'I have lost $150,000'

6/12/2003 – The FIDE world championship match, originally scheduled for June 2003 in Buenos Aires, has been postponed. World champion Ruslan Ponomariov is not at all happy with the situation. In an interview he complains bitterly about the time and energy – not to mention money – he has spent in fruitless preparation. Also about lack of respect in dealings with him. Here's a transcript of the interview.

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FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov has held a press-conference regarding his canceled match with Kasparov, together with his lawyer Grigoriy Ginsburg. The bottom line is he is very upset that the match was canceled and wants compensation from Ilumzhinov. The following translation was provided by "penguin_with_visor" on the Chess Ninja message board.

Ponomariov: I was very well prepared for my match with Kasparov and thought I had good chances to win against the Russian [Kasparov]. Unfortunately at the last moment FIDE announced the postponment of the match till the Fall. I find this decision more than strange. I think an internatonal federation should bear full responsibility for the cancelation of the match because too much of my energy and time had been spent preparing for it. And just when I was at the peak of my form, some bureaucratic decision essentially meant that all my work was wasted.

Question: What responsibility should FIDE carry?

Ponomariov: Speaking in legal terms we are talking about both moral and financial damages. There were no force-majeur circumstances for the postponment of the match. We prepared an official letter specifying all our concerns in this matter.

Question: How do you estimate the financial damage?

Ponomariov: $150,000.

Question: Have you received any explanation regarding the postponment?

Ponomariov: Only general remarks about the currently unstable economic situation in the world. Then they (FIDE) tried to put all the blame on the Argentinian organizers, with whom they could not agree about the conditions of the match. But on the 12th of February during the signing of the agreement in Moscow, and then once again in March during the FIDE Council in Bucharest FIDE officials assured us that all organizational problems had been solved.

Question: Could it be that the Argentinian organizers let FIDE down by first declaring their readiness and then announcing that they could not collect the requruired amount?

Ponomariov: Well, in general, under the guidelines of FIDE, any candidate for the organization of the match should first present bank guarantees and calculate the budget of the match, as well as present exact sources of financial backing. I think these procedures were observed when FIDE chose Argentina.

Question: Have you recently spoken to Ilumzhinov personally?

Ponomariov: Last time I spoke with Ilumzhinov was on February 12 in Moscow. After that he never replied to my written questions, and all the documentation I had received was signed by his executive director Omuku. All that despite the fact that we agreed in Bucharest that we were going to sign the official protocol regarding my participation in the Buenos Aires match. In general, I think Ilumzhinov has shown great disrespect towards me. I, the FIDE champion, personally direct my questions to him, yet the answers come from his aides. Even the president of the Ukraine finds time to personally meet with me because he understands how important the title of world champion is for me and the country as a whole.

Question: Has any other player expressed his opinion about the current situation?

Ponomariov: I don't know about Kasparov's reaction, although I would like to hear from him what he thinks about the whole affair. First of all, because Garry Kimovich is a very respected player, and secondly because I have to play him. Other players have not spoken out yet.

Question: Could it be that we need a chessplayers' trade union that would protect the rights of players independently of the organization they play in?

Ponomariov: If the international chess federation can't organize a proper championship, then why have such an organization? Thats why we now hear people talk about creating an alternative to FIDE body.

Question: How did recent events change your calendar?

Ponomariov: After the tournament in Leon I was planning to fly directly to Argentina to get used to the climate. Now there is total confusion. I am not aware of a exact date of my match with Kasparov. FIDE said either October or November, and that the venue will be not Buenos Aires, but more likely the capital of Uruguay – Montevideo. Under these circumstances it's impossible to create a meaningful preparation plan for me. I must be at the peak of my form when I play Kasparov.

Question: What is more important for you – unification of chess or the match exactly with Kasparov?

Ponomariov: I spent too much time and effort on my preparation and now must prove that I can a worthy opponent to Kasparov.

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