I don’t know how many times I have said to myself that it makes no sense at all to keep getting involved in chess politics and that I should just concentrate on my work etc. But the recent FIDE “developments” possibly made many late great champions turn in their graves. That means the living chess players should speak out.
According to the Russian totally non-free chess journalist Yuri Vasiliev (fortunately not the most reliable one whom we know for bringing up the ghost of Alexander Chernenko) Ilyumzhinov has already stated* that Vasily Ivanchuk might get severely sanctioned for the doping test refusal after his game against Gata Kamsky.
Can we believe such news? A player who has been in the very top for more than twenty years since winning New York Open in the beginning of 1988, an absolute record from currently active players, gets banned simply because he wanted to calm down after a lost game? Boris Spassky has already given his opinion about the situation, but it’s not published anywhere. Suddenly Ilyumzhinov wants to say that the rules are the rules.
But the rules don’t seem legal to me unfortunately. IOC has never guaranteed that chess would become the Olympic sport, so the FIDE policy in licking their posterior is at least questionable. After the success of Intellectual games festival in Beijing it’s time to STOP trying to get into the Olympic movement. I personally feel guilty for participating in the Olympic exhibition in Sydney 2000, but at least then it seemed that the chessplayers were going to be welcome with open heart. As it hasn’t happened we have our way and we cannot lose our best representatives like this.
If FIDE and Ilyumzhinov don’t stop destroying our intellectual sport something should be done. At least step by step. I hope Mr. Hans-Arild Runde would not mind to keep calculating Ivanchuk’s results, so any organizers who still respect our game should deal with him and no longer give the official rating reports to FIDE. In fact the rating reports are generated automatically nowadays, but somebody should still control that they are not changed by cancelling results.
The second part of this press-release will include some of my thoughts about the latest changes (nothing unusual, of course) in the World Championship system. Of course, with Ivanchuk ban the whole system loses its sense but there is still a chance that his case will be resolved. In fact I don’t think the idea of the Candidates tournament is as negative as some people think, adding the second place in the Grand Prix and the World Cup is a nice compensation for changing the format as long as the tournament is attractive for players and chess lovers. But giving the direct seed to the loser of Topalov-Kamsky match seems totally senseless as long as the player can prove his strength in the next World Cup or qualify by rating. He should be replaced by the second highest rated player in my opinion. Unfortunately this opinion cannot even theoretically be supported by the ACP board as one of their leading forces, Emil Sutovsky, is the manager of Kamsky and the most of the rest are his cronies!
Ok, time to stop writing. Let others express their opinions on this FIDE news.
* Yuri Vasiliev's report in Sport Express: "Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said that Vassily Ivanchuk could face a two-year ban, and also that all his games at the Olympiad would be annulled. This could cost Ukraine the Gaprindashvili Trophy, which they won for the best combined male-female team score." Interestingly in the original it says literally that Ivanchuk "is threatened with" a two-year ban, but his games "will be" annulled. We do not know whether the difference in tense is significant.