Open letter to Vladimir Kramnik
Dear World Champion!
Congratulations on a magnificent and hard fought victory and in particular on playing a masterpiece in game 14 against a challenger whose powers were seemingly growing by the day and who appeared nearly invincible. Game 14 is a masterpiece of controlled aggression which will go down in history not just as a superlative specimen of chess art but also as a worthy successor to the games Lasker-Schlechter (10) 1910 and Kasparov-Karpov (24) 1987, the only other examples of a champion saving his title in the very last game.
The point of this note, however, is to express my absolute support and admiration for your stance towards the reunification of the chess title. Having seen your recent interview I agree with you that the Prague concordat has not been fulfilled by FIDE. You are, therefore, under no contractual obligation to continue dealing with them. I further agree that any attempted form of unification which ignores the recent outstanding tournament form of former challenger Vishy Anand would be regarded with derision by the public at large. I also agree that the rights of former FIDE champion Ponomariov should be respected.
Therefore your suggestion that the FIDE challenger to your title should be determined by a multi round quadrangular competition between Kasparov, Anand, Ponomariov and Khasimdzhanov is not only fair but seen to be fair and respects the rights of all possible challengers. Furthermore it is a matter of great simplicity for FIDE to alter the projected Kasparov v Khasimdzhanov match format to include Anand and Ponomariov in the line up. Any of the invited players who refused to enter such a qualifier would have only themselves to blame.
Congratulations on proposing a format which safeguards the rights of all concerned
and in particular protects the position of Vishy Anand, without whom any challenge
cycle would be dismissed by world opinion as meaningless. This was a great
and generous gesture on your part to ensure the strongest possible challenge
against yourself, and I trust FIDE will respond appropriately.
Ray Keene, IGM, Officer of the British Empire
Organiser World Chess Championships 1986, 1993, 2000
Chess correspondent for the Times, Sunday Times, Spectator and International Herald Tribune
Raymond Keene, chess organizer and businessman, was instrumental in setting up the current chess situation. Keene initiated the original Garry Kasparov-Nigel Short phone contacts in 1993 when Florencio Campomanes announced the Manchester venue for their world championship match without consulting the players. This conversation led to the split between Kasparov and FIDE. Keene staged the Kasparov-Short match in 1993 and the Kasparov-Kramnik world championship in 2000. He also designed the Dortmund Qualifier of 2002. In August 2002 he gave us his view on the current situation of world chess in an exclusive article (Keene speaks out).
So Kramnik refuses to play the winner of Kasparov vs Kasimdzhanov for the reunification title. Is this news? Not at all. It was predicted as long ago as 1563 by Nostradamus, in his "Epistle to Ruy Lopez". Only two originals of this Epistle are known to be extant, one that Nostradamus kept for himself, now in the Treasury at the Vatican, and the one he sent to Lopez, which has been handed down through the centuries from one world leading player to another. After passing from Saint-Amant to Staunton, as agreed in a confidential codicil to the contract for their match in 1843, the Englishman refused to part with it to Morphy, even when was clear in the 1850s that Morphy was by far the stronger player. Staunton argued that, because he had not actually lost a match to Morphy, there was no reason why he, Staunton, should accept Morphy as the world's champion.
Staunton's refusal to pass on the Epistle created so much bad feeling within the upper echelons of the chess world that Staunton was vilified in a New York newspaper and promptly went into a huff. He then deposited the document in his bank vault, where it remained until his death. It was bequeathed to the British Museum, along with some of Staunton's letters, where it resides to this day. I was fortunate enough to come across the Epistle when researching the "Oxford Encyclopaedia of Chess Games" some 25 years ago, and I had it translated into English. It was then that I learned the exact course of the World Chess Championship title for the foreseeable future.
At first I resolved never to tell anyone what was in the Nostradamus Epistle. I was afraid that some unscrupulous person might make use of this information to gain an unfair advantage by betting on the outcomes of World Championship matches. But now I feel I have no choice. So remarkable have been Nostradamus' chessic predictions up to now, even predicting Leko's loss in the 14th game against Kramnik, that I have decided to share with the chess world, in advance, the news of when and how Kramnik and Kasparov will play a match for the reunification of the World Chess Championship title. The chronology according to Nostradamus, from the year 2005 onwards, looks like this:
2005 Kasparov plays Kasimdzhanov match in Dubai, for a purse of $1.2 million, for the right to play Kramnik and reunify the WC title. Kasparov wins.
2005 FIDE President Ilyumzhinov announces Kasparov vs Kramnik reunification match to take place in Dubai in December 2005 for a purse of $2.5 million. Also announces that if either player refuses to sign the match contract within 30 days he loses his right to play and will be replaced by the highest available player in the FIDE rating list. Kasparov signs. Kramnik refuses to sign, saying he wants to play the winner of a 4-player tournament with Kasparov, Anand, Kasimdzhanov and Ponomariov. Ilyumzhinov agrees to Kramnik's proposal, in the interest of bringing peace to world chess. Kasparov also agrees. Anand agrees. Ponomariov's lawyer sues FIDE on the basis that Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov have both held the FIDE WC title since the Prague agreement was signed but Anand has not. Leko's lawyer announces that if Ponomariov wins the case, thereby eliminating Anand, Leko will sue FIDE unless he is given the fourth spot in the tournament.
2006 Ilyumzhinov re-elected President of FIDE.
2010 Ilyumzhinov re-elected President of FIDE.
2011 Law suit ends. Ponomariov's lawyer wins. Anand's lawyer announces immediate appeal.
2014 Ilyumzhinov re-elected FIDE President.
2016 Anand's lawyer wins appeal. Tournament start date set for January 2017.
2016 Kasimdzhanov's lawyer launches suit against FIDE for an increase in the prize fund of the tournament on the grounds of inflation.
2018 Ilyumzhinov re-elected FIDE President.
2019 Kasimdzhanov's lawyer wins case. Dubai withdraws as sponsor, claiming poverty due to the collapse in the price of oil since electric cars were made mandatory as part of the Kyoto Accord renewal.
2022 Ilyumzhinov re-elected FIDE President on a platform of guaranteeing to provide a higher prize fund for the qualifying tournament from his own pocket.
2023 Deeper Blue computer wins FIDE WC. Programmers demand that Deeper Blue be included in qualifying tournament, increasing number of players to five.
2024 Kramnik announces his refusal to play the winner of the tournament unless the computer is allowed to compete, and then only if the tournament winner is not the computer. Lawyers representing Anand and Ponomariov commence suit against Kramnik on the grounds that he had already agreed to play the winner of the 4-way tournament. Kramnik's lawyer announces that this was before the prize fund had been increased and so now it was a completely different situation - the increase in prize fund for the tournament created new circumstances under which Kramnik was legally and morally free to change his mind.
2026 Ilyumzhinov re-elected FIDE President.
2027 Bobby Fischer wins FIDE WC, playing by e-mail from his prison cell in Sing-Sing, New York state. Fischer demands place in qualifying tournament. FIDE insist Fischer must be present for all games if he is to be permitted to take part. Ponomariov's lawyer launches injunction proceedings against FIDE to prevent any change in the rules that would compel his client to play games in prison. Injunction successful.
2028 Deeper Blue barred from qualifying tournament by vote of FIDE General Assembly.
2029 Kramnik's lawyer loses case against Anand and Ponomariov. Ilyumzhinov announces tournament to start in Elista in March 2030, on first day of FIDE General Assembly.
2030 Ilyumzhinov defeated for FIDE Presidency by Mikhail Kramnik, Vladimir's son, who promptly postpones start of qualifying tournament until May 2035.
2034 Mikhail Kramnik re-elected FIDE President. Announces that Ilyumzhinov is no longer willing to bankroll prize fund of qualifying tournament. Start date for tournament postponed indefinitely until a new sponsor is found. All FIDE World Champions since 2005 launch a "class action" lawsuit against FIDE, insisting on their rights to be allowed to participate in the tournament.
2038 Mikhail Kramnik re-elected FIDE President.
2042 Mikhail Kramnik defeated for FIDE Presidency by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who wins by a landslide on his 80th birthday.
2043 Kasparov celebrates 80th birthday in FIDE's "Caissa Retirement Home", Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
2045 Vladimir Kramnik celebrates 70th birthday in FIDE's "Caissa Retirement Home", Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
2046 Vladimir Kramnik plays Kasparov a 24 game match for the Caissa Retirement Home Chess Championship. Classical time control. Electronic aids allowed. Prize is a trophy and a lobster dinner. Match drawn. Ilyumzhinov announces this as the reunification of the World Chess Championship title, with both players as co-champion.
David was Ray's brother-in-law and close business associate for decades. They fell out over the foundation by Keene of an organisation called "Brain Games" to supercede a company owned by both which was called "Mind Sports". Brain Games took over the world championship cycle that organised the Kasparov vs Kramnik match in December 2000, without David Levy's involvement. David hasn't spoken to Keene for 4 years, 2 months and 27 days.
Michael Sigal, Palos Estates, California USA
The fact that Kramnik managed to draw his match against Leko is developing into a tragedy for chess. He is clearly afraid to play Kasparov, and will use every available excuse to avoid the match. In my opinion, that is exactly what he has been doing for the last four years, using various legal excuses. Kramnik did not earn the right to play Kasparov in 2000, and his rating reflects his relatively low results. He has made himself irrelevant, and at this point many chess players do not care what Mr. Drawnik says or does. In my opinion, if Kramnik refuses to play the winner of the Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match or makes unreasonable demands, we should just ignore him. He is not a real champion anyway, never has been.
Fernando Lisboa Morena, São Paulo-Brazil
Seems to me that Kramnik is going to make harder the way of his next opponent. That is not new, everybody knows he is playing against the rules he helped to set on. As for me, the point is that by changing his words his character doesn't seem so good anymore! I suggest you to ask people about Kramnik last stand on the unification. Is he an opportunist or just afraid of losing to Kasparov?
Martin Huber, Berlin, Germany
Regarding the accuracy of your reporting, you write: "According to the Prague Unity Agreement the winners of Kramnik- Leko and Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov should play for the unified world championship title." This phrase is blatantly false as becomes clear when we compare it to your own account of the Prague agreement: "The Dortmund winner will play the Classical World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik and the present FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov will play Garry Kasparov, the current World's number one rated player." Kasimdzhanov simply isn't in the same position as Ponomariov was back then. This is what Yasser Seirawan had to say (again on your own website) about the scandalous Tripoli tournament in his open letter to Kasparov: "If we are all truly interested in restoring credibility to the World Championship title we must agree that having you play the winner of the Tripoli knockout event is against all the rules of fairness and of sport. Most of the world’s top ten players will not compete; Israeli and other Jewish players are to be barred. Tripoli is shaping up disastrously. It is obvious what concrete steps have to be taken." Please take note of the factual errors in your report and correct them.
Derek W. Jones, Aylesbury, England
Kramnik's new "plan" seems designed to ensure the non-participation of Kasparov, or at least to delay it whilst Kasparov grows older. Presumably the suggested inclusion of Anand, Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov in a match tournament is on the grounds that they have all been FIDE champions. If so, why is Khalifman not included? And if Kramnik thinks so little of FIDE and the title of FIDE world champion, why is he trying to dictate to FIDE a way forward centered on FIDE champions. It is for FIDE to determine the FIDE representative in a reunification match, not Kramnik.
Rajko Vujatovic, London, England
Kramnik knows he'll get slaughtered if a reinvigorated Kasparov gets thru to play him. And is just playing chicken. The resourceful Kasimdzhanov will also have a good chance against Kramnik, so Kramnik is just playing for time, creating divisions to try to extend his tenure as long as possible. If Kramnik refuses the Prague Agreement, he has lost all pretence to any claim of being a champion. Why has he only now made public that he doesn't want to complete the reunification cycle!? In my view, Kramnik was never a true champion – he beat an out-of-form Kasparov, and refused a rematch as is traditional for the classical world championship.
Bryan Mosher, USA
Why is he so afraid of defending his title against Kasparov?
Pete Bias, Lakeland Florida, USA
If Kramnik backs out of the reunification process now, I'll have to put him into Fischer's favorite category: "one of the lowest dogs around." Just quit complaining and play the match!
Samuel Stolpe, Alexandria, VA, USA
Like any devoted fan, I obsessively followed the recent Kramnik-Leko match. And I was very pleased to see that it was so well-contested! How wonderful for the whole world to watch Kramnik press ferociously as Leko defends with his seemingly supernatural resources. We like to see who is going to come out on top! That being the case, it was very disappointing for many people to read Kramnik's statement regarding his proposed "mini tournament". It is obvious to everyone in the chess world what is going on in the head of our friend Kramnik: is he not avoiding another match with Kasparov? Kramnik hasn't been his 2800 self these days. So why not have a tournament? Maybe Kasparov won't win it and Kramnik can avoid the grudge match. Yes, Kramnik, I'm callin' you a chicken.
Robert Thomas, London, England
Kramnik's comments are deeply disturbing and appear to be a delaying tactic before meeting Kasparov. Kasparov is not getting any younger and does not have time on his side. The whole chess world wants to see the rematch with a reunification. Kramnik, stop this nonsense and let's play the chess you agreed.
C. Townsdin, Pullman, USA
This guy is so self centered! Kasparov was a much better World Champion then Kramnik. Kasparov continously worked to promote chess and wasn't solely out for his own self interest. He elevated the status of the game and constantly brought positive chess headlines to the public eye. Kramnik you should be ashamed! Don't try to screw up the reunification matches for your own self interest. The chess world needs the reunification so badly for it's very survivial!
Ruggero, Milan, Italy
Kramnik's statements astounded me, I'm so mad at him I'm not even sure I can write properly. How can he dare throwing away years of work for reunification?! He is scared, he is spoiled, he wants more money? WE DON'T CARE! Chess needs a single champion, just cut the crap and get it done! FIDE was invented for the very purpose of cutting down with vicious behaviours like not allowing rematches or trying to chose one's contender. I hate Kramnik now! He doesn't even deserve the little credit he would have had he spoken out this opinion before the match with Leko. Raise your voice chess people and help erase reigning dumbness.