Here's a diary of the past 48 hours
Tuesday, August 26
FIDE gives its world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, Ukraine, a formal deadline:
either sign and fax an agreement to the conditions for the FIDE title match
against Garry Kasparov, scheduled for September 18th in the Ukrainian city of
Yalta, or be disqualified. FIDE said it would make a declaration on the match
on Thursday, Aug. 28 at noon, effectively extending an Aug. 25 deadline in order
to come to an agreement with Ponomariov.
Wednesday, August 27
14:00h: The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS hosted a press conference
in Moscow with Garry Kasparov, Slava Fetisov (ice hockey star, now Russian Sports
Minister) and Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Chess Federation.
Garry Kasparov stated that he had found "numerous dubious points
and inaccuracies" in the FIDE contract. He said he had listed them in
five pages in a letter to FIDE before signing the contract. However, then
he agreed to compromise in order to "avoid more complications in the
complicated chess world". Kasparov said also that thanks to the Prague
unity agreement Ponomariov had received extraordinary privilegies compared
to other FIDE World Champions (Anand and Khalifman). He had gone directly
to a final match with a $450,000 guaranteed prize fund, instead of $4,000 for
the 1st round of a knock-out tournament with 128 players. Kasparov said that
the present impasse was very unfortunate because the Yalta match was a vital
step for the unification of world chess. “Ponomariov has already missed
three deadlines from FIDE, and tomorrow is another deadline,” he said.
Now, “we expect FIDE to act decisively because the situation is no longer
Slava Fetisov said that Russian Sports authorities were anxious about
the situation around Ponomariov-Kasparov match. The Organising Committee of
the event, which must be a neutral entity, apparently took the Ukrainian GM's
side. Fetisov promised to provide Kasparov with professional support.
Mr. Zhukov underlined that Ponomariov-Kasparov match was a vital step
in unification process of the chess world. Four conditions of Ponomariov look
really unsignificant and they don't match the importance of the match. If
Ponomariov don't sign the contract before the last FIDE deadline, he can't
be considered the world champion any more and should be disqualified.
FIDE said some of Ponomariov’s demands were acceptable but warned
that it could replace him with another player if he fails to meet the deadline.
Among the names being mooted are Ponomariov’s compatriot Vasily Ivanchuk,
whom he beat in a best-of-eight final in Moscow to take the title last year,
and India’s Viswanathan Anand.
Wednesday evening: The Russian newspaper ITAR TASS carried a
report saying that Ruslan Ponomariov had agreed to sign the contract on conditions
listed in the FIDE document (above). The source was "close to Ponomariov's
team". A signed copy of the contract would be sent to FIDE before the established
Berik Balagbaev, assistant of FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, said
he had just spoken with the FIDE office in Lausanne. They had not received any
documents from Ruslan Ponomariov. Belagbaev: "Information spread by some
information agencies doesn't represent the facts". The Ukraine Chess Federation
reported at 17:00 (GMT +3) there is no decision had been taken by the Ponomariov
team. (See Gazeta
report in Russian)
Thursday, August 28
11:00h: Ruslan Ponomariov sent a letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov,
still insisting on his four proposals and inviting representatives of FIDE,
the Organising committee and G.Kasparov's team to meet in Kiev and "to
obviate all the obstacles for Yalta match". The letter was signed by GM
Silvio Danailov, Ponomariov's manager. There was no official reaction of FIDE.
Denis Bulinov of World Chess Ratings
writes: "The attitude of Ponomariov's team looks really strange. "Four
proposals" are irrelevant if compare to their previous demands (to keep
the title in case of draw, financial claims etc) but Danailov & Co stand
for them with astonishing inflexibility. Meanwhile Ponomariov didn't make any
public appearance for several weeks and our source reports that FIDE people
didn't have a chance even to talk to him by phone..."
Thursday evening: We have heard from different sources that Ruslan Ponomariov
did not sign the FIDE contract before the deadline of 12:00 noon on Aug 28.
No reaction from FIDE.
We will continue reporting on further developments.