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FIDE Unification Tournament

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What part of the word "unification" doesn't FIDE understand? In an statement released after the FIDE Presidential Council meeting in Georgia, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said FIDE would organize a unification tournament. Some of the AP stories say it would happen in October. Then there's a March 15 deadline to hear from the players. With FIDE, deadlines are always for other people.

The idea, if you can call it that, is to have Kasimdzhanov, Adams (KO runner-up), Kramnik, Kasparov, Anand, Leko, Topalov, and Morozevich play a double round-robin for the title. Elista, surprise, was suggested as the venue. Sounds great, but there's a small catch: Kramnik won't play. He's the one FIDE is supposed to be unifying with, remember? A round-robin no more rigorous or democratic than Linares is hardly going to convince Kramnik of a threat to his legitimacy. And if he doesn't play and the tournament goes forward, where are we? A new FIDE champion with the same old split.

Then there's the "well, we'll just ignore Kramnik" option. I just don't have it in me to pretend this is a great chance and to pressure Kramnik to play in it or be left behind. This isn't what a real world championship is supposed to be about. If they cut it to six players and made it four rounds, a la 1948, it would have the necessary rigor. If they had a big qualifier it would have the democracy. Just grabbing guys off the rating list and adding some money (oh yes, where's the money?!) doesn't cut it. It sounds like the famous Georgian wine was flowing freely.


This is no better or worse than the original Prague agreement.

The reasoning then was: it's not pretty, but at least we'll get a unified champion so we can start with a proper cycle.

This new cycle is what really matters.

IF a new summit is required where all parties concerned agree on a new format for the new cycle, then the obvious question is: if it didn't work the first time (Prague), why should we go through all that again?

With a FIDE organisation that has lost all credibility, I don't see a way out of this deadlock.

Let's hope:

a) Leko, Kasparov, Anand, et. al. boycott this latest FIDE-Fiasco.

b) Kasparov drops his rematch demand and

c) The ACP gets its show on the road.

FIDE just can't seem to understand that the devil is in the details.

This idea would work, even without Kramnik or Kasparov's support provided that FIDE had the following in place prior to this press release:

1) the schedule and layout of the future WC cycles
2) the money in an escrow account for this match and the next cycle
3) a confirmed location and all major logistical details worked out for this match and the next cycle.

Telling a world class player "hey, sign up by March 15th for a match at an unknown date at an unknown location with unknown chances of actually happen or we'll do bad things to you" just isn't the way a viable governing body functions.

Greg Koster, why hope? ACP (or Kramnik) will do its thing and FIDE will do theirs. Regardless of what we hope for, that's just how it looks like it will play out anyway.

If ACP or Kramnik manage to organise a cycle that everybody agrees is a valid WC-cycle, FIDE's title will become irrelevant.

"... provided that FIDE had the following in place prior to this press release:
1) the schedule and layout of the future WC cycles"
They did this at Prague. We all know what became of those lofty plans.

"2) the money in an escrow account for this match and the next cycle"
You can (and should) do this for a single match, I don't see this happening for a whole cycle though. A proper cycle will take at least two years and comprise many matches.

"3) a confirmed location and all major logistical details worked out for this match and the next cycle."
Same again. You can work out a schedule and rules for a cycle, you can't expect to have it all paid for and organized beforehand.

With a serious organization, you can trust them to be able to get things organized and sponsored when the time comes. Unfortunately this is not the case with FIDE.

While it's true that a proper cycle will take 2 years and many matches, having the sponsorship lined up and guaranteed for events two years out is not difficult for a good organising body.

The summer olympic games will be held in Beijing in 2008. This was known in 2001! The majority funding was in place for those games prior to the 2004 summer games.

The chess world cycle match is of a much smaller scale, requirers far fewer resources, far lower funding levels, and almost zero long range planning beyond selecting a venue and reserving appropriate hotel and conference room space.

There is no excuse beyond raw incompitence why FIDE should not have all the details for both this and the next cycle in place at this time. Their failure to do that is why this won't work.

With all due respect, the chess world championship is not the Olympics. Corporations want to sponsor the Olympics. Does anyone really think there are companies lining up to sponsor a FIDE world championship? FIDE may not need to come up with as much money, but its task is far more difficult than the fund-raisers for the Olympics.

Well, gee Whiz! Did Fide suggest a time limit? Game 60, maybe?

Even if the Chess WC is not the olympics, it's also not the case that you need hundreds of millions of dollars. Getting a few million together for a chess championship of this magnatude would be trivial for a compitent organization.

The world dart championship is fully sponsored. Are you trying to say that the market for Darts is that much better than the market for Chess world wide?

"Getting a few million together for a chess championship of this magnatude would be trivial for a compitent [sic] organization."

When's the last time *anybody* got "a few million" together for a chess event. The answer will tell you just how "trivial" it is.

"The world dart championship is fully sponsored. Are you trying to say that the market for Darts is that much better than the market for Chess world wide?"

Have you investigated what the world dart champion gets paid? Therein lies your answer.

Well, in 2004 the total prize fund for the world dart championship was around 250,000 pounds, with the winner getting 50,000 pounds. Here's a link: http://www.bullseyenews.com/feature2402-05.html

Not exactly millions of dollars (or else my ideas about the exchange rate are way off).

Some key differences between darts and chess:

1. I think you can complete the darts championship in a few days rather than months as in chess.

2. There's a lot more action in darts.

3. Any idiot can understand what's going on in darts.

4. Spectators can be rowdy at the darts championship. Which brings us to...

5. Darts and booze go together.

I look around at a variety of sports, some paid less than chess players want, some paid more, and what I see is that organizations that capably manage the game entrusted to them have no problem getting sponsorship dollars.

Any notion that the sponsorship dollars aren't there simply fail to recognize that there have never been more sponsorship dollars for sporting events than there are right now. Yet chess struggles?

The problem is the governing body has no legitemacy in the eyes of the groups who have the sponsorship dollars to give.

"When's the last time *anybody* got "a few million" together for a chess event."

Well, I don't know about the "last" time, but Kasparov-Kramnik had a $2Mil prize fund, add in organizing and venue costs and a total cost of that event in the $3Mil-$4Mil range wouldn't surprise me.

I am under the impression that FIDE has lost any semblance of contact with reality.

I am beginning to seriously consider resigning my membership from my chess club, as some bit of my membership fee finds its way into the pockets of madmen.

Please note the subtle satire of making the announcement before even starting to negotiate with the players: I think that FIDE is trying really hard to get the Monty Python Award.

Let's not go to Kalmykia. 'Tis a silly place.

"eight top chess grandmasters would play a tournament in October"

Above is a quote from AP news story I just read.
So a date has been mentioned.

FIDE and his ideas are really out of the reality, there's no question about that as FIDE has continuosly give prove of that.
This is after all not that bad, I mean, it could be the perfect opportunity for ACP to gain even more respectability as a confident organizer of the WCC and challenger tournaments.
Btw Vallejo lost his 3d game in a row today at Linares, sad for a good fellow like him, but that's the toughness in the top chess high and rarefied atmosphera.

This seems to be the most obvious and easiest way to restart a unified WCh., similar to 1948. Also, it's good to include Adams who was runner-up in the FIDE WCh. more than once, and is 7th in the FIDE rankings currently. So they would have ranks 1-7, including Leko who has drawn the recent match against Kramnik, plus the FIDE Champion Kasimdzhanov.

It is the best unification plan I've seen so far, and I hope it will be done just like that.


After Arab World and Vietnam, the last Fide attempt is Kalmykia. If it does not work out there, why not try Shangri-la? That peaceful, quiet environment is quite an invitation for the WCC!

From Steinitz in 1886 to Kramnik in 2000, each of the fourteen Classical World Chess Champions earned his title by defeating his great predecessor in a title match; except when his predecessor's death (Alekhine) or abdication (Fischer) made such a match impossible.

If this 120-year-old tradition continues then the World Champion will defend his title "as Champion" and the purpose of any Interzonal/Candidates cycle or 1948-style tournament will be to select his challenger.

Alternatively we may abandon this tradition and in future cycles give the reigning World Champion mere Candidate status.

But it makes no sense to require a reigning World Champion to compete "as a Candidate" in a 2005 cycle, but to allow his successors to defend their titles "as the Champion" in subsequent cycles.

Seriously, what is wrong with Kalmykia? I could thing of many worse places than a Russian republic.

From the Economist 12/19/97:

"Mr Ilyumzhinov won his first presidential election in 1993 by promising to turn the republic into a second Kuwait. There would, he said, be 'a cellphone for every shepherd'. Living standards would rise tenfold in two years. Surprisingly, none of this has happened....But wait, says a government minister. 'All the promises of the president will be fulfilled. No problem.'
No problem?
'Only the money. And the timing.'"

"He subscribes...to a concept called “ethnoplanetary thinking....jargon of this kind has caused some to fear the influence of the Unification Church (the 'Moonies')...."

From the Avler Chess Forum:

"Ilyumzhinov, 42, has poured tens of millions of dollars into chess since becoming FIDE president in 1995. He says the money has been his own, but his critics have accused him of dipping into the tiny republic's coffers to fund his chess obsession, including the construction of his chess fantasy land, Chess City, a slick complex in Elista built to host the 1998 Chess Olympics...One of Ilyumzhinov's loudest critics was investigative journalist Larisa Yudina, editor of Kalmykia's main opposition newspaper, Sovietskaya Kalmykia, who was killed while looking into various allegations of official corruption, including the murky financing of Chess City....Yudina's body was found June 8, 1998, in a pond near her home in Elista with multiple stab wounds and a fractured skull....The man convicted of organizing her murder was a former aide to Ilyumzhinov who shortly before had been released early from prison, where he was serving time on a manslaughter charge."

From Larry Evans on Chess (8/23/04)

"Chess czar Kirsan gets what he wants because FIDE now depends upon his largesse for its survival. A journalist once described the spectacle of FIDE insiders standing in a receiving line while Kirsan handed out jars of caviar, his autobiography (Crown of Thorns) and gold rolex watches. 'What a shame that FIDE is run by a wealthy lunatic and a horde of beggars,' observed IM Jack Peters, chess columnist for the Los Angeles Times."

Did we really waste how many years trying to unify with this clown?

I agree with Mr. Koster that it is ludicrous to have Kramnik be in the tournament. The world title needs to be determined by a true match, unless it is impossible such as with the death of the world champ. Also, a double-round robin is not enough of a determiner. I needs to be at least a quadruple-round robin. The tourney is not such a bad idea if its winner were to then play Kramnik in a true match. But, there is no point if a true cycle is not set up. We would just be right back at the point we are now. FIDE might acknowledge the winner for awhile until they realize there is no cycle and all the antics start up again.

It's funny to observ how we all give up faith whenever anything happends to bring us down to earth again (this time around Kasparovs letter); we all realise how futile the entire exercize is.

AND YET, one moronic statement from fide, and everybody goes at it again.


The problem is.. all FIDE does is make moronic statements or take moronic actions. Their charter is to safeguard chess, not destroy it.

"AND YET, one moronic statement from fide, and everybody goes at it again." -quely

Not me. Reunification is dead. Wake me up when we get there.

I think we ought to just resign ourselves to the days of Steinitz and Lasker so: Kramnik owns the title and will play anyone who can get together the money! What's wrong with this system? The ACP should form a fund where interested parties (fish with funds) can donate to give their favorite player a shot at the title. The 'cycle' could be a cycle of fund-raising events with bar graphs tracking the progress of the players toward their title-shot goal!

Charles - you're idea is just silly enough to work! Heck, I'd throw a few dollars at some players just because they'd be interesting additions! It would also turn the top players into their own salesmen. Their results would have to be good enough to warrant a title shot, and hopefully entertaining enough tp attract the average Joe and Jane donations. Of course, what happens to the money donated to the players who didn't get accepted? Is it returned? Fully payable in autobiographies of Ilyumzhinov?

sz, who today thinks the free market should decide the next world champion challenger.

I agree with Foster and Knight tour that the World champion should not take part in the round robin. The round robin event should determine who challenges the World Champion.

But the problem is that FIDE cannot recognize Kramnik as the World Champion. FIDE has it's own World Champion although they are now calling it the World Cup...so maybe FIDE are trying to compromise.

What will happen now? Kramnik will say that this is unacceptable. The other players will hold a meeting at Linares and come up with a joint reply.

Am I the only one who thinks Kirsan is strongly motivated to get his money back as he has stopped funding tournaments since 2001?

Some claim Kirsan is a lunatic. Pretty heavy allegation considering it is based on superficial evidence from armchair psychologists and the field itself is more National Enquirer than science. One good example of scientific incompetence is demonstrated by a Dr. Park Dietz, prosecution expert witness who testified that Pia Yates, wife of a NASA engineer, drowned her 5 children after watching a similar episode of Law & Order. Only problem was that particular episode was never aired and Yates won a new trial because of the false testimony. "Honest mistake," said Dr. Dietz. Yeah, sure, more like bad science, but I digress.

I don't think Kirsan is a lunatic. I think he just wants his money back, and that explains why he tries so hard to get Unification going because it means FIDE gets that 20% cut - yes, I'm suggesting the cut goes to repaying Kirsan, probably illegal under the FIDE Charter unless there are secret by-laws. If true, some may think this is another example of "Indian Giver" behavior, but consider what has happened during and after the giving years: complaints and more complaints, accusations and insults, uncooperative/unappreciative players, and zero return from investment. Something along the lines of, let no good deed go unpunished. Kirsan gave to chess (a good deed) and was punished by the very players who benefitted.

Unification is dead. We are back to the Medival days, as Shirov is fond of saying, where one appoints himself World Champion by winning a match labelled the World Championship Match, against all laws of the ONLY recognized world body that is FIDE. This non-FIDE World Champion Kramnik gets to pick and choose his own challenger, by any arbitrary means that suits him, as the ex-FIDE World Champion Garry Kasparov (forfeited title by implication in 1993 Match with Short and Karpov winning the FIDE Match in the same year) did to pick him as challenger in 2000.

Notice the irony? Kasparov is complaining because Kramnik gets to pick and choose his challenger (and choose conditions of how, when, where, etc of that happening) and that challenger is not Kasparov - the very same imaginary rule that Kasparov used to pick Kramnik as challenger is now used by Kramnik to pick his challenger. This is what happens when we allow chaos to name world champions. FIDE laws should be observed so this doesn't happen.

The best course of action, IMO, is for FIDE to continue its own way and its own rules to name world champions, and completely ignore Kramnik and others who challenge FIDE's authority. Unless...Kirsan wants his money back and to get it back he organizes Unification...

Hey, who sent in the clowns? They're running amok in the chess world.

I agree with BOY in the sense that Kirsan should not be considered a lunatic, unless otherwise proven. To understand what is going on with FIDE, it is better (and more polite) to acknowlege that he is rational and strongly motivated. What is surprising, in either case, is chess federations submission to this apparent insanity. It would be nice to know what chess federations around the globe think about it. I suspect that we need investigative reporters to do the job.

i agree with the couple posters above, and have always thought Kirsan is not such a terrible man as most would like to think he is. He is obviously intelligent, and as far as i can see tries his best in a very difficult situation. Certainly he has even lied, but perhaps with not such ill intentions.

It's much easier to use a suitable person as a scapegoat than to face realities.

In my opinion, this idea for unification is a very good one; Kramnik should realize that no one can take his title very seriously, even if he really has earned it by conventional means.
If that is completely impossible, then maybe FIDE could take a step back and hold the qualifier with everyone else and winner plays Kramnik.

The problem is, that no one wants to give in an inch (just like Spanish Chess Federation simply refuses to admit they did anything wrong). As long as that goes on, it's a deadlock.
It should not be that difficult to come up with an acceptable cycle after the current situation is solved. Either use a pre-existing model or revise it accordingly, it really can't be difficult.

As for FIDE's inability to raise price-funds, the players, Kasparov included, but especially Kramnik, should show some goodwill and positive attitude toward reunification. Everyone just making demands doesn't engender trust in potential sponsors.

Without egos and personal demands all of this would be easily solved.


PS: Of course the players need guarantees for their income, but for example Kramnik making those statements after his match with Leko must have hurt the chances for success with the bid from Libya...also, if it's true what FIDE said, it also hurt for Kasparov not agreeing to meet with the potential organizers.


I am surprised about all the negative comments. I think this is the only reasonable solution at this point in time.

If Kramnik doesn't want to play? Hang him. I think the world will quite happily accept the winner of the tournament as the new world champion. Hardly anyone will bother about Kramnik - the world number what?

Does FIDE have any credibility after the "Uniffication affair"? NO.

Ilumzhinov and other FIDE officials MUST GO HOME to leave chess world live.

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