Ilyumzhinov: reunification with or without Kasparov

2/16/2005 – Reunification is still on track, the match in Turkey will go ahead, for an increased prize sum of $1.65 million. That was the gist of a press conference held by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in Moscow yesterday. He has given Garry Kasparov a deadline until February 26 to agree to the conditions, otherwise another player will replace him.

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Summary: Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is essentially stating that FIDE is going ahead and will be staging a reunification match in Istanbul in April. If Kasparov does not cooperate another opponent for Kasimdzhanov will be found. Kasparov has until February 26 to agree with FIDE's terms. Kasparov, on the other hand, is sticking to the Cuba Gooding line in Jerry McGuire. What remains inexplicable is that this stage of the reunification match was designed for one purpose alone: to bring the world's strongest and best-known player, Garry Kasparov, into the cycle. It is unclear whether the Turkish Chess Federation is willing to finance a two-million-dollar match for an unscheduled match that comes between the normal FIDE world championships in Libya 2004 and Vietnam 2005.

Money on Board

Kommersant is reporting on a press conference held by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in Moscow yesterday. In it Ilyumzhinov announced that the prize fund for the world champion title match between Garry Kasparov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov has been raised from US $1.25 million to $1.65 million. "Now FIDE president is waiting for an answer from the rated world No.1, who withdrew in January from playing the World Chess Championship match against Rustam Kasimdzhanov at the scheduled dates of April 25th to May 14th 2005."

Kommersant contacted Kasparov and received the answer that he still has no intentions to participate in the reunification cycle. He had seen his match against the previous champion Ruslan Ponomariov cancelled twice, then moved to Lebanon. Finally Ilyumzhinov officially announced Dubai as the venue for the event, naming a prize fund of $1.25. However, remembering the failure of matches with Ponomarev, Kasparov insisted on financial guarantees this time. As this was not forthcoming he sent an open letter to the FIDE General Assembly in October proposing an alternate solution to the problem. The Turkish Chess Federation was willing to provide the identical conditions for the Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match. However the plan was not even considered at the time. FIDE returned to it only when it became obvious that the Dubai match would not happen.

However, this time Kasparov did not want to take any more chances. He cites the enormous “financial and psychological damage,” which he has suffered because of the continuous rescheduling of his matches, forcing him to withdraw from a number of super tournaments and practically depriving him of playing practice. He specified that it was “not about money or winning the title”; it was about his “disillusionment with the process and the others on which it depended.”

Kommersant suggests that Ilyumzhinov's announcement yesterday that FIDE was raising the prize fund may be interpreted as the last attempt to bring Kasparov back to the FIDE cycle. Ilyumzhinov said the 13th World Champion was sent a letter requesting his final decision regarding the match against Kasimdzhanov. FIDE president asked that the answer be given before February 26 – the Federation’s Presidential Council in Tbilisi.

Kasparov has refused to comment on these new proposals by FIDE, but his mother Klara Kasparova told Kommersant that they had been humiliated for three years, and would tolerate it no longer. If Ilyumzhinov had been really interested in returning Kasparov to FIDE cycle, he would have spoken to him directly, and with the Turkish representatives. There had been no such contact.

Kommersant: "So, it appears that the process of chess unification will go on without the World No. 1 player. However, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov seems to be prepared for that. Yesterday, he said that in case of Kasparov’s refusal other candidates will play against Kasimdzhanov – in particular, Viswanathan Anand (India) or Peter Leko (Hungary). And three countries have already offered to host the match – Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates."


Article on Ilyumzhinov's press conference in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet

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