Ponomariov faces one million dollar lawsuit

2/3/2002 – The second big event in this year, Linares 2002, has a remarkably strong field, with Kasparov, Anand, Adams, Ivanchuk, Shirov and Vallejo Pons. Originally the seventh player was Ruslan Ponomariov, but the newly crowned FIDE world champion seems to have changed his mind and cancelled his appearence. Now he faces an expensive lawsuit for breach of contract. More

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Ponomariov faces one million dollar lawsuit

The second big event in this year, Linares 2002, has a remarkably strong field. The double round robin includes Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, Michael Adams, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov, Francisco Vallejo Pons. Originally the seventh player was Ruslan Ponomariov, but the newly crowned FIDE world champion seems to have changed his mind and cancelled his appearence in the Spanish super-tournament. Leonxto Garcia, chess journalist of El País, reports that the 18-year-old Ukraine informed the organisers by fax that he will not be taking part in the Linares tournament, which will be held from February 22 until March 10. This in spite of the fact that he had agreed by fax on December 24 to participate. The organisers have not given him until Monday to revise his decision. If he doesn't he will face a one million dollar lawsuit for breach of contract.

The reason given by Ponomariov for withdrawing from Linares is that he wants to open a chess school carrying his name in his home town of Kramatorsk. The ceremony is scheduled for the last week of February. Leonxto says that the excuse is hardly convincing when you consider the opposition Ponomariov would be facing in Linares – the numbers one, three and four in the world rankings. Kasparov, who doesn't consider the youngster a legitimate world champion, said that Ponomariov had only won the FIDE title because of the new fast time controls – and the fact that his finals opponent had such weak nerves. Kasparov thinks that Ponomariov is simply afraid to devalue his title and reputation in Linares.

Friends of Ruslan Ponomariov, on the other hand, told El País that the player himself would like to participate, but was pressured by his family who think that the new champion is not yet ready for the "Wimbledon of Chess". Indeed the originator of the tournament, Luis Rentero, has described it as a "cage full of hungry lions". So Ruslan is stuck between two unpleasant alternatives: to break a contract and face the ensuing lawsuit, or to open the door and enter the cage.

In the meantime the Linares organisers are trying to contact Vladimir Kramnik to replace Ponomariov, if the latter sticks by his decision. But Kramnik has not yet replied – not another case of cold feet, we hope. If neither agree to play then the tournament will be held as a six player round robin.

You will find Leonxto Garcia's article in El País here. There are two other relevant articles here and here.



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