The news broke on Tuesday night (Wed. early morning in Europe): a top chess
event was planned for December 2003 in Mumbai, with players like Kasparov, Karpov,
Anand, Kramnik, Leko, Grischuk, Shirov, Svidler, Polgar, Bareev, Adams, Short,
Ponomariov and Ivanchuk as prospective participants. Articles to this effect
appeared in the following Indian national media outlets:
Naturally we too carried the news, presenting them as good Christmas tidings
for the chess community. But then the phone calls and messages started coming
in, from a number of the players listed above. Apparently most had first heard
about this event from our ChessBase
news story on Sept. 3rd. They also drew attention to the fact that in the
time slot givenmost of the top players had other commitments, like the FIDE
knockout world championship in November-December 2003 and Corus Wijk aan Zee
in January 2004. We reported on their scepticism in a second report entitled
Pie in the Sky?
Now the main organiser, the Venus
Chess Academy, has contacted us with some comments. It's president, Ravindra
Dongre, who is also the Chairman of the Maharashtra Chess Association, expressed
surprise at the tone of our second article and wrote:
We would like to clarify.
1. We organised the press conference in Mumbai to announce the fact that
Venus Chess Academy will be organising a Category 20 Invitation chess tournament
in India. The press release issued clearly states that the proposed time-frame
is December 2003.
2. We have successfully organised the Commonwealth 2003 Chess Championship
in Mumbai earlier this year where over 25 Grand Masters took part.
3. We clearly announced at the press conference that we will be contacting
the players to get their dates and we will announce the final schedule of
the tournament only in October 2003.
4. We have also received permission from AICF to organize the Commonwealth
Chess Championship in February 2004.
5. We once again reiterate that we are delighted to organize the Category
20 Invitation Chess Tournament in Mumbai, India. Such tournaments are held
in Dortmund and Linares and we would like to hold one in India. The final
schedule of the tournament will of course depend on the players availability
and their acceptance of commercial terms.
The message was signed by Ravindra Dongre for the Venus Chess Academy and by
Samir Kale, the president of SportzPR
Times of India follow-up
Yesterday night the Times of India posted a report entitled "Kasparov's
Mumbai visit not certain". Excerpts:
Gary Kasparov could well be playing in India. But don't celebrate just yet.
"Dates are going to be a problem," accepted Maharashtra Chess Association
president Ravindra Dongre. "But we are confident that the festival will
go ahead. If not in December, early next year." Players are likely to
give more importance to the Fide event than this invitation event. If the
Fide event is scheduled in January, finding dates for the Mumbai event will
not be easy. For, there are traditional Super GM events in Wijkaan Zee and
Linares in the first half of the year.
Even the announcement of Kasparov's name is a bit of kite-flying. "He
had shown interest playing in India," said Dongre. "There are encouraging
signs from the sponsors too. The prize money will be in the region of Rs 30
lakh. The tournament budget could run beyond Rs 3 crore including appearance
money for top players."
For your information: A "lakh" is an Indian unit denoting 100,000,
so at the current exchange rate of 45.8521 Indian Rupees to the US Dollar the
prize fund ammounts to about $65,400. A "crore" is ten million (yep,
they don't skip the "million" in India), so the total budget is 30
million Rupees, which translates to about $655,000.
Naturally we support this momentous effort on the part of Venus and SportzPR
and will do all in our power to facilitate the creation of a new and exciting
Super-tournament in India. We urge all top players to cooperate with the organisers.
Staging a tournament like this in a country with a billion chess fans can only
be good for the game.
On the same day the Times of India posted another report entitled "Anand
fires salvo at Fide, Kasparov", which addresses the cancellation of
the FIDE world championship match between Ponomariov and Kasparov, and the announcement
of a new cycle, starting with a classical 128-player knockout tournament in
December. The winner of that tournament will be crowned official FIDE World
Championship and will play Garry Kasparov next Spring. The winner of that match
will will play the winner of the Kramnik-Leko classical chess world championship
match (assuming that this is staged) in a final unification match some time
in the coming year. [See ChessBase
report for details]. The Times of India articl reports on Anand's reaction
to this arrangement. Excerpts:
India's premier chess player Vishwanathan Anand has fired a salvo at the
chess world governing body Fide and world No 1 Gary Kasparov. "It seems
very unfair that Kasparov is getting seeded to the finals without playing
the knockout or any qualification. It is funny how Kasparov once attacked
Anatoly Karpov for the same," said Anand from his Madrid residence.
Will Anand play in the challenger tournament on such a short notice? What
does he think of the latest mess? And can chess fans hope to find a new undisputed
world champion? Anand: "We havent got any information other than
the various versions available on the internet. As a professional, you plan
your tournament calendar in such a way that you play at an optimum level.
Having an event of this strength in December surely needs a lot of reworking
schedules. The information available at the moment seems very vague. When
there is some concrete information available to the players, I will give it