Seirawan: highly-charged situation calls for a compromise

by ChessBase
9/29/2006 – GM Yasser Seirawan is the match commentator on, and as such deeply involved in the World Championship in Elista. In a letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov he calls for a calming of nerves, the reversal of the forfeit and the resumption of the match from game five. Yasser's proposal is succinctly argued. Should he be sent to Elista to mediate?

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His Excellency
FIDE President Kirsan N. Ilyumzhinov

September 29, 2006

Re: Crisis in the Elista 2006 World Championship Match

Dear Kirsan,

I am writing an open letter to you regarding today's events during the 2006 Unification World Championship Match between the Classical World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and the FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov.

For far too long the chess world has been in a terrible schism, and a successful conclusion to the current match is of paramount importance to chess fans and to the future of our sport. With tempers currently running high, it is time for all parties to show their manifest goodwill so that the match can resume, so that the players can demonstrate their skill over the board and so that chess fans can enjoy a resumption of the exciting games we have seen so far.

Playchess commentator GM Yasser Seirawan

I would therefore urge that all parties calm down and reflect upon the events that have led to today's aborted game.

It is my understanding that Veselin Topalov lodged an official complaint that his opponent visited his bathroom an excessive number of times during play, casting a suspicion of unfair behavior. The Appeals Committee agreed that the complaint had some basis and decided that the solution was that the players would henceforth share a common bathroom. In so doing the Appeals Committee made a clearly erroneous decision, which it should now reverse with good grace.

Before the start of the match, a contract was signed by all parties. Furthermore, before the start of play all parties inspected the playing area, the separate restrooms and the separate bathrooms. These were the conditions agreed to by all the parties, and the match began. Thereafter, any changes to these arrangements would require the unanimous agreement of all parties. It was therefore wrong of the Appeals Committee unilaterally to withdraw from Vladimir Kramnik the conditions of play to which he had agreed, namely use of a separate restroom and bathroom.

Angered by the decision of the Appeals Committee, which violates the match contract, Vladimir Kramnik has stated that he considers the Appeals Committee biased against him and asks that the members of the Appeals Committee be changed.

This highly-charged situation calls for a compromise by all parties, and I therefore suggest the following solution:

  • Firstly, since separate bathrooms were agreed to by all parties, they should be reinstated with immediate effect.

  • Secondly, to assuage any suspicions of unfair behavior, the bathrooms should have an attendant at hand during play.

  • Thirdly, Game Five should be rescheduled and played tomorrow, Saturday, September 30, 2006 at the usual time.

Finally, the Appeals Committee members should be allowed to remain in place as the Committee is currently constituted. However, the Committee made an error and its decision should be reversed. Veselin Topalov followed the proper channels of protocol to lodge a complaint, and his complaint was upheld. It was the Appeals Committee which over-reacted, exceeded its authority and failed to respect the contract signed by FIDE.

It is my sincerest hope that this solution will be regarded as measured and fair to all parties and that the unfortunate disagreement can now be resolved promptly. Then all of us in the chess world can resume our enjoyment of a fascinating over-the-board contest between two magnificent players.

Yasser Seirawan

Incidentally a surprising number of our readers have independently proposed sending GM Seirawan, who has vast experience in chess politics and organisation, as an honest broker mediator to Elista. It was his proposals, present back in May 2002, that ultimately led to the Prague Agreement and the Reunification Match. Sending a person of his calibre and integrits, many fans are suggesting, might be the best chance to save the World Championship.

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