Roustam Kamsky: 'Gata’s life could be in danger'

by ChessBase
11/7/2008 – Yesterday we published a press release by FIDE which re-opened the bidding for the Kamsky-Topalov World Championship qualification match. Today we received a letter from Gata Kamsky's father protesting this decision and the pressure it put on the players to confirm their participation in a match for which no specific conditions are known. Open letters by Roustam Kamsky and the USCF.

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Dear chess fans,

the latest FIDE announcement regarding re-awarding Bulgarian Chess Federation the opportunity to organize the Kamsky-Topalov match is another unprecedented decision by the FIDE President. In his latest response, Mr. Ilyumzhinov, one of the most successful businessman and politicians in Russia, is trying to suggest that he fell a victim of undue influence and was induced by Mr. Chernenko into making his personal guarantee of the prize fund in the amount of $750,000. Specifically I refer to the following language:

“At this point I must say that I have deeply regretted the trust which I had shown to Alexander Chernenko, concerning the reliability of his offer. The actions of Mr. Chernenko indicate an abuse of right to invoke my guarantee which was declared after his own request and in good faith to help him secure the necessary funds.”

It is clear that Mr. Ilyumzhinov personally guaranteed the prize funds of $750,000 for the match to be organized in Lviv, Ukraine and thus undertook specific moral and legal obligations towards both players.

My position towards options available to FIDE is simple. FIDE President, Mr. Ilyumzhinov, can follow the venue and great organization of Anand-Kramnik match in Bonn, Germany.

World Championship candidate Gata Kamsky, USA

Unfortunately I do not have any faith in FIDE and Mr. Ilyumzhinov who in front of the whole world breached his word, which is not the first time. Also, I do not have much faith in Mr. Makropoulos, a personal friend of Mr. Danailov. Suddenly FIDE appointed without any negotiations Mr. William Kelleher of USA as the FIDE Supervisor of the Organizing Committee to be responsible for fairness concerning treatment of both players in respect of organizational issues, equal playing conditions and anti-cheating measures. However, for almost a year, Mr. Kelleher did not respond to any request for basic information made by Mr. Kamsky. Thus I doubt that he will be of any help to the American contender during the match. Accordingly, FIDE should make such important nominations after consultation with players. And should the match be organized correctly, like it was done in Bonn, Germany, the players will not require a FIDE Supervisor’s position as the proper organization should eliminate most conflict situations before they even arise.

The foremost important issue that FIDE omitted from its agenda for the technical meeting in Dresden on November 18th, 2008 is to have both players and their attorneys to discuss and negotiate the terms of the contract. During prior months FIDE remained silent to numerous requests for a contract for the Kamsky-Topalov match made by GM Kamsky’s attorney. Yet having no contract, FIDE mandated on November 6, 2008, that both players must confirm their participation by November 14, 2008. Before any confirmation can be given a player must know the time, the place and the prize fund for the match. FIDE is trying to use time pressure to force players into confirming to unknown terms that could later become critical. GM Kamsky is asking for the minimum – an honestly and fairly organized match in neutral location. If that does not occur both players instead of fighting against each other should unify to fight against FIDE in the court of law.

I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate Vishy Anand on his true victory. This is his third victory at the world championship. I think he could have achieved even more success if during his match against Kasparov he did not have as his trusted seconds grandmasters from the former Soviet Union.

I was very impressed by the organization of Anand’s match in Bonn, Germany, except that the match should have been played between Kamsky and Anand. It was unjust to allow Russian GM Kramnik to play three world championship matches, in 2006, 2007, 2008, without a proper selection, just so Russia can maintain the world championship title. World chess history does not know another chess player who had a privilege to compete for the title of a world champion three consecutive years. It is obvious that Mr. Ilyumzhinov has a soft spot for his countryman.

FIDE ruled to include GM Topalov into the current world championship cycle as an ‘intermittent’ contender against the winner of the 2007 World Cup, GM Kamsky, just to quite the woes of the Bulgarian Federation and Mr. Danailov, who threaten FIDE with the legal action after the ‘toilet war’. These are examples of an undue favoritism and not a true sportsmanship.

Most chess fans would recognize now that American GM Kamsky’s fight for neutral playing conditions is a necessity because neutrality was the foremost important rule for all world championship matches that FIDE must observe. Otherwise the match in Bulgaria will become a second rehearsal of his match against GM Karpov in Elista, Russia in 1996. See the Gata Kamsky International Chess & Sports Foundation,, for more information about Kamsky-Karpov match.

It is clear that FIDE has a direct duty and responsibility to organize the world championship match Kamsky-Topalov. However FIDE’s latest response is to place its burden upon players, thus confronting the players even before their battle on a chess board. I anticipate that in these uncertain times Gata’s life could be in danger: no person – no problem.

Thank you
Roustam Kamsky

A few hours after the open letter by Roustam Kamsky the following was in our mailbox:


U. S. Chess Federation

Bill Goichberg, President

PO BOX 3967
CROSSVILLE, TN 38557-3967
Phone: (931) 787 - 1234
Fax: (931) 787 - 1200

Open letter to FIDE Office and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

To: FIDE office

To: Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of FIDE

November 7, 2008

The U.S. Chess Federation is astonished to hear the latest position of FIDE regarding the Kamsky vs. Topalov match.

On June 1, 2008, FIDE announced that this match would take place in Lvov, Ukraine, beginning November 28, with a prize fund of $750,000. Following is the FIDE press release of that date, as posted on the FIDE website:

President guarantees Topalov–Kamsky match

President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has announced that the World Championship Challenger Match between Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Gata Kamsky (USA) will take place in Lvov, Ukraine in November 2008.

The organiser offered a prize fund of 750,000 USD and to hold the match on the “neutral” territory of Ukraine, as the players wanted to avoid Bulgaria or the USA. President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov guarantees the organiser’s offer by backing the event from his personal finances.

FIDE Presidential Board acknowledged the offer as well as the guarantee and assigned Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos to conclude the final contracts and to check the availability of the finances. The Match will be held in dates between November 26th and December 14th 2008.

Now we are being told that the “guarantee” that FIDE announced can be withdrawn because the organizer of the Lvov match has failed to make the necessary payment to FIDE? But this guarantee had significance only under precisely these circumstances!

If the organizer had made this payment, then for the FIDE President to “back the event from his personal finances” would not be necessary. Since the organizer has failed to make the payment, “backing the event from his personal finances” is now needed – and FIDE’s position appears to be that it was happy to promise backing with words only, but that backing with actual money was not what FIDE had in mind. Incredible!

Retail products are often sold with guarantees. Imagine if your product does not work, and you return it for repair or refund, and the seller says “Sorry, we have decided that the guarantee we offered is only valid if the product is working perfectly.” That is exactly what FIDE is trying to do to the players in this match.

The chess world and the media will not be so easily fooled. It is apparent that FIDE made a public commitment, and now is seeking to back out for no valid reason. A "guarantee" is not subject to being revoked at the whim of the guarantor. Please reconsider this very unwise and inappropriate action.

Sincerely Yours,

Bill Goichberg
President, US Chess Federation

Immediately after the above letter we received the following missive from a USCF Board Member:

November 7, 2008


Please kindly verify that this is only your personal opinion or the opinion of various individuals. As a board member of the US Chess Federation, I did not authorize this letter nor have I seen this open letter before it was published. You definitely do not have my permission to speak on my behalf. This is the first time I am seeing it.

This is a very serious matter as it will clearly affect the professional careers of two great players: Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov. I would like to see these two world-class players settle their differences on the chess board and not through war of words. I encourage all parties to engage in diplomatic and respectful negotiation sessions to come up with a sensible solution instead of adding more fuel to the fire with this type of open letters.

Our chess community has suffered enough already. If you would like to be personally involved in this negotiation, you are more than welcome to come to Dresden next week and speak to the FIDE officials. But let’s not go down this destructive path with no possible amicable ending.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
USCF Minority Board Member

To which Goichberg replied:


I am speaking for the USCF, which means the majority of the Executive Board. I have not claimed that every member of the Executive Board agrees with my statement.

Bill Goichberg

ChessBase reports

The following articles are in descending chronological order, i.e. the latest are at the top, the oldest at the bottom.

Kamsky-Topalov match to be held in Bulgaria – maybe
06.11.2008 – The Bulgarian Chess Federation had made a $150,000 bid for this special qualifier match for the world championship, but then Gata Kamsky's manager Alexander Chernenko offered a $750,000 prize fund for it in Lvov, Ukraine. Unfortunately the bank garantees were not forthcoming, and after a final deadline FIDE has reopened the bidding procedure. Press release.

Bulgaria to Ilyumzhinov: we are worried
27.09.2008 – During the Bilbao Masters tournament Veselin Topalov's manager IM Silvio Danailov told journalists that there were no news regarding the Topalov vs Kamsky match. Now Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation has appealed to FIDE President: "Mr. Ilyumzhinov, please inform me where and when the match will take place!" Full story, now with official corrections.

Topalov: 'Next Year I Will Challenge the World Champion'
24.08.2008 – A few days ago former FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov visited the International Alcubeirre Tournament in Spain, where he gave a simultaneous exhibition and spoke to a local newspaper about Kasparov, the Zaragoza Expo, Scarlett Johansson ("I like her more in some ways, but my thing is chess"), his chess career and chess playing computers. Heraldo interview.

'Topalov has not signed' – Challenger Match in doubt?
25.07.2008 – Just when we thought everything was settled for a World Championship Challengers' Match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov in Lvov, Ukraine – November 26 to December 14 – Topalov's manager Silvio Danialov says his his client has not yet signed anything. Turns out neither has Kamsky, since according to FIDE "the contract has not been finalized with the organisers". Details.

Alexei Shirov replies to Gata Kamsky
02.06.2008 Last week Alexei Shirov published a press release asking FIDE to resolve the crisis surrounding the special Challengers' Match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov. Kamsky's representative replied, and then FIDE came up with a decision on the venue in Lvov, Ukraine. "This is exactly what I wanted with my press release five days ago," says Shirov in his new press release.

Ilyumzhinov guarantees Topalov-Kamsky match in Lvov
01.06.2008 – After a great deal of international bickering the matter is now settled: the special Challengers Match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov will take place between November 26th and December 14th 2008 in Lvov, Ukraine. This has just been announced by FIDE, with President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov guaranteeing the organiser’s offer of US $750,000 with his personal finances. Press release.

Shirov's press release
29.05.2008 After numerous extensions of the deadline for bids to stage the special Challengers Match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov FIDE is now faced with a demand by the next-in-line player to have a chance. Alexei Shirov is willing to play in Bulgaria, something Kamsky balked at. "According to the match regulations he should be replaced by me in this case," Shirov says. Press release.

Breaking news: Kamsky-Topalov in Lviv, Ukraine?
11.04.2008 – We reported yesterday on FIDE's decision to extend the deadline for bids for the Kamsky-Topalov match. The Bulgarian Chess Federation protested vigorously, but today the reason for FIDE's decision is becoming clear: there is a US $750,000 bid to stage the match in Lviv, western Ukraine. This stop press story comes from Yury Vasiliev of Sport Express. First details – and doubts.

FIDE extends deadline for Topalov-Kamsky, Bulgarians protest
10.04.2008 – The match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov for the right to challenge the World Champion is scheduled for the second half of 2008. The Bulgarian side offered to finance and stage the match, but Kamsky balked at playing on the territory of his opponent. Now FIDE has extended the deadline for rival bids by twelve days. The Bulgarian Chess Federation has protested sharply.

Challengers Match Kamsky-Topalov to be held in Bulgaria...
14.02.2008 – ...unless a country comes up with a US $250,000 bid by April 11th. FIDE has announced its decision to tentatively accept the US $150,000 bid made by the Bulgarian Chess Federation. The match is scheduled for Nov.-Dec. 2008, after the Anand-Kramnik match. Spanish Playwright Fernando Arrabal has published the entire correspondence between FIDE and Kamsky. Press release and links.

Khanty-Mansiysk Final: Kamsky wins, to challenge Topalov
16.12.2007 – American GM Gata Kamsky has won the FIDE World Cup. In the fourth game he was able to force a perpetual check and hold Alexei Shirov to a draw, which meant that he had won the Final with a score of 2.5:1.5 (three draws, one win). Kamsky won, did not lose a single game and performed 102 points higher than his nominal 2714 rating. Congratulations Gata!

Veselin Topalov and the new FIDE world championship cycle
24.06.2007 – At the Presidential Board meeting, which is currently being held in Tallinn, Estonia, FIDE has introduced a new Grand Prix series and a new world championship cycle. With a high-ranking Bulgarian delegation presenting a case for Veselin Topalov to enter the world championship FIDE made some special rules to govern the 2007-2009 stage. We have tried to decipher the new system.

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