Kasparov to FIDE: Enough is enough

1/18/2005 – After over two and a half frustrating years and four postponed or cancelled matches, Garry Kasparov announces his exit from the 2005 FIDE world championship. "It is time to reclaim my life," Kasparov said, as he halted negotiations with FIDE over his match with Rustam Kasimdzhanov – after more deadlines had passed. Here is Kasparov's statement.

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Garry Kasparov has informed FIDE and the Turkish Chess Federation today that he is no longer available for the 2005 FIDE World Chess Championship which was tentatively scheduled for April 25th to May 14th in Istanbul, Turkey. We received Kasparov’s statement from his home in Moscow.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Moscow - January 18, 2005

In 2002 I joined with FIDE in Prague to try and unify the world championship. Over the past two and a half years, unification matches have been scheduled four times and each time the deadlines have come and gone while the financial guarantees were ignored.

Four times I have put my life on hold to schedule three months for preparation, play, and recuperation. The loss of earnings is easy to understand, but the hidden damage is psychological. These postponed and cancelled events have been deeply unsettling to me both professionally and personally. Our global chess federation has rarely thought enough to even keep me informed, let alone compensate me financially or even apologize for these repeated frustrations.

I called a halt to negotiations last night, but resentment at my treatment by FIDE has been building for the past three months. My life has been totally disrupted for two and a half years thanks to this on-again, off-again match and I must go on without this constant interference.

Perhaps the last straw was watching the Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee currently underway in the Netherlands. I was forced to give up my invitation to play in this event when FIDE insisted that the match would take place in Dubai on conflicting dates. It breaks my heart to watch such a great event from the sidelines. It hurts me, and I believe chess is poorly served as well.

Some details might help clarify how I reached this state of exhaustion and disillusionment. In September 2004, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov publicly announced that he had the funds for my match with Rustam Kasimdzhanov to take place in Dubai in January 2005. It turned out that this was completely untrue.

At a press conference at the Russian Championship in Moscow two months later I told the media that there were no contracts, no financial guarantees, and that FIDE was giving disinformation. A FIDE official present loudly “whispered” that I was lying, a remark that made its way to ChessBase.com and the chess world. Needless to say, it turned out that the lies were solely on the FIDE side of the story and it speaks volumes about the organization that no apology to me was forthcoming and that this official is still working for FIDE.

I was concerned enough about the lack of tangible progress in organizing the match to write an open letter to the FIDE Congress in October 2004. The FIDE Presidential Board refused to read or circulate this letter at the Congress, apparently believing that no news was good news.

At that time the Turkish Chess Federation was ready to take over the championship organization. President Ali Nihat Yazici had considerable momentum and was ready to proceed with procuring sponsorship guarantees. But FIDE insisted on giving Dubai even more time, even though it had been independently verified that supposed sponsor, HH Sh. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was not going to fund the event and had never intended to.

Far too late, FIDE appointed the Turkish Chess Federation and work began in early December with deadlines looming. The first deadline passed on December 29th and more have passed since. As of today I have no contract with FIDE signed by either player, I have no financial guarantee, and I know from experience that drafting these documents can take considerable time.

I feel great sympathy for Mr. Nihat Yazici, an honorable man who has worked very hard on behalf of chess and on behalf of this match. I believe he may well have eventually come up with an acceptable form of guarantee, but I cannot wait any longer to reclaim control of my life. I will apologize to Ali and those in the Turkish government and business community assisting him and will do my best to lend a hand to Turkish chess in the future.

It’s not about money or winning the title; it’s about my disillusionment with the process and the others on which it depends. In 2002 I dreamed of a legitimate chance to revive – and reclaim – the real world championship title. That no longer seems to be possible. Even if by some miracle the match is held and I win, I would bear a great deal of responsibility and still have no opportunity to unify the title. FIDE has proven itself incapable of the task while others are unwilling.

As for unification, I cannot see an avenue to contribute further. For those who saw me as an obstacle, I will be one no longer. I am not giving up on chess. I will compete as well and as long as I am able to play my brand of chess. I will continue to serve chess and those who love our game. I have now held the #1 ranking for 20 years and I will defend my position against any opponent. My only retreat is from the battlefield of chess championship politics.

Garry Kasparov
Moscow – January 18, 2005

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