Election 2006: could Topalov be excluded from the next cycle?

by ChessBase
4/20/2006 – Recently FIDE announced a match between the classical chess and FIDE world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. Presidential candidate Bessel Kok, who initiated the reunification process back in 2002, has directed a number of pertinent questions to FIDE, e.g. is this a FIDE or Kirsan match, and will Topalov be excluded from the next cycle if he loses?

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So after a long time it appears that FIDE has finally addressed the reunification match between the Classical World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and the current FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov. Whether it was purely the forthcoming election which has goaded the normally inert FIDE to move into action, is not yet clear, but it is certainly one of the biggest sources of criticism levied against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's performance as current President of FIDE.

The five "K"s: Kramnik, Kirsan, Kasparov, Karpov, with Bessel Kok (standing) in Prague, during the Eurotel tournament in May 2002.

The catalyst of the Prague agreement in 2002, Bessel Kok has been contacted by a large number of people who see this as purely an electoral ploy, a last attempt to try and convince people that FIDE has really been working to achieve this. Whilst it is ironic that on the non-FIDE side, Kramnik had maintained all the promises of the Prague agreement and played his match against Leko, on the FIDE side we had to change world champions from Ponomariov to Kasimdzhanov to Topalov, losing also the top world player Garry Kasparov along the way, thanks to FIDE's inertia.

Bessel has given a statement to the press which we are reproducing below outlining his reactions to the announcements and also the questions that remain unanswered...

A new chance for reunification or just another dream?

By Bessel Kok

Over the last few days, I have been flooded with telephone calls and electronic messages asking me to comment on the recently announced match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. I was aware that Joel Lautier had been working on this and I must thank him and anybody else who worked hard for this reunification match.

My initial reaction was of great joy for the players as well as for the whole chess world! At long last the possibility exists for a match to be played, thereby resolving the split that has been in force for the eleven year duration of Ilyumzhinov’s administration.

Presidential candidate Bessel Kok

It was four long years ago that I hosted a conference in Prague. My goal was to heal the split besieging the chess world and resolve the impasse. The conference resulted in the Prague Agreement, that bound the parties to a unification match in … 2003!

After re-reading the announcement I began to worry as important details were missing. What are the conditions and rules under which this match will be played? Does the FIDE consider this to be the final outcome of the Prague Agreement? Or is this match merely a response to Ilyumzhinov’s announcement that anyone possessing a 2700 rating has the possibility to challenge the World Champion? Alternatively, is it to be a friendly match only?

Further worrying concerns are raised in case Vladimir Kramnik wins the match. If the match is for the official World Championship, would he then participate in the 2007 Championships? If the answer is yes, this raises a new question: According to the rules of the current cycle, Veselin Topalov, the number one rated player would be out of the 2007 Championship.

Is it smart or is it stupid that the highest rated player in the world could be potentially excluded? Wouldn’t such a circumstance put the validity of the 2007 Championship in doubt? Who is responsible for creating rules that discourage unification by excluding the strongest players from competing in future Championship events?

FIDE should not give the impression that the electoral gain of announcing this match prevails over the need for correct and adequate information, especially for the other top Grandmasters. Is the match to be sponsored by Ilyumzhinov or another source? Would the match be played if I were to win the FIDE Presidential election in Turin in June? Has the prize money been transferred to the FIDE accounts insuring the match will be played regardless of the election outcome?

Once again, I am delighted that Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik can contest a match but the FIDE must communicate all details of the event; address the questions made above; confirm that the financing has been properly secured; that the players have signed an agreement and last but not least that the chess world will not suffer another disappointment.

Bessel Kok

Source: Right Move web site

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