ACP World Cup: Kirsan speaks his mind

by ChessBase
1/5/2007 – The opening of the First ACP World Rapid Chess Cup in Odessa, Ukarine, was a festive affair, highlighted by a frank press conference in which FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov answered questions of journalists. These were mainly about computer cables, cheating and a Kramnik-Topalov rematch. Read all about it in Misha Savinov's report.

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First ACP World Rapid Chess Cup

This event is taking place in Odessa, Ukrainefrom January 4th to 8th 2007, in the Hotel Londonskaya. The total prize fund is US $136,000. 16 grandmasters are in this knockout tournament, with time control or 20 min + 5 sec.

The First World Rapid Cup under the aegis of the ACP started on January 4th 2007 in Odessa, Ukraine. Many interesting details are omitted this laconic piece of information. As you remember, the ACP’s main project, the Masters tournament, has been seeking a sponsoring partnership since 2004. The chess professionals failed to achieve this goal during the years of Joel Lautier’s presidency (not that it was his fault, of course), but can now rejoice as Pavel Tregubov managed to find an enthusiastic patron of intellectual challenges in general and chess in particular in Odessa.

The venue – Londonskaya hotel, which has been running since 1829

One of great hotel guests – Russian poet Sergey Esenin.
I was told that Lasker and Capablanca stayed there, too...

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his assistant Berik Balgabaev arrive

The opening ceremony, with Ilyumzhinov and Viktor Korchnoi in the first row

A festive violin recital

A lot of faces to recognize: Morozevich, Bareev, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Nakamura

More faces for eagle-eyes: Shirov, Naiditsch, Sokolov, Bacrot, Carolyn and her son Hikaru Nakamura, Smirin, Rublevsky, Sofia and Peter Leko.

The banker Vadim Morokhovsky, whose recent sponsoring résumé include organizing the Geller Memorial and Odessa-Istanbul chess cruise, became the ACP’s partner. I am planning on organizing an interview with Mr. Morokhovsky during the event – the world of chess should know its heroes.

Vadim Morokhovsky presents the special prize for the winner

The World Rapid Cup prize with Svarowski stones

Odessa is a city of rich chess tradition. The city produced one player of world caliber, Yefim Geller, but many of those born in Odessa are quite well known to the chess fans: Tukmakov, Alburt, Eingorn, Podgaets, Belakovskaya to name just a few. In 2006, Yury Drozdovsky, a young grandmaster from Odessa, won the European rapid championship. Maybe this is not much of an achievement, if one considers the predominantly Polish lineup of the event. But the same Drozdovsky shone in the Corsican events this autumn, winning one of the Circuit tournaments ahead of a much stronger field. The idea of the tradition continuing is supported by seeing obvious media interest in the event, as well as a nice flow of spectators of all ages, mostly young.

The timing was selected in order to make use of one of the few remaining blank spots in chess calendar, and attract all major grandmasters eligible to play (via the ACP Tour). To my personal regret, the world’s strongest players, Anand and Kramnik, declined the invitation. One understands, of course, that the Wijk is coming, but I don’t believe the idea to support fellow chess professionals and new serious sponsors, fighting for USD 40,000 in process is so unbearable...

The press center is located in the hotel bar

Ilyumzhinov press conference

January 4th was the day of carol singing and press conferencing. The latter started at 5 p.m. with the joint press conference of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who arrived specially for the event, and the host, Vadim Morokhovsky. In his welcoming speech, the FIDE President was very nice about the organizers, praising their efforts in promoting chess and including it into school curriculum (as optional subject), which is planned for some schools in Odessa in the next academic year, with PIVDENNY bank sponsoring support. I will quote a couple of Kirsan’s press conference Q&As.

A press meeting of two presidents: Morokhovsky and Ilyumzhinov

Journalists recording everything that is said by the FIDE president

Question: Silvio Danailov wrote that he sent the World Chess Championship challenge to Mr. Kramnik. Did FIDE receive it, and what would be your commentary on the issue?

Ilyumzhinov: Yes, in December 2006 we received the challenge, proposing to conduct the match in Sofia. Everything was done according to our regulation, except there was no appropriate bank guarantee. The required amount in $1,500,000, and we are waiting for it. Upon receiving the guarantee, we will consider our future steps.

Question: Could you comment on recent accusations made by Mr. Topalov in his recent interview to the ABC?

Ilyumzhinov: [to give the core of very lengthy answer, full of reminiscences of the crisis] If you break open a wall, any wall, you’ll find tubes, cables, metal works, etc. After the wall in the toilet room was demolished everything inside and around it was thoroughly examined, and all parties signed the protocol stating that the issue is cleared and all complaints are recalled. The papers are in the FIDE office in Elista. Regarding Mr. Topalov’s words, that they stayed in Elista and kept playing just for the sake of getting their share of money – I think he is simply misinforming the audience. The money, naturally, was not in Elista, not in Moscow, not even in Russia. A significant part of it had been given to both parties involved before the match started, while the remaining for both players amount was kept in the Credit Suisse Bank. I think this is a solid and trustworthy bank. However, I heard that Mr. Danailov denied that the interview actually took place. So the situation is rather unclear for me.

Berik Balgabaev, Kirsan’s assistant, and Yelena Korobkova, PIVDENNY bank press officer

Peter Leko and Ivan Sokolov in vigorous discussion

Question: What is going to change with Bessel Kok coming in charge of the World Championship cycle?

Ilyumzhinov: Before the elections in Turin we agreed with my then-rival Bessel Kok that no matter who wins, the other contender will cooperate with the winner in promoting chess. Bessel Kok is a well-known organizer with good reputation, and I think his talents and business ties will boost sponsorship for chess. We are planning on modernizing the cycle, making it more dynamic and financially attractive, and we are keeping constant contact with the players consulting about this matter.

Kirsan also said that FIDE plans to lower the rating limit of those included into the rating list to 1000, something they are going to do really soon. In the slightly more distant future FIDE will start to count all kinds of tournaments, including rapid and blitz.

Kirsan in his element

I hope after the interview (sorry: the press conference) is transcribed and translated into English, it will be available in a full version at the official website of the World Rapid Cup. The pictures will tell more about the remaining part of the evening – opening ceremony and drawing of lots.

Look up for more news from Odessa!
Misha Savinov

First round schedule

13.00: Sokolov-Leko
15.15: Rublevsky-Naiditsch
17.30: Smirin-Shirov
19.45: Gelfand-Nakamura
13.00: Harikrishna-Morozevich
15.15: Radjabov-Bareev
17.30: Bologan-Bacrot
19.45: Ivanchuk-Amonatov


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