Makropoulos on the World Championship Crisis

by ChessBase
10/7/2006 – He was in the middle of the events that led to the interruption of the World Championship, the forfeiting of game five, protests of both players, and the resumption of play. But the Sept. 29 report of FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos did not receive the attention it deserved. Here's an audio excerpt from the press conference and the full Makropoulos statement.

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Somehow the statement by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos seems to have slipped under the radar screen of the international press. A high FIDE official drew our attention to it by complaining that we had not published it. Googling around today for phrases from the text retrieves nothing, and we only found it on two chess blogs, without a clear source. It does not appear to be on the FIDE or the world championship site.

Apparently Georgios Makropoulos delivered a speech at a press conference that was started at the height of the World Championship crisis, when Topalov was still sitting at the board in game five, and Kramnik waiting in his rest room for the toilet to be unsealed. Later, after the game was declared a forfeit, Kramnik appeared at the press conference and gave his point of view.

Berik Balgabaev, personal assistant to President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Georgios
Makropoulos and Ilyumzhinov at the height of the crisis [photo Savinov]

Makropoulos' statement is interesting in that it sheds new light on certain aspects of the crisis and how it unfolded. For instance we learn that

  • at the start of the match the Topalov team asked for and received (from "the Organisers") access to video footage of Kramnik in his rest room;

  • after the protest by the Topalov which claimed that Kramnik had visited the bathroom 50 times during a game (a claim that has now become press lore) the Appeals Committee ascertained that this claim was "exaggerated" and that Kramnik had visited the toilet 25 times in one game and 18 times in another;

  • FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov himself, one assumes by phone from Sochi, ordered the sealing of the toilets in the rest rooms;

  • the original contract states that the organisers must provide both players with "a restroom and a toilet", not "a restroom with a toilet", which renders the appeal of the Kramnik side regarding this point of the contract "groundless".

In the interest of clarity and completeness we provide you with this text. The exact time and form of delivery is still unclear, but we will add this information as soon as it has been confirmed to us.

  • Audio commentary from the press conference
    The audio recording of the press conference starts with a confrontation between Makropoulos and Kramnik, in English, but continues with Kramnik explaining his position in Russian.

Statement by Georgios Makropoulos

I would like to inform you of the decision of the Appeals Committee and the efforts of the Organisers and FIDE undertaken in order to provide ideal conditions for both teams.

Makropoulos, Balgabaev at the press conference on September 29

Before the match we had long negotiations with Messrs. Hensel and Danailov. We thought that we managed to provide best conditions. After the arrival of the participants, new requirements were tabled, which were fulfilled to the satisfaction of both delegations.

Both sides have undertaken considerable efforts in order to exclude any possibility of using any external assistance to the players. I would like to say that FIDE is not sharing any fears regarding use of external assistance during the games, but our opinion here is not important – we should meet the players halfway, in order for them to feel comfortably at the board and not to worry about fair play.

This was exactly the reason why the glass screen appeared on the stage following the request of Mr. Hensel. It is not included in the contract, but we satisfied the request of Mr. Hensel. It is possible that the other side felt hurt, but no decisions of FIDE could satisfy both teams in 100%.

When the match started, we have received a declaration from the team of Topalov with the request to get acquainted with the video recording from the restrooms. The Organisers provided all the materials, and based on these materials the team of Topalov produced an appeal where they noted that Kramnik visits the toilet in his restroom with unusual frequency.

They requested to close the toilets and restrooms and also provide the accredited journalists with the video recordings. At the yesterday’s meeting of the Appeals Committee we watched all the video recordings. Only the third game was recorded in full. There are recordings of one hour and a half from the first and second games and there is a blank of one hour and a half in the recording of the fourth game. We have found out that the team of Topalov exaggerated the number of Kramnik’s visits to the toilet.

However, the numbers are still unusually high. In the video recording which we got hold of, Kramnik visited the toilet 25 times. In the third game the number is 18. In the first two games, in one hour and a half – 11 or 12 times.

I would like to reiterate that we have no connection between the number of the visits to the toilet and possible use of some external help. We have requsted Mr. Hensel to comment on these numbers and received the explanation to the tune that Vladimir uses the toilet space for walking. According to the opinion of the Appeals Committee, this explanation is unsatisfactory, as Kramnik was staying each time 1 or 2 minutes in the toilet.

Once again I repeat, for us the most important thing is for the both players to feel protected from the use of the external help by their respective opponent. For the first time we are facing such strong suspicions from both sides. I think here there is some partial fault of the journalists who were actively speculating on this topic before the World Championship. Of course when you read on a regular basis about this, that it is so easy to cheat, you start to get worried.

We spoke to President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov before taking a decision regarding the appeal of Topalov’s team and the FIDE President himself proposed to close the toilets in the restrooms.

The other points in the appeal of Mr. Topalov were declined by us. It is resolved not to close the restrooms – they are equipped by the video cameras and are well watched by the Chief Arbiter. It was not in our authority to provide the journalists with video recording, as we thought that this is a violation of the player’s right for privacy.

Further to this, we received open letters from both sides. I would like to share my opinion with you. According to the contract, FIDE shall provide both players with a restroom and a toilet. It is obvious for us that the contract is not binding us to provide the toilet in the restroom, otherwise the sentence would read "a restroom with a toilet". Therefore, the appeal of Mr. Hensel regarding this point of the contract are groundless.

I think this will be a terrible mistake if this match would remain in the sports history as the match stopped because of the toilets... It is bad for FIDE, bad for Kalmykia, bad for the Russian Chess Federation and its President Mr. Zhukov who made efforts to organize this great match and it is just terrible for chess. I hereby strongly request both players to continue the match.

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