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Dead Means Dead

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Unless it's FIDE. The term "deadline" has never meant much in FIDE-land, but at least this time they took the trouble to announce one was moving. The spiffy new FIDE website sez that the deadline for bids for the Kamsky-Topalov WCh candidates match has been extended to April 23. So what are you waiting for?! Don't wait around for some jerk to outbid you at the last moment the way you lost out on that mint copy of X-Men #137 (Phoenix Must Die). The current (and only) bid is $150,000 from Topalov's hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria. For some reason Kamsky isn't keen on playing there. Chessdom has a handy chronology of the match machinations up to this point. C'mon Lviv, show me the money!

That's not the weirdest rumor I've heard about this match and its participants, mind you. One was the possibility of Kamsky repatriating to Russia, which would then host the match! Truth be told, it would be hard to criticize. The dollar is worthless, the American chess scene can barely host its own national championship let alone sponsor a candidates match, and Mayor Bloomberg won't be around much longer to keep NYC running smoothly. And not everyone can be seduced so easily by America's superior deep frying technology.

This leads us to an interesting tangent. How many of the dozens and dozens of foreign GMs to come to the US over the decades have gone back (or gone elsewhere)? Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery, they say.


--copied from chessbase.com:

Breaking news: Kamsky-Topalov in Lviv, Ukraine
11.04.2008 – We reported yesterday on FIDE's decision to extend the deadline for bids for the Kamsky-Topalov match. The Bulgarian Chess Federation protested vigorously, but today the reason for FIDE's decision is becoming clear: there is a US $750,000 bid to stage the match in Lviv, western Ukraine. This stop press information comes from Yury Vasiliev of Sport Express. First details.

If it happens, it's good.

More money is a good thing. As Kasparov put it once (I'm paraphrasing):

"I'd love to see Movsesian make $80,000. But first Topalov needs $500,000. That's how sport works."

Well, Topalov is getting his Quon. And am I the only one who's noticed that Movsesian is doing a halfway decent job of imitating a Non-Tourist lately?

Something's not right. I heard of the Lviv bid many weeks ago, with the same 750,000 figure. The April 11 deadline passes. FIDE announces extension yesterday. Suddenly the Lviv bid is alive again.


I have a feeling that both bids will now fall through (politics, money - lack of, and upset timetable) and no match will take place. I mean, are we supposed to believe Lviv has $750,000 USD now, after the deadline, when it couldn't provide bank guarantees before the deadline?

Wow Mig...pretty heavy there on the anti-americanism.

KFC called...they want to give you your colon back...


Strange it may seem, but it is true that Kamsky is considering going back to Russia. Anything could happen, but the possibility is there.

Bravo FIDE. Again it looks bad. If either player now wants to ask for more, now they can.

Kamsky won't want to play in Bulgaria, so Topalov will ask, as a compensation since deadline was over, for a rematch after the world championship if he looses.

They just gaved Topalov another reason to complain and obtain more.

Not to stear up any controversy (sigh) but any (inside) info or informed guesses on the "Gata Kamsky International Chess & Sports Foundation" (http://www.01chess.com) ? Seems to be run by R. Kamsky, has he approval of Gata ? Article 1 leaves a confused impression: Garry Kasparov's donations to U.S. educational chess are in fact used for character assassination of U.S. chess players the same way KGB allegedly did that to Bobby Fischer ?! And yet the page is linked from the USCF website. I would have expected a lawyer to advance his cause in a professional way.

With him having played the Sofia tournament last year, I would also expect Gata Kamsky to be on good terms with the Bulgarians. Not ? Bulgarian Chess Federation has already filed a protest according to Chessdom (against FIDE).

poisonedpawn, you've made an important contribution here - unearthing what, on first blush, looks to me like the seeds of yet another in the seemingly unending string of USCF scandals.

I just read that Kamsky page you linked and you are entirely right - it will cause a big controversy, even in the US, leading to yet more embarrassment for the USCF potentates who seem to have endorsed Kamsky's foundation without bothering to do any due diligence (i.e. impose any conditions on how Kamsky would use his foundation).

On that Web site you mentioned, he calls Kasparov a KGB stooge, and all but labels Kasparov's respected chess foundation a fraud. In fact, Kasparov is loved in the US, and his chess foundation still has a major presence here. So once this gets out, there will be a big backlash...perhaps against Kamsky, but certainly against USCF politicians who have now allowed a prospective recipient of donations (Kamsky - his "foundation" was set up solely to funnel donations to HIM), to publicly insult a sponsor/provider of funds for chess in the US (the well-established Kasparov Chess Foundation).

This obviously wasn't what they (or anyone) expected when the decision was made a couple months ago to endorse Kamsky's foundation. That decision happened after Kamsky appealed to the USCF for direct financial support (supposedly to help him prepare for Topalov) and was turned down. That led to a minor groundswell among USCF members who said, OK, we know the USCF can't afford to give any of its own funds to Kamsky...but surely it can help him attract donations from well-wishers, to be made through a separate foundation. And that's what happened. It was envisioned as simply a mechanism to help Kamsky, now an American (note: I too thought the part about considering switching his affiliation back to Russia is true - but given Rustam's language about Putin and the KGB, it's hard to imagine the Russians would take him back now!), advance his bid for the WCC.

In fact, the March Chess Life drew an explicit parallel between Kamsky and Fischer (Fischer's death was the cover story, then there was a big "gatefold", or cover-inside-a-cover, touting Kamsky's WCC quest).

I too was under the impression that Kamsky was on good terms with Topalov and Bulgaria. Looks like the heavy hand of Rustam is being felt again! There's no getting away from him....

Looks like Kamsky's father has not been taking his meds.... In fact he sounds strangely like Dainalov. The ranting article is very difficult to read tiny print horrible english so here is a summary: there was/is a worldwide conspiracy to prevent Gamsky becoming world chess champ, in fact the russian empire is stopping all americans from succeeding in chess, kasparov is part of this and the money from his foundation he spends on himself - thats about it.

And the Kamsky's are of fine Christian-Jewish background, all that Moslem stuff is just KKB disinformation.

Mig, have you HAD a deep-fried Twinkie?? I think that if you have, you cannot doubt America's cultural (not to mention deep-frying technology) dominance.

Forget winning their hearts and minds...today it's win their arteries and colons. THAT is the secret to world dominance!

That rumour of Kamsky moving back to Russia was on Chessdom ages ago, where it passed without any comment. I'm surprised to see it gain traction here.

Another rumour, which I read on Chessmind I think was that Shirov would replace Kamsky if he didn't prove amenable to Sofia.

Why would anyone bid $600k more than the second highest bid?

Zakki wrote:

"Why would anyone bid $600k more than the second highest bid?"

Because, without a single exception, chess patrons (the ones providing the money for tournaments and matches) are pitiful chess players/groupies willing to use their power, money or connections to gain stature in front of their idols.

If these patron groupies ever get together and think straight for just 5 minutes, they would fix most of these problems by setting realistic fees for their tournaments and matches. Chessplayers would not have any choice but to accept the conditions.

Can you imagine Kamski or Topalov asking for much if they know that not only would their demands be rejected, but that they would not be able to participate in any top tournaments for the next 3 years?

Chess would be VERY different and much better.

FIDE is not even needed for this to take place. Organizers could safely ignore whatever FIDE says. Within 1 year, FIDE and its primadonna players would be on their knees begging for reconciliation.

Food for thought...

@ Irv

I don't think so. I believe most private sponsors sponsor for the love of the game, period. Other sponsors, namely the Russians and the Bulgarians, do so because the game is a part of their national identity. Status has little to do with it.

As for Zakki's question, I wondered about that also. I speculate it could be any or all of the following (emphasis on speculate):

1. Advertising $750,000 but not or unable to deliver.

2. Pride, too embarassed to play/hold a world class chess match for less than $250,000.

3. Set the prize fund level for future sponsors, even while the current may not be guaranteed.

4. A facade of professional chess.

5. To embarass the Bulgarians (re: toiletgate).

6. Similar to 4, to save face, after already announcing $750,000 bid only to miss the deadline.

7. To pressure the Bulgarians to come up with more money.

8. Bid artificially inflated to include everything, FIDE's cut, site rent, equipment, labor, etc. Actual prize fund is quite small.

As for Zakki's question: a possible answer might be that...

... Under the FIDE contract, Bulgaria has the option of out-bidding the Ukrainian bid. If Bulgaria does outbid, then Ukraine would Not have the option of re-outbidding further.
So the Ukraine bid might be so high in an attempt to scare off the Bulgarians from outbidding.

_ _ _ _ _

BTWay, is it yet certain that this $750,000 bid by Ukraine is fully funded in a guaranteed bank escrow?

Ukraine's higher prize fund might make it possible for Kamsky to borrow against his potential match earnings; then Kamsky could use the money to pay a team of helpers/seconds to study the openings for him.

I have recently been reading the book "From London to Elista" (by E.Bareev & I.Levitov). I knew the monster of opening memorization has grown to absurdities in the modern era of computerized chess. But until I read this book I did not fully appreciate how "bad" the situation is (at least for title matches).
I used the word 'bad', but I realize others would instead say 'wonderful'.

Also, in the book, Kramnik is paraphrased as saying that within a generation, in elite chess matches between evenly skilled top GMs, chess should reach the point where wins with Black "will be practically unattainable" (page 15). Kramnik also expects the high draw rate to increase even higher.
Personally I do not yet see convincing evidence that things will get quite that bad. John Watson's "Secrets of Modern Chess" shows how stable these win and draw rates were before PC chess engines became so strong. Things are that bad in theory, but human memorization is still a limiting factor.
Besides, the problems I read about in this book, and the problem of White's large unfair advantage, and the problem of the high draw rate, are all already beyond any reasonable threshold.

The consensus is that Kramnik was lucky to avoid losing in at least two of the Kasparov-Kramnik 2000 match games. When asked how he let Kramnik escape with draws, Kasparov said he was so tired from constant study and re-memorization of openings during the match that his quality of play in other phases over-the-board suffered. Wonderful?

Does Kamsky stand any chance against Topalov if Kamsky cannot gather the $ necessary to hire seconds? Should things be that way in the sport of chess?

Quite honestly I fail to see why Lviv would bid even one cent for the upcoming match, let alone $750 000. It's not a WC title match, no Ukrainian is involved, there is no mention anywhere regarding who exactly is coming up with the money, $750 000 is completely unnecessary as a much lower amount would get the match, etc, etc. Then, why a deadline was missed? If finding $750 000 was a problem, why not bid a lower amount?

Yuriy Vasiliev is certainly well informed journo, but from outside this whole Lviv story looks like some sort of a scam.

The most obvious reason for postponing the deadline would be trouble with money. Is there a bank guarantee from either side?

@ GeneM

"When asked how he let Kramnik escape with draws, Kasparov said he was so tired from constant study and re-memorization of openings during the match that his quality of play in other phases over-the-board suffered"

Didn't I read somewhere that Kasparov was suffering from divorce fallout during the match?

If there is no bank guarantee yet, then what is the difference from when Kamsky's manager first told Vasiliev that the match would take place in Lviv? That was about a month ago and the deal was already supposed to be "99.9% certain".

@ Epic Snail (16:50),

The book makes no mention of divorce or other personal life problems.

It does say that Kasparov came to London in 2000 prepared to play the Gruenfeld as Black against Kramnik. But after a couple of games Kasparov decided the Gruenfeld choice had been a mistake, because it makes more than the usual amount of demand on variation memorization. Kasparov suddenly decided he did not trust himself to play the Gruenfeld perfectly enuf.
(My retelling might be imperfect, but the book is saying something like that.)

So that left Kasparov and his team the task to develop a whole new opening repertiore *during the match*. This helped bring exhaustion to Kasparov.
To some extent, Kasparov lost to Kramnik because Kasparov *guessed* wrong about what Kramnik had planned for the openings. Therefore, maybe there is a kind of "luck" in traditional chess1 after all.

On the other hand, Kramnik did not guess wrong because Kramnik prepared thoroughly for everything. Kramnik gave up everything in his life for chess for a long time before the match. Kramnik did not have any guessing related risk in the first place.
In contrast, Kasparov made a judgment about the degree of dedication that would be enuf to defeat Kramnik. Kasparov had other projects going on in his life.
This is a dramatic theme as old as sporting competition itself.

Kramnik did not dedicate himself as thoroughly for Leko 2004 as he did for Kasparov 2000. Kramnik took the same kind of shortcuts that Kasparov had taken in 2000 (some of this is me filling in my own perhaps flawed interpretation of the books comments) --
page 181, notice that word 'guess' again:

"... the main reason for the difficulties that arose during the match [against Leko 2004 was that Kramnik] absolutely believed in his [own] ability to guess his opponent's strategic approach to [opening] preparation and on this occasion he was wrong."

I think we can give up on the idea of seeing a Kamsky Topalov match. No one is going to play in Bulgaria against Topalov. The Ukraine bid sounds like a pipe dream - its rubbush without bank guarantees. After the ukraine "bid" evaporates Kamsky refuses (quite rightly) to play on Topalovs home turf its over to Shirov who will probably refuse as well then .... to quote FIDE "if GM Shirov also refuses, GM Topalov will automatically qualify for the World Championship match 2009." I cannot see Anand or Kramnik playing Topalov in these circumstances so presumably Topalov becomes World Chess Champion by default - wont that be great! Then we will have two WCC's again oh well we still have Anand Kramnik to look forward to and the winner will be the champion recognised by everybody. Incidentally if this fantasy 750,000 usd actually happens would this be the highest prize money in chess for a non title match (excluding Fischer Spassky II)?

and FIDE can play their little games on their own.

Chessbase published today its doubts at http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4564

"In the meantime friends in the Ukraine have expressed doubts on the reality of the offer. Even top Lviv officials do not know of the match or of private sponsors. "The city of Lviv will not put up the money, this is 1000% sure", our contact told us. We will wait and see."

It's a shame FIDE can't set up these matches. If everything has to be done on the cheap, then let these guys play the match from the comfort of their own homes, via computer. FIDE could send out officials to each location to monitor the events. OTB, face to face, is of course the traditional and preferred method that I would like to see, but seems like tradition to FIDE, is obsolete. If these matches were done by tradition, you could play 12 game matches (traditional candidate) 6 games in Bulgaria, 6 games in the USA. But in reality a game of chess does not have to pit the opponents face to face across from one another. We are in the computer, internet age, and if they want to scrap tradition, let them play over the internet for the whole world to witness, and they get their results while on the cheap.

I think match chess is doomed. Matches give too much power to the players. An 8 player DRR like San Luis or Mexico goes on smoothly. The problem with a match is that it takes too much to get the players on the table.

World Championships should be left up to players themselves, just like it used to be years ago. Things went more smoothly then and they even averaged more matches.

Speaking of "dead," does anyone know what happened to Karpov at the Russian Team Championships? He was playing for Board One one day and then...

"I think match chess is doomed. Matches give too much power to the players. An 8 player DRR like San Luis or Mexico goes on smoothly. The problem with a match is that it takes too much to get the players on the table. "

- This doesn't make sense. For obvious reasons, it is harder to organize tournaments compared to matches, not vice versa. 2 people are easier to deal with than 8.

Untrue, I'd say it depends on the people and other factors too. Kramnik and Topalov in the same tournament = no problem Kramnik and Topalov playing a match = a truckload of hassle :)

The problem with a Match is that both of the players have a lot more leverage than do the players invited (or qualified) to play in a tournament. The threat to disrupt a Match allows the players, in practice, to have a veto over some of the arrangements. If one of, say, 8 players is disgruntled about some aspect of the tournament, he could opt out, and it would be easy to find some other Elite player willing to take his place. Consider what happened with the Morelia-Linares tournament in 2007. Radjabov withdrew, and the organizers in Mexico were able to get Ivanchuk to take his place--with almost no notice.

Indeed, FIDE likes even larger tournaments, because it further dilutes the influence and impact of individual players. So, the FIDE KO World Championships had 128 players. So what if half of the Top 10 players opted not to play. Too bad if a few Israeli players were not allowed to travel to Libya. From FIDE's perspective, the show went on, and a new Champion was duly generated.

There are plenty of hassles associated with Kramnik and Topalov playing in the same tournament, but they are not insuperable.

"But then a rumor surfaced that Kamsky’s business manager, Alexander Chernenko, had found a sponsor willing to stage the match in Lvov, Ukraine, and to provide a prize fund of $750,000, had been found. Since then, there has been no word, and now the new deadline is two days away.

Calls to Chernenko’s cell phone have not been successful and e-mail messages and phone calls to Kamsky have not been returned."


Well, the new deadline expires today...

Any news on this?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 11, 2008 4:33 AM.

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