In the past few days we have been receiving messages and statements from
different parties, criticising or defending the actions taken by FIDE to stage
its world championship in Tripoli, Libya, and commenting on related subjects.
We have compiled the most significant of these, with summaries and original
documents. Click on any of the following links to jump to the relevant section
on the rest of the page.
Israeli chess body wants to sue Libya over ban
17.06.2004 The Israeli Chess Association says it hopes to sue Libya for barring
the Israeli team from this year's world chess championships in Tripoli. Spokesman
Yerach Tal said the Israeli team, ranked second in Europe after Russia, would
incur financial losses as a result of the ban. Tal told The Associated Press
that the association was also considering a suit for damages against FIDE.
He said one of the Israeli players, Vadim Milov, was trying to attend the tournament
as part of the Swiss team. Milov was due to fly from Zurich to Tripoli on Thursday,
but Tal did not know if he had been successful, as he did not have an official
Libyan invitation. [Full
Mike Lebowitz: Chess – not just for smart people anymore
Yes, it's official. The IOC and its cronies have fallen hook, line, and sinker
to Libya's plot to host a Jew-free World Chess Championship in Tripoli. And
guess whose fault it is that top ranked Israeli and US Jews have been effectively
barred from competition? "The Israeli chess players decided not to participate
in the Tripoli Chess Championship," stated Georgios Makropoulos, deputy
president of the IOC-sponsored World Chess Federation (FIDE), in responding
to questions as to who was to blame. [Full
Irregularities in nominations of players to the 2003-2004 World Chess Championship
15.06.2004 In a letter to FIDE the ACP protests irregularities in nominations
of players to the 2003-2004 World Chess Championship. In the main part FIDE
qualified 44 instead of 46 players from the Continental Championships in Batumi
2002 and Silivri 2003. The two missing places went to GM Baadur Jobava from
Georgia and IM Kivanc Haznedaroglu from Turkey, who personally nominated by
the ECU President. This is in violation with the Regulations for the 2003 –
2004 World Chess Championship. [Full
FIDE answer to the ACP Open Letter dated 8 June 2004.
Elista, 8 June 2004: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov answered the May
26 open letter written by ACP chairman Joel Lautier, expressing surprise
that Lautier would choose to contact him through the mass media, instead of
normal means of communication, viz. through the FIDE secretariat. Ilyumzhinov
states that the FIDE official representatives have worked hard to secure that
all players including the Israelis, will get visa upon arrival. The Libyan
authorities had twice confirmed in writing that all qualified players will
get visa. "Based on my personal contact with the Libyan leader H.E Moammar
Al Ghaddafi, I am absolutely confident that this problem is solved." However
the Israeli players had "either failed to sign the Players Undertaking
or signed with conditions or withdrawn from the Championship after the deadline."
Ilyumzhinov also expresses surprise that the ACP doesn't see "the importance
of having the World Chess Championship in Libya, during the time when the country
is opening up to the international community in a way that has been widely
appreciated by many top leaders of the world." [Full
Why FIDE is silent now?
In June 15 ChessBase.com published an interview
with Georgios Makropoulos which bore the title "Why were they silent
in Prague?" and was given by him to the Russian newspaper "Sports-Express"
or June 8, 2004. In my opinion, the manner of dialogue and the entire style
of Mr. Makropoulos are characteristic for the majority of chess officials.
It leaves no doubts in my mind that Mr. Makropoulos considers himself the "chief"
of all chess players. Naturally, the main arrows have been directed at his
obstinate "subordinates" – top grandmasters, among whom has
once again found me.
I would like to mention that I for my part have a long time ago turned the
page of history with regard to the aborted match Ponomariov-Kasparov. I see
no sense in living in the past. But as the functionaries of FIDE constantly
return to the theme, trying to impose on the chess public the idea that the
match did not take place due to my unwillingness to play against Garry Kimovich,
I think it necessary to not to ignore these stories but to reply to Mr. Makropoulos
and again remind him of the chronology of negotiations with FIDE.
In April 2003 I received the draft contract for our match with Kasparov in
Buenos Aires. Before signing it I gave it to the lawyers for examination. Some
of these lawyers were permanently cooperating with different sporting organizations.
They came to the unanimous conclusion: the draft contract had several legal
defects. The parties did not have equal rights, and one party – FIDE
– was given a clear advantage over the other party – the "Players"
(i.e. Mr. Kasparov and myself). It was wrong to make both players act as one
party of the contract, while they could not meet regularly and work out a common
position. The lawyers also pointed out that the interest of FIDE officials
(and especially their financial interests) were over-protected, while the players'
rights and ways to protect the "Players" interests were not outlined
On the part of FIDE only the rights were listed, without any mention of the
FIDE's obligations to the players. On the part of the "Players" –
only their obligations and duties towards FIDE were described, and also the
sanctions for failing to perform these obligations. No sanctions for FIDE were
previewed in case it breaks the "Players" rights, there were not
even any sanctions if FIDE fails to perform it's own obligation: to organize
the match in Buenos Aires on the specific dates. I sent to FIDE twenty one
most important (in my opinion) suggestions to change some parts of the contract,
and pointed out that three parts are contradicting with the Prague agreements
and the rules of the match. I asked to send my comments to Kasparov and to
tell me about his position.
The Executive Director of FIDE Mr. Omuku accepted a few least important of
my suggestions and objected against most of them saying that FIDE has its traditions
and normal practices. At the same time Mr. Omuku told me that the match will
not take place in June in Buenos Aires because the president Ilyumzhinov by
his authority postponed the match to autumn and divided it between Buenos Aires
and Montevideo. Among my suggestions to improve the contract there was a request
to impose sanctions on FIDE if it breaks its obligations, and in particular
if the match will be cancelled because of it, so Mr. Omuku told me that for
postponing our match FIDE will pay Kasparov and me $100,000 each in form of
compensation for our related losses. FIDE took an obligation to pay it by August,
15, 2003. I must say that Argentina paid this money to FIDE as a non-refundable
security advance payment. FIDE failed to fulfill its obligation. Ilyumzhinov
said in several interviews that Argentina did make this payment to FIDE, but
it is unknown where this money is now.
In July the president of Ukraine sent his order to hold the match in Yalta
to Mr. Ilyumzhinov, and once again I started urging FIDE to adjust the contract
in the short time remaining before the match. I suggested that the parties
meet and discuss the contract details. FIDE ignored my requests. Again they
sent me the draft contract at the last moment, and again Ilyumzhinov's signature
was missing from it. The contract can not be considered an official document
if it doesn't bear the signature of the FIDE President. The absence of his
signature was all the more strange because earlier Mr. Omuku confirmed that
Mr. Ilyumzhinov should be the first to sign the contract because it was him
who created this document.
To my disappointment I found out that even those of my suggestions and changes
that were accepted by FIDE in April, were not included in the new draft contract.
I sent my suggestions again, this time I reduced the number of changes because
time for corresponding were running short. I demanded that they fulfill the
- they should send me the contract in Russian (previously they consistently
were sending me all papers in English that didn't only delay things but there
was also a risk of translation errors);
- the contract should be signed by Ilyumzhinov;
- the contract should include Kasparov's opinion on its contents, and on
I was patiently waiting that Mr. Kasparov would express a desire to meet
with me, or would at least inform me about his opinion about the contract,
and about my suggestions. However, Kasparov was silent, and I started strongly
asking FIDE to arrange an exchange of information between me and Kasparov.
Up to the moment when the match was cancelled by Ilyumzhinov neither him, nor
his office nor Kasparov answered my question about what Kasparov thought about
the contract, and whether Kasparov even knew of my suggestions. Eventually
I found out that Kasparov made a statement that he didn't approve the text
of the contract, and that he sent to FIDE five pages of his objections, but
later he for some reason withdrew it. Also Kasparov said that because the match
in Buenos Aires was postponed, and then the match in Yalta cancelled, he lost
$500,000. In this connection I find it strange (to say the least) that Kasparov
withdrew his objections, and that later he didn't demand that Ilyumzhinov compensates
In response to my requests Ilyumzhinov sent me a fax with the request that
I should be the first to sign the contract. As for his own signature, he promised
to put it on the paper as soon as he can spare a moment in between of his state
affairs. On August, 12 I faxed to FIDE a Russian text of the contract with
my signature. I left only five of my previously requested changes (all the
other changes I didn't include in order to reach a compromise). I was sure
that my compromising approach would make Ilyumzhinov want to reciprocate, and
that he would accept my five changes that in no way affected FIDE's interests.
But instead the FIDE Board gave me a new deadline, and an ultimatum: if I don't
sign a contract by August, 18 without any reservations, I will be replaced
by another participant.
I reduced the number of my proposed changes again to a necessary minimum,
I left only two of them, and I was ready to give up on one of those two after
personal discussions. I made still more compromises with a sole purpose of
saving the match. Because Ukraine fully guaranteed the prize fund of the match
and the organizing expenses in the amount of $1,700,000, I gave written guarantees
to the Ukrainian Government that I'll be ready to play after my proposed changes
are accepted. The Organizing Committee of the match approved both of my changes,
and considered them legal, fair and honest. My first proposed change was to
remove the incomprehensively written clause giving FIDE an absolutely illegal
right "to defer the player's right to play in the match" if he "does
not observe the time frame stipulated by the contract" or if "his
conduct violates the conditions of the contract". In such cases FIDE can
appoint a "reserve" player instead of the one who broke the rules
and "to impose the punitive sanctions in full".
It sounds rather vague, doesn't it? What does it mean "to defer the player's
right to play in the match" To defer for how long, and when to resume?
What "time frame" should a player "observe"? What exactly
meant by "the player's conduct violating the conditions of the match"?
What is a "reserve" player and what is "imposing punitive sanctions
in full"? What are the criteria to determine if "the player's conduct
does or doesn't violate the conditions", and most importantly, who are
the judges? Who has the right to determine that a player's conduct is bad enough
to replace him? There were no answers to these questions in the draft contract.
In the history of World Chess Championships there was a case when a match was
suddenly terminated by the FIDE President. But while in the past it was done
without mentioning the right to do this in the contract, now Mr. Ilyumzhinov
decided to "legalize" the FIDE's right to arbitrary rule.
The second controversial point of the contract was adding a twentieth day
to the match in the form of a day-off before tie-breaks, in case the winner
is not determined after the main twelve games. Indeed, on January 6, 2003 my
manager Mr. Silvio Danailov on my behalf suggested that there were only three
days off in the match schedule: two during the match, and one before tie-breaks.
However, at the time FIDE declined this suggestion. An extra day off in itself
was not a problem for me, and I would agree to this suggestion made by Kasparov,
but I had one principal objection. In the official rules of the match, worked
out by FIDE, there was no mention of the third day off, and the match was supposed
to last for nineteen days. Mr. Ilyumzhinov had no right to make changes in
the rules single-handedly. But Kasparov, who as early as on December 31, 2002
signed the rules, suddenly decided to add an extra day off after twelve games,
and Ilyumzhinov readily obliged him. Thus, he forged the rules that were approved
by the FIDE Board on February 22-23, 2003 in Bucharest. I raised my objections
because such "freedom" in handling the rules is dangerous in principle.
There was one more distinct flaw in the contract that had to be corrected:
the early termination of the match was not previewed in case a participant
sores 6.5 before all twelve games are played.
I suggested that FIDE, Ilyumzhinov, Kasparov and the members of the Organizing
Committee get together, freely exchange opinions and then sign the mutually
agreed version of the contract. FIDE declined my offer. But without meeting
in person we were not able to settle certain disagreements that concerned the
issues beyond contract. Wasn't it a discrimination against me (since I'm not
fluent in English) that Fide conducted all correspondence with me in English,
and I was demanded in a categorical manner to sign the English version of the
contract – whereas FIDE Statutes maintains that Russian is one of FIDE's
official languages. Why then to use English in correspondence between the Russian
Ilyumzhinov, the Russian Kasparov and me, whose native language is Russian?
According to an old democratic tradition all the participants were asked to
name three arbiters, and FIDE had to pick two out of those three: a chief arbiter
and a deputy arbiter. I wonder why only English speaking arbiters from Kasparov's
list were chosen, and all the Russian speaking arbiters from my list were declined?
When the organizing Committee objected against this decision, Ilyumzhinov told
me that he accepted my objections and included Zsuzsa Veroci (Hungary) who
was number three in my list. Ms. Veroci speaks Russian, although she's not
perfectly fluent. But numbers one and two in my list were fluent Russian speakers,
one of whom lives in the US, and the other in Byelorussia. FIDE created the
position of the third arbiter-assistant for Ms. Veroci. This position was not
previewed in the rules, the rights and duties of the third arbiter were not
determined. That means FIDE once again broke its own rules while pretending
that it satisfied my legitimate request. In fact, I was put in an unequal position
As far as I know, soon after that there was a phone talk between the FIDE
representatives and the Ukrainian government, and the preliminary agreement
was reached about accepting my requests. But then the FIDE President cancelled
the match in Yalta without giving reasons.
In opinion of Mr. Makropoulos "Should the least possibility to save the
match exist, the FIDE President would have had used it.". It would be
desirable to ask Mr. Makropoulos: if the conditions which I put forward were
so insignificant from the point of view FIDE, why were they not accepted? And
who purposefully negotiated to abort the match?
For my part I can recognize one doubtless mistake: until recently I considered
that it is enough for a chess player to play and to prepare for competitions,
not paying attention to the mass media. Unfortunately, the officials of FIDE
are making every effort to influence the mass consciousness of ordinary chess
players and create a split between top-grandmasters and other chess players.
Dishonest methods, so-called "dirty" PR are actively used.
By consistently ignoring their interest in steering chess players of the world,
and the passivity of top grandmasters, have led to logic result: the upcoming
tournament in Libya can be called anything, just not the “world championship”.
Can you imagine a world championship in football in which the teams from Brazil,
Italy, France, Spain, England and Germany did not participate? And a world
championship in hockey without Canada, the USA, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden
and Russia? In chess today everything is possible!
I do not even speak about the wild situation of excluding Jewish chess players
from the world championship. Mr. Makropoulos may consider the nonparticipation
of Jews in tournament in Libya "insignificant", but the fact remains:
the nation that has given the chess world a majority of champions has, due
to the political, organizational and financial actions of FIDE officials, been
effectively banned from the struggle for a chess crown.
Unfortunately, FIDE officials do not take into consideration any constructive
offers, and prefer to deliver personal insults. I have, for example, not received
an intelligible answer to my proposal of a match-tournament [http://en.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/211/PostId/4001656]
with the participation of top players and with an aim to unify the title. The
answer I receive is: where were all of you in Prague? So if the FIDE management
recognizes a situation in which the realization of the Prague agreements was
in jeopardy, can it not stop and think what to do further, instead of struggling
with its own ambitions?
Ruslan Ponomariov, the World Champion.
Kiev, June 16, 2004.
Reply of Ana Matnadze and Lela Javakhishvili to the address
by Antoaneta Stefanova and Ekaterina Kovalevskaya.
First of all we would like to congratulate Antoaneta Stefanova and Ekaterina
Kovalevskaya with their outstanding accomplishments which they achieved despite
of fierce competition – they did their best and justly became World Champion
and Vice World Champion – Congratulations!
Nevertheless, there was one thing that concerns us. Antoaneta is one of the
most admirable persons for us, whenever we see her in different tournaments,
she is always provoking only the most positive feelings. But we, being citizens
of the Republic of Georgia, can not congratulate her with getting the award
which is, for some reason, named after Aslan Abashidze. We believe that Antoaneta
did not have the relevant information and did not know, that she was getting
an award named after a person, who recently had to flee Georgia, a person,
who is more often called a dictator. President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili
addressed Georgian population congratulating Abashidze’s flee to Russia:
“Georgians! Aslan has fled! Adjara is now liberated and free! I congratulate
you all with the beginning of new Era!”
We remained rather surprised after we read their address, as far as it can
not be considered as a proper reply to the questions and problems we posed;
besides, we have certain doubts, that their reply does not completely express
their views, as far as we noticed very familiar style in it:
The fact that Zurab Azmaiparashvili is a professional chess player and
not a lumberjack is common knowledge in Georgia . Of course, nobody is
trying to claim the opposite. As for the popularization of chess in Russia
and Bulgaria, we can not comment on this, but we can say what he has done
in this respect in Georgia – his speeches, rude addresses, fake statements,
we believe, lowered the prestige that chess and Georgian chess players
had in Georgia – if you look at the newspaper articles, interviews
of chess players and chess-lovers, you can clearly see this.
As for the possibility of organizing the Word Championship in Georgia
– in our letter we stressed the fact, that Georgian Government was
ready to hold it in Tbilisi and even provided 700 000 USD for its organization.
But for some reasons, it seems, this idea did not appeal to Azmaiparashvili
– we hope that if you ask him he could provide you with the reasons
why he would not accept this proposal top hold Championship in Tbilisi.
As for the idea of ‘thanking’ Abashidze, there is only one
thing left that we could dream of , that Osama bin Laden becomes interested
in the organization of chess tournaments. It’s a pity that neither
Saddam Hussein nor Pablo Escobar can join him.
And finally, we would like to address FIDE: publish our letters too, otherwise
FIDE website looks more like a ‘one man show'.
Why were they silent in Prague? (ChessBase News, 14.06.2004)
- ACP protest
against FIDE world championship (ChessBase News, 29.05.2004)
League, Seirawan, Levy, Keene (ChessBase News, 25.05.2004)
- USCF, Israeli
GM protest FIDE decisions (ChessBase News, 10.05.2004)
- FIDE says
Israelis can play in Libya (ChessBase News, 07.05.2004)
- World Championship
in Libya – for all participants! (ChessBase News, 28.04.04)
invited to Libyan chess games (Washington Times, 28.04.04)
Invites Israel to International Chess Competition (Israel Ministry of
chess team invited to Libya (Jerusalem Post, 28.04.04)
- Libya invites
Israel to international chess competition (Haaretz, 28.04.04)
chess team invited to Libya (IsraelInsider, 29.04.2004)