FIDE vs Ponomariov – the battle rages on

1/13/2003 – FIDE is putting the screws on their world champion Ruslan Ponomariov. They want him to sign an agreement to play against Garry Kasparov as part of the reunification plan. But the young champion is balking. We bring you some new documents on the "negotiations", including full regulations of the World Championship Match 2003.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


On January 9th FIDE set an ultimatum (until January 10!) for Ruslan Ponomariov to sign a contract to play the world's top-rank player Garry Kasparov as as part of the reunification plan agreed in Prague. If the FIDE champion did not sign the agreement by that date, then it was threatened he would be replaced by runner-up Vassily Ivanchuk. This would mean that Kasparov would play Ivanchuk, and the winner would face the winner of Kramnik vs Leko in a unification title match.

Ponomariov is currently playing in the Corus Wijk aan Zee tournament (as is incidentally Vassily Ivanchuk), has so far has strictly refused to sign the contract he received from FIDE, citing a number of problems in the document. The Ukrainian Chess Federation has backed Ponomariov's position, saying it was necessary to conduct normal negotiations between all sides in order to accept the compromise and, most importantly, objective solution.

Now Ukrainian Chess Online has published an open letter by Ruslan Ponomariov, of which we now have a translation (see below – our thanks to Joanne Pittaway and Rune Normann for their speedy translation efforts). The same site has also published a letter that was sent to Ponomariov by FIDE on December 29, 2002, requiring his agreement with the terms within two days. Apparently both ultimatums have passed without the threats being carried out.

The Corus web site reports Ponomariov as saying: "Yesterday I was tired, because FIDE is constantly pressing me [FIDE representatives Azmaiparashvili and Makropoulos (see picture) are present in Wijk aan Zee]. Today, I tried to concentrate on a game of classical chess against Vladimir Kramnik!" Later Ponomariov issued a statement in which he declared that, although he supports the agreement of Prague, he still has nothing on paper from FIDE about his rights and obligations concerning the upcoming world championship. Ponomariov insists that he needs such a document because verbal agreements with FIDE have not proven too valuable in the past. Ponomariov thinks it is a disgrace that FIDE is pressing him to sign a contract for the cycle by means of an ultimatum that ends during the Corus Chess Tournament, since that distracts him from his games.

Here are the two documents: a. the December letter from FIDE and b. the full regulations of the World Chess Championship Match 2003.

Lausanne, 29 December 2002

World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov
GM Garry Kasparov

Dear Messrs Ponomariov and Kasparov,

Please find below the terms for the Kasparov-Ponomariov 2003 World Chess Championship match being held under the FIDE regulations as approved by the FIDE President.

The Regulations for the World Championship match, copies of which have already been made available to you and/or your Managers, was drawn up on the basis of the principles of the Prague Agreement as unanimously approved by the FIDE General Assembly at its recent meeting in Bled.

With the President's recent approval, in response to the wishes of both players, the World Chess Championship regulations shall contain with necessary modifications, the following terms and conditions:

1. The match shall be held after 15 June 2003 at a venue and date to be approved by FIDE.

2. The prize fund for the match is USD 1,000,000 and it is to be distributed as follows: 55% to the winner and 45% to the loser. In the event of a 6-6 tie, the prize fund shall be distributed on a 50-50 basis, irrespective of the outcome of the tie breaks.

3. The time control for the match shall be 40 moves in two hours followed by 20 moves in one hour and 15 minutes plus additional 30 seconds per move till the end of the game.

4. A schedule incorporating a rest day after every 2 rounds of play to replace the previous schedule.

Finally, should you find these terms acceptable and agree to play this World Championship match, kindly sign the declaration below and fax this page, to reach the FIDE Secretariat (fax no. +41 21 310 3905) not later than midnight 31 December 2002.

Yours sincerely,
Emmanuel Omuku
Executive Director

By accepting to play this Kasparov-Ponomariov World Chess Championship match, to be held under the FIDE regulations, I hereby subscribe to play the winner of the match between Leko and Kramnik in unification World Championship match to be approved by FIDE under and by virtue of the Prague Agreement unanimously approved by the 2002 FIDE General Assembly in Bled.


To the President of FIDE, Mr. Kirsan Illyuzhminov

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you about what took place at my meeting with the First Vice-President of FIDE, Mr. G. Makropoulos and Vice-President of FIDE Mr. Z. Azmaiparashvili. Unfortunately, despite repeated requests from both myself and the Ukrainian Chess Federation to let us examine the official minutes taken at the FIDE General Assembly in Bled (November 2002), regarding the agreement taken in Prague on the unification of the World Championship Cycle, we never got to see them. I think it is necessary that there should be a two-way agreement between myself, as Champion of the World, and FIDE on the participation in a unified match between Ponomariov and Kasparov. As we share the big responsibility of the unification of the World Championship, I call for strict observance of the generally-accepted international legal standards.

Unfortunately the details of the preceding FIDE plans remain unrealised. The official 2002 FIDE Grand-Prix tournament was cut short after two stages, in place of an agreed five. No match was organised between the FIDE champion and a computer program. There has been no clarity to the next cycle of the World Championship. For the time being it exists only as a non-ratified scheme for the Championship in 2003-2005.

Unfortunately, they did not consult with me, the FIDE Champion of the World, when drafting or signing the Prague Agreement. The meeting in Wijk-aan-Zee should have promoted further progress along the path to reunification. However, I call to your attention Mr President henceforth, that it is intolerable to take part in such negotiations whilst I am participating in an event.

For your part, I again confirm my adherence to the Prague agreement and participation in the forthcoming match with the official FIDE candidate, Mr Garry Kasparov.

Yours sincerely,
Champion of the World, Ruslan Ponomariov
Wijk-aan-Zee 12/01/03

Translator's note: I've translated it as literally as possible, because it was so hard to understand. It goes around in circles, and I'm not quite sure what he's trying to say. I think he is saying he'll agree to participate. But he does use the Russian subjective participle should have when writing about the meeting. In doing so, ordinarily, he's casting doubts over its effectiveness. -J.Pittaway

Proposal for the Regulations of the World Chess Championship Match 2003

1. Organization

1.1. The World Chess Championship Match between World Champion GM, R. Ponomariov and World highest rated player GM, G. Kasparov shall be organized in May of 2003.

1.2. Governing Body: the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

1.3. FIDE shall be responsible for overseeing the preparations, giving directions for all technical aspects related to chess and the Championships, as well as announcement of the dates and venues for the event. FIDE or its appointed Agency shall be responsible specifically for the Internet and electronic display system and all commercial aspects of the World Championships. In any event all commercial aspects including internet and TV coverage of the WCC shall be subject to a separate contract between FIDE or its appointed Agency and the sponsoring entity.

1.4. Sponsors shall guarantee a preferred prize fund of USD 1 500 000 or minimum prize fund of USD 1 000 000. In addition, over and above the sum reserved for the prize fund, FIDE shall also receive a guarantee for the sum equivalent to 20% of the prize fund as well as any agreed sums due to FIDE to cover other related costs of the World Championship match.

2. Selection of the Organizers.

2.1. FIDE shall immediately open a bidding procedure for the World Chess Championship Match, which will be held in May of 2003. By the 1st of February 2003, the bidding procedures shall be closed. By its next Presidential Board meeting of the same year, FIDE shall announce the Organizers and the selected venue(s) and any amendment or modification of regulations for the match.

2.2. Each applicant shall pay a non-refundable fee of USD 1, 000 to obtain the obligatory bidding form and the necessary information from the FIDE Secretariat. At any time, where the bidding procedure fails, the Presidential Board shall decide, where, when and how the Championship will be organized.

2.3. Each proposal shall contain the following particulars:

a. The proposed tournament venue;
b. The proposed prize fund in U.S. Dollars.
c. The proposed sum that will be due to FIDE being no less than 20% of the proposed prize fund.
d. Special rates for hotel rooms and meals for the participants, principals and journalists;
e. A statement that the applicant accepts all the demands made in these regulations;
f. The applicant's name, signatures and authentications;
g. Two bank guarantees shall be provided. One for the proposed prize fund comprising 20% of this sum and the other for the sum of USD 50,000 in respect of other obligations.
h. FIDE may exercise the right to reject any bid application if the conditions as stated in Article 2.8 below are not met or the financial offer is unsatisfactory;

2.4. Each proposal shall be accompanied by an invitation to at least one member of the World Chess Championship Committee (WCCC) to inspect the proposed venue and examine the other conditions, with all expenses paid by the bidder.

2.5. Each proposal shall be delivered sealed to the FIDE Secretariat within the framework announced by FIDE.

2.6. The FIDE President or his representative shall then open them at the appointed time and the details shall be published.

2.7. The FIDE Presidential Board shall decide which applicant shall be chosen. The decision reached shall be based on the following criteria, which are to be viewed as a whole:

a. Prize fund
b. Playing conditions
c.Providing visas to all players and officials.
d. Security assistance for all players and officials.
e. Chess activity both actual and potential in the country hosting the World Championship.
f. Media possibilities
g. Potential development of chess worldwide.
h. Climatic conditions during the period of the tournament
i. Taxation conditions in the hosting country in respect of the prize fund (if any), provided that the sum equivalent to 20% of the prize fund due to FIDE shall be net of tax.

2.8. After the Presidential Board has decided who shall be selected to organize the WCCM, the Organizers shall deposit, not later than one month before the start of the World Championship, in escrow, net and free of all taxes, with the FIDE bankers the full sums of money covering the prize fund, the additional sum equivalent to 20% of the prize fund due to FIDE and all costs related to FIDE as stipends, travel, full board and lodge and other administrative costs related to the Championship in accordance with a budget agreed between FIDE and the organisers. This shall be deposited into the FIDE bank, failing which the previous bank guarantees issued to FIDE namely 20% above of the proposed prize fund and USD 50,000 bank guarantees shall be forfeited to FIDE.

2.9. The Organizers shall invite two members of the World Chess Championship Committee (WCCC) to inspect and give consultation on the preparations. Travelling (business class if transcontinental) and accommodation costs are to be borne by the Organizers. The WCCC shall decide on the need for further inspections.

3. Playing Conditions:

3.1. Number of Games: 12 Game match.

3.2. Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours, followed by 20 moves in one hour, followed by 15 minutes plus 30 seconds for all moves (40/2h, 20/1h, 15m+30sec/all).

4. Conditions of Victory:

4.1. The winner of the match shall be the first player to score 6.5 or more points from a maximum of 12 games. In case of equal score (6-6) then tiebreaks as described in 5. (Tie breaks for the World Chess Championship Match) shall be decisive.

4.2. Schedule.

1st day: Opening Ceremony
2nd day: 1st game
3rd day: 2nd game
4th day: 3rd game
5th day: 4th game
6th day: Day off
7th day: 5th game
8th day: 6th game
9th day: 7th game
10th day: 8th game
11th day: Day off
12th day: 9th game
13th day: 10th game
14th day: 11th game
15th day: Day off
16th day: 12th game
17th day: Tie-break/closing ceremony

4.3. Drawing of colours shall be done during the Opening Ceremony.

4.3.1. The Organizers, in consultation with the FIDE President, may vary the schedule.

5. Tie breaks for the World Chess Championship Match:

5.1. If the scores are level after the regular games, after a new drawing of colours, four (4) tie break games shall be played with 25 minutes on the clock and additional 10 seconds per move from move one for each player.

5.2. If the scores are level after the games in paragraph 5.1. then, after a new drawing of colours, 2 blitz games shall be played.

5.3. In case of tie in 5.2. the players shall play sudden death blitz games until a game is won.

5.4. If after 6 blitz games have been played without any sudden death win the Chief Arbiter may decide that the players shall play one decisive game. The player, who wins the drawing of lots, may choose the colour. White shall receive 5 minutes on the clock and Black shall receive 4 minutes, without any addition. The winner shall be declared World Chess Champion. In the event of a draw, the player with the black pieces shall be declared World Chess Champion.

6. Prizes.

6.1. The World Champion shall receive 60% of the prize fund. The runner up 40%;

6.2. 20% above the prize fund shall be allocated to FIDE.

7. Finance.

7.1. Before the end of the tournament, FIDE shall be reimbursed for its direct expenses incurred in the World Championship Organization. This shall be a fixed sum agreed between the Organizer and FIDE President before the start of the tournament.

This sum shall include stipends, Championship pre-expenses (inspections) and tournament expenses (travelling and boarding) for the members of the World Chess Championship Committee (WCCC). The WCCC shall advise and help the Organizers on protocol, budget, infrastructure, media, commentary, bulletin and other technical problems.

7.1.1 Minimum budget for WCCC expenses have to be US$ 15 000.

7.2. The FIDE or its appointed commercial agency has exclusive financial rights to the event and is free to exploit them commercially, including entering into advertisement agreements either with the Organizers or Sponsors of the Championship requiring players to wear clothes, aprons or caps with the branding of sponsors on the express approval of the FIDE President.

7.3. The income provided by the World Championship through admission charges, concessions, photography, radio, shall go to the Organizers. The television and Internet Web transmission rights, including video and film rights, shall belong to FIDE or its appointed commercial agency and the income divided on the basis of an agreement between FIDE or its appointed Commercial Agency and the Organizers.

7.4. FIDE or its appointed commercial agency shall have the exclusive rights for live games on Internet and shall provide the necessary equipment such as electronic boards and clocks to cover the event. FIDE or its appointed commercial agency shall provide to the Organizers the signal for online game display in the different function rooms as designated by FIDE.

7.5. The Organizers shall draw up as detailed a budget as possible, including provision for contingencies. This shall be subject to the approval of the World Championship Committee and thereafter the FIDE President.

8. Stipends:

8.1. The following stipends are to be paid to the Principals of the World Championship:

a) President or the Deputy President who shall be Chairman of the Appeals Committee: USD 10,000
b) Three members of the Appeals Committee: USD 9,000
c) Chief Arbiter: USD 6,000
d) Deputy Chief Arbiter: USD 4,000
e) Press Officer: USD 3,000
f) Chairman of FIDE medical commission or his nominee: USD 4,000

9. Arrangements for the Playing Hall.

9.1. The WCCC shall ensure the playing hall and its environs at least to meet the requirements of the FIDE Regulations for the Organization of Top Level Tournaments (FIDE Handbook C.01).

9.2. The playing venue shall be decorated with the FIDE flag, IOC flag, the flags of the host nation and the participating Federations and the sponsors' brandings.

9.3. For the World Chess Championship Match, each player shall have a private room to which he may retire. The rooms shall be similar in nature and equipped with a live monitor of the chessboard. The rooms shall be comfortable including coffee and tea, light refreshments according to the list provided by the players.

9.4. After the World Chess Championship Committee agrees with the Organizers on the World Chess Championship Match arrangements in respect of the tournament hall, facilities, accommodation and meals, transportation, telecommunication, ceremonies, no objections from the participants shall be acceptable.

10. Interviews, functions and mode of dressing.

10.1. Interviews with people other than players can be arranged directly.

10.2. The players are expected to cooperate reasonably with the media. General interviews with them can be arranged through the Press Officer.

10.3. The players are required to make themselves available for short interviews, of not more than 10 minutes duration, immediately after the game. In general, the winner, or in the event of a draw both players shall be available for the daily press conference.

10.4. Players are required to be present at all official functions approved by FIDE President or his Deputy during the Championship including official receptions and the opening and closing ceremonies.

10.5. Players are specifically requested to note the requirements of FIDE Regulations C.01 (Article 8.1) in respect of their dignified appearance at all times during the World Chess Championship.

11. Photography and Television.

11.1. Only photographers and camera crew expressly authorized by the Press Officer may work in the playing venue.

12. Advance Preparations of World Chess Championship Match.

12.1. Players and their Amenities.

12.1.1. The organizers shall provide personal stewards, security and one chauffeur-driven car for each player's delegation. Each player shall be entitled to a suite and two double rooms in a first class hotel.

12.2. Principals and their Amenities.

12.2.1 Principals are:

a. FIDE President
b. FIDE Deputy President
c. Chief Arbiter and his Deputy
c. Members of Appeals Committee
d. WCCC members
e. Chairman of the FIDE Medical Commission or his representative.
f. Press Officer.

12.2.2. The Organizers shall provide personal stewards as necessary for FIDE President, his Deputy, and the Chief Arbiter and WCCC representatives.

12.2.3. The Organizers are hosting the Principals and the designated number of the FIDE officials up to a maximum of five throughout the World Championship.

a. Travel

FIDE President has the right to first class travel by air, sea or rail, at the Organizers' expense. FIDE Deputy President has the right to business class travel by air, sea or rail, at the Organizers' expense. All other Principals shall be provided with transport by air, sea or rail or, if they prefer, any other mode of transport that is not more costly to the Organizers than air travel. Any Principal making his own travel arrangements without the agreement of the Organizers does so entirely at his own risk.

b. Accommodation
Accommodation should be reserved for the Principals and other designated FIDE officials in a 5 star hotel. For the FIDE President - A suite of appropriate protocol status. For FIDE Deputy President - a suite. For other Principals/ FIDE officials - a double room.

c. Food and Drinks
Provision for food and drinks shall be made for all the Principals on a wholly equal basis. This shall be provided by a specified allowance in local currency per day and/or by set meals. The nature and amount shall be agreed between the Organizers and WCCC. The President and his Deputy shall be provided with full complimentary service for extras at the hotel, at the expense of the organizers.

d. Local Transportation
For FIDE President, a chauffeur-driven car. For the other Principals, a number of cars shall be made available; their use will depend on the position of the hotels, playing hall and media center, and on the leisure activities of the Principals. Alternatively, a daily allowance in local currency may be provided, the amount to be agreed between the Organizers and WCCC.

12.3. Playing Conditions.

12.3.1. Apart from the players and arbiters, no other person shall be allowed in the actual playing area during the games, except with the express permission of the Chief Arbiter.

12.3.2. During the playing session (lasting from 10 minutes before the start of the game until the departure of players), the following additional regulations shall be in force:

a. The players are not permitted to bring into the playing venue technical and other equipment extraneous to play, which may in any way disturb or upset the opponent. The Chief Arbiter shall decide what constitutes extraneous equipment liable to offend the opponent.

b. A player may talk only to an arbiter or communicate with a steward, or with his opponent as permitted by the Laws of Chess.

12.3.3. Organizers shall provide in sufficiency, free of charge, coffee, tea and soft drinks for the players and principals. It is advisable that the same offer shall apply for the press members.

12.4. Score sheets.

The Organizers shall provide score sheets according to the specifications provided by the WCCC.

a. At the end of each game the players' original score sheets shall be given to the Arbiter, who shall hand them over to FIDE in due course.

b. Refusal of either player to sign the score sheets shall be penalized according to Article 13.4 of the Laws of Chess. After the players have signed the score sheets, the Arbiter shall countersign to confirm the results.

c. In tiebreak games, the players and the Arbiter shall sign a protocol.

12.5. Players' Meeting.

Players are required to attend the Players' Meeting on the day of the Opening Ceremony at a time to be decided by the Chief Arbiter and the Organizers. If he deems it necessary, the Chief Arbiter may call other Players' Meetings.

12.6. Selection of Arbiters.

12.6.1. The FIDE President, after consultation with the players, shall appoint the arbiters who must have the title of International Arbiter. In any event, the decision of the FIDE President shall be final.

12.6.2. In each match, no arbiter may belong to the same federation as either of the players. Exception: if both players are members of the same federation, an arbiter may also belong to this federation.

12.6.3. During play either the Chief Arbiter or the Deputy Chief Arbiter must be present in the playing area.

12.6.4. Immediately after the end of the World Chess Championship Match, the Chief Arbiter shall draw up a report and send it without delay to the FIDE Secretariat.

12.6.5. The report shall be written in one of the official FIDE languages.

12.6.6. The report shall contain the result of each individual game as well as the final result of the match. In addition, the report shall contain a general description of the course of the World Championship. If there were difficulties, conflicts or incidents during the World Championship, they shall be described together with the measures taken to deal with them.

12.6.7. The report shall be supplemented by adding two copies of the bulletins of the World Championship Match.

12.6.8. The Chief Arbiter may, in consultation with the WCCC, and with the approval of the FIDE President, issue additional written regulations to lay down the exact playing hours and take care of other details not covered by these regulations.

12.7. Appeals Committee.

The President or his Deputy shall be Chairman of the Appeals Committee. There shall be three other members all from different Federations appointed by the FIDE President. No member of the Appeals Committee shall sit in judgment in a dispute involving a player or party from his Federation except where the dispute is between two players or two parties from his Federation.

All protests must be submitted in writing to the Appeals Committee not more than two hours after the relevant playing session, or the particular infringement complained against.

The Committee may decide on the following matters:

a. an appeal against a decision by an arbiter,
b. a protest against a player's behaviour,
c. a complaint alleging false interpretation of the regulations,
d. a request for the interpretation of specific regulations,
e. a protest or complaint against any participant, or
f. all other matters which the Committee considers important.

If possible, the Committee shall reach a decision not more than two hours after the submission of a protest. The appeals process shall include written representations and a written decision.

The Committee shall endeavour to find binding solutions that are within the true spirit of the FIDE motto, Gens Una Sumus.

Every protest must be accompanied by a deposit fee of USD 5000 (five thousand US Dollars) or the equivalent in local currency. If the protest is accepted, the fee shall be returned. If the protest is rejected, the fee may be forfeited to FIDE.

The decision of the Appeals Committee arising from any dispute in respect of these regulations shall be final.

13. Opening Ceremony for the World Chess Championship Match.

13.1. The Opening Ceremony shall take place the day prior to the first round and both participants are required to take part.

13.2. The program of the Opening Ceremony shall be supervised by FIDE. Cultural program and speeches totalling up to 60 minutes is recommended. FIDE Anthem and the anthem of the hosting country shall be played at the beginning.

13.3. The drawing of colours for round 1 shall be carried out as part of the opening ceremony.

14. Closing Ceremony of the World Chess Championship Final Match.

The Closing Ceremony shall take place not later than one day after the end of the 12th game according to the schedule per Article 4.2. Organizer of the final shall provide two medals: in gold and silver, as well as a Cup to the World Champion. The FIDE Anthem, the anthem of the World Champion and the anthem of the hosting country shall be played.

15. Commitment of the World Champion

The winner of the Match of the World Championship shall be designated as World Champion and shall retain this title until a new Champion is crowned at the next official match for the title organized by FIDE. He is precluded alongside with the Vice-Champion from playing in a World Championship Match that is not officially recognized by FIDE.

16. Payment of Prize Money and Stipends

16.1. The prize fund and stipends shall be paid by bank cheque or direct banker's order drawn in United States Dollars on UBS, Lausanne.

16.2. Upon completion of the World Championship, FIDE shall pay these sums collectible in the payee's home country where requested by him. Where a player, with the agreement of the Organizers, leaves prior to the conclusion of the Championship, he shall receive his prize on departure.

16.3. FIDE shall not be responsible for any national or local tax to be deducted from the prize money.

16.4. At any time in the course of the application of these regulations, any grounds that are not covered or any unforeseen event shall be referred to the Presidential Board or to the President of FIDE, for final decision.


Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register