guess you could try to get Kramnik to sign a binding contract for a challenger process, but hasn't Prague already proven the futility of that idea?

One rule change I want to see if a new world championship cycle ever gets going is this- no one should get to have a rematch for the world championship! If you lose, then you rejoin the rest of the world in going through the normal cycle.

I can see it now, Kramnik will finally agree to a match for "re-unification" (how can it be re-unification if the other side were never real world champions?) but only with a rematch clause. Thus all the other players in the world will once again be put on hold waiting for a rematch to be played should Kramnik lose.

Rematches should be banned!

There hasn't been a rematch clause in decades. Kasparov abolished it after taking the title from Karpov. I hope any new champion would be ashamed to revive it.

Draw odds is the main point of contention these days. In this age of such parity and so many draws, giving the champion an extra point at the start is a huge advantage.

For the final time, Prague was not a contract! It was a committment of all the principals to do what they could to unify the title as soon as possible. Depending on your attitude about such things, that is either more or less binding than a legal contract.

It may be decades since it was used, but that was the last time there was a true world championship cycle! So, that is what I want to make sure is avoided when a new cycle gets introduced.

I agree with Kramnik that FIDE has not shown any sign of suddenly starting to be reasonable on anything. The farce in Libya is only the latest in a long string of fumbles by FIDE. ACP and FIDE should sit down and put together a true standard for world championship cycles to follow the next world championship match. Then they should organize a match such as followed WWII to quickly produce the next challenger so that the cycles can begin. I would simply use the top ten players in the world in the match to produce the challenger. Why give anything special to people who simply won a rapid knock-out- what does that have to do with classical chess? If one of the top ten refuses to play then go to the next in line, but get this done and over so Kramnik can play the winner and start the cycle.


I thought the first paragraph of what I wrote demonstrated that I understood Prague was not a contract.

So instead of the chess world killing itself to find something fair which is actually just something that satisfies Kramnik, put it back on him. Say that no process is going to be fair b/c the champion, not the system, is in control. Don't give Kramnik anything and force him to defend his de facto title by finding his own challengers (or vice versa) and sponsors.

Anyone who disagrees with this, please explain how you can reconcile the authority Kramnik has in this process with fairness.

Mr. Levy's scenario seems quite likely but I wouldn't consider it any worsening of the present situation.

Afterall, we just saw a decent match between Kramnik and Leko (finally!)

It would be perfectly ok for me if Kramnik just says: I will play the 2005 Dortmund/Linares/etc. winner in 2006....Kasparov, Anand: you are invited.

It would most certainly produce another reasonable challenger. I do not think it is really necessary to give players below top 10 a shot at the title.

Horacio, you are not being optimistic at all. We cannot achieve Unification, if Kramnik goes on with his separate WC cycle. Its the same thing again with 2 World Champions. As a result we can never have an undisputed WC,good commercial sponsorship, lot of confusion and public even loose interest in Chess. So the best thing for Chess is have the Unification as soon as possible. Kramnik is ready. FIDE, Kasparov are ready for the Unification. But they all should reach an agreement. I hope this can be done, if these who are involved have sincere interest for the sake of Chess.

I reviewed both Kramnik's full interview and Susan Polgar's comments on the situation. Both make very good points.



But the essential condition for commercial sponsorship such as both describe is stability.

This requires that at the time a Championship is played, a procedure be in place for choosing the next challenger. That is, at that very moment when we DON'T know exactly who the next champion will be, we need a process in place to chose his/her challenger for the next cycle.

In terms of the classical title, we have had that only once since the split with FIDE back in 1993. At the start of the recent Kramnik-Leko match, we all believed that we knew who the next challenger would be--the winner of the Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match.

But the moment didn't last. AS soon as an actual name was attached to the Championship, again the process was declared open for alteration.

I cannot disagree with any of the points that Kramnik raises in his interview. But the timing of those comments is what makes commercial sponsorship of the kind he says he would like to see so difficult to get.


Kramnik suggests both golf and tennis as models for professional chess, probably because they both appeal to niche audiences not dissimilar to the chess audience. Yet neither has a "world championship" format anything like the title that Kramnik holds.

Bridge does grant a World Champion title. The World Bridge Championship is an event held every 4 years, rather more similar to FIDE's knockout, and requiring participants to pay an entry fee as well as their own accomodations.


The backgammon world championship is similar to bridge--a knock-out event, entry fees (which become the prize fund), players pay their own way.


As far as I can tell, although I may be mistaken, Go has an Amateur World Championship which is a swiss somewhat like the bridge event, and a number of professional events but no professional world championship. (If I am mistaken in this, please correct me.)

The most popular sport int he world, football (what Americans call soccer), has the World Cup--and it's another elimination style event without special seeding into the finals for the defending champion. (Seeding is complex, and there's no question that the top 4 seeds get special treatment, but it's nothing like the classical chess cycle.)


A point I have often made before, so forgive me if this sounds repetitious, is that chess is ALREADY used every day as an advertising icon, by products that vary from insurance companeis to the US Marine Corps. Chess itself has commercial cachet, much more so than bridge or backgammon. But in order to attach a human face to that icon, sponsors will expect stability.

If we choose the golf or tennis business model, we are going to be looking at a points system, not a classical chess championship.

If we choose the bridge/backgammon model, then the top players are not going to see big prizes coming from the event itself, but rather from their ability to sell themselves as commercial icons after winning a title.

If we want to have a million dollar prize fund for a classical chess championshp that can attract general commercial sponsorship, then some organization is going to have to be willing to commit to setting in place a process that can repeat for at least 3 cycles, regardless of the names attached, and that will still attract at least 7 of the world's top 10, and probably at least 3 of the world's top 5.

And the world's top players are going to have to learn to understand the timing of these things, and made their protests and proposals well in advance of fixed dates for the next stage of the cycle.

Duif, great!!! Your report shows that you have greater understanding and thinking in the business issues of Chess than all those wise people there. Very informative. Thanks again.

This entire debate and especially the lawyery pro- vs. anti-Kramnik rethoric is both counterproductive and premature.
Premature, because we donīt know yet what FIDE's, Kasparov's or even Anand's reactions will be.

Counterproductive, because what we need right now is dialogue (what Vlad is asking for) and willingness to compromise (what the Prague was all about).

At this point in the game there is no legitamacy issue to be resolved. The situation is so cahotic that any reunification process is a progress. If it is also instrumental in reestablishing FIDE - with or without the ACP - after all those desastrous Campomanes and Iljumjinov years, that will be a bonus. The two issues can be addressed simultaneously but that makes the "deal" to be struck even more difficult.

The only legitamacy left is Kramnikīs title and its genealogy. Therefore any reunification must start with a format NEGOTIATED with him. It could be that the Kaspi-Kasim match proves the best solution in the end, for practical reasons. It could be that a whole candidates' cycle (or tournament) would be the best one. In that eventuality, the principles for qualification to it cannot be legalistic. It has to be a compromise based on the present situation, which is similar but not identical to what was the case at the time of Prague. In short, what we need is a PRATICAL not LOGICAL solution.

We chess players easily adopt a mindset that is not conductive to collaborative creativity. We think : who is *right*, White or Black ? How can I *prove* my opponent wrong ? Or even: how can I trick into making a weak move ? The whole history of chess is plagued with the results of this, the transposition of competitive, manicheic chess psychology to the "real" world. People like Seirawan are an exception.

Just curious (I don't have an answer to this one myself)...how many believe that the primary reason Kramnik was able to get a sponsor the the Kramnik/Leko match was BECAUSE the unificaiton process was in place, and people had an additional interest in it for that reason?

That is, if there were no Kasparov/FIDE agreement in place, and again there was no process in place for naming the challenger for the next cycle, would Kramnik/Leko still have attracted commercial sponsorship at that prize level?

As I said, I don't have an answer. But I suspect the answer has a lot to do with determining which business models will be workable going forward.

Boxing has the same championship structure as classical chess, with the same kindo f very large prizes. (My mother pointed this out!) Of course, it also has splintered titles and competing organizations...I suspect a few of the martial arts probably have the same structure, although with smaller prizes.

Other than that, though, is there any other sport or game where people compete for the right to face the previous champion?

To answer Ray- some of us have put fair, unbiased proposals up, not choosing sides, but they get passed over without remark. I guess they are too fair! What would be so wrong with putting together a tournament of the top 10 players (put Kasim in for fairness) in a double round-robin (classic time controls) with the winner playing a world championship match against Kramnik, followed by the start of a new cycle? That answers most criticisms that I have seen.

There is no point in reunification without a true, set-in-stone cycle. I consider the old zonal/candidate match/world championship to be the ideal, though sponsorship depends on chess getting it's prestige back in order.

Much to my "surprise"...

The match Kasimzhanov-Kasparov appears to has been
indefinitely postponed by Ilyumzhinov.

i.e.,the "unification" is postponed...

(sorry, guys, better luck next time..).

I heard that Turkey wants to organize this match!!Atleast, at the latter time, I think, this match is going to happen. Its good for Kramnik that he gets more time to prepare for the finals.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 25, 2004 6:02 AM.

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