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The last of the three parties involved is heard from. First we had Kramnik's group the UEP (Universal Event Promotion) saying Kramnik was ready to play Topalov and the money was in place, but FIDE had interfered and screwed things up. Then Topalov's manager, aka KCM (Kaissa Chess Management), said that the match had fallen through because Kramnik had refused to play for unification under FIDE.

Now Makropoulos, Deputy President of FIDE writes in with "match, what match?" (see below) They never saw an official proposal, proposed that the match should be under FIDE (and reminded them about the usual FIDE 20% cut), suggested a ménage à trois meeting and didn't get one, and two days later were informed that Kramnik's side had rejected both the meeting and the idea of holding the match under FIDE. It's not for nothing that the anagram of these three organizations is "Impede, Fuck!" (Or you may prefer "me pick feud" or "if deep muck.")

So Kramnik/UEP want a London/Brissago-style match – outside of FIDE – using the FIDE world championship in San Luis as a qualifier but not played for unification. I guess this really shouldn't surprise, but somehow it does. Unification has always been more of a fan obsession than anything the players or FIDE care about and we forget that sometimes. But Kramnik did say, after San Luis, "Is the long awaited reunification of the chess world finally going to happen? My position is absolutely clear on this: in accordance with the Prague Agreement of 2002 I am prepared to play in a reunification match. I am looking forward to some clarification from Topalov and I hope everything becomes clear in the coming weeks." (This provides a nice doppelganger of Topalov first saying he would only play Kramnik if it wasn't for the title and now saying the exact opposite.)

I'm sure there are some holdouts who would be happy to tell FIDE to take a flying leap and have Topalov – the world (active) #1 and dominant winner of San Luis – play Kramnik in a long match outside of FIDE. This would give the winner decent credibility, but would only widen the schism and do nothing toward building a true classical cycle, one that lets everyone in the world have a shot and that virtually guarantees that the winner has a strong claim to being the world #1.

But I don't think that's what most people want to see. FIDE has announced a classical cycle, although they later screwed it up by swapping the final matches for another San Luis tournament. If Kramnik moves in with FIDE, the long-match tradition goes into a coma. Remember that FIDE has said they will accept challenge matches from 2700+ players, adding a London Rules flavor to the whole mess. This allows the long match (assuming it's long; no formal rules have been issued yet) to survive if a challenger comes up with enough money. It's weird, but what I'm thinking is that if one or two of these matches happen and are big enough, FIDE may ditch the final round-robin, which is doomed to irrelevance.

Or does Topalov think that as things stand now people will remember him any better than Khalifman and Kasimdzhanov? Unless he stays #1 for a while, his FIDE title will prove as flimsy as theirs. We can say similar things about Kramnik. His drawn match with Leko can't be considered more impressive than Topalov's win in San Luis, even if this is apples and oranges. Kramnik hasn't been able to put a cycle together in five years and there is no reason to think that will change now, when FIDE's title is the most credible it's been since 1993. I'd say it's time to come in from the cold, cash in his remaining cred and play this match under FIDE for the unified title. Who cares whether FIDE wants to admit that on paper or not?

[FBF translates a quickie 64 interview with Kramnik here in the comments. But isn't Kramnik the one who has been giving lip service to unification and now refuses to play under FIDE? This is what happens when both sides believe they are champion and that the other must bow down. Nothing we haven't seen before.

FIDE World Chess Federation

I read with surprise the announcement of Universal Events Promotion, together with the statement of GM Vladimir Kramnik, which were trying to hold FIDE culpable for the collapse of the negotiations for a match Topalov-Kramnik.

I would therefore like to clarify the following:

1. FIDE hasn't received yet any official proposal concerning such a match.

2. When we were informed by Mr Danailov, the manager of World Champion V. Topalov, that negotiations were starting I immediately expressed the view that such a match should be for the World Championship Title and it should be organized under FIDE's auspices and in accordance with regulations which everyone should agree.

3. To this direction I suggested a meeting with all parties concerned.

4. To the question of Mr Danailov about FIDE's financial demands, I referred to the relative FIDE regulations which state that FIDE receives a 20% share of or above the prize fund.

Two days ago I was informed by Mr Danailov that the Kramnik side rejected the idea of holding the match within FIDE's authority and the proposal for a meeting of all sides was rejected as well.

After all these developments, it's strange how FIDE can be accused for the collapse of negotiations between UEP, Topalov and Kramnik.

Before today I believed that Kramnik was willing to play a match for the World Championship under FIDE's auspices. Unfortunately, recent developments show that he might not want to return to the official World Chess Championship cycle and is, at the same time, trying to hold FIDE responsible for his decision.

Georgios Makropoulos
FIDE Deputy President


I don't see how you can come to the conclusion that Kramnik wasn't trying to unify just because he didn't want to do it unconditionally and hand over control to FIDE from day one. The UEP announcement was quite clear in what is was about: first negotiation about the match itself, then possible upgrading to a unification match if the necessary conditions were met.

Just suck it up and play, Kramnik!

If you win, and I think you have a great chance to beat anyone in a match, you will be the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, no question. If you lose, you will have solidified the title of World Chess Champion for all eternity, and your place as World Champion, 2000-2006 will remain forever. We will all be forever grateful.


(I know Vlady is reading this!)

Exactly acirce, do what I want first, and then maybe I'll do what you want, but no guarantee. This is what they are both saying. Kramnik says agree to a match, recognize my status as champion, and play a match and then maybe I'll move under FIDE. FIDE says any match must be played under FIDE so we get a unified title regardless of who wins. Considering that otherwise the winner can just walk away with his title, FIDE's position makes more sense here. No, not more sense, but they don't really have an alternative. Topalov can wander off the ranch and play Kramnik anyway. So what do you expect FIDE to say here, that they will suddenly embrace Kramnik and his title and abandon their own champion and cycle? That's what the UEP is asking, while suggesting that they might let FIDE share a sunbeam later, but no promises. FIDE can't accept that.

This is what happens when you "just go over to FIDE for a little talk". Reminds me of that old Thomas Nast cartoon about Tammany Hall, with all the corrupt pols answering the question, "Who stole the peoples' money?", by each pointing to the next guy in line.

BOTTOM line is, I guess, what Vlad says: No match. Pity. Who's to blame for it, is a pointless exercise. Nobody's getting off the dime, so forget it.

Well, Kramnik has always been consistent about this - not unifying just for the sake of unifying - so how can anyone be surprised now? And I'm glad he is, because if "unification" simply means caving in to FIDE and unconditionally handing them total control of the title, then why should anyone support it in FIDE's current miserable state? That's certainly not anything that was agreed to in Prague. Sure - some may think it's worth destroying the classical line just to resolve the mess. It's not a completely unreasonable idea even if many of us strongly disagree.

in kramnik shoes i would play under fide.
if he loses, everything is clear.
if he wins and fide messes up. he can split again and would still be in a better posistion than now.

The usual FIDE BS. They changed their mind again. Remember, after San Luis they said Topalov can play Kramnik only if this is not for the title? Now thay demand exactly the opposite! If Kramnik wants to play Topalov, this shall be for the FIDE title!
Not mentioning that unconditional acceptance of playing under unknown FIDE rules is far from unification priniples (such as equality of both sides), and Kramnik will never accept this.
It is clear FIDE does not want the match. They did everything they could to screw up matches with Kasparov, now they try to do the same for Topalov-Kramnik. They belive they can ignore the title Kramnik has.
And after this Mig says Kramnik plays lip service?

Kramnik has been consistent on never making clear the conditions under which he would unify. This is his prerogative, but I don't consider it wise or helpful. I don't condemn Kramnik since we can't trust FIDE either, but he can't expect FIDE to walk away from Topalov or Topalov to walk away from FIDE. You have to risk something to gain something. Considering how the classical title has wilted under his direction, joining up with FIDE doesn't look so bad.

No, in Prague the champion agreed that the title should be unified and handed back to an organization, FIDE. This was important. There were conditions of course, and FIDE hasn't met them, but that was part of the spirit of the agreement. Kramnik needs to spell out under what conditions he would play under FIDE and FIDE needs to spell out the conditions for match challenges.

That was Topalov's comment, Vlad, not FIDE's. They really don't have much choice in the matter; they can't just invalidate their own title for nothing.

Yes, lip service. Kramnik keeps talking about unification but doesn't give specifics and now says FIDE must agree to a match first, even play the match first, and then he'll consider unification? That's not a tenable position. Again, I respect his desire to keep the classical title far from FIDE, but it's not the strong title it used to be and FIDE's champion not as weak. Kramnik is trying to grip sand tighter and tighter as it seeps through his fingers.

I agree with acirce, I don't understand how one could infer that Kramnik doesn't want unification.

You wrote in the post after Topalov's response: "This brings into relief the paragraph in the UEP doc that reads: "With regard to a possible reunion of both titles the draft contract contained a clause that would have made the unification under the umbrella of the FIDE after conclusion of the contract possible." What, after the match was over?"

No, NOT after the match was over, but after the match contract was signed and BEFORE the match was being played (giving a one year time to settle on a unification deal).

The whole point is that Kramnik and FIDE disagree as to the follow up of a unification match. Kramnik wants a match system, FIDE doesn't.

So Kramnik proposes a match with Topalov, so as to continue the match tradition. If FIDE wants to be part of this, negotiations are open.

FIDE however wants full control of the title + a WC tournament, so they will not settle on a deal with Kramnik.

Kramnik has done everything reasonable in order to continue the classical tradition. He has given FIDE every chance to unify with this tradition, either through Prague or through Topalov follow-up.

It really is a moral crime that FIDE is more concerned about control than preserving chess history.

And Topalov? Who cares about him. He has deposited his will in FIDE's pocket. If he had any balls, he would press FIDE towards a unification respecting the classical tradition, but instead he has become just a FIDE pawn.

I now agree with earlier posters that there is no point for Kramnik in seeking unification with FIDE at this point. When FIDE is only concerned about control, but not tradition, why bother. Better wait for a new FIDE management. And if that doesn't play out, try continuing the classical tradition by other means, eg. a match against Anand. And if that fails also, well, big deal, that's life, we'd just have to come to terms with the fact that FIDE managed to screw up 120 years of chess tradition.

I think we, the chess fans, could manage that one way or another, but maybe not as happy chess fans.

Yes, not after the match, of course!

So spell out what you want FIDE to do. They saw their champion walk away in 1993 leaving them screwed and broke. They can't just be a farm system for someone else's championship; that's not a reasonable expectation.

If Kramnik doesn't want to unify with FIDE (and the only way to do this is play under FIDE, you can't have it both ways), he had the obligation to set up a classical cycle. He did not. He has not upheld the classical tradition and I refuse to declare Kramnik champion for life regardless of his action or inaction. Kramnik tells FIDE to recognize him as champion first, then he might acknowledge them. Or he can go right back to saying "see, FIDE recognized I'm the champion, I don't need them" the way he revived Prague to mean that. This is perfectly reasonable for Kramnik, but it doesn't make any sense for FIDE. So calling it a reasonable proposal depends on your perspective.

I agree it's probably an intractable situation. This is not the end of the world. Again, fans place far more interest into this stuff than the players. But it would have been nice.

I don't understand the criticism of Topalov. What would you have him do? "HIS" title?!? Sorry, no. FIDE's title. As for pressure, maybe he doesn't think long matches are important like you do and like I do. As I said, no one would blame him for playing Kramnik for a big chunk of money, but it wouldn't solve anything.

Anyway, this is turning into angels on pins. Kramnik won't play under FIDE; FIDE won't give their title away for free; Topalov wants a huge amount of money to walk away from FIDE.

The first world champion who could walk away from FIDE without getting shot in the back of the head did so. After you win the title, what good is FIDE to you anymore? Rather disloyal, but most players aren't rich enough to turn down good money elsewhere.

Mig, you say Kramnik doesn't give specifics regarding unification and has never given clear conditions.

Oh well, for 5 years now, Kramnik's stance has been consistent: His title belongs to the classical tradition, and if FIDE wants to join the fun, it will be through a match and promises of a future match cycle.

And now, he even proposed a match that would only succeed in saving the classical tradition by him winning it. He can't possibly go any longer in order to try and settle this mess.

There really is no point for him in playing a WC match, if he would lose the WC title anyway by default after one year due to FIDE's fancy idea of WC tournaments. Better then to just ignore FIDE and let the classical tradition die with him. Or instead, try, however difficult it would be, to continue it by arranging matches against worthy opponents that would hopefully uphold the tradition in the same spirit in case they won.

Topalov doesn't want to mess with FIDE, that's one down. Anand probably won't either, two down. Leko did, but he lost and is out of the picture. Kasparov will never do anything possibly giving credit to Kramnik, that's four down. Etc. etc.

Thank you, FIDE, thank you. Screwing up 120 years of chess tradition thanks to a fancy idea of WC tournaments and megalomania.

And what is this nonsense about Kramnik's title being weakened? I don't care an iota how "weak" it has become by him blundering a couple of games last year, it is the only title that upholds the classical tradition. If unification does not include him or a classical cycle, there really is no point to it all. FIDE and Topalov can then enjoy there semiannual WC tournaments all they want, I would concider them an utter disgrace and insult for years to come. And I probably wouldn't be alone. But everybody, please continue trying to find faults in Kramnik's negotiative stance in order to be able to swallow the FIDE pill of "wo don't care, we just want full control".

What is your definition of a classical cycle? Playing the winner of Dortmund?! When I say weakened I refer to Kramnik's failure to organize a cycle. I couldn't care less about his rating. It needs to be about a broad cycle that gives everyone a shot and is also rigorous enough that the winner has undisputed claims. Kramnik has failed to do this and nobody rides for free. I'm not willing to discard democracy and rigor in exchange for a long match against whomever wanders by. The cycle matters more than the match because before you can have a credible champion you have to have a credible challenger.

I'm very disappointed about FIDE's changing the rules from match to tournament, but this exact same discussion would be happening had they not done that. Kramnik's not saying he would play under FIDE if only they would go back to a match final.

I blame FIDE for many things, but I don't see how you can expect them to exist if they have no authority over their own champion and championship events. Everyone could just take the money and run like Kasparov and Short did. The classical title outside of FIDE has not exactly thrived.

The Kramnik fans are always so vocal buy how many of them is there left since Topalov is the FIDE World Champion, really ?
My guess is not much, by checking around me, but a poll among chess players would give some light on the actual credibility of Kramnik and "his title".
Just ask them who is the current world chess champion. Kramnik gets what, 5-10 % ? Then nobody cares, case closed.
"The dogs bark, the caravan goes by" says an arab proverb...

Why doesn't some one challenge Kramnik like the days of old for the world title match?

I´m very sad. I thought Topalov was a real champ. He is doing everything I hate. I´m seeing only cowardice.

Money Money Money.

They'll need to come up with plenty of cash for Kramnik to consider a challange. We've gone back to the days of Capa trying to raise the bag of gold to secure a rematch with Alekhine.

Such statements should always be read very closely as they usually contain much spin (and I mean all three statements).

Makropoulos states that "such a match should be for the World Championship Title and it should be organized under FIDE's auspices and in accordance with regulations which everyone should agree".

Well, yes, but which "regulations"? Were they open for negotiation or did he simply refer to the "new rules of FIDE, due to be published very soon" which don't recognize Kramnik's title in any form and thus make any "unification match" logically impossible?

When you read §1 and §2 of Danailov's statement, you indeed get the impression that Makropoulos was referring to these "new rules".

It's completely understandable that FIDE wants to have its due share of the prize money in any world championship match:
"To the question of Mr Danailov about FIDE's financial demands, I referred to the relative FIDE regulations which state that FIDE receives a 20% share of or above the prize fund."

This doesn't explain, however, why Topalov's demands suddenly doubled after he had talked with FIDE, and why FIDE demanded a "net sum of $300,000":

"As compensation Mr. Topalov’s manager requested a fee of US $1,000,000 (net) for Mr. Topalov and an additional net sum of US $300,000 for FIDE."

$300,000 is, of course, 20% of $1,500,000, so FIDE did demand a much bigger prize fund, a fact Mr Makropoulos chose to omit.

The UEP statement suggest that these financial demands were the reason why the negotiations failed:

"After the announcement of these demands by the Topalov management UEP made it clear that at the present stage UEP did not consider such demands as realistic, and repeated the existing offer."

Of course, this could also be spin and only part of the truth.

Kramnik should clarify if he was prepared to play "under FIDE auspicies" and under which "regulations".

The following paragraph also needs clarification:
"With regard to a possible reunion of both titles the draft contract contained a clause that would have made the unification under the umbrella of the FIDE after conclusion of the contract possible."
How would that clause have made possible "the unification under the umbrella of the FIDE"? And why could FIDE not be part of that contract?

These press releases leave more questions than answers, so please, UEP, KCM and FIDE, keep them coming... :D

LOL! Kramnik is the one that wants to play Topalov! Topalov is so pathetic he is holding on a FIDE Championship Title that os worthless like the one Kasimzhanov or Ponomariov had! FIDE's titles like the FIDE are now a joke.

Topalov is so scared of playing Kramnik and he wants to hold a worthless title to denigrate Kramnik's 100 years of tradition one. Topalov should seriously take a break and get new promoters on his side. If Topalov is ever going to do something is now or never.

Topalov was my second favorite GM and now he is the last by far. Topalov and his promoters are acting like they are god and are trying to get all the attention. Kramnik and all the top GM's should forget about Topalov and Kramnik should play a unification match against anyone else except Topalov so Topalov can feel who has the real power.

Mig: "I'm very disappointed about FIDE's changing the rules from match to tournament, but this exact same discussion would be happening had they not done that. Kramnik's not saying he would play under FIDE if only they would go back to a match final."

Well, I can only extrapolate from what Kramnik has said in earlier interviews, like one around the Leko-match:


In this Kramnik said:

"Firstly, we need to keep in mind the lessons of Prague, Prague agreements turned out to be a fiction. At least from the standpoint of FIDE. And now I need to seriously think how to fine-tune a dialogue with FIDE, in order to be sure that everything we agree upon will be carried out. Because unification itself is absolutely senseless, if it does not carry some positive changes. If we will have one champion, well-defined structure of world championships, everything guaranteed – then yes, this unification is imperative for the chess world. If none of this happens, then this unification will just be another fiction."

You ask, what do I want FIDE to do? Maybe messing around with the WC format is not such a good idea when the title is divided and you don't at all include the classical title holder in your considerations.

I don't at all want to grant Kramnik the title, and sideline FIDE, for all eternity. But Kramnik is right in insisting on upholding the classical tradition if he is to put his title on the line. If not to continue the classical title, why bother?

You sort of blame Kramnik for not arranging a cycle for determining his challenger. Excuse me, but exactly how would that be possible when the chess world had its eyes set on the Prague unification plan?

Fine, sideline Kramnik all you want, and grant FIDE all title rights because, well, really, they can't just be a farm system for someone else's championchip!?

Can't you see that this is just another way of saying that FIDE can do whatever they want, and if somebody disagrees (like, the classical WC), FIDE can just screw them?

A thought experiment: In ten years time, FIDE finds out that maybe this tournament WC idea was not so good after all, and decide on a classical match cycle instead. How would that go down in chess history? The classical champion was stripped of his title in exchange for a fancy FIDE idea, but later FIDE tried to resurrect the old tradition?

No way. The classical tradition dies or continues with Kramnik or his defeater. If this doesn't work out, the classical tradition is dead. This tradition can't change format unless there is a unified chess world behind the proposed changes. All the FIDE or tournament fans (like Nunn, who made such a nice tournament argument on Chessbase, just like dr. Elo in 1975 made such a nice technical argument against Fischer's match demands [9-9=title defense] only to regret it years later due to an obviously superior psycological argument) can celebrate their new WC events all they want, but it will have nothing to do with 120 years of chess tradition.

This is the key issue of this discussion. Do you want to respect the classical tradition, or do you want to start up your own tradition with no regards to the classical tradition.

Current FIDE seems to want the latter, and that is *very* regretable in my humble view.

No, I don't blame Topalov in any way. I just point out that he or his manager has decided to deposit their will (or negotiative stance, if you will) in FIDE's pocket. That's fair and respectable, but it also means that they can not be relied upon to have a positive influence on preserving the classical tradition, if that's what one desires.

And no, I'm no chess jihady, I'm as pragmatic as they come, but I can no longer close my eyes to the fact that FIDE is in the process of screwing up 120 years of chess tradition. In chess terms, I cheered for Kasparov, and I cheered for Topalov, but frankly, Kramnik seems to be the only mature agent in this circus.

Regards. (Mig, I know you are much better informed and considerate, I just state my opinions as I see appropriate, and do not intend to engage in pointless "you said this and that, but" arguments, so I apologize in advance, none of this is personal).

Hey, who are you calling informed and considerate? You're going to ruin my reputation... I'm not insisting that Kramnik do anything, only pointing out that it doesn't make any sense for FIDE to give up control of everything. That is, FOR THEM. I ask not what you would like FIDE to do in a fantasy world but what you would have them do now, in response to Kramnik's proposal. They need the championship for revenue. Patting Topalov and the back and saying good luck and getting nothing in return would be very strange.

The championship has not done well as a player possession. Kasparov managed one cycle, in 1995, and then had to go back 100 years to picking the strongest challenger in 2000 after a failed candidates match experiment in 1998. Kramnik played the winner of Dortmund, which, in view of the classical tradition, was worse than playing a rematch with Kasparov, the obvious top challenger. Instead of a democratic cycle or playing the top challenger he went for a new middle road.

So let's say FIDE continues with its announced classical cycle. Thousands of players starting in zonals, world cup, matches, then a final round robin. Meanwhile, Kramnik plays a 14-game match against the winner of, say, Dortmund. (That would be Naiditsch right now, but to help your cause let's imagine it's someone in the top 20!)

That leaves FIDE with the cycle and Kramnik with a match against a relatively unimpressively qualified challenger. It's like putting all the sugar in one batch of cookies and all the flour in another. I wouldn't consider Kramnik's title superior in that case. Rigorous qualification and democracy matter too.

If FIDE is serious about allowing challenge matches then we may be able to have real cookies after all. Obviously not as good as a final match after qualification, but I doubt anyone outside of the top few will be able to drum up enough money anyway. Kramnik has done little in five years; FIDE has shown signs of life in 2005. I'm just not sure Kramnik has anything left to preserve, or that he's the right one to preserve it. It's not as if a classical cycle can't be started from scratch if the funding is there.

Kramnik's title will lose significance if he doesn't play a serious match with a serious opponent soon. Even if it happens, the schism will continue.

Topalov will lose his title as soon as the next FIDE round robin comes around. (Unless he can repeat his San Luis performance; which at this point is pure "looking into a crystal ball".)

It very much looks like the World Championsip tradition has come to an end and the title will become pretty much meaningless (Some guy won some tournament some year).

Maybe it was inevitable. Maybe we've just been lucky with the last bunch of champs: Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov; names that will stand as a rock forever.

Kramnik's title will lose significance if he doesn't play a serious match with a serious opponent soon. Even if it happens, the schism will continue.

Topalov will lose his title as soon as the next FIDE round robin comes around. (Unless he can repeat his San Luis performance; which at this point is pure "looking into a crystal ball".)

It very much looks like the World Championsip tradition has come to an end and the title will become pretty much meaningless (Some guy won some tournament some year).

Maybe it was inevitable. Maybe we've just been lucky with the last bunch of champs: Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov; names that will stand as a rock forever.

Well ... I agree with them all. Topalov is world champion. Kramnik is world champion. Fide is a nice toy in the hands of Illumjinov. Anand is the strongest active player. Fischer is the strongest chess player ever. Kasparov is also world champion... until somebody kills him, which should come fast. Everybody's world champion. According to fide rules, any player coming along with enough dollars can play a match against the world champion (so why such a long cycle ?)

Guys, you know, I'm a 2200 patzer, but all those tactical variations are too much for me. All those guys are ... just so boooooring. Let's focus on our own games, and forget about them... don't you think so?

Thanks to Mig I discovered another rhetorical trick which Mr Makropoulos used.

Mig wrote:
"FIDE says any match must be played under FIDE so we get a unified title regardless of who wins."

But is this actually true? Did FIDE ever refer to a "unified title"? No!

Mr Makropoulos is very careful to avoid any reference to "unification" or to Kramnik's title in his statement:

"Before today I believed that Kramnik was willing to play a match for the World Championship under FIDE's auspices. Unfortunately, recent developments show that he might not want to return to the official World Chess Championship cycle."

Wow, Makropoulos is an even better spinmeister than Scotty. Perhaps he should apply for the job...? ;)

I can't believe I was semi-defending Ilyuminzhov a while back. This are totally sleazy tactics by FIDE. It's more unbelievable that Topalov is trying to help them get away with it - I really think he's sac'ed some credibility here.

Long live Vladimir Kramnik, champion of the world.

let me say that I conceptually disagree with following:

"The last of the three parties involved is heard from. First we had Kramnik's group the UEP (Universal Event Promotion) saying Kramnik was ready to play Topalov..."

I can see that there are either four parties, or two - but not three!
What can be a reason to think that now Kramnik is closer to UEP than Topalov to FIDE?

After San Luis, Silvio & Veselin did not hide their loyalty to FIDE. (Yes, just this word was used in the interview which I saw - "loyalty", " loyalinost' " in Russian.)

Both Kramnik and FIDE are arguing about control. Topalov is just following orders - given by Kirsan with either bribes or threats. Ilyumzhinov wants to be re-elected president of FIDE in May and that is what is most important to him. That is why Makropoulos and Danailov are making statements about the match being played inside of FIDE.

This has nothing to do with unification - or that they even want a match for the World Champion. They just don't want to see a lot of publicity for a Kramnik-Topalov (read: much interest by delegates to FIDE) match which will take place after the election - and which will likely include one or more of Kirsan's opponents in the preparations.

So, if there is to be a match, it will not be contracted until after the FIDE general assembly in May.

It was a good try, but to get wrest FIDE from the Butcher of Kalmykia, the candidates are going to have to resort to the old fashioned "my bribe is bigger, so vote for me".

Well, I would be happy to see Topalov vs Kramnik match, but if sides are not able to reach agreement about the future of the world championship, then this match can have little sense, really.
FIDE is just trying to annihilate the "Kramnik's" classical branch. Kramnik is (possibly?) trying to ignore FIDE. Then, how the progress can be reached?
Moreover, maybe it would be just better for chess if the classical branch will be preserved - out of Kirsan's control.
In the ideal world, I would have preferred to see Topalov vs Kramnik match and FIDE, giving strong guarantees that chess traditions will be preserved and that players will be respected.
But it sounds more like a dream. Those FIDE guys just wants to do with the world championship anything what would come to their minds: KO, Prague, Tripoli, Match-Tournament, extremely stupid Last Chance event (now cancelled), World Cup in Sibiria, and so on. They want to keep total control and to have no responsibility at all. Naturally, they should not be allowed to reach such goals! Once Ponomariov called them in his interview "the chess mafia". He was right.

Well, I would be happy to see Topalov vs Kramnik match, but if sides are not able to reach agreement about the future of the world championship, then this match can have little sense, really.
FIDE is just trying to annihilate the "Kramnik's" classical branch. Kramnik is (possibly?) trying to ignore FIDE. Then, how the progress can be reached?
Moreover, maybe it would be just better for chess if the classical branch will be preserved - out of Kirsan's control.
In the ideal world, I would have preferred to see Topalov vs Kramnik match and FIDE, giving strong guarantees that chess traditions will be preserved and that players will be respected.
But it sounds more like a dream. Those FIDE guys just wants to do with the world championship anything what would come to their minds: KO, Prague, Tripoli, Match-Tournament, extremely stupid Last Chance event (now cancelled), World Cup in Sibiria, and so on. They want to keep total control and to have no responsibility at all. Naturally, they should not be allowed to reach such goals! Once Ponomariov called them in his interview "the chess mafia". He was right.

I wanna cry

I wanna cry

I am frustrated.

I am angry

I am confused

I wanna world chess championship match.

All 3 sides and their managers and their lawyers are all full of male cow droppings. also known as BS.

These guys make Bobby Fischer look like a negotiating saint.

lets have fide agree to have a tournament like san luis to pick the challenger and then a match with the former champion for the title.

Kramnik has offered more money than Fide did for the san luis championship. 1.4 million vs 1.0 million. and of the 1 million 200,000 went to fide. so only 800,000 was the real prize money. and 200k of 800k is really 25% not 20%. hell fide wants 20% extra of its own 20% so it goes to 25%.

What no one here has mentioned is that Kramnik has raised the $1.4 million and as the money raiser he wants some say in the match along with the people putting up the money. fide seems to want kramnik and the money people to simply turn over $1.4 million in cash immediately and then trust that fide will run a good match. this is not realistic. the people with the money usually make the rules.

and let us not forget this is $400,000 plus more money for later than what fide was able to raise for 8 players.

this alone proves that money can be raised for matches but not for tournaments. therefore fide has made the wrong decision.

the solution seems simple. have a san luis type tournament for picking the challenger and then a match against the present champion as an ongoing policy.

the problem with this is then FIDE does not have absolute control over the title. ahhh. control. what all dictators desire. paid $50 million to have dictator control over an entire country. sounds pretty cheap to me. obviously he will simply strip that money and more out of the country into his own bank account. after all the $50 million was an investment worthy of profits even if it was not his money but the money of the poor people of his country. and even if the profit is not real profit but more money stripped from the poor people of his country.

and we complain. haha. he only strips us of our chess champion title. from the poor he takes every penny day in and day out for years and years.

I have been saying it for weeks. Fide does not want to have anything to do with Kasparov and Kramnik. they intend to crush anyone who opposes them.

Fide has control of the title now because it gets a new champion every year and does not allow him to establish him self as a true champion. this leaves the champion very weak. and fide very strong.

kasarah sarah. whatever will be will be. the future is not ours to see. kasarah sarah.

I have to go learn to play poker and forget chess. nothing but a bunch of psychopaths in chess.

Now I am going to go cry. knowing I am psychopathic.



I really can't wait to see Karpov as FIDE President to get FIDE active!


Who is this Sarah?

Mig you know Kramnik had signed agreement to have a dortmund style qualifier before he could play Kasparov. He has said he wanted to go back to a normal candidates cycle like the one that existed before.

No he hasn't given specific demands but left it open.

FIDE will go back to tournaments as soon as they can. they do not want a strong champion they want all the power. You are dreaming if you think Kirsan will suddenly change his mind and prefer a decent match cycle that will produce a strong WC. He may play that card from time to time but as soon as he has enough power he will go back to his old ways - World championship tournaments.

I am glad Kramnik is refusing to agree to throw his title into a tournament pot every year or 2. Unification with this FIDE is not good. The best thing we can hope for (short of new admin in FIDE) is Kramnik beating Topalov and getting enough leverage to get a decent cycle going.

To Rouslan I agree in some sense. But rather than ignore the top why not ignore the politics and focus on their chess. And you must admit that they produce some amazing chess games. Morozevich vs. this Cuban guy from the WTC was fantastic and the best stuff remained behind the scenes(nice queen sac if white played Qh4 instead of Nc6 for example). This is the most important reason why we should hope to see a match between Topalov and Kramnik.

I am impressed by your posts- you are expressing the same sentiments for the honor and tradition of the world championship title that I have been for some time, though you are doing so more elequently (I just don't have much time to post, so I skip the elequence!).

Mig, I don't understand why you keep saying that FIDE is somehow giving up something. I agree with what several posters have pointed out, that Kramnik has long stated that he will be glad to unify the title under FIDE when a legitimate cycle is in place. All FIDE has to do is change the winner of the match tournament from being the 'champ' into being the 'challenger' to the champ. It is really pretty straightforward. I cannot ever imagine Kramnik not agreeing to unify the title under such conditions. If he didn't then all of us would stop supporting his claim.

wow! this is becoming a website for creative-writing.

Seems like there are two areas in which mankind is desperately searching for unification:

1) PHYSICS (GUT's: Grand Unified Theory, TEO: Theory of Everything and offcourse super string theory),

2) CHESS (...??)

I dont know which is harder.

Hey, no need to fret. Isn't there another Fide cycle coming up in 1-2 years? Hopefully that negotiation will not break down after a single attempt, and the winner will give Kramnik his private match. (Is that another grey hair on my head?)

I just lost my post: Let me share the abreviated version.

The WC is process, history, and perception. Fide drastically improved its process. Probably enough to match or better Krammnik's efforts toward a WC cycle. Top-1 Kram -0

History will always belong to Krammnik. But people are more driven by the present. Many are looking for a credible fresh start. This is the best excuse for that to come along in a long time. The poster who mourned the eventual death of the classical line with Krammnik is probably right. Certainly Krammnik cannot be blamed. Top -1 Kram -1

Perception as turned heavily to Topalov. Why? Anand and Leko were at San Luis. Top's exciting and dominating play. Krammnik's poor post Brissago results. Kasparov, Polgar and other influential stars.

Top wins this mini-match and will be considered the champion. Krammnik (unjustly) will be left behind.

Not very scientific . . .

hello Rouslan,
peace, mind your words, please don't say like this,
...Kasparov is also world champion..." until somebody kills him, which should come fast."

i think it's not unreasonable that Kramnik isn't too keen on having the match unconditionally under FIDE...because then, even in the case he won, the classical tradition will end with him being forced to the WC tournament instead of match in two years.
Kramnik has made it clear that he wants to uphold the classical tradition, and if he wants to do that, he can't give control over the title to FIDE.
i don't like Kramnik having control over the title, either, but at the moment it's in safer hands with Kramnik...if it was out of his hands, any historical relevance would very soon be lost (if in fact it did not already get drowned with the nonexistent Fischer-Karpov match, which, i repeat, was not Fischer's fault, his demands were reasonable, but as in the book Russians vs. Fischer is revealed, the Russians never intended for the negotiations to bear fruit, which may have been what Fischer instinctivelly realized and for that reason just gave up).

With that in mind...maybe it's not so unreasonable what Karpov said that chess has to go back 40 years in order to be reborn again...that might be the most reasonable view to things as obviously everything is so shattered, and has been for such a long time, that it can't be glued back together...like Humpty Dumpty.

If Karpov means that Fischer and him should play a WC match, then by all means i wouldn't mind that either...both of them are much better players anyhow than Toppy or Kramnik put together :)

Or maybe it's really time for FischerRandom to become more relevant...unless of course the reason for it not catching on more is that it can't be controlled and cheating is next to impossible, as Fischer says.

The more you look at this mess the funnier and more pathetic it gets. Kramnik is consistent but again if FIDE is not involved in the match the the whole idea of reunification becomes pointless.

I think we should just call it a day, you know 'time heals'. Whithin 5 years from now we will have a legitimate champion because I can hardly see either Topalov or Kramnik last that long...

Yeah, Karpov should come in and bring some moral authority to FIDE and resolve this mess. Illumzhinov may have his millions of Euros but has no authority, his idea of WC tournament is an insult to the world of chess.

Regarding Kramnik "never making clear the conditions under which he would unify", I remember him being quite specific in his last interview published on chessbase.com (the same interview quoted above by Mig):

"Generally speaking, I believe that the World Champion should be determined exclusively in a match. As for a candidates' qualification scheme it is quite acceptable to have it organized as in San Luis. For example, half of the participants according to their ratings, the other half through a qualification cycle. This would be in the interests of both the sponsors and the viewing public. The knockout system proposed, actively agitated for, and imposed by FIDE has long since compromised itself."

No, that's Kramnik's criticism of the FIDE system, not what must happen to his participation under FIDE now. For example, if FIDE were to put their rules back to ending their current cycle with a match would he play Topalov under FIDE? He needs to start a sentence with "I will put my classical title on the line under FIDE if" and finish it with specifics.

Meanwhile, FIDE need to spell out their conditions for allowing match challenges. They should also tell us why they have dumped matches for a tournament by explaining their definition of success in San Luis. By typical FIDE reasoning, it was a success before it started because they managed to sell it to the governor of San Luis. Web stats and other garbage aren't going to cut it. The likelihood of a tight finish and/or tiebreaks is another factor they seem to be ignoring in the glow of Topalov's +6.

1 mln $ for Topalov.
0.3 mln for FIDE
0 (zero) for Kramnik, even if he wins.

"I'd say it's time to come in from the cold, cash in his remaining cred and play this match under FIDE for the unified title"

Let's be realistic. It's not about unification at all.

But why would Kramnik say anything different in a sentence which begins with "I will put my classical title on the line under FIDE if"?

He can't accept to play under current (or "soon to be published") FIDE rules, because he believes "that the World Champion should be determined exclusively in a match" whereas FIDE believes that the World Champion should be determined in a tournament. The winner of that tournament will be the new champion, regardless of which matches took place in the meantime. In contrast, Kramnik thinks that it should be merely a candidates tournament whose winner then has to play the champion in a match.

I don't think that Kramnik would say anything different, but I agree with you that he should state his position clearly in a sentence beginning with "I will put my classical title on the line under FIDE if"...

Why is it necessary to state strict conditions in public before any negotiations have even started? Now if FIDE actually agreed to negotiate to begin with it would be nice. That is, without insisting on the premise that Kramnik is no champion at all. This is of course purely hypothetical by now. But anyway, in negotiations it's about giving and taking reaching a compromise. A well-defined and guaranteed system ending in a WC match should be a minimum demand, but beyond that I don't see why he should present exact conditions unilaterally instead of sitting down and talk about it.

Surely in private first, just as these negotiations started in private. They only go public to attempt to shame/blame the other guys when things go wrong!

"Guaranteed" is basically impossible because of the lack of funding. This is something Kasparov talks about when he addresses this whole mess in his upcoming NIC article. Without money, it will always be "the best system is any one we can scrape up money for." FIDE can always claim poverty (real or imagined) and circumstances. Kramnik had the same reality check when Braingames/Einstein folded.

why do you say bring karpov in.

I think bessel kok will do a much better job. but in any case we need to get rid of Kasim. it took so long to get rid of the previous guy Campomandes, and we wound up with kasim. when will chess get its act together. not in my life time for sure.


why do you say bring karpov in.

I think bessel kok will do a much better job. but in any case we need to get rid of Kasim. it took so long to get rid of the previous guy Campomandes, and we wound up with kasim. when will chess get its act together. not in my life time for sure.


Tommy, I think maybe you mean Kirsan instead of Kasim.

On a side note, why did they have to change Kasim's name to a more correct spelling? I had just recently gotten "Kasimdzhanov" right without needing to look it up, and now they switched it to Kasimjhaon....ahhh, forget about it.

Regardinbg your statement that "Kramnik played the winner of Dortmund, which, in view of the classical tradition, was worse than playing a rematch with Kasparov, the obvious top challenger. Instead of a democratic cycle or playing the top challenger he went for a new middle road", let me remind you that:
1) Capa has played a match with New York 1927 winner Alekhine (you can say that may be they would play anyway, but as a matter of fact, Alekhine was forced to play in New York to get the Argentina match).
2) Before agreeing to Fischer's demand, FIDE organized Candidates tournaments following the zonal and interzonal tournaments for more than years. Only Fischer brought candidates matches to the scene.
Therefore, I do not see anything terrible in using Dortmund, where all top players were invited to participate, as qualifier for the title match. Yes, it lacks a calibre of a 3-level cycle (zonal, interzonal, candidates), but is much better than directly choosing a right candidate from a Champion's point of view.

If Kasparov, and you as his liaison here, really believes that "Without money, it will always be "the best system is any one we can scrape up money for."", you both shall agree that Kramnik's system is the only good at the moment. He brought money for the match with Leko. He brought money for his match with Topalov. And he brough much bigger money than FIDE was able to get for the so sucessful from their point of view San Luis.

Dear Tommy,
Please, do not blame Kasim, he is very nice guy, and he has no influence at all! Let him play chess ;-)

Huh? You misunderstood entirely. I'm saying that's what FIDE ends up saying, nothing to do with my opinion and certainly not Garry's. Please read carefully so you don't start attacking me for supporting things I'm criticizing.

Of the various flaws in your above argument the most obvious is that before 1970 there wasn't a rating system. Of course a cycle is better, but there was no doubt at all who the top challenger would have been in 2002. And even disregarding Garry, who tried to bully his way to a match, that Dortmund didn't have Anand (or Ivanchuk, to give props) made it pale even further. (And it was known well in advance that Anand couldn't play.) And comparing a short mini-match system event with the double round-robins that produced Smyslov and Bronstein (30 rounds! 18 rounds!) or the match tournaments that produced Tal and Petrosian (28 rounds!!) is to say all tournaments are created equal. Rigor and a complete field are critical.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to slight Leko, but a winner of a Kramnik-Kasparov match would have had much greater credibility in the old tradition. Not as much as a cycle, but the middle road was a poor one. Hand-picked sounds lousy, and it usually is, but when that person is the top-rated player - or the top-rated player to agree as Kramnik was in 2000 - it's a lot easier to swallow. The half-assed method Kasparov tried in 1998 with an impromptu candidates match between the top Linares finishers showed the problem with middle-road events as well.

Getting to the trivia, Alekhine didn't win New York 1927, Capablanca did. Alekhine came second and Capablanca had already decided to play Alekhine anyway. He had referred to his "coming match" with Alekhine well before NY 1927 started. This is spelled out clearly in Winter's phenomenal book on Capablanca (page 195).

I think Kramnik should now maintain the classical title independently, and re-join the FIDE tournament circuit. With Topalov's rejection he should offer a match to Anand. If he he also rejects, then Kramnik should move down the rankings. He should try to defend his title on a regular interval. I believe the Classical Title, in combination with a sponsor friendly match format, can easily survive and thrive outside of FIDE.

But matches must be regular, even if the opponents are not the "most qualified". The Leko match was very interesting and gave more credibility to Kramnik's Title. As long as he is ready and willing to defend his title on a regular basis, I think he will be the Champion.

Not to wish ill on Kramnik, but he has not shown any Charisma. Hopefully Anand would play him and beat him. This would be a great chance for Anand.

I believe the biggest crime of all this mess was Kramnik not giving Kasparov a re-match. FIDE is a disaster, but if Kramnik is serious about history, he should have played Kasparov.

I've been suggesting for a while that Kramnik should just play in the FIDE events. It's not like matter and anti-matter. Winning the FIDE championship or just playing in their championship events doesn't change his status, or lack thereof. It's just a tournament and he's already acknowledged there exists such a thing as the FIDE champion even if FIDE doesn't acknowledge his title. I guess it's some sort of principle; Kasparov did the same thing. But really there's no harm in it. A player should play. Plus, the irony of his winning would be too good. He's mostly concerned about what people would say if he didn't win, as Kasparov was. This is true, but if he's secure in his belief of himself as classical champ, who cares what people say about not winning a tournament or non-title match?

Dear Mig,
The most obvious flaw in you response is mentioning rating system.
1) If we have a rating system, why do we need a cycle at all? No.1 automatically becomes the Champion. The issue closed.
Prof. Elo said that he sees this like a horror dream if his system will be used as qualifying one. Qualifying to San Luis by ELO just proved this. What Adams and Polgar did there? Watched or played? Which list to use? How many lists to include? Etc, etc. And you propose to choose a single challenger, not a bubch of, causing even higher risk of invalidness. We all could watch how a sigle player's results and rating can drop and fall during a single year.
2) Anand was invited to Dortmund, but he decided to stay with FIDE, if I remember correctly. He made his choice. The same with Kasparov. Ivanchuk was down to around No.10 at that time.
3) Even the top rated player has to prove he is the best. And if he lose to a challenger who has a lower rating, he has to prove he is better than other candidates first before getting a new chance. If he withdraws from the competition, he loses.
Let's be honest, Kasparov declined playing in Dortmund in principle, because he was sure he made a demand nobody could reject. As a matter of fact, he came against an initial attempt to build a new Championship cycle. He made a mistake. He lost. We all lost. He again broke a chance to give a new cycle a good start. He has to blame himself, not Kramnik.
It wil be interesting to watch how his comments on Topalov will change during next year or so.

Regarding Capa-Alekhine 1927, I just tried to shorten the explanation. Capa directly stated in his letter to Alekhine, that he will play with a New York, 1927 winner, or with a second placed one, if Capa wins the tournament. He signed the contract only after the tournament. He declined to sign the contract before, ignoring the fact that Alekhine satisfied all his demands, including the prize fund in gold. Instead, he demanded Alekhine to play in the tournament first, and to finish before all other participants, Capa excluded. These are all well known facts.

Mig, it is obvious Kramnik could not play in San Luis.
If he won, FIDE, having no obligation to anybody, would say "Hurah, finally, the tilte is 100% our's, we can do what we want with it! Let's play new KO!". Nobody would have a piece of power to oppose them. 90% of all players would be happy with such 'unification', because they would make more bucks playing in KO instead of swiss opens, and a new attempt to get out of FIDE would be treated like a bad joke.
If he lose, how would he find sponsors for his title matches? Everybody would say "you have lost to FIDE Champion, we do not care about Classical title you hold anymore".
This would be a lose-lose for him.

The rating system is useful if you DON'T HAVE A SYSTEM. Kramnik didn't have one. Still doesn't. Rather simple.

As for Anand, wouldn't it be nice if everyone stopped insulting some players for breaking contracts and then recommending others do so? Dortmund was unacceptable as a classical qualifier due to format and field. It was another "better than nothing" attempt in a short history of them, and this includes 2000 and 1998. I just think a match with Kasparov would have been better than what happened. Kasparov playing in Dortmund would not have improved it all in concept. It would have worked out nicely for everyone had he won, but getting lucky with the ends doesn't mean the means were good.

As for Capablanca-Alekhine, I guess those facts are known only to you and not Edward Winter. You should fill him in for the next edition of his book, which includes all of the relevant correspondence. This includes a cable from Capablanca to Alekhine that read: "N.Y. Tournament has no connection whatsoever with our negotiations." The next read: "As written and cabled before, our match will take place independent of result of New York Tournament provided all London Championship Rules are met..."

But of course you know better.

If Kramnik is the classical champion why would he care what FIDE says? They say his title doesn't exist now; what would have changed had he played in San Luis? Only image. They can't take away something they already insist doesn't exist.

Kramnik probably saw San Luis as a chance for unification through a match with the new FIDE champion, thus his participation wouldn't have made any sense.

Somehow I'm convinced that we wouldn't have all these problems had Anand (or Svidler or Leko) won the tournament instead of Topalov. The Bulgarian certainly is a wonderful chess player, but he seems to lack basic diplomatic skills. All the insults against Kramnik contained in §1 of Danailov's statement were in fact first uttered by Topalov himself in his Sport Express interview.

Regarding Capa-Alekhine, I haven't read the Winter's book, I had read only publications in Russian on the subject, including the Alekhine's ones. I will check tonight the sources, but I do remember that Capa demanded Alekhine to play in written if he wants to get the match, and I do remember that New York 1927 organizers even included a provision that the winner becomes an official Challenger, which was silently dropped later only after Alekhine offcially accused them and Capa. Why would Alekhine played in New York being tired after the Argentina tour, and after he initially rejected to play there? What changed his mind?

Regarding why should Kramnik worry about his image, this is exactly thanks to what Garry, you, and other Kasparov supporter voices were doing for few years every second day: accusing him in being "just a bad guy", like the President Bush Jr. said about somebody else, while failing to show a single proof he has had broke on promised.

"3) Even the top rated player has to prove he is the best. And if he lose to a challenger who has a lower rating, he has to prove he is better than other candidates first before getting a new chance." That makes me remember of some Vladimir...

While i agree with Mig that theoretically, and in minds of a very few reasonable people, had he not won in San Luis, he would have kept his Classical WC title, much larger would've been the crowd who would've been content with saying that Kramnik has no claim to any title anymore since he played and lost. Theoretically it would've been ok if he had played, but in the real world him not winning would've been a disaster for his status.
Even if beforehand he would've stated clearly that he's only playing there as a tournament participant, not for the title, that would've just sounded bitter and making excuses.
Just remember how many people here think even individual tournaments are generally won by the best player (just what is the percentage of Tiger's victories in individual golf events he participates in? even if he's clearly the best, he doesn't even win half the time)...and how now, even without Kramnik participating, people are immediately hailing, Kasparov included, that the best players now holds the title...how much louder would they be had Kramnik participated?

Besides, there's nothing wrong with holding on to your integrity...if you don't believe in something, don't participate in it (i, for example, don't go to church or any events organized by or in churches, because i don't condone churches...i'm not making a statement, either, it's just not a part of my life because i don't believe in it, so by going i would be pretending that the event means something to me, or simply doing what others want me to do).
i think it's great Kramnik holds his integrity in higher worth than money he could get from participating in the tournaments...i don't like all the things he says (and especially hasn't done), but that does give him some merit in my eyes.


Yes, Dortmund was an unsatisfactory way to choose Kramnik's challenger, but he cannot carry any blame for that. The only parties who really seemed to like the "Prague Agreement" were FIDE and Kasparov, Kramnik was informed of their decision and said ok. Of course, FIDE's own World Champion didn't even get that much input.

So Kramnik carried out his half of the plan, the other half predictably fell to pieces and now he's being told that his title is devalued. It does seem unfair.

It would make sense for a unifying match to happen under the auspices of FIDE. Everyone who posts here understands that they are a bunch of goons who have hijacked the organisation, but much of the chess world, let alone the wider world, does not, so giving them their 20% is probably money well spent.

The problem is that FIDE's approach to any WC match is first to decided which result suits them best and then to do everything in their power to achieve that result. Right now they seem to like Topalov ( that could change of course ) so if Kramnik feared that they would fit all the match arrangements to his specifications you couldn't blame him.

Many of the people who post here seem obsessed with the idea that the top match player ( ie traditional World Champion ) and the top tournament player ( ie #1 on the rating list ) have to be the same person. This has not always been the case, it just happens to have occurred in recent years with Karpov and then Kasparov. The World Champion does NOT have to ratify his title by being at the top of the list, nor is the #1 demeaned by not being World Champion. I don't see why this is so difficult to accept.

If we can get this silly idea out of the way, it will be much easier to organise the Kramnik Topalov match that is obviously required. It could be a great match. If Kramnik were to win it, as he well might, chess need not collapse into an even deeper schism, which seems to be the fear of so many here. FIDE would simply not have the single big-money superstar they crave, but that's their hard luck.

susan polgar has some very interesting comments about this entire situation at:


and also over at her blog.

It is well worth reading. she has good ideas.

however, I do not agree with everything she says.


The classical title is very much about being able to make a valid claim to being the world's top player. This is why how the challenger is found is so critical. If it's not a broad and rigorous system the match itself is greatly demeaned. Again, if they took the Dortmund winner this year it would be Naiditsch. So Kramnik beats him in a 14-game match and so what? Is that our classical champion? Is that him fulfulling his responsibilities?

Kramnik did his part to devalue his title. Kramnik can be blamed for not putting together a classical cycle. That's the obligation of the classical champion if he's going to be outside of FIDE and go it alone. Kasparov did this at first but could not sustain it. His results and rating allowed him to remain a de facto champion; Kramnik does not have that luxury. Beating Naiditsch is not going to cut it, unless of course Naiditsch wins a cycle with a few hundred players and some rigor toward the end!

The vast majority, the same people who don't know FIDE is run by thugs, don't know about rating either, so I don't think that's the problem, Nick. Unfortunately FIDE thinks it's in the title business, they view it and now Topalov as marketable property they must exploit for cash. Why the international chess federation is acting like a for-profit company without being run like one is a big part of this. They shouldn't care; they should welcome all chess everywhere and take small cuts of it.

Mig, we seem to be more in agreement than otherwise.

The Kasparov - Kramnik breakaway match did not bring about a new world, any more than others before it. But by going along with Prague wasn't Kramnik admitting that himself, and trying to return to the fold? It wasn't his fault that the other semi-final never happened, making a nonsense of the whole thing. And to repeat, the flawed Dortmund idea was not his.

Dear Mig,
There is such thing as motivation.
Every participant of Dortmund 2002 knew what they play for. Every participant of Dortmund 2005 knew this is just another commercial tournament. And this made the huge difference.
Motivation made San Luis so attractive. High motivation had put everybody to the place they deserve, including Kasim, Polgar, and Adams. Even Leko in his terrible state managed to finish before them.
If Najdish participated in Dortmund 2002 or San Luis 2005, he would take his place, and not the top one.

That and that the format of Dortmund 2002 (with match play after the preliminaries) was much more suitable for an official qualifier than Dortmund 2005 (just a single round robin). I don't think anyone was seriously worried that Lutz should win...

Motivation in place of rigor, so format is irrelevant. Interesting. Destination makes it attractive but it doesn't improve it as a formula. The San Luis results largely followed Elo, with the exception of the ever-unstable Morozevich.

I didn't say Kramnik invented Dortmund, but if he owns the title, as he says, then he has full responsibility for how his challenger is found. So the idea of using Dortmund as a qualifier was indeed his.

I don't think rehashing three-year-old posts is going to get us anywhere. My point is that the classical title is about having an undeniable claim to being the best. To do this, the challenger must have that authority. For example, should Kramnik play Topalov now that would be the case. #1 rating plus big win in San Luis, and if Kramnik beat him in a long match there would be no argument that Kramnik was a legit champ despite his #6 ranking. But if he plays Naiditsch in the same match, not so much. And if you wonder why San Luis was better than Dortmund 2002, it's really not that much better. But it did have all the top players at least, no small thing.

Regarding Capa-Alekhine 1927 we have to admit the the truth is somewhere in gray.
According to Capa, the contract was signed before the tournament, and according to the contract's financial obligations he could not refuse to play.
According to Alekhine, "...Capablanca had repeatedly and pigheadedly refused to give a clear, definitive answer to me and to the Argentinian chess club of my challenge. He made it clear through his letters and telegrams that I had to come to New York if we were to come to any sort of understanding..."
Unfortunately, we'll never know for sure what was really hiding behind Capa's writing to the tournament organizers "...I am afraid Alekhine is suspicious of us and wants to make a mountain out of mole hill..." What was this mole hill?
There are 2 sides of the story, both proven by some documents, and even the most complete document set from the Winter's book can't build the 100% true grounding, because there is no guarantee some very important documents which could change the whole view are lost forever.

Mig: "Kramnik can be blamed for not putting together a classical cycle."

That is patently wrong. He could not possibly do this while at the same time negotiating unification with FIDE. As said in comments on another blog, it would have been an act of sabotage.

I find it striking that you both penalise Kramnik for not giving Kasparov a rematch (so that somehow he didn't play the best challenger), and now also for not having established an independent cycle.

But he turned down Kasparov for exactly this reason, that a rematch with him was a dead-end regarding any thoughts about unification and establishment of a solid cycle.

He then agreed on Prague, so that we could see both unification and a solid cycle.

The blame that this fell through lies entirely with FIDE.

You can joke around all you want with Naiditsch being Dortmund winner, they are just that, jokes. I don't even know what their purpose is, to somehow discredit Kramnik's title? Umm, you know, the classical title with 100+ years of tradition?

People can make up their minds very simply on all this. What is more important:

1) Preserving the "tradition" of FIDE control.

2) Preserving 100+ years tradition of a title match WC.

When people say that somehow the classical tradition has been weakened anyway for various reasons, I can only think to myself, ha, do you think the FIDE tradition has been going strong compared to this?

No, "strength" is not the issue, the issue is simply keeping the classical tradition alive.

People discarding Kramnik's title are de facto discarding the classical tradition in exchange for... what? FIDE control? Fine, just be careful what you wish for.

I do not understand.
You say that Kramnik has to build the cycle. But if the cycle brings Najdish on top, this is not acceptable.
And you say San Luis had all the best. Mig, it had Kasim, it had Polgar. I never liked Adams much, may be he deserved to be there. But it did not have Kramnik, it did not have Ivanchuk. You say Kramnik was invited. But both Kasparov and Anand were invited to Dortmund, 2002. So what makes San Luis different? Nothing. For me, Dortmund, 2002 formula was even more fair for choosing the best.

I do not understand.
You say that Kramnik has to build the cycle. But if the cycle brings Najdish on top, this is not acceptable.
And you say San Luis had all the best. Mig, it had Kasim, it had Polgar. I never liked Adams much, may be he deserved to be there. But it did not have Kramnik, it did not have Ivanchuk. You say Kramnik was invited. But both Kasparov and Anand were invited to Dortmund, 2002. So what makes San Luis different? Nothing. For me, Dortmund, 2002 formula was even more fair for choosing the best.

You misunderstand, please slow down. I said Kramnik has an obligation to build an acceptable cycle. I say Dortmund 2005 is not an acceptable cycle. These are not contradictory statements.

I'm talking about San Luis as a qualifying tournament, so Kramnik not being there is beside the point. The rest of the players were, with the exception of Kasimjanov (and technically Leko), there by rating. That all the top players were there made it more valid (not perfect, but better) in my eyes than Dortmund 2002. Obviously it's still no substitute for a proper cycle because it lacks both democracy and the rigor of, say, a four-round event.

What would those Capablanca-Alekhine documents be, even in theory? Cables contradicting the other cables? Such mention wasn't in the regulations of the NY 1927 tournament or of the WCh match. Capablanca's cables to the NY 1927 organizer we have. I'll take a stack of negative statements we do have over theoretical positives we don't have.

On the eve of the NY 1927 tournament Capablanca wrote about his upcoming championship match with Alekhine in his column in the New York Times. Seems rather curious if he, or anyone, considered it a candidates event.

The molehill is also documented. It was the organizers originally claiming it would be a candidates event in the tournament program. Alekhine insisted these items be corrected and was quite furious. Capablanca even suggested that if a third player should win or finish ahead of Alekhine that the committee could organize a match between that third player and the winner of his match with Alekhine.

You keep insisting that the world champion must be able to lay claim to being the best player in the world, but this is simply untrue. The world championship match should be about ATTEMPTING to have the best player in the world win the title. There is a big difference.

Just look at Kasparov-Kramnik. Kasparov is clearly the stronger player, but Kramnik won in that match. Does that mean Kramnik should not get the title- because he is clearly not the best player in the world? Of course not!

No, that's not what I mean. What do you think I mean by "lay claim"? It just means having a system rigorous enough to produce a challenger that is undeniably worthy, that no one can complain about because he proved it over the board in a championship event. This is a classical championship.

We have rating, we have tournaments, and we used to have a world championship that was apart from both of these. Kramnik beat Kasparov in such an event, credibility 100! He won, so no arguments, that's the point. That's the sort of challenger Topalov would be today, for example, thanks to his big result and his #1 rating. If the person you say is the best in the world loses such a match, as Kasparov did in 2000, that's just more kudos to the challenger, who won fair and square over the board.

That's why the cycle is more important than the match. An insufficiently credible challenger makes for a match, and eventual champion, with low credibility, with an inability to lay that claim.

Nobody ever said Dortmund 2005 should be considered as qualifier. Dortmund 2002 was. Regarding ratings of San Luis participants, FIDE choose to use so outdated ones in addition to Kasim (who's right to play is undeniable), that San Luis got too many players not much better than Naidich.
Regarding Capa-Alekhine, I got some documents, which, I am sure, are missing in the Winter's book. Unfortunately, I have it only in Russian. It was published in one of addendums to the Moscow, 1991 edition of Alekhine's "On the Way to the Top Chess Acievements", Russian edition of a German collection of his best games of 1921-1927.
According to these, initially one of invitees to the New York, 1927 was Bogoljubov. But he requested $1500 to play. Organizers could not afford this. He denied invitation. To get Bogoljubov on board, Capa proposed him, in case Bogoljubov wins or finishes second after Capa, to give him a Championship match. Response from Bogoljubov was done by cable: he proposed Capa to drop the tournament and to play the match instead. I do not know what Capa replayed, but may be Alekhine heard something about these negotiations? This should justify his suspition.

My point about Dortmund 2005 is that it is dangerous to use short tournaments as qualifiers due to lack of rigor. Same is true for San Luis, if less so because of format and field. We got lucky with Topalov because of his score and because he's also the #1. (I don't mean he was fortunate.) Ratings are always "outdated" because they are based on past results. When you develop a system that is based on future results, let us know. They had to invite people in advance to organize the tournament and they followed the same protocol they used for the KO's going back to 1999. Not an issue. Nobody in San Luis was weak.

Interesting rumors about Alekhine-Capablanca, but the question is whether or not NY 1927 was actually a candidates event. It wasn't. If Capa suggested the possibility or just used it to keep Alekhine and others in suspense is not the issue. It wasn't a candidates event and Capablanca made that publicly and privately clear in advance of the event. But I don't doubt Capablanca used it as a way to pressure Alekhine and other potential challengers earlier on. He teased Nimzo and others similarly, as did all the pre-FIDE champions. It was practically a sport.

The correspondence with Lasker and the organizers of NY 1927, eventually involving Capablanca as well, was also remarkable. Combined with Bogo and Alekhine, the invitations were a mess.

If Alekhine did not play in NY ans play the match, you claim wold be undeniable. But Alekhine has played in NY. And he clearly spelled out why.
By the way, if Capa was ready to unconditionally play with Alekhine, why he agreed to negotiate the site and the start date only after NY 1927? Why he waited till March to sign the deal?
Bogoljubov's story is not a rumor. There is correspondence confirming this. Not sure about English, but it must be published in German somewhere.
Also, Vidmar, one of NY 1927 participants, in his book "Goldene Schachzeiten" mentioned that Alekhine had no choice but to surrender the Capa's will to choose the challenger in a tournament.

Nobody in San Luis was weak? All right. But how can you say that Najdich is weak? He managed to finish before Kramnik and before 4 San Luis participants, namely Topalov, Svidler, Leko, and Adams. Do not say he was motivated more than them , you almost denied importance of motivation in a previous post.

I certainly agree about the tournament. If FIDE absolutely insists that a tournament decide the world champion title, then the event should be much longer, perhaps 4 or more cycles. However, I still think a match is the ideal, it is far more romantic in the minds of the public than some tournament. I honestly believe this is the only real stumbling block between Kramnik and FIDE. I believe Kramnik will agree to FIDE taking control of the title if FIDE puts a match at the end of their cycle.

When did I say Naiditsch was weak? I use him as an example. A "classical world championship match" between him and Kramnik would be laughed at, assuming they could find sponsorship for it. On the other hand, if the participants of Dortmund (or San Luis) played a four-round match tournament and Naiditsch won, no one would be laughing. Rigor = credibility.

Performance also matters if the system isn't rigorous enough. Had San Luis finished in a tie for first on +2 between Svidler and Kasimdzhanov (or even Topalov and Anand) and had Svidler then won in rapid tiebreaks, his credibility would not be nearly what Topalov's is, despite the identical format. This is why matches are so important. Now that FIDE has double-crossed us and changed the rules from match to tournmaent I almost wish San Luis had finished the way described above. Everyone would be calling for matches to avoid horrible world championship tournaments that can't provide a credible winner!

I only denied the relevance of motivation to the discussion. Rigor of system, democracy of invitation, and quality of field are relevant.

Why should there be a relationship between when Capablanca agreed to the dates for the match and the NY tournament? Did he say somewhere he wouldn't agree to the dates until the end of the tournament? The match arrangements hadn't been finished yet. I didn't say Bogo's comments were a rumor, only that there is no evidence anywhere that the NY 1927 tournament was a candidates match.

There are many assumptions based on some true and some false information, most documented. Some people, perhaps also Vidmar, believed it at the time. The organizers attempted to promote this early on, so the confusion is understandable.

Yeah! It would have been awesome if San Luis had finished in a tie with all players at 0. Then no one would be touting this system.

'Kramnik agreed to reunification under FIDE'

In his statement Mr Makropoulus claims that the World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik was not prepared to play a world championship match under the auspices of FIDE. That is false. The Kramnik side has never rejected a world championship match against Mr Topalov under FIDE auspices. (...)

During these negotiations UEP expressed its interest in making the “World Chess Match of the Champions”, which both sides had agreed on, a reunification match, with the participation of FIDE. Vladimir Kramnik accepted this plan. (...)

It is further incorrect that FIDE “suggested a meeting with all parties concerned.” I did not receive an invitation, either directly from FIDE or from the Topalov management.


The whole "Kramnik not willing to play under FIDE auspices" talk was nothing but spin.

Of course, Kramnik can't accept to play under rules which don't recognize his title (i.e. the new and "soon to be published" FIDE rules mentioned by Danailov). The term "unification match" would make no sense if it were it be played under these rules.

"At a later time the Topalov side made extended demands and ruled out any match being held without the participation of FIDE, even for the case that no agreement with FIDE would be reached."

Hensel's letter seems pretty much to confirm what I thought.

Martin: "Somehow I'm convinced that we wouldn't have all these problems had Anand (or Svidler or Leko) won the tournament instead of Topalov. The Bulgarian certainly is a wonderful chess player, but he seems to lack basic diplomatic skills."

haha! I'm amazed by the esp of the bloggers here, typified by the ability to predict the future and to read other people's minds. Everybody has an opinion, but dont dress it up as gospel. This is the same Topalov who was widely commended for his humility and grace throughout his career, and especially right after he became WC. That he doesnt tolerate Kramnik's whinging and his "legal" claim to the title from the Prague agreement only enhances his stature to me. Is Kramnik a kid who needs to be persuaded with flattery and kind words to play a match? What should he care what Topalov or Fide thinks about his title? This appears to be Martin's special obsession: "Of course, Kramnik can't accept to play under rules which don't recognize his title". Duh. What matters is what comes after the match sport. Three scenarios need to be enumerated: What happens if Topalov wins, what happens if its a draw, and what happens if Kramnik wins. If that's spelt out, and the money is right, who cares who recognises what title before that match? Gee Whiz.. back in kindergarten it might be common to not eat until Mummy said you looked pretty in your dress, but surely he's past that?

When I spoke of Topalov's seeming "lack of basic diplomatic skills", I wasn't referring to fact that he doesn't recognize Kramnik's title (anymore) but to the rather silly arguments he relied on to make that case.
Even Susan Polgar who is otherwise very critical of Kramnik called them "insults" (she was referring to Danailov's statement, but it is largely identical with Topalov's own comments in the Sport Express interview).

"d", you already made it clear that you are against "unification", so why do you bother at all about a match involving Kramnik?

To all those who are really interested in unification it is perfectly clear that both titles have to be recognized beforehand by all parties concerned in order to make possible their unification in a match.

How can anyone demand from Kramnik to "put his title on the line" and at the same time expect him to play while his title isn't even recognized? This doesn't make sense.

Having just read Carsten Hensel's letter @ ChessBase, it is plain as a rook on the 7th that somebody is lying. Based upon past performance, whom should I think is the more likely? Hmm?

Martin, yes, I understand its your opinion that Topalov lacks diplomatic skills, but its not mine. As for unification, what point are you answering when you ask why I bother at all?
As for recognising titles, if Kramnik plays Topalov in a match next year under Fide auspices, its obvious that Kramnik is bringing the collateral of his victory against Kasparov, whereas Topalov is bringing his victory in San Luis. Otherwise why should these two be playing? Whatever anybody wants to call it, in most people's minds the winner will have credibility (not in my mind, because to me if Kramnik wins it would be like Karpov waiting until Anand had demolished the field in the knockout to take him out in the match, but that's just me). So even if FIDE says that Topalov is now the undisputed WC, and Kramnik is just a challenger, what would be crucial is that Kramnik would be the king if he wins. Then he can say, yay, yay, I was the champion all along, all this FIDE stuff was rubbish, I'm the dude, bring it on. But he doesnt seem to want to do that. First he wants FIDE to say he's champion, (and I can understand FIDE's reluctance to do that as an institution, seeing as how they just completed their own championship, and also how Kramnik takes the Prague agreement to make him WC in a "legal" sense), he wants Topalov to say he's champion, and then only will he start talking about it. How childish is that? FIDE and Topalov and my aunt says he's not WC, fine. Kramnik doesnt have to agree, there are other points of view out there, he can go in saying he IS The WC. So long as FIDE agree that he's recognised as WC if he wins, what does he lose? The only thorny point I can see is what to do in the case of a draw, and there one side will have to make a concession. If this match was scuppered because Kramnik wanted FIDE to say he was WC BEFORE the match... I'm sorry, but that's really very silly.

Peter Svidler about Topalov recent declarations:
"I understand he is a king of the hill now, but according to the published statistics he stands -8 with Kramnik, so from my point of view he could decrease the tone of public statements. It does not suite him"


What this thread has not as of yet picked up on and what would be great to get a few comments on is that isnt it great for kramnik to be recieving a taste of his own medicine. For years the great kasparov chased him for a rematch which was the honourable thing to do because kasparov could just have said the match against kramnik is null and void and anyway I am the best who would have argued with him ANYWAY THE POINT IS KRAMNIL SO CALLED LEGITAMACY STILL COMES FROM HIS MATCH WITH KASPAROV whereas topalovs comes from playing the best in the world and winning convincingly

In order to become world champion one has to beat the old world champion in a match. Only two exceptions to this are known in the past: Aljechin died so a tournament was arranged and Fischer stopped playing so Karpov became champion after winning the challenger's matches. Kramnik hasn't stopped playing or isn't dead, so he is still champion. Topalov won a nice tornament, but that's all. Kramnik's title is based on the same history as for instance Lasker's and Capablanca's: all of them beat their predecessors in match. And by the way Capa didn't defend his title in 6 yrs and Lasker had sometimes even longer intervals between his matches. Yet they are considered true champions, so why is Kramnik given such a hard time? Gimme a break, the guy won the title in 2000 and defended it in 2004. That is legitimate enough for me.

People seem to mix up two things: ELO-ratings and WC title. The two are in no direct connection to each other. WC doesn't have to be ELO #1 or ELO #1 doesn't have to be WC. Clear cut - end of story. Topa is ELO #1 (Kaspy 'retired'...) and Kramnik is WC.

So, Topa wake up and play a match against the true champion Vladimir Kramnik who, by the way, took the title from the greatest of all champions! Topa, you won a nice little tournament, but compared to the tradition dating all the way to 1886 your tournament victory means nothing. So snap out of it! Play against the champion and try to become part of history by winning the real title. Otherwise you will forgotten in due time...and the one who beats Kramnik (eventually that will happen) will have his name live on...

Could please Mr X also accept a candidacy at the FIDE presidency, please! Well spoken indeed!
(Sorry for not adding anything, but I just had to comment on how well the above was put!)

We have indeed reached a point where one side has to be lying. The following sentences which sum up Danailov's and Makropoulos' assertions seem to be incompatible with Carsten Hensel's statement:

FIDE "suggested a ménage à trois meeting and didn't get one, and two days later were informed that Kramnik's side had rejected both the meeting and the idea of holding the match under FIDE".

"So Kramnik/UEP want a London/Brissago-style match – outside of FIDE – using the FIDE world championship in San Luis as a qualifier but not played for unification."

Both claims are disputed by Hensel. As are reports of sightings of a "nice doppelganger"... :D

"kasparov could just have said the match against kramnik is null and void and anyway I am the best who would have argued with him"

Interesting comment from darkjedi999, not sure I understand it though. Can anyone help?

MrX,Well spoken!Agree 100%

MrX is right on target

MrX misses a very important point: Kramnik cannot deliver 1.3 million for Topalov and FIDE.

Why should Topa play for only 500,000 when Leko got the same last year? If Kramnik's title is really worth so much why can't his management attract some decent amount of sponsorship?

FIDE has already established a well-funded world championship cycle so if Kramnik wants an individual shot he must first show the right amount of money. All the other blah-blah or fairy tales about "unification" and "120 years of tradition" is just non-sense talk in today's time...

That's of course an enlightened view, Giannis. Money matters, screw all other considerations.

FIDE has established a well-funded cycle?! Where, where, I missed it! As ever, they go event to event hoping to scrape up cash from a politician somewhere. The World Cup event was announced long before they found a place to host it. Announcing a cycle does not mean funding one. The lack of a funded calendar is the biggest weakness.

As for Mr. X's argument, it is the same one that has been said by all traditionalists since, oh, Bobby Fischer in 75 and Kasparov in 93. (And I count myself among their number for the most part.) As for Lasker and Alekhine, that it was done badly in the past doesn't mean we should do it badly now. Many great players were denied a chance to play for the title back then because there was no system. (World Wars didn't help.) This argument says that succession is everything. If Kramnik played a match against his dog, that would be okay, even if the dog won. Lack of a cycle, not important. Selection of challenger, not relevant. Performance and perception, irrelevant. Woof.

I'm exaggerating? Okay, I agree. Then it means it's relative and everyone will have a point at which succession alone breaks down and other things become important. It's the same on the FIDE side, where many people stick with the "official" title even though it's a KO with fast time controls, but likely wouldn't if they switched to, say, blitz. Or dogs.

As a few of us say every few months when this same conversation comes around, it's not as if we are deciding anything or proving anything. Not that it's not fun, but the bottom line is that whether you think Kramnik is the classical champion, the only champion, or no champion at all is - by virtue of this discussion - a matter of opinion, not fact, and matters little to what happens between him and Topalov and FIDE. This isn't science or math, where you can't say 2+2 is opinion because you can find people who disagree. (Note to "intelligent design" fans.) Perception became a factor in 1993 when Kasparov and Short broke away from FIDE and it is only a larger factor now.

The opinions that matter now are those of Kramnik, Topalov, and Ilyumzhinov. Ambrose Bierce defined politics as "a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." No exceptions here. Self-interest is not a crime, however. At least not with the first two, ahem.

This is why, while I'm always up for a good game of devil's dictionary advocate, I'm more interested in what it takes to get the parties to make the necessary concessions, or at least to discover what those concessions are. If it's intractable we can go on with our lives. Of course there are people on both sides who feel no concessions are necessary because one or the other doesn't need the other. Woof.

In the olden days it was the challenger that had to bring in the $$$ to play for the championship, not the champion... So why should World Champion Kramnik be bringing all the money while FIDE(hahaha!)'Champion' Topalov is just sitting around? Topa, get your butt going and find some money to add on Kramnik's pile. You guys should have a nice payday at the end of the day that way.

Without the match against Kramnik Topa's title will just fade and not even be a memory in 20 years or so, while the true classical title will survive through time and the lies fed to us by FIDE with Kirsan at the helm.

Giannis said something like: '120 years of tradidion is just nonsense talk in today's time'. So, tell me, what is so darn different about 'today's time' than the time in 2000, in 1995, in 1993 and so on? What has changed so much in the times we live (in 12 years or so!) that the World Chess Championship can be degraded into a mere tournament win? This time the flaky FIDE was lucky to get a clear winner in their sad-attempt-for-a-championship -tournament. Next time they won't be perhaps as lucky. And please people, try to get this finally: World Champion doesn't need to win all the tournaments he plays and he doesn't need to play all the tournaments there are. So even if Topalov won some tournaments in 2005, it doesn't mean that he has claims to WC title. After all the tournaments weren't played for the real WC title or any title for that matter. In January when Leko won Wijk aan Zee people were saying Leko is better than Kramnik and should be champ and now it is Topalov...Who next?? Who ever manages winning a tournament with some prestige? Is this how flaky the modern day chess public really is? It really seems so and it is sad.

What makes chess so special is exactly the WC title and the matches for it. The non-chess public only knows these huge battles for the WC title. They know nothing about tournaments and they don't care. As they don't care about the tournament in San Luis 2005 either. But if World Champion Kramnik plays a long match against a worthy challenger...that might be remembered! Every WC match has a chance to be immortal (of course not all them have been or will be), but the WC tournaments will never be immortal. 1948 tournament may be an exception to that, but only because it was an exception as itself.

Don't ask us, ask Kramnik why he's bringing the money. Apparently he doesn't agree with you about the eternal shining value of his current situation.

I agree that Topalov hasn't yet done anything worthy of eternal glory. Kramnik has: he beat Kasparov in 2000. I also think that long matches are critical for chess for many reasons. But Kramnik's win against Kasparov was five years ago and we aren't living in the 1920's. Kasparov picking his challenger was already a mess. Kramnik using Dortmund 2002 was another step down the path to oblivion. They both did the best they could at the time, or at least what they thought was best.

Pretending this title is the same as Fischer's is silly and getting sillier every day. Kramnik knows this and it's why he went after Topalov in a hurry. Topalov is the only available player with the credibility a classical world championship challenger is supposed to have thanks to rating and San Luis. Kramnik, unlike some of his supporters, may now realize how important this is, which is good news.

As I said after San Luis finished, Kramnik needs Topalov more than Topalov and FIDE need Kramnik. The classical title requires a mighty challenger. The FIDE title only requires money.

Right! I don't know a single civilian who knows that San Luis even took place. They know and care nothing about it; the only reason people keep thinking it was so successful was that we are chess players and we enjoyed the event.

Don't worry MrX, I think it is just some people with Attention Deficit Disorder who think that whomever wins the current tournament is the world champion. The only problem is that some of those people do more shouting than those of us who respect chess and its history.

Mig says that all that matters is what Topalov, Kramnik, etc. think, but they are not the ones who end up deciding what the true title was. Topalov can call himself world champ all he wants (just like Pono or the other throwaway 'champs') but that won't make it so when history gets written. Now it IS true that what Topalov, Kramnik, etc. decide right now MAY matter. I say 'may' because if a legitimate cycle does not end up being a part of the decision then once the match is over we will just end up back in the same boat.

Topalov is the main stumbling block in my opinion. He is the one with the power to say to FIDE, "Hey, Kramnik currently has the classical title and I am the legitimate challenger. We need to work together to bring the classical title back under FIDE's control, and to do this we need to amend the cycle to have a match at the end!" If he does that then this whole situation CAN be fixed.

It doesn't make sense for Topalov to say that, basically abdicating his own claims, before Kramnik commits to a unification match. As Hensel's latest shows, Kramnik is still using FIDE's statements in Prague 2002 against them and FIDE learned from this lesson. If Topalov utters the words "Kramnik has the classical title" then he is basically saying he has no bargaining chip at all. Kramnik's lack of legitimacy is what is driving his push to recruit Topalov. If Topalov preemptively validates Kramnik, he shoots himself in the foot. It's a little sick, but that's the case.

Even if Topalov did throw himself on the sword and kiss Kramnik's ring, then what? He has no leverage over FIDE and that's they way they like it. He can spit in the face of the organization that just fed his family for a few years in order to play for a title he doesn't give a crap about and denies the existence of. But even if he ignores FIDE and the contract he signed, he can't unify anything. He would strengthen the classical title for sure by playing Kramnik, great. But if FIDE's not on board, it's not unification and we're back to no classical cycle and begging. FIDE would be even more strongly against ever having a strong champion. It's easy to say we don't need FIDE, but we do need a cycle and sponsorship and the classical champion hasn't been able to create that since 1995.

You guys keep talking history as if it matters to the players now. Unlike Kasparov, these guys really don't seem to care much about posterity. It's about self-interest and maneuvering. I'm not interested in being right 20 years from now; I want a long cycle and a match champion NOW.

Pressuring FIDE to go back to a match final is definitely an important element. It's not as if they don't change the rules all the time. But unless I missed something Kramnik hasn't said he'd play under FIDE if that happens. His committing to that would be helpful. The ACP has also issued a statement supporting a match final. If the top players actually threatened action FIDE would cave.

Firstly, the negotiations between Kramnik and Topalov are irrelevant, the only important negotiations are between Kramnik and Fide.

Secondly, to claim Fide should change the "cycle" to having a match in the end is pointless (at least under current administration), since the point of not having it, is control. There is a difference between not liking it, and not understanding why Fide does this. (And should Fide agree, we know they'll just change back after the match anyway...)

knight_tour, Mr X, and Mig, you all bring up very good points.

Let me just add this observation: If FIDE didn't exist today, the chess world would invent it tomorrow, so as to have a neutral and democratic organisation taking care of arranging the WC cycle. And hey, while they are at it, why not throw in some regional championships, youth championships etc., man, even a rating system.

The problem with FIDE today is, as with any institution, that it is no longer merely a tool in the hands of the chess world, but an agent of its own caring not only about serving the chess world, but also about controlling it. This is an inevitable development. In real life, that's how it's going to be.

The problem for FIDE today is that it is very difficult for them to both control and serve. Let's just say, it started when Kasparov and Short broke out, and has not been solved since then.

FIDE today still wants full control, and they try to bully their way to it, even accepting the destruction of the classical title as collateral damage. That is the main problem today, that FIDE is not humble enough. They have forgot that their primary purpose of existance is to SERVE chess. It is fine that they fight for their sovereign status, but they must remember that their status is king of the servants of chess, and not king of the chess world.

If FIDE no longer acted as servants of chess, the chess world would be right in kicking them out of business. Or demanding some fundamental changes.

I will end it with that: I don't expect the WC situation to be solved in a happy way unless FIDE fundamentally changes its attitude towards what is their primary purpose of existance.

So happy hunting, everyone.

Somehow chess negotiations always look like a bunch of kids fighting in a sandbox.

There is obviously motivation to have a Topalov-Kramnik match for all involved. The money, potential audience, and World Champion credibility for the winner are all large.

If Kramnik wins, is solidifies his claim as WC, ends much of the current angst, and he becomes top dog again. If he loses, the payday and former WC title status are his.

For Topalov, winning gets him the complete title, validates his San Luis performance, and makes him the voice of chess. A loss collects the payday, and he becomes another FIDE tourney WC. The last is the worst, but anyone who goes +6 against that field can never be considered a patzer.

FIDE: Yes, you do need the FIDE in this match, if only to get it all under one umbrella. The door is open under their 2700+ match challenge clause. One can't expect the FIDE to stand by and be ignored when their champion plays. If Kramnik wins, stand on the stage beside him and shake his hand. If Topalov wins, do the same.

If the three parties quit negotiating this in press releases and interviews, they might make the thing happen. As anyone who has negotiated complex deals already knows, initial stances/numbers are rarely anything like the final agreement. By making black and white statements and barbs in the press, with every punctuation mark examined by us chess types (often from translations!), we get nowhere.

This thing really could happen if the childish "I know you are, but what am I" stuff stopped, and the three groups really started trying.

Just a thought on the 100 year tradition of the championship -- sadly it has never been clean nor well respected. Only in history. Check out Winter's writings at chesshistory.com. The FIDE has often been at odds with the players, and controversy abounds around the titleholder.

The title 'World Champion' does imply a credible claim as world's best. As such, it requires more than the statement "I won the match over Kasparov", or "I won the FIDE double round-robin".

When we refer to respecting chess history, we are not claiming that the situation surrounding cycles and matches has been perfect, rather we mean that the champions have been true, believable champions who are almost bigger than life. They are memorable. We will not have that under a system that throws the 'champion' into the mix at the semi-finals and decides the champion based upon a tournament.

You said it doesn't make sense for Topalov to abdicate his claims. He would not be. He would still be FIDE champion (for what that's worth). By recognizing Kramnik's claim to the classical title, Topalov would not be abdicating his claim to the FIDE title. In fact, I see no reason to think Topalov would lose the FIDE title even if he lost a match to Kramnik, unless they organized the match under FIDE and put that stipulation into the contract.


Topalov and all the other players of San Luis have a contract with FIDE which forbids them from playing any event called "world championship", etc. without FIDE's approval. So your proposal of Topalov playing only for the "classical title" while keeping the FIDE title is completely groundless.


I agree completely the champion should be in a final match with the challenger. I think your post has stated exactly what is driving the controversy -- no champion who is "believable...almost bigger than life". No one is acting like the world champ -- they are just verbally reminding us all that they have claim to the title. Capablanca never defended his title, yet due to his dominance we don't really question it today. We can't say that about Kramnik, and Toplov has yet to prove it.

Ah, but Kramnik DID defend his title, and against a viable top 5 challenger. The fact that the match ended in a draw should not be viewed any differently than the Botvinnik-Bronstein or Botvinnik-Smyslov matches! I think there are just too many younger people involved in this debate who have no memory for such events in chess history, and are thus demeaning Kramnik's title inappropriately. True, we cannot be happy with the selection process of the challengers, but this is necessitated by FIDEs current corruption as well as the demands of the so-called Prague Agreement.

Personally, I think there is a way to satisfy the majority who want the title decided by a match AND those who think that it is too much of an advantage for the champion to only have to play at the end of the cycle:

1) Have the tournament at the end of the cycle be a candidates tournament, in which the champion does not have to play

2) The top three from this tournament would qualify for the semi-final matches. The lowest rated of these qualifyers would face the world champion in, say, an 8 game match, while the other two would face each other in the other semi-final match. Should the world champion lose this semi-final match, he/she would honorarily retain the title until the new world champ is crowned

3) One month after the end of the semi-final matches, the two winners would play a match for the world title. IMO, it would be ideal for this to be a 16 game match, and if it ended in a tie, then tiebreaks would be decided by two game sets at classical time controls. This is fair since each player would get a white and a black for each tiebreak attempt. I would only allow these tiebreaks to go up to 24 games and if it were still tied at that point, the world title would be considered vacant (and why not, since no player displayed superiority over another?) until the next cycle (which would obviously qualify 4 players for the semi-finals).

This would, IMO, be a fairer method of forcing the world champion to participate to a greater degree in a cycle, while also preserving the integrity and power of the world title.

Leko was #6 at the time, as long as we're playing that game. It would have helped at some level had he been #2, say, but the crux of the argument is that his method of selection was flawed, method not the result. Just like Topalov's amazing San Luis has clouded our judgment about using tournaments to decide the title. Had a Lutz, Kasimdzhanov, or Naiditsch come out of Dortmund 2002 this argument wouldn't be taking place, and yet it was the exact same format that produced Leko, a "worthy challenger." Don't confuse luck with rigor.

Having the defending champion begin his defense from the semifinals has not only been suggested, but done. FIDE cycle, 1995-96. Seems a reasonable compromise. But the point of the long match is to avoid cheapening the title, to avoid making it easy, to reward someone with the extreme skill needed to make it. If you're interested in building legends you can't use a format that drops the chance of the champion winning too low.

I didn't mean that Topalov would literally lose his FIDE title by agreeing Kramnik is the sun god. (Though he certainly would if he played him.) As was clear from my post, the point is he would lose negotiating power. Kramnik wants to play him for validation. If Topalov gives that validation before an agreement to play, Kramnik doesn't need him anymore and will use his words against him as he has done with FIDE's from Prague. "Topalov and FIDE agree I am the classical world champion, who needs them?"

The only way this can work is for both players to keep their egos and titles intact all the way to the board.

I don't see where my suggestion is a format that makes the chances of the champion winning too low. The champ would face the lowest of the three qualifiers, and I would bet the champ would win such a match 8 times out of 10.

Thanks for pointing out that Leko was number 6 at the time. I said he was top 5 because that is what I consider him to be, not that it matters.

I understand what you are saying about Topalov, but I really hope that Topalov understands how weak the 'title' he has really is, especially historically.

You mention the 95-96 FIDE 'cycle', but that was already for a fake title, given that Kasparov was the classical champion. So, my idea has not been done for the classical title before. I am not claiming that it or any other method is perfect, only that it is a decent compromise between those who think that the champ gets it too easy and those who insist on a long match at the end.

Just wanted to comment on knight_tour's suggestion for finding out the WC. I like it! I like it a lot!

Actually had something very similar cooking up myself as well, but knight-tour was faster. Anyway, the system he describes sounds to me almost as it is like an acceptable compromise for a cycle after the unification - may there be one soon!).

Anyhow, I'd still like to throw my two (three? - sorry, not a native speaker)) cents in and give here my slight suggestions for modifications:

1) Re-establish the old way of Zonals and Interzonals to find out the candidates.

2) From the interzonal top 7 to join the reigning WC in the Quarterfinal Candidates matches (8 classical games - 4 rapids, 4 blitz and armageddon in the end if needed).

3)Semifinal Candidates matches with 12 classical games - 4 rapids, 4 blitz and armageddon in the end if needed).

4) WC match with 16 classical games - 4 rapids, 4 blitz and armageddon in the end if needed).

The old WC gives up his title only when the new one emerges from the WC match - unless the defending WC of course prevails and keeps his title. Also I'd suggest that in his matches the reigning WC gets draw odds. That may sound like a weird suggestion, but if the WC is put to play 3 matches instead of one, he should be compensated this much I think. So fast games played only in the matches that are tied with no WC playing. This way no one gets past the WC in any other way but beating him in classical games.

The pairing would be done for each rnd in drawing of lots:
For the upper half (ELO) opponents would be picked from the lower half randomly and so that WC is always considered #1 in the upper half despite his/her ELO!

In the following cycle the new WC is placed again the candidates match quarterfinals and the old WC will get no privileges at all. If he/she wishes to return to Chess Olympus they can try their luck with their fellow GMs (and other Ms) starting in Zonals.

Knight-tour, I am sorry if you can't recognize your system (I still like it!) here anymore - maybe I got carried away with my suggestions!


Thanks for the nice words, Mr X. Just about any such cycle that ends in a match and gives the champion more credibility would be better than what we have now. I wouldn't mind your system, except that I truly believe the classical world championship should never be reduced to quick chess or blitz chess. Never. That is why I suggested the tiebreak I did. I have heard people who say they don't like the idea of the title ending up vacant, but honestly it would take a lot of doing to get to such a point, and if by then no one had established superiority then why should one person be called world champion? The whole point is that one person is supposed to demonstrate superiority over his/her peers.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that in all his matches as world champion Garry Kasparov had draw odds, and so had all other world champions of the "classical line", with the notable exception of open-ended matches. Such matches were abandoned after the 1984 experience, but perhaps that was just a very special situation which is unlikely to repeat itself. One way to avoid both draw odds and armageddon horror in case the regular match ends in a draw would be to prolong the match by 2 regular games at a time. The player who first wins 1.5 points out of these games will be the next world champion. Of course, such a solution leads to a potentially open-ended match (with at least the theoretical possibility of a repeat of 1984).
In order to be able to have draw odds, the world champion has to enter the competition only at the final stage, in accordance with the long tradition of chess world championships. Everything else will only cheapen the title and the stature of the champion. Kasparov would have laughed at such suggestions at the time when he was world champion, and rightly so.

I feel that it is most important that the new world champion win a match against the old world champion so the batton is passed to the new champion.

I would favor the top 4 candidates playing a pair of matches to determine the challenger. then a final championship match. the winner out of the 4 who has now established that he has experience in match play. he will have just won 2 matches will now play the champion in a match.

I dont think that the champion should retain his title with a drawn match. the worlds best must demonstrate that he can win games.

lets look at this in a hypothetical situation from the past when Kasparov was the active champion. lets say it is 1998 also lets say there are 3 challengers and the champ in a double match. and Kasparov loses in the first round to Topalov and in the final between Topalov and Anand, Anand beats Topalov. well Anand will be the champion but he did not beat Kasparov and I dont think a lot of chess fans would be happy with that. dont forget that anand lost to kasparov in 1995 ( I think that is the year ) Besides the final match will be between topalov and anand and will not have the draw that would be there if kasparov were in the final. It is hard to explain. but the champion should be in the final. fair or not fair. the final match for the title needs to have the champion playing or it is not the same thing.

but putting all this aside. there is much discussion about the validity of the selection process for the challenger. now all that is true except that there is a higher priority. and that is the simple fact that the champ is the champ until someone demonstrates that he can beat the champ. so as long as the champ picks challengers then he is doing his job. now the selection process if done correctly will enhance the prestige of the title but the champ still has the title.

I hope and expect that both topalov and kramnik still expect to iron out the terms and conditions for a match. and that a match will still take place. the stress and strain of the negotiations will take its toll on both players.


Really, I would like us to turn back the hands of time and re-adopt the old system (pre 1993) as it was, but for some reason FIDE wants to 're-invent the wheel' (finacial issues or something I suppose) and change the system. Putting the WC already in the semifinals (,but with draw odds) is just my offer for a compromise.

Be the new system what it may, I hope the ideas of WC-tournaments will be dead and buried soon or at least before the next time silly FIDE plans to have their silly tournament. I guess we will just have to wait and see - I doubt our exchanging ideas here will have that much impact, sorry to say, on the boneheads of FIDE.

Really, I would like us to turn back the hands of time and re-adopt the old system (pre 1993) as it was, but for some reason FIDE wants to 're-invent the wheel' (finacial issues or something I suppose) and change the system. Putting the WC already in the semifinals (,but with draw odds) is just my offer for a compromise.

Be the new system what it may, I hope the ideas of WC-tournaments will be dead and buried soon or at least before the next time silly FIDE plans to have their silly tournament. I guess we will just have to wait and see - I doubt our exchanging ideas here will have that much impact, sorry to say, on the boneheads of FIDE.

What I love about Knight_tour is his logic: If you agree with me, you are a traditionalist, and a great appreciator of Chess. If you dont, you're just a low dawg, who shouts loudly. Reminds me of a certain politician..

This just posted over at ChessBase:

Dear chessfriends,

From Mr Hensel's statement of 18 November, it is obvious that the organizers of the match Topalov-Kramnik tried to reach an agreement with the players, which would not include FIDE from the beginning, aiming afterwards to force FIDE in accepting the terms of this agreement.

Such a practice is against any deontology if someone is really interested to organize a World Championship match within FIDE.

We wish to point out that all the announcements concerning who agrees with this match, who offered or not to hold a meeting and who rejected all the proposals could have been avoided if FIDE was invited and took part in the relevant negotiations.

Finally, and in order to clarify the situation, FIDE's invitation for a meeting of all the parties involved is still open and valid.

Best regards,
Georgios Makropoulos
FIDE Deputy President

Well, well, finally the truth comes out: it might've been what FIDE wanted, it might've been what BOTH SIDES (K & T) wanted - but if FIDE wasn't at the table from the beginning, we ain't gonna sanction it.

I *thought* the truth behind this fracas would come out sooner or later. Turns out, it was sooner.

Posted where? Or was it up and now down?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 16, 2005 1:16 PM.

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