FIDE give Ponomariov 48-hour deadline

by ChessBase
8/26/2003 – The world chess federation has given its world champion Ruslan Ponomariov 48 hours to sign and fax an agreement to the conditions for his title match against Garry Kasparov, scheduled for September 18th in the Ukrainian city of Yalta. New: We have the FIDE release plus many links and translations of interviews with Ponomariov and Ilyumzhinov. Here..

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After several days of rumors and declarations made through the media, the first formal document regarding FIDE champion Ruslan Ponomariov's protests about the player contract for his upcoming title match with Garry Kasparov has emerged.

The bottom line: FIDE will make a declaration on the match on Thursday, Aug. 28 at noon. This effectively extends the Aug. 25 deadline to come to an agreement with Ponomariov.

Curiously the first document comes from FIDE and not from Ponomariov, who has been talking to the Ukrainian organizers and the sports media. This public campaign appears to have annoyed FIDE and confused the matter considerably. It may also illustrate a conflict of interest if the organizers of the match are seen to be favoring one of the players.

The first volley from the Ukrainian side was a report from Komarov with many quotes from Ponomariov's manager, Silvio Danailov. (Translation) This included several strong comments to the effect that FIDE was somehow favoring Kasparov in the match, but did not go into details.

Not to be outdone, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov replied in an interview (Russian) with another Russian paper yesterday. (English translation of the Ilyumzhinov interview in the ChessNinja message boards by Siberian. Other links and translations by Penguin, Fluffybunnyfeet, jackiechan, and other members are elsewhere in the same thread. Our thanks to all.)

Earlier, a report at said Ponomariov was ready to go to Ukrainian Prime Minister Kuchma and ask that he refuse to host the match. (Russian original, English from J.Marfia)

The document below clears things up as to where things stand now, at least from FIDE's side. It does not mention several other points of contention Ponomariov brought up in the papers, either because he has dropped them or because FIDE has ignored them. One was that Ponomariov wanted to keep his FIDE title until an eventual unification (with the winner of Kramnik-Leko) even if he lost this match with Kasparov.

According to FIDE the only remaining issues right now are: 1) Ponomariov wants the player contract amended to remove any mention of the right of FIDE to replace a player who is in breach of contract or match regulations. FIDE rejects this. 2) A free day was added to the original schedule to take place between the end of the 12 schedule games and a potential play-off day. Ponomariov wants this free day removed.

Below are the entire FIDE press release and a short statement from the Ukrainian Chess Federation, both presented today, August 26. Like FIDE, we have not received any statement from Ponomariov or his representatives.

Fide Response to the Statement by the Organising Committee of the Ponomariov-Kasparov World Chess Championship Match

Our attention has been drawn to the statements purportedly credited to the Organising Committee of the Ponomariov-Kasparov World Chess Championship match regarding the conditions which the World Champion wants FIDE to accept before he will agree to sign the players' agreement for the match.

The Organising Committee claimed in its statement that the four proposals of World Champion Ponomariov were officially sent to the FIDE President on 23 August 2003 without a written reply. For the avoidance of doubt, FIDE maintains that no official letter addressed to the FIDE President has been received in the Secretariat neither has one been sent from the Organisers to the FIDE President's office in Moscow. We can confirm that unofficially, the information from the Organisers was received in the office of the President of Kalmykia in Elista, but without any signatures on the document, which was not on the official letterhead of the Organising Committee, in which the four proposals of World Champion R. Ponomariov were enumerated.

In spite of this unofficial approach, FIDE communicated with the Manager of Mr. Ponomariov Mr. Silvio Danailov and the Organising Committee and informed them of FIDE's response to these four proposals, which is again highlighted below in this document. Meanwhile, World Champion R. Ponomariov has not communicated his requests officially to FIDE, neither has he signed his players' contract within the deadline stipulated by the Presidential Board.

FIDE believes as a matter of principle, that the Organising Committee for any of its matches for the World Chess Championship should not be seen to take sides on behalf of any of the players involved in the Championship. Therefore, it is unfortunate that the Yalta 2003 Organising Committee is seen to be taking sides with World Champion R. Ponomariov in a matter that is strictly between the player and FIDE.

While FIDE appreciates that this unfortunate situation may have a reason due to misunderstanding, it also has the feeling that this situation has created confusion for World Champion R. Ponomariov, therefore in a last effort to save the match the FIDE President has decided to grant a further extension until 1200 noon Thursday 28 August 2003 to World Champion R. Ponomariov to sign and fax his player's agreement to the FIDE Secretariat.

The FIDE Presidential Board at its recent meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, 17 August 2003 emphasised that its duty, in line with the Prague Agreement, is to protect the overall authority of FIDE with regard to the World Chess Championship title. Therefore, for principle reasons, FIDE is giving for the last time, the following answers to the proposals of World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, a process which it has fully documented since December 2002:

  1. With regard to the request of World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov for the exclusion from his contract of any reference to the possibility for FIDE to replace the players of the match, FIDE rejects this proposal. This is based on the grounds that should such a proposal be accepted FIDE would run the risk that the World Champion or indeed any of the players can hold it to ransom on any frivolous reason. FIDE maintains that it should be able to act whenever necessary and as a matter of principle, when any of the players is in fundamental breach of the contract or regulations for the match.

  2. FIDE welcomes the request of World Champion R. Ponomariov for the regulations for the World Chess Championship match as approved by the Presidential Board to be complied with. The only change is in the schedule for the match, where an extra free day is introduced in the event of the tie. This change, the basis of which has been communicated to World Champion R. Ponomariov and the Yalta Organising Committee, has been approved by the Presidential Board and is in line with the Regulations for the 2003 Ponomariov-Kasparov World Chess Championship match.

  3. With regard to the issue of the appointment of a Russian-speaking Arbiter, FIDE has already accepted that one of the Arbiters that the President will appoint shall be from the list of three nominees submitted by World Champion R. Ponomariov.

  4. FIDE understands and has already accepted that it is in the interest of fair play that the accredited laboratory for the anti-doping tests should be in a neutral country, not in Russia or the Ukraine.

In all of its negotiations with the players, FIDE has tried to maintain a fair balance between the two players. Contrary to the impression, which the recent statements have tried to portray, the FIDE leadership has accepted a lot of proposals of World Champion R. Ponomariov. At the same time, it has rejected nearly all of the proposals of Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who incidentally has signed his players' agreement without any conditions. We hope that if he really wants to play this match, World Champion R. Ponomariov will now proceed and sign his player's agreement without any further reservations.

For the avoidance of doubt, FIDE will insist that the hosting of any of its events shall be done with a strict sense of neutrality and fairness by the Organisers. Accordingly, FIDE shall demand that the hosting of the Ponomariov-Kasparov World Chess Championship match, starting 18 September 2003 in Yalta is done without any compromise of its principles of fairness to both players.

After the deadline of 12 noon Thursday 28 August 2003 the FIDE President shall issue a statement regarding the future of the Ponomariov-Kasparov World Chess Championship match.

Lausanne, 26 August 2003.

Declaration of the Ukrainian Chess Federation

We are deeply concerned by the situation surrounding the match R. Ponomariov-G.Kasparov. We are confident that FIDE on one hand, and R. Ponomariov, on the other hand, have not emptied all the possibilities to reach a fruitful compromise, moreover as the apple of the conflict are now the issues, which are certainly not of primary interest. We are sure that the parties can and should find here mutual understanding. In case the problems are used only as an excuse to cancel the match, the organisation of which is initiated by the President of the Ukraine, we demand to inform the chess community of real reasons. We offer to be mediator for the parties and we hope that this unproductive conflict shall be solved for the sake of chess development.

Gens Una Sumus.

V. Petrov
Ukrainian Chess Federation


Photo of Ponomariov by John Henderson, all rights reserved.

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