Greengard's ChessNinja.com

FIDE Hints Topalov-Kramnik Match

| Permalink | 51 comments

Don't panic. I'm waiting to see something official before running it at ChessBase, but since standards are blessedly lower around here I'm letting rip. The site russiachess.ru is reporting that, in a FIDE statement about their January 20 board meeting (?), a match between FIDE champion Veselin Topalov and classical champ Vladimir Kramnik will take place in September of this year in Elista, the capital of FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's Kalmykia. (I just posted a more complete item at ChessBase. "More complete" meaning still entirely vague and worthless.)

No titles mentioned, on the line or off, etc. Zilch in the way of details. No mention of sponsorship or if there's really anything behind this other than an "it would be a good idea" initiative. Hard to tell from the (translated) wording, but the Russian sites are giving it plenty of exclamation points and saying "FIDE has announced..." It says the executive committee has been "assigned to arrange it." Trying to find out if this involves the last initiative for this match.

According to FIDE's recently announced regulations for world championship challenge matches, it would be a 12-game match with the title on the line. If Kramnik wins he's the champ and Topalov would take Kramnik's spot in the qualification cycle. Since Kramnik is not in the current cycle, having been replaced by Shirov as a rating qualifier, I don't know what would happen to Topalov this cycle should he lose.

I truly hope this is for real, and that it is a success immense enough for FIDE to realize that matches matter and that this final tournament idea is a joke in comparison. As long as I'm wishing I'll toss in the fervent hope that there is a change in FIDE leadership this summer, just in time to put people with sponsorship experience in charge of the event. More as news becomes available.

Alexey posts below to this Sport Express report in which Ilyumzhinov says Kramnik supporters Joel Lautier and Justin Portman are in charge of finding the money. In other words, it sounds like a lot of "ifs" and probably isn't related to the last attempt. Resume normal pulse rate.


I was checking the date to see if its April's fool day today when Outlook 2003 preview of your blog's email appeared on my desktop (while i'm playing in playchess, what else).

I guess you'll be saving the announcement about the match between Topalov and Kasparov to then...

BTW - long time reader (almost) first time posting. Great site, great style. Love your work :)

Weird. I hope it's true!

Hell, they can come and play at my house! Though, I understand suburban Boston ain't got nuthin' on beautiful Elista, Kalmykia.



I too hope for a leadership change in FIDE, but if that happens you know that any proposed match will not take place in Elista. Hope a new venue can be found.

I hope so. I am a fan of both players, and a believer in the classical line. I would put my money on Topalov. I guess I shouldn't hope for something that won't happen though.


Who are the new presidential candidates? I haven't been following lately, and I can't log on to www.fide.com, for days now, don't know why.

Any mention of the prize fund?

the move towards a match is certainly to be applauded. But why Kramnik? Clearly the top two (unretired) guys now are Topa and Anand and were the top two finishers at San Luis. Regardless of the result, I think the chess world would love a match between these two gladiators ... maybe the future tournaments should lead to a match between the top two finishers.

Somehow it wouldn't surprise me if it's for real; Ilyumzhinov is probably realising he is quite likely to lose his presidency this Summer, and by arranging this match he could claim to have "brought the chess world back together". Something positive to be remembered for.

Personally I don't think Topalov should be playing Kramnik, because Kramnik has lost his rights looong time ago imo., and he is not even close to being the worlds number 1 or 2 nowadays. But sure, matches are interesting, and I also slightly tend to prefer a such instead of the round-robin. And afterall, Kramnik should be a part of the cycle (although I'd rather see Ivanchuk back in - but that might happen as well), so all in all I also hope this is for real...

Upon further thought, perhaps another ploy by Ilyumzhinov and his henchmen in their bid for re-election?

how is it that fide always gets this wrong -

first they were trying to organize Garry-Kasim when the wkole world knew that Kramnik and Anand were clearly better than Kasim. Then it failed to include Kramnik when he was still doing well. Now when Kramnik is playing horribly and is battling a debilitating condition, they announce a match between him and Topa. For once, dammit get the top two guys in a match that we can savor.

Allan, You said it better than I did.

What about Kramnik's illness? Seems strange no one has mentioned this. It's been only a month or so since he announced what is best thought of as a temporary retirement. So what gives now? It makes the FIDE "story" less plausible, at this point.

Maybe I am just pessimistic, but I will believe in it when it happens.

Globular I am in Boston also. You take half and I'll take the other half at my house. We can play the World Championships down at Au Bon Pain Coffee shop in Harvard Square. Don't bother testing for drugs like caffeine. they will all fail. the coffee there is real good.

Obviously it would have been better had the Prague Agreement been fulfilled. Kasparov would presumably have defeated either Pono or Kasim, and the world would have had the Kaspy/Krammy rematch that all the fans wanted. But that's water under the bridge. Get over it.

The one slender reed that Kramnik can hold onto is that he holds the nominal classical title that descended from Steinitz. That title doesn't mean much any more, but some people still think of Kramnik as the *real* champion. This match, regardless of the outcome, would clean up that little detail, once and for all.

If it's successful, perhaps FIDE would finally cotton onto the fact that a long match for the title generates worldwide interest in chess, and is good for the game.

If this is intended to set the record straight as to who deserves the "one title" (to be said in a "one ring" LOTR-ish whisper) , nothing really will be proven now given that a loss by Kramnik would be attributed to his condition, if he does indeed play. Unless I'm mistaken, his recovery period has certainly not been made evident in recent news.

Yeah sure. So that's how Ilyumzhinov starts off his presidential campaign. He'll probably announce a match between Topalov and ten other players in the next few months to try and make everybody happy.

We've been bitten far too many times to believe this one.

Ilumzhinov confirmed this news himself http://www.sport-express.ru/art.shtml?115766. He said that Joel Lautier and Lord Justin Portman are in charge of finding money.

Of all the grandiose WC-related announcements by FIDE in recent years, how many have actually come to pass? Probably no more than 20% or so. Therefore, I'd give this one a 4:1 chance of fizzling out.

Is this announcement merely a political move of Kirsan considering the upcoming FIDE elections, a political move designed to get the votes of the Russian and the other delegations?

Not that I am against the match, on the contrary, I would love to see the match happening. I am just questioning FIDE's motivation, as others have also done.

In any case, I do hope that FIDE get this match underway before Kramnik gets too sick for it.

Wake me up when the first move is made!

As Bessel Kok said in the interview with Yasser Seirawan today (on playchess), the chess world needs sponsors and sponsors want a clear and undisputed champion.
This match is the best way to achieve that. The only alternative was for Kramnik to give up his title because of illness. I have to say that I prefer a match...

I've updated the title of this item to better reflect the tone of all the reports. No money, no specifications, typical Ilyumzhinov troll. Lautier and Portman (whom you may remember for appearing at the Brissago match along with his supermodel wife to make a first move) didn't need FIDE's permission to seek money. It's not even clear that it's pre-approved by FIDE.

Just for the record.

Ilyumzhinov announced it personally?
Well, he have announced other things as well. For example,
(november 2004)

I may be proven wrong. But as I said above, I will believe in this match when it happens.

No one believed Fischer was coming back in 1992. Neither did I.

I sounds perplex and I don't like it somehow.

Nice try by FIDE. Now that Kramnik is ill and almost retired for a while? I seriously doubt that he will regain his form by September and I do not think that he will play in such a match.

I guess FIDE will offer the match and Kramnik wont play because of his health problems, then FIDE will say did you see we wanted to unify but he did not play. A match for early 2007 is more realistic.

Suppose they actually play, and Kramnik manages to win narrowly. Then we'll still (presumably?) have the round robin WC in 2007, with Kramnik and seven other guys, but without Topalov!

The FIDE rules are a mess right now - I wonder what a new administration would do to clear things up? They can hardly change the ongoing WC cycle at this point, when Candidates matches have already been announced.

Hi Mig

I saw that the story is up in chessbase I guess this will generate alot of response, Kramnik's site is not accessible at the moment. I hope you keep us informed about the developments.

Kramnik wins the match. and he and 7 others, but without Topalov, play a double-round tournament for the title. People reckon Topalov hard done by. Then the winner plays a match with Topalov, and we're all back on track. Bessel Kok because Fide President. Then we get back to an old-style World Championship cycle. Bound to work.

I agree with John J.; Ilyumzhinov's announcement and Kramnik's recent one about his illness are mutually exclusive, truthwise...

I agree with Hesam 100%. Suddenly after Kramnik announces he is ill and temporarily retired they are offering a match........... Cynical as always.

Cant have done potential sponsors much good to hear Kramnik is ill. What a shame - a fit KRamnik v Topalov would be marvellous but so would a Capa v Alekhine rematch and many other might have beens..

Actually, FIDE did also just announce an Alekhine v Kramnik match. Apparently both players are still refusing to concede that they're not the current world champions.

It's all subject to financing, of course.

If Topalov is playing like he did today against Aronian Kramnik is just cooked.

DP, I agree. Another remarkable performance by Topolov, and definately an easy selection for a "best games" book.

It is funny! Topalov has a Rook in his name (Top means Cannon, and also Rook), but he always sacs the Rooks. He said all of the figures are his children, but he is treating the bishops as his favorite children, and the poor rooks ...

If any match should be played, it should be Topalov vs. Anand.

"Suppose they actually play, and Kramnik manages to win narrowly. Then we'll still (presumably?) have the round robin WC in 2007, with Kramnik and seven other guys, but without Topalov!"

The rules are pretty clear. The winner (whether narrowly or not) is the W.C. What's interesting is that Kramnik has always said that the championship should be determined in a long match. If Kramnik manages to beat Toppy, would he then agree to put his title on the line in a double round-robin? The current rules seem to suggest that he must.

"If any match should be played, it should be Topalov vs. Anand."

Not really. Anand and Topalov both agreed to join the current FIDE W.C. process. They were both present in San Luis, and Topalov won fair and square.

Marc "long match for the title generates worldwide interest in chess" it does, but a 12 game match?? This is then shorter than Kasparov vs Kramnik 2000, and Kramnik vs Leko 2004!! No doubt it's a ploy to keep his leadership in FIDE. While I have always stated that matches, candidates matches, finals, semi's, quarters, are the way to go, 12 game match is pityful. Minimum 24 games, draws NOT counting. If Kramnik regains his health and they play, we need a a definite winner and loser. Hell, 12 game match, draws counting, and were back to maybe the winner scoring 2-1 and 9 draws, unacceptable for me, sorry to vent.

What a fantastic game Topalov-Aronian today! Thank you so much for this chess blog Mig!

A 24-game match, draws not counting? How many years to you think it would take to play such a match?

If Topalov plays the way he did against Aronian, Kramnik is cooked. Unless, of course, Kramnik doesn't play the way Aronian did.

What's the problem with Kramnik scheduling a match while fighting health problems? What's his alternative? To ask the chess world to wait a few years until he (hopefully) recovers his health?

Just because you're winning tournaments doesn't mean you're going to win a long match. Preparing to play a game or two against a dozen different tournament opponents isn't the same as holing up for a couple months, preparing to play a long match against a single opponent. Ask Bent Larsen. Ask Fischer in his early days. Ask Kasparov.

"Not really. Anand and Topalov both agreed to join the current FIDE W.C. process. They were both present in San Luis, and Topalov won fair and square."

I meant that the two of them are currently the two best players today. Now that Kramnik has, for whatever reasons, been unable or unwilling to participate in or arrange a match within or without the auspicies of FIDE, and given his less than stellar tournament results, his claim to still being holder of the title is hollow.

Kasparov could get away with treating the wcc "title" (I use the quotes deliberately) as if he owned it because he competed regularly and won tournaments against the best. Had FIDE organized a WCC tournament when Kasparov was around, it would not have been taken too seriously. (Oh, they did.) Kasparov had legitimacy(credibility) if not legality (which was disputed). Kramnik has neither.

"12 game match is pityful. Minimum 24 games, draws NOT counting."

I agree that 12 is anemic, but your suggestion is ridiculous. For decades, the standard was 24 games with draws counting. Kasparov-Karpov fought a 48 game match in 1984-85. I doubt that any sane person would want to repeat that experience.

"Just because you're winning tournaments doesn't mean you're going to win a long match. ... Ask Kasparov."

There are no guarantees, but Kasparov was superb in either format. Not perfect, but still the best there was.

Obviously, Greg. My point was that the strength that Topalov is demonstrating(and this game seems exceptional even by his standards) is something unbelievable. To give Bruce an idea of what everyone is talking about the marathon match of 48 games between Kasparov and Karpov was terminated early due to Karpov's physical exhaustion and was the first person to 6 wins but featured a mere 8 decisive games.

If Kramnik wins, does Topalov replace Shirov in the cycle? Is this all just a heinous plot against Shirov?

If Kramnik wins, we can expand the 8 player DRR into a 9 player DRR involving both Kramnik and Topalov.

Greg Koster ( How many years do you think it would take to play such a match) Duhh...at 4 games a week, say Sun, Tues, Thursday, and Sat, this could be over in 6 weeks...the reason why you need draws NOT to count, is to have the players fight to win, not draw and coast to victory, which would happen as soon as one player goes up a win.

Greg Koster ( How many years do you think it would take to play such a match) Duhh...at 4 games a week, say Sun, Tues, Thursday, and Sat, this could be over in 6 weeks...the reason why you need draws NOT to count, is to have the players fight to win, not draw and coast to victory, which would happen as soon as one player goes up a win.

Marc Shepherd (I agree that 12 is anemic,but your suggestion is ridiculous) In what way?? Your 2 examples seem to try to prove that my suggestion is ridiculous? The standard 24 game matches with draws counting prove not ideal, as I stated in my answer to Greg Koster, go up a win and then coast to victory. You want this kind of match?? I most certainly do not. Your other example of the 48 game match in 1984-5, was of course way too long, cause they went for the first to win 6. I'm not proposing that! Play 24 games, draws NOT counting, and let the player who has the lead win the match! Simple. The winner would have probably 4-6 wins. To me this is a compromise between the 2 examples you stated. If by chance the score is 4-4 for example after 24 games, play continues till another victory is gained, and still we have only gone 6 weeks. Someone would win in the next 2 weeks, which then the match would have gone only 2 months, which is not that uncommon for a championship match in MHO. Reason I feel that a game would be won in this extra 2 weeks time, if the match is tied after 6, is that the players agree to Play Fischer Random or 960 if you will, to break the deadlock. They won't like this, so we would have a decisive result. 6 weeks to 8 weeks max.

What is the relevance of the draws NOT counting. If I understand you correctly, the score would be 4-4 assuming 8 decisive games dNc and would be 12-12 including draws. In either case it comes to the same the match is tied.


What I think you meant to suggest is a 24-game match which, in the event of a drawn match after 24 games, would continue until one player wins another game. Taking the average of Kasparov-Kramnik (2-0, 15 games) and Kramnik-Leko (2-2, 14 games), you'd have an expected result of 5 decisive games out of 24.

Under that set-up, a player getting a couple games ahead early in the match would, of course, have the usual incentive to draw all the rest of the games.

I do agree that the champion should no longer have draw-odds. If it's drawn after the regulation number of games play a game a day until somebody wins one.

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 24, 2006 4:22 PM.

    Corus 2006 r9 was the previous entry in this blog.

    Corus 2006 r10 is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.