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2005 FIDE WCh

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FIDE is moving ahead with the latest brainstorm of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Instead of a KO, this is an eight-player double round-robin scheduled for October. It's clearly intended as a unification event with Kramnik and Leko as special invitees.

The list: Kasimdzhanov, Adams, Kramnik, Leko, Kasparov, Anand, Topalov, Morozevich. Kasparov has retired, so they'd have to move down the rating list for a replacement. They're using an average of the July 2004 and the January 2005 list, so it's probably Svidler. The big question is whether or not Kramnik will play, and without saying his title isn't on the line.

Without Kramnik's participation this is another Linares (it's even classical chess, not the FIDE KO control) and does little toward unification. Kramnik should just put his diluted title on the line and get it over with, but I'd like to see some plans for the future from FIDE about what they plan to do with the title after this if Kramnik does play. A candidates tournament like this one isn't the worst thing in the world, but plans for a new cycle should be on the table beforehand. Kramnik should use any leverage he and the ACP have to get FIDE to lay out a cycle before this event takes place.

As usual, FIDE has announced this unilaterally without talking to the players first and without having any sponsorship. Kramnik is the only one with a conceivable reason not to play, but I'm not sure why splitting half a million (still imaginary) dollars between eight players is better than doing so among 64 or 128. At least the KO had the virtue of being democratic. Will people take the winner of a Linares-style tournament as a more credible world champion? Enough to force Kramnik to unite or be marginalized? Six players and four rounds would get closer to the sort of rigor you'd hope for.

I would have no problem using this event as a candidates tournament, winner to face Kramnik in a match in 2006 for the unified title. But that opens up another massive sponsorship and scheduling mess. It would also require Ilyumzhinov to admit a change of mind, which he seems physiologically incapable of doing. (Unknown is how the players would feel playing to qualify for a shot at a title they don't all believe in. Money might salve these wounds considerably.) I just want a unified title as quickly as possible, and Kramnik playing in this would do that, although it would be nice if there were more rounds.

Both sides of the title schism are so damaged and invalidated now that they should realize they need each other desperately and get together before they are both completely worthless. On Kramnik's side they have been unable to organize and provide democratic access to the title. On FIDE's side they don't seem to understand the term "credible world champion". So just maybe they can join the last vestiges of Kramnik's credibility - gained from beating Kasparov in 2000 - with a still-current democratically victorious FIDE champion, Kasimdzhanov. Toss in the rating favorites for good measure and it's not the worst thing that could happen for a quickie solution.


The decisive question, in my opinion, is what Anand will do. The legitimacy of the tournament pretty much depends on his participation, as I don't expect Kramnik to take part. And why should he?
Another interesting question is if Leko will play (his participation would, of course, also greatly add to the legitimacy of the event). Quite a moral dilemma for him.

I'm still hoping for a match Anand-Kramnik (now that Kasparov is out of the picture), but I wonder if we ever will get there.

How do we/you know FIDE didn't have talks with the players before the announcement? What if that's a new deal with Kramnik, Anand Leko and the rest? Or maybe they annonced it only to see the reactions and force them to start negotiate.

I don't see it as a bad thing.

"If FIDE wants to organize its own events, let them do so, but the chess world will recognize that they will have nothing to do with a real world championship. The title is owned by the World Champion, not by an organization which has lost legitimacy. I stand at the end of a line, which started with Steinitz in 1886, and this will be so until I am defeated in a match." – Garry Kasparov

Anyone who supports Kasparov's (former) view of the World Championship cannot recognize FIDE's proposed tournament as a legitimate WC event. A World Chess Championship has meaning only insofar as it provides a format for determining the world's best player. An eight-player double round-robin doesn't do it.

But this FIDE proposal inches closer to an acceptable structure for determining the world champion. Stage six-game Candidates matches among eight invitees and have the winner play Kramnik in a long match and you'd have it all. Didn't FIDE set an April 15 deadline for players to accept their invitations? If so, we should shortly expect a list of players who accepted their invites.

And we see that Kasparoworld is busy again, defending Kasparov for a boycotting the Dortmund 2002 candidates event, but prodding Kramnik to participate in a double round robin to determine the champion!

And references to a "diluted title" continue Kasparoworld's campaign to invalidate the Classical World Champion. The history of this chess era will someday record that FIDE's Israeli-excluding Libyan crapshoot tournament and Kasparov's refusal to play in a qualifier did not dilute the Classical World Championship, but diluted, instead, FIDE and Kasparov.

Well, I for one really enjoy Kramnik's play, and hope to see, as suggested above, some rational structure emerge. It struck me today how much less interest I've had in chess over the years as its gone from one silly crisis to the next, never quite behaving.

I stand by my thoughts, posted on this board long ago, FIDE or Kramnik's group or someone should hire a team of top economists to examine the chess world and try to elucidate the financially sustainable models. This is a goal to which all parties will presumably agree, and the results may well point to the precious few options that exist for a financially sustainable chess world. This method has been used for other industries with success, why not chess?

I do think we can probably expect such a study to produce a result such as (1) a regular "tour" style calendar of events, (2) an accumulation of "tour" points leading to candidates matches, and finally (3) the World Championship. But perhaps not, and if the above isn't a financially sustainable model, then instead of arguing about its merits, lets move on.

sz, who thinks that the chess world is populated by individuals so focused on the short term, they can't even imagine a long term. Surely holding multimillion dollar events in Libya isn't a sustainable solution.

I agree with much of Mr. Koster's opinions. However, I am also starting to wonder when exactly we will get some sort of announcement from Kramnik and ACP.

As far as I care this renaming linares and callign it a "World Championship" stinks. yeah yeah whatever. We already have Linares we need a real world championship match cycle.

The question isn't only wheter Anand participates but what is the Alternative? If the ACP and or Kramnik don't suggest how one can play for the real title, this lame format for a "championship" will look better. If they suggest somethign that is good then the FIDE "WC" will remain a non-event.

"Stage six-game Candidates matches among eight invitees and have the winner play Kramnik in a long match and you'd have it all. "

If this took place Kramnik would be the first player in history to both: 1) have candidates play qualifiers to meet him, 2) never have to win any qualifiers to reach the top title. No wonder few are willing to support the idea.

Wow. Another post hijacked from a topic into a:

This is interesting, but didn't you know Kasparov is the devil?

As the text of the blog post had no mention of Kasparov outside of his being invited and not attending due to his retirement, I was hoping to avoid the rhetoric and discuss the tourney.

Guess I am an optimist.


Most tiresome are the unending attempts to invalidate the Classical championship; today featuring a reference to a "diluted" title and a suggestion that a Linares-style WC (which would have been considered absurd while Garry held the title) is now worth considering.

What is proven if any given player over a 12-game tournament trounces Adams, Kazimdzhanov, and Vallejo, draws Anand and Leko, and loses to Topalov? Such an event would have nothing in common with the historic battles over 120 years that produced our fourteen world champions.

Greg: It is 2005. Kasparov has retired from chess. If, as I believe you predicted earlier, Kasparov 'unretires', then I welcome you to go after him. Until then, perhaps you should give it a rest.

I agree with greg.
Kramnik won his title in a match and should defended it in a match (again).
Of course he can just say "OK, I will play this and the winner will be united WC". But what about tradition? This is tradition we are fighting for, isnt it? If not, why do we need a world champion at all? We have rankings, for example...

Classical time control, that is good news now if the rest of the FIDE events would go back to it.


You are correct, sir.

Kasparov's title itself, while he was holding it, was diluted. It just had a little more legitimacy because he was also ranked No. 1. There are currently two World Champions, right? Would you say any of those titles is not diluted?

As usual with FIDE, they've killed the event before it begins. Announcing events before agreeing with players and showing them the money is as valid as announcing myself, greg koster, clubfoot, and Mig playing in the Merida Chess Tournament to define the semi-amateur world champion.

As far as the structure, really, I don't care what it is for this tournament, as long as it defines a unique and true World Champion. What I do care is what it is for the next cycle. That's what really matters: trying to establish a clear structure which secures a way for anyone to become a World Champion.

But hey, I don't even know why I mind writing this. I'd bet my house that Kramnik is not participating. As long as FIDE doesn't show the money, I even doubt any of these guys would be willing to take a shot. Maybe all players should boycott FIDE and start a separate federation with Kramnik (uh, oh, wait, flashback to the 90's, sorry)?

Greg --

I agree entirely that there is a lot of problems regarding the title of World Champion, and that there are a number of circumstances and people that contributed to the problem and not the solution.

The problem now, in my mind, is that regardless of which title is which or who holds what, there is no consistency in the chess world over this topic at any level. Some people point one way, some the other.

Where this really hurts is to chess as a whole, because while the endless bickering, chest-thumping, and potificating goes around, chess in general is losing more and more opportunities. This is most pronounced at the higher levels with sponsorship and broad support.

The solution? Everyone commit to one solution. Easy to say, incredibly hard to achieve. While I do not think that the FIDE leadership is the best or most committed, they are the best known chess body for both internal and external.

Will this "new" tournament work? Sure, but only on one condition. The people at the highest levels, who could be said to be "ambassadors" of the game, have to put aside their egos (painful as it is), get to the board, and get back on track.

Easy to say, incredibly hard to achieve. But if they don't, the risk is that everyone loses.

There are many questions arising immediately:
- why April 2005 ratings are ignored?
- does FIDE already have money, site, and time frame for the event? I doubt so.
- what to do when Kramnik rejects invitation? There are many reasons for him to not attend: he just defended his title, FIDE did not negotiate with him, there is no contract available yet, there are no financial guaranties, and the site to play is unknown. Rules of play, organizers, arbiters are also hiding in a fog. And I can't find any reasons for him to attend if his title is on stake, because his main official demand for an established cycle is still a mirage.
As for event format, this could be really nice Candidates final for a match vs. Kramnik in 2006 or 2007. As many of you remember, candidates matches were approached only by Fischer's demand. Going back to the tournament based on FIDE ratings and without zonal and interzonal tournaments would simplify the WC cycle and make efforts required more affordable in the current crisis situation.

I'd say, the best way to follow is for FIDE, Kramnik, ACP, and may be other top players to spend few months in polishing the idea of a 2-year cycle with based on ratings Candidates tornament followed by a final match next year, and implement it starting 2006.
This would be a magic, IMHO ;-)

Think of how much time Greg will have on his hands once he hears that Kasparov is retired. (Shh, don't tell him.)

How do I know FIDE didn't talk to the players first? Well, I don't have the mind-reading skills of some of the posters here, so I actually had to ask the the players. The four I talked to had never heard of it before Ilyumzhinov mentioned it in an interview. Plus, it would have been the first time FIDE consulted with players before announcing an event.

I would have no problem using this event as a candidates tournament, winner to face Kramnik in a match in 2006 for the unified title. But that opens up another massive sponsorship and scheduling mess. It would also require Ilyumzhinov to admit a change of mind, which he seems physiologically incapable of doing. (Unknown is how the players would feel playing to qualify for a shot at a title they don't all believe in. Money might salve these wounds considerably.) I just want a unified title as quickly as possible, and Kramnik playing in this would do that, although it would be nice if there were more rounds.

Both sides of the title schism are so damaged and invalidated now that they should realize they need each other desperately and get together before they are both completely worthless. On Kramnik's side they have been unable to organize and provide democratic access to the title. On FIDE's side they don't seem to understand the term "credible world champion". So just maybe they can join the last vestiges of Kramnik's credibility - gained from beating Kasparov in 2000 - with a still-current democratically victorious FIDE champion, Kasimdzhanov. Toss in the rating favorites for good measure and it's not the worst thing that could happen for a quickie solution.

You are wrong.
Kramnik is in very good company.
Capa never played in qualifiers to become a WC, and even more, Dr. Lasker was ready to retire without playing with him.
And Capa had played Alekhine who got this right by finishing 2nd (only after Capa) in the qualifying tournament (New York, 1927). This made him a Buenos-Aires 1927 challenger and a former WC.
This is what I could find in my memory without looking at sources.

What sense do you see in a quicky solution?
From my point of view, this will make situation even worst because of FIDE gaining all the title rights back and doing what they want without any obligations at all.
Is this the world you or, may be, Kasparov or other top players you have talked to, would like to live in?

Oh good grief, can we keep ancient history out of it? Or shall we now contend that Staunton didn't play Morphy because the American hadn't qualified?

As for quickie solutions, I'd like to see some plans for the future first, as I said. Getting nothing from Kramnik and the ACP isn't better than getting nothing from FIDE, by the way. Kramnik should use any leverage he may have to get FIDE to sit down and hammer out a cycle. If FIDE agrees, Kramnik should play.


Like some others I am tired of comments referring to "the last vestiges of Kramnik's credibility". In 2000 he gained his title by winning fair and square against the world's undisputed top player. Last year he successfully defended it by drawing a match against a fairly legitimate challenger. This looks very similar to the stage Botvinnik's reign as World Champion reached in 1956, and I don't believe his credibility was challenged all the time. So far as I can see, if Kramnik defends his title against a qualified challenger in 2006 he will be maintaining the traditional and proper pace for a titleholder.

Vlad, fyi:

From Edward Winter's book on Capablanca: "Because Capablanca won and Alekhine came second, the 1927 New York tournament has sometimes been called a "candidates'" event, but such was not the case. The "Conditions of Play" - 26 clauses published on page 23 of the February 1927 American Chess Bulletin - make no reference to the world championship."

Capablanca was already talking about his upcoming match against Alekhine DURING the 1927 New York tournament.

It's easy to understand Ilyumzhinov's preference for annual world championship events in which all start even. The all-start-even arrangement would strip a reigning champion of any influence over the terms of his title defense and hand total control to FIDE. If a defending champion refused to participate in the following year's event his annual title would simply evaporate. But perhaps FIDE/Kirsan could re-establish its desired control over the WC events without resorting to the all-start-even format. Perhaps FIDE could re-style its October tournament into a Candidates event, the winner to play a match with Kramnik. In return, Kramnik, stipulating that future champions would play a classical title defense match, would sign away all his control or influence over future WC events to FIDE.

But in a one-on-one title match the champion's draw-odds are a growing problem. Draw odds were problem enough in pre-modern days when there were plenty of decisive championship games (1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein 5-5; 1954 Botvinnik-Smyslov 7-7; 1987 Kasparov-Karpov 4-4) and the matches were 24 games long. But top-five grandmasters playing each other nowadays achieve about only one decisive result for every five games played. In a fifteen game match one would thus expect three decisive results, which is about what we saw in Kasparov-Kramnik (2-0) and Kramnik-Leko (2-2). In an event where each player reasonably expects to win only a game or two, maybe three, draw odds are an overwhemingly unfair advantage .

Nick, I consider Kramnik to be the classical champion, but endorsing him too heartily at this point gives him carte blanche and makes unification impossible because it makes it meaningless. I consider it a duty to pressure both sides to make concessions to unite the title.

10 players have had a chance at the classical title since 1995. That's eight from Dortmund 2002 and Kasparov and Kramnik. (Anand not among them, lest we forget.) Unless FIDE, or some other form of pressure, is involved, Kramnik can just have another pseudo qualifier under the auspices of his manager. I'd rather have the rest of the chess world involved. If the ACP can do that, dandy. So far, zilch.

That some chess fans consider the FIDE title (and FIDE itself) meaningless does not mean the chess world would not benefit from unification of the title. There is a larger world out there that does not understand these squabbles and this larger world is where commercial sponsorship comes from. Or would come from...

I know it's hard to look at the big picture when we are so intimate with all the details and everyone is pushed into partisan hackery by eternal debate, but for many intents and purposes, one title plus one title equals zero. If FIDE can bring anything to the table, Kramnik should be prepared to sit down with them, and at the board.

I side with Mig.It is nice to quote history for everything.But the chess history itself is not something to cherish or remember and forget about repeating it.Which tradition are we talking about ?Tradition of block mailing?Tradition of by-passing qualifiers?Tradition of hand picking challengers?or the tradition of basking in past glory of someone else as a proof to today's relevence of age old practices?
We need something,someone to reinvigorate as fairly as possible and as soon as possible.Having a super elite match with top contenders to decide the best among those is not a bad idea conceptually.One may throw valid suggestions like...change in the format,no.of matches or the contenders list itself etc..But calling this effort as a qualifier to play Kramnik after 2 yrs.. is BS.When Kramnik won his title he was the world's second best.That supressed any dissent regarding his choice to play that match.But now.No.It is not my opinion alone.Just check how many people consider his title worthy , by looking into the no.of chess experts who put him atleast in top 3.You may go on ridiculing them...but the fact is they count.You simply can not ignore the popular opinion/perception and expect money to pour in .
There is no undisputed champion since ever since Kasparov-short match happen.But nobody disputed it when Kasparov call himself the champion all along(till 2000) as everyone knows he was the best/strongest.Technically he was not UNDISPUTED WCC, so is Kramnik.

The whole event could be a fantasy, of course, but is it fair to say that Ilyumzhinov is "physiologically incapable" of changing his mind?

In his latest proposal Ilyumzhinov has accommodated his critics in significant ways:
1) low-rated players won't be able to ride a "lucky streak" into the championship because they won't be included in the event at all,
2) longer time controls, and
3) a requirement that the sponsor deposit the prize fund in an escrow account.

Given that the last World Championship was sponsored by a cigar company, FIDE's sponsorship requirements are amusing: "No bidder can have a sponsor advertising tobacco and/or alcohol."

I personally think the idea would be good enough if it were just made slightly more extensive. It is almost like the 1946 match tournament. Of course, it is nowhere near as extensive and the fact that it is two round round robin makes it seem more like a Linares type of tournament then something extensive enough to determine the world champion. Kramnik should not play and instead should just play a match against the winner(he is champion legitimately as Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer, Spassky, Petrosian...Steinitz were!), if Kasparov does not want to take place in the tournament, that is his problem. The Prague agreement was ridiculous in that Kasparov was seeded higher than Kramnik in that he had to play Kasimdzhanov versus Kramnik playing Leko. Maybe Kramnik should give him a rematch, but he is by no means morally or contractually obligated to do so, and for Kasparov to sit around and cry about it is just as bad. If you are so strong, you should have no problem qualifying ahead of everyone else, right? It seems there is a high level of insecurity here, or at least a difference between Kasparov's internal evaluation versus what he projects in public. Finally in all due respect to Kasim it seems like now more than ever FIDE should just recognize Kramnik the world champion and organise the cycle accordingly.

Both Rubinshtein and Nimzo tried to challenge Capa before Alekhine, but could not raise $10K for a match.
Preliminary negotiations between Capa and Alekhine began in 1926. After beating Euwe, Alekhine finally had found sponsors (the President of Argentina guarantied the prise fund in August 1926) and offcially challenged Capa for a match. Capa replied in written that if Alekhine wanted to be considered as a challenger then he would have to play in a tournament in New York. The winner of this tournament would play Capablanca in the next world championship. This was against the London Agreement of 1922, but he was the Champion and could change his mind, who cares... By the way, it seems like Capa had selected players for the tournament who (except Marshall who managed to do this once in 1908 or 1909, I don't remeber exactly) had never before beaten him even in a single game. They were Marshall, Nimzo, Spielmann, and Vidmar. After Capa's no trouble win in the tournament he quickly agreed to play Alekhine. No boring demands at all! During the tournament he just made an estimate on what he can expected during match and did not feel any danger, IMHO.
This does not mean Capa would definitely play somebody else if Alekhine finish below second place, but his demand was clear: Alekhine had to win in New York if not counting himself.

No difference from Prague agreement when Pono had to Play Kaspi, and the winner play vs. Kramnik-Leko winner. Kramnik-Leko match rules of play did not mention the winner play Kasparov-Pono winner. Does this mean Prague agreement non-existent?


Also I am frankly a little bit disturbed by everyone who points to Kramnik's match with Leko as not being valid or in someway even taking away validity from his title. Notice is called a title defence and that therefore drawing a match is perfectly reasonable--- Leko in no way proved he was superior to Kramnik and therefore does not inherit his title. Two of the world's greatest champions have simply defended their title Botvinnik and Lasker! So please can we all just agree that Kasparov's claim that Kramnik should just give up his title and play on equal grounds with everyone is just a little too biased an opinion ? Kramnik is champion and in the tradition of the world championship, the champion is seeded higher than everyone else. Lets try not to forget the history of the world championship, which Kasparov knows much about but tends to forget when it is convenient.

Why everyone take Kasparov, his opinions,his behavior, his memory blah...blah...as a reference point to judge Kramnik.He is a dead guy now.Kramnik title is not invalidated.His title is not completely valid to begin with.Where is the question of invalidating now.Well, Kramnik did his bit of service by showing poor results eversince.Hell with history,fable tales, archeology ...they are not going to fix current problems in chess.Kramnik has got wcc title, so is Kasim, Pono and Fisher believes he too has one.And I don't know what Anand was thinking...after all he won lost two Oscars And Kasparov..leave him guys.
Asking Kramnik to sit and play and win against the likes of Anand and Topolov on equal terms is not a bad idea at all to anyone except Kramnik and to his fans.
Prague was not democratic AND hence a big mistake.Good riddens , it never took off.But giving all top players equal chance is as democratic as you can think of.Frankly, I am not hoping anything more than this as a lover chess.When Kramnik beat Kasparov , he (Kramnik) won the Oscar.Whe he drew with Leko, he is not even in TOp-4.It is no use to argue he is essentially a champion in either case.That's not the general perception.Kramnik had his day..sorry years.Now it is time to reconcile the fact that he is one among the equal and last one that is..

For the record, I think it is fair to have the other seven players play a double-round robin and have the winner play Kramnik. Kramnik did beat Kasparov in 2000 and "kept" his title against Leko so he has more leverage than any of the other players. hHere is where Kasparov being out is a good thing - with his phenomenal success in tournaments he was always in a position to impose special treatment. The other players, fortunately, do not have the same impressive tournament record.

Now, demanding that the other seven play six-game candidates matches to determine who faces Kramnik is not justified. The main reason: I doubt Anand would agree with it. He said multiple times that he only recognizes FIDE's title as legitimate. He also stated that he disagrees with any system in which the champion does not start from level 0. As Mig says, put some money in and Anand will forget it and agree to a double-round-robin qualifier to face Kramnik. For something like six-game candidates matches, Anand will demand a 5 million guaranteed prize fund (haha).

Vlad: From Capablanca to Lederer, January 7, 1927:

"Dear Lederer, / Yesterday I sent Alekhine the following cable: "N.Y. Tournament has no connection whatsoever with our negotiations. Capablanca.' / Today I have sent him a further cable as follows: "As written and cabled before, our match will take place independent of result of New York Tournament provided all London Championship Rules are met." There was further correspondence between the NY committee and Alekhine to confirm the tournament would not effect the match.

"On Kramnik's side they have been unable to organize and provide democratic access to the title. On FIDE's side they don't seem to understand the term "credible world champion". "

On FIDE's side they have been unable to organize and provide democratic access to the title. On Kramnik's side they don't seem to understand the term "credible world champion".

Can somebody tell me how chess has reached a point where you have to spend several years pimping for sponsorship? Or is it really not that bad?

People get far too caught up in who is and who isn't what. The endless discussions radicalize everything. We we know is that things could be much better. As with the Prague plan, it's not about perfection in the present or giving everyone what they deserve or think they deserve. It's about concessions and expediency and starting fresh with a unified title and a legitimate cycle. Both things will attract sponsorship and encourage player buy-in.

I agree with Greg Koster and other folks. Kramnik is the world champion. Anyone who says that Kasparov was the world champion in 1993-2000 and that Kramnik is not a champion now is being hypocritical. Kramnik got the title the old proper way - he beat the world champion in the world championship match. The only way he can lose the title (barring his death or retirement) is if someone beats him in the world championship match. That is all there is to it. Granted, Kramnik is not as dominant as Kasparov or Karpov were, but he is still the world champion. He also was dominant in the toughest supertournaments he played during his reign. He won Linares in 2000, 2003 and 2004 and he won Dortmund 2001. Kasparov finished ahead of him in Astana but other than that, Kramnik was extremely dominant in tourneys of 20th category. Granted, he had his problems in mixed strength tourneys like Wijk, but that hardly is relevant to World championship discussions. I will reapeat: but Kramnik is the world champion and the only way he can stop being one is if someone beats him in a world championship match.

FIDE probably wants to have that 8 player tourney so they can usurp the title and have full control of it. Then world champion won't matter at all, we will have a blitz KO every couple of years as the "world championship" and 130 years of chess tradition will be destroyed. I think Kramnik has a moral obligation to the chess world, and to the memory of 13 other chess greats before him who were the chess world champions, to not agree to FIDE's demands and not transfer the chess world championship title to the people who have the nerve to call the KO lottery crapshoots "world championships". Luckily, FIDE made it easier - by their ridiculous proposal that Kramnik should play in the candidates tourney - that is, start from the same place as other candidates. Untill leadership and policies of FIDE change, the title should not be given to them on silver platter.

Those working toward the principle of a classical candidates structure were rewarded with the Dortmund 2002 finals match between the two top-rated participants, Leko and Topalov, and then with the Kramnik-Leko WC match. Those pursuing expediency through an air-drop, lottery-style mini-matches, and the exclusion of Israelis were rewarded with Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov as challengers and with two failed WC matches over four years. There are rewards for a certain adherence to important principles and precedents, and there are punishments for abandoning them.

I agree that things can't just be handed over to FIDE. That's why this working is so unlikely. Kramnik/ACP/anybody would have to be organized enough to present and stick to a cycle plan and FIDE organized and open enough to negotiate and accept something they don't have 100% control of. (Shouldn't have 100% control of.) It would be nice (break into song here) if a new FIDE leadership could coincide with this.

Stating the way things are in your view (what Kramnik is or isn't) doesn't mean things wouldn't be better if the title were unified.

Just some annoying factual trivia: Dortmund had nothing to do with a classical candidates structure. It was a tournament almost without rest days that had more in common with the FIDE KO than anything else. Leko and Topalov were not the highest-rated participants. They were 2nd and 4th of the eight.

For me the title is unified. I could organize my own championship tommorow but unless I could get Vladimir Kramnik(from Steinitz!) I could not make it legitimate. Despite the fact that the governing body of world chess is not involved is unfortunate but should not confuse anyone.

Back to New York 1927.
My opinion is based on Alekhine's book on the tornament (Russian translation, 2nd Ed., 1989).
Apologies for the quality of my translation to English. If you are interested, I am sure the book is easy to find in original German or quality English.
Here is an excerpt from what he wrote in introduction:
"After learning a lesson in 1921 and 1923, I send him a new challenge only after having a guarantee that I am able to satisfy the financial demands. My guess was that the WC wouldn't be able to postpone the acceptance if his financial demands are guarantied to be fulfilled.
In reality, the challenge was neither accepted, neither denied. Instead of direct answer I received an official programme of a the New York tournament. In private mail Capa strongly recommended me to arrive to New York. The tournament program had some very strange conditions: Lasker was not appointed, there was non-standard time control, and there was a clause, according to which the tournament winner (or second place holder if Capa wins) becomes the offical challenger. This paragraph created so strong opposition among many interested masters, including myself, that committee formally removed this paragraph. But as a result of special handling of mass media from organizers the atmosphere was created in which this tournament must be treated as final examination for a future challenger, who must finish before all other participants.
As a result, Capa had a huge psichological advantage compared to both me and Nimzo: he did not take any risk by playing here, his match with a winner was guaranteed no matter how he plays. For both me and Nimzo finishing 3rd meant losing the right for the match if not forever, but at least for a very long time.
This psychological handycap was the main reason for me to put the decision to play or not on serious thinking cap.
Finally, I decided to participate because of 2 main reasons:
1) notwithstanding repeating requests from both me and Argentinian Chess Club, Capa delayed clear answering to my challenge, and his private mailings and cables to me distinctly hinted that my attendance in New York is a must if I want to make the deal with him;
2) if I reject playing in New York, the chess world could consider this as sign of my fear of Capa, who would get an easy possibility (if he would like so) to replace me with New York winner.
Let me reming the reader who was absent:
1) Lasker who took higher place in all tournaments where both he and Capa participated, and won the historic game vs. Capa in St. Petersburg 1914;
2) Bogolubov, who outrun Capa in Moscow 1925 for a while;
3) Rubinshtein, the only player who had a positive score vs. Capa (+1=2) at the moment;
4) Reti who won the only game lost by Capa in New York 1924 and who fought with him on every occasion, look at Moscow 1925, for example;
5) Tarrash who had an equal score vs. Capa (+1-1=2)
And if comparing the results of these absent players to the fact that no one from New York 1927 European attendees ever won a single game vs. Capa..."

I have it in English (and German, less usefully!). It's certainly not unusual for Alekhine's public statements to find contradiction in private communications, although what he says is technically accurate. There was no such clause in the final list, as he says. Had someone else finished first or second I'm sure there would have been talk, and this was encouraged by the organizers. Alekhine even asked that such language of the event being a qualifier be formally banned and that the event's status as a qualifier be disavowed by the organizers. They didn't do this, which angered Alekhine.

Capablanca even suggested to Lederer that he cable Alekhine to warn him that the committee might try to arrange a match between himself (Capa) and a NY winner third party. (Alekhine suspected both Capa and the organizers.) What Alekhine wrote was out of annoyance with the organizers for touting the event as a qualifier, but he had been assured by Capablanca that there match was safe regardless.

I very much prefer a new FIDE president for the moment. Maybe a honest person can work with all the parties and eventually organize WC championship. Kramnik does not trust Kirsan. Only Kasparov trusted this corrupt Kirsan.

"On Kramnik's side they have been unable to organize and provide democratic access to the title."

Mig how did you came up with that? Was Dortmund 2002 not a democratic qualifier? The last vestiges of Kramnik's credibility? He beat Kasparov and defended his title, he should not smash everyone like Fischer or Kasparov to prove he is the World Champion.

By democratic I mean open, with qualifiers, not hand-picked. That is, giving everyone a chance, world-wide. At least the KOs had this, although they were terrible for many other reasons.

Kramnik's qualifier was delayed and better-than-nothing, which is also the status of his title. Pretending Dortmund was as good as zonals, interzonals, and candidates matches only helps insure we'll never have such things again. Using the rating list isn't bad for a one-off unification solution, but it's no substitute for an open cycle. Let's say Kramnik again faces the winner of an eight-player mini-match tournament, is that really what we want? The irony is that Kramnik is the one who has gone on and on about the good of the masses, and yet his qualifier was eight people. I'm not asking Kramnik to smash anyone, I'm saying it's past time to put together a real cycle, with or without FIDE.

We don't have to go back to things exactly as they were, but a young star should have a chance to play for the world championship. If we have zonals and then a candidates tournament, so be it. You have to have a system good enough that you can say the people who don't play have only themselves to blame, which is another reason unification is important.

Ok, let's make an educated guess. After all, big egos go down with big buckets of money.

How much money will it take to make everyone play? Maybe... a million bucks?

Do not agree with this "Knockout" idea at all. Somehow, someway, individual matches like the candidates, need to be instituted again. Kasim did win his "knockout" tourney and it's a shame (although the outcome is not hard to predict) the match with Garry didn't take place. Maybe Kasim now should just play Kramnik, and then let's have the candidates matches back again to determine the rightful challenger.

Well Mig here is Kramnik's own words:

"There are other visions, such as Garry’s. We should act according to the wish of the public, but perhaps they want to see Kamsky-Polgar. Me is me and I do what I believe. I believe there should be a clear cycle and the winner plays the world championship. Everything as it was for many many years."

yeah...I think a good pile of money would salve a lot of wounds from the past. That's the way of the world. At the same time more money at stake will create other problems down the road too, as it has for professional sports. I'd like to see F.I.D.E leaders step down who can't deal with situations like this...for the good of the game. Why not let somebody else try? I know that's a naive thought...and unlikely to happen. It would be the honorable thing to do though.

Great Hesam, and ice-cream for everyone too! Let's hope someone mentioned to him that he's supposed to be leading the way to make that happen.

Heh, honorable thing from FIDE. By this point they should be falling on swords.

Back to New York 1927.
What do you mean when saying 'he had been assured by Capablanca that there match was safe regardless' if
Capa never admitted this in public and did not even sign the contract?
You can ask Garry who was also assured numerously by FIDE that his matches with Pono and Kasim are safe regardless...


This thread is an exact example of why the chess world is in such a sorry state. We argue and argue in abstract, and the best "solution" we can imagine is a Deus es Machina:

(1) Some megawealthy individual comes and dumps a truckload of money in front of the best players and says, "you get this if you call my tournament a WC"


(2) FIDE somehow stops being such a corrupt and silly organization, and appoints a reincarnated Churchill to lead the organization into a model of transparency and international cooperation.


The chances of either of these happening are next to zilch. FIDE, but its very structure, will always be a corrupt of silly organization. It demonstrates its high-minded equality by not distinguishing the votes of honorable and transparent national chess associations, and corrupt hobbies-horses for autocrats.

Any mega-rich person would have to be nearly out of his or her mind to get involved in this after they've seen what has happened to other wealthy patrons like Bessel Kok. And the pool of people who are willing to spend millions of dollars per year on chess, ad infinitum, ain't to big.

So given the reality that the chess world needs to figure out a financial sustainability plan on its own, why don't we just agree to that as our starting point? No agendas, no discussions of what ought to be, or who ought to be. First, let's find out what are the sustainable and viable professional chess structures, and then choose the best among them.

sz, who is going to scream if someone else lays out an elaborate championship structure, and then mentions that all the remains is to ask Bill Gates to finance the whole thing.

Regarding the statement “Kramnik should just put his diluted title…..”

Let’s face the reality. Kramnik’s title is legitimate. But it is ALSO diluted.

I am a huge Kasparov fun, but to my eyes Kramnik is the classical champion, based on the tradition that you have to beat your predecessor on a direct match to gain the title. And, to my eyes, although I personally dislike his style of play, Kramnik will be the champion until he dies, retires, or is beaten on a direct match.

I really don’t see the point of mentioning that Kramnik defeated Kasparov fair and square in 2000, and maintained it drawing a match against Leko. I know that, everybody knows that. The problem is not this, the problem is another.

The problem is, I am a chessplayer, and I recognize this tradition, and I give importance to it. But the outside world simply doesn’t care much about this tradition, if it is alone. And Mig has a point when he says that it is this outside world that sponsorship comes from, or would come from.

There is no problem with legitimacy. But there is a problem with recognized importance by the outside world.

The title was already partially diluted when Kramnik gained it, due to the split (started by Kasparov).

Since then, it has been further diluted due to the fact that Kramnik felt to the 5th place in the rating list, and also to the fact that he was able to win only two tournaments since he gained the title.

(please correct me if I am wrong in the last point. Another blogger posted that Kramnik won Linares 2000. In fact, he shared first place with Kasparov on that tournament, and it was BEFORE their match. To my knowledge, in the four and a half years since he gained the title, Kramnik won Linares 2003, Linares 2004 and that’s all)

Dortmund 2002 may be called a “qualifier”, but not a “system”. It was a traditional tournament that would take place anyway. ACP has never organized anything at all. Right now, six months past the Kramnik-Leko match, no word has been said about a next cycle.

So, what do we have now?
We have:
- a traditional title that is not recognized by the international federation;
- an endless internal war, and a failed peace treaty (Prague 2002);
- absolutely no system in place, by either side; vacuum and disorder at the same time;
- a champion that has not proven superiority since gaining the traditional title;
- a tradition that gives him legitimacy, but that is not valued by the outside world;

So the importance of the traditional title may not have diluted in the eyes of chessplayers, but it definitely has been diluted to the eyes of the society. The fact that we had to wait two years for the match Kramnik-Leko, and with half the prize fund of the 2000 match, is just a symptom.

All right. Last post, third line. "...huge Kasparov fun" means "...huge Kasparov fan". Go figure.

Actually, Hesam's suggestion is not so bad. I doubt that if push came to shove, Kramnik would mind playing Kasim to defend his title for the second time. Kasim also would not mind I am sure. He then has a unified title that no one can dispute and then we could reinstate the candidate's cycle. The only thing is Hesam, there was no money for Kasparov-Kasim so why would Kramnik-Kasim go through. Except under rare circumstances,(Lasker-Janowski comes to mind)People will only fund matches where they feel the outcome is not so clear. Also yes he fell to fifth place on the list. But what exactly does that mean there were many times when Lasker would not touch a chess piece for 4 or more years! Botvinnik rarely played in tournaments( I don't know how sucessfull he was when he played). Kasparov did not defend his title for 5 years(1 year more than Kramnik's 4 years). My not so educated guess on what the average time between defenses is 3 years. Lets just face it, what is happening now is not so different from things that have happened before or that will happen afterwards. Lets just put Garry Kasparov aside and recognize Vladimir Kramnik as #14 not diluted not anything. (The rift is also meaningless. I can make another one today. If he were champion I doubt Kasparov would consider the rift in anyway diluting at all!) Also about your point that Kramnik has only won two Super tournaments well how many has Kasparov won? How many has Kramnik played in? It is not really so bad. The fact that he makes many draws against weaker players is also not so bad. Lets see how he does in his next world championship match. In both matches he really put on quite a performance.

Added to that , only 2004-Linares was Kramnik's clear first place with +2 score.Big deal!.He had 20 draws out of 24 games(>80%!!!) in Linares where he came first/shared first during 2003/4.If this is considered a great achievement, god save chess.Yes it is a category-20 tournament.So what?Kasparov shown how to score just +1 against 2700+ guys and still win the tournament with +4.Nobody denies Kramnik can defend well on the board,off the board.Kramnik in 2000 was different.Since his win , barring his hardcore fans , no body consider his achievements anything to boost of.He has been just one among equals .It doesn't hurt chess or its so called tradition, if he plays on equal terms with Topolov,Leko and Anand.Infact all these three have better chance to win than Kramnik now.By keeping Kramnik away, we are actually making these guys eleminate themselves before Kramnik.Which I consider unfair.Reconcile to the fact that tadition or no tradition, legitamate or almost legitamate we don't have an undisputed or universally accepted title for years.This is the general perception.

Last point I will confess that Kramnik is going through a slump and so have several of the other champions. Even strong Grandmasters admit that Kramnik used to played beautifully and interestingly but that now he is so afraid to lose that he plays sort of .... non-descript. I a sure Kramnik is aware of this in his heart although he makes many excuses about illness and is working it out. I have many times already posted my view that all he needs to do is make a knight move instead of a pawn move and he will become strong again.

I like the shortcut, er.. the "quick solution"..

If I were GK I'd consider "unretiring" to have a shot at the winner of the farse (the "unified" FIDE WC, that is), just to err... validate him in the line coming from Steinitz et al..

I like it, yeah.


So how would you say Kramnik's style has changed (if at all) over the past five years? Are you just passing along opinions from anonymous "grandmasters or can you point to any particular games to make your point?"

Dear Greg Koster and all friends,

You can refer to the games that Kramnik lost against weaklings Francisco Vallejo Pons and Loek van Welky in the Melody Amber tournament. In both blindfold games, Kramnik played passively and against Vallejo, his first loss, which I think heavily affected his morale as his play afterwards were full or errors, his play was terribly reckless and simply unrecognizable, reminding me of a psychologically disturbed and depressed Keres losing 4-0 against an energized and bulldozing Botvinnik in 1948 after the trauma inflicted upon him after the 2nd World War. {From Kasparov's Great Predecessors book, volume II)

Unlike Leko, who played defensive chess consistently and solidly throughout the tournament, Kramnik somewhat disappointed his fans with his poor form. If not for his loss against Vallejo, I doubt Kramnik would finish so far below the leaders in the Amber tournament. The games he lost are primarily the games that can be drawn or even won if he played solidly and less creatively, but with logic and precision, just like the younger Kramnik who tired and defeated Kasparov with the Berlin Defence. Kramnik amazed me and his numerous fans with his solid and patient play, in a sense similar, yet not entirely, to Karpov's, Leko's and Anand's styles. Occasionally, when Kramnik started playing too creatively without doing too much ground work, his games were simply error-prone and the Melody Amber Tournament was a good testimony to his failed experiments.


[In light to his game won against Bareev (by luck), Kramnik played insipidly, blundered on the 29th move with Kg1 and should have lost in an ignominous manner if not for Bareev's 'blindness' in the blindfold and failure in executing the right forcing sequence after Kramnik's essential 30.Qd1 in the form of 30...Rg6+! (a move that's not hard to see or understand) 30.Kh1 Bxd5 31.cxd5 Rg3! 32.Rxe5 Rxf3 with the deadly threat of winning the white queen as well as mate with 33...Rf1 to follow. Kasparov once remarked that Bareev is someone who cannot calculate any variation accurately and from Bareev's poor showing in the major tournaments, I guess that Kaspy may be right, since he seldom mince his own words.]

I've got nothing personal against Bareev here. I regard him as a great player and a superb and obstinate exponent of the Frence Defence, but a person who is also rather inconsistent in his play. Although he did not manage a good result at the Amber tournament, he was the only soul to defeat Anand in a crushing manner. He capitalized on Anand's complacency in the opening and crushed Anand in his good old attacking style. For anyone willing to look at Bareev's games, his notable win against Anand would be a good indication of his fierce determination and relentless attacking capability that hurled him to the top. Kudos to Bareev! Hopefully he can win something in the future.

Who cares about Melody Amber? Anand has a mediocre Linares, then in Amber eats the world's best players alive, then in Bundesliga can't beat a 2512-rated player with White. Otherwise extremely solid Leko loses 4 games. Queens are being put an prise everywhere, completely uncharacteristic blunders are made, Kramnik forgets that Rf8-e8 has been played against Moro but what does all this have to do with classical chess?


Comparing the 2000 World Championship with the 2000 Amber Blindfold games one does see an astonishing fall-off in Kramnik's form. How would you explain it? You're also the first to describe Bareev's 64-move Amber victory over Anand as a "crush". And the first to compare the Keres-Botvinnik World Championship games with a rapid/blindfold tournament.

You can really sling it, JZY. Keep up the good work.

2005 Amber games.

When Kramnik was in good form, he usaually plays well in whatever form of chess.That includes blindfold and rapids too.That is the case with all top players, like Leko,Topolov,Shirov,Ivanchuk etc...Well I am not including Anand here, because he is one exception who plays well in rapid controls even he is not in good form.Agreed, amber doesn't have the status of Linares or WAZ, but completely dismissing it is way too much.

Sure, no need to dismiss it completely. Even so Kramnik's result was decent and he played some very good games (for the circumstances).

"They're using an average of the July 2004 and the January 2005 list" I assume Polgar's rating will be counted even though she fell off the list due to inactivity? Then she's probably next in the line after Svidler.

Actually Greg, I was not sure where I read(heard) this but it was actually the Misha Savinov interview with Konstatin Sakaev in which Sakaev says something like in the mid-90's Vladimir played interesting chess but now he is so afraid to lose that he can only win at home. Can I support this with games. Well actually I can suggest the book Kramnik My Life and Games which is one of the most beautiful book of games I have ever read. Surprisingly Kramnik often played games with piece and pawn sacrifices such as his famous game as black against Kasparov in the Meran. Or how he played Anand as white in the Moscow(he actually lost to a nice Bd5!! shot but analysis showed he had a very strong attack. This is Sakaev's point, but, this is not actually my main point. Kramnik has always been primarily a positional player who played strong technically this is how he put so much pressure on Kasparov. It seems to me that he was able to get those positions that were suitable for this in Nf3 lines whereas now he finds it very hard to get anything at all he can work with against the Najdorf and against the Spanish. Just my two cents on how Kramnik's games have become more sterile as he does not know what to do with positions he gets or when he does get promising positions he fails to execute his opponents.


Yesterday I re-read an old issue of the French magazine “Europe Echecs”, from February 1999. I have it only in print, so I am sorry I`m not able to post a link to it.

This issue has an interview with Kasparov, with the subtitle “Kasparov does his mea-culpa”. In the interview, he talked about his breaking-up from the international federation as an error. He remained very critical of FIDE, but thought then that the departure was not the right thing to do. At one point in the interview, he said textually that “My departure from FIDE have aggravated the precariousness of the world of chess”, and then talked about the increasing difficulties to find sponsorship for the world championship. (Why didn`t he just return to FIDE? For the same reason that Kramnik doesn`t do it now)

I want to call your attention that it was on February 1999. It was one year and 8 months before his match with Kramnik. Now, six years later, this is the only report that I am able to find. I can recall from memory that I heard the same thing being said on at least one more source at that time.

I mention this to say that your statement, that “If he were champion I doubt Kasparov would consider the rift in anyway diluting at all”, is incorrect. Kasparov DID recognize that, while he was still champion.

When I said that Kramnik won only two tournaments in the four and a half years since he became champion, you asked in return, “But how many tournaments Kasparov have won?”
Well, since you asked, Kasparov won seven tournaments in the same period. I lost count of how many Anand won.

You also said “there were many times when Lasker would not touch a chess piece for 4 or more years”.
You mean the four years of World War I? Or in the 30s, after he lost the title? There were no other such periods. If you want to discuss history, then remember that Rubinstein and Maroczy, probably the most dangerous challengers before Capablanca appeared, never could play a match against Lasker, EXACTLY due to problems to raise sponsorship.
Botvinnik rarely played in tournaments, but at that time there was an unified title, and there was a great system in place. Now we have neither.

I would like to return to the question: IS KRAMNIK`S TITLE DILUTED ?

As I said in another post, legitimacy is one thing. Recognized importance is another. Kramnik`s title may be legitimate to the eyes of chessplayers like me, but its importance have definitely been diluted to the eyes of society, where sponsorship comes from.

You can criticize Kasparov as much as you want, and for many reasons. But no one can deny that he worked VERY hard to try to create a cycle structure, alternative to FIDE. Remember the PCA-Intel Grand Prix, in 1994-95? It was not just a traditional tournament that would take place anyway, in contrast to Dortmund 2002. It was the only time IN HISTORY that the chess world had a sponsorship contract for a whole period of two years, not for one single tournament and it`s over. And with Intel, a blue-chip.

Besides that, do you remember the many tournaments in which Kasparov took part in 1999 and 2000, while still holding the title? Remember that he took first place in every single one of them?

My point is: Kasparov worked very hard to create a new structure, won many tournaments, and EVEN WITH ALL THAT the title already had its importance diluted to the eyes of society (and consequently to the eyes of sponsors).
Symptoms of this were:
a) the well-known problems to find a sponsor for a match against Shirov;
b) the fact that he took five years to organize a title match, and
c) the need in the end to hand-pick a challenger who had never qualified.

Since then, the situation got worse. At the very least, have not improved. For three main reasons:

The slipt continues, with no ending at sight.
I always remember the words from Yasser Seirawan: “Coke will not sponsor a world championship when they know that there is another world championship that can be sponsored by Pepsi”. It`s as simple as that.
Chessplayers like me know the difference between the two championships, but sponsors don`t know and don`t care.

The absolute lack of a system remains, on both sides.
I just don`t see Kramnik or the ACP working hard to create a new structure, unless that you are satisfied with pointing to a traditional tournament that would take place anyway and saying “this is the qualifier”. Perhaps they are working in complete silence, but until today there is no word at all about a new cycle.
I hope that I am wrong, but I suspect that we will soon see an announcement from ACP saying that Dortmund 2006 is the new cycle.
I don’t comment about the new FIDE tournament in Argentina because it is not worth the effort of writing.

Kasparov`s wins in tournaments reinforced the legitimacy of the title, while it was in his hands. Kramnik does not have this reinforcement.
Just compare: in 2000, the champion had an advantage of 70 rating point over the second-rated played. Today,the champion is in fifth place on the rating list, with a disadvantage of 59 points to the first-rated player. It does not eliminate the legitimacy of the title, but does not exactly reinforce it either.

So, Kramnik`s title is legitimate. Is it also diluted? Unfortunately, it is.

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