So what is going to happen now?

5/26/2003 – The announcement this morning by the Einstein Group in London that it had been unable to secure sponsorship for the Kramnik-Leko match has sent tremours through the chess world. How does this affect the Prague Unity Plan, what alternatives are the organisers and players considering? We discussed the matter with a man who, as the manager of both Kramnik and Leko, is deeply affected. Here is our interview with Carsten Hensel.

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Interview with Carsten Hensel

This morning the Einstein Group, London, announced that it had been been unable to secure full sponsorship to cover the entire prize fund for the World Classical Chess Championship between Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko. This was supposed to be part of the Prague Unity Plan for chess, which has thus been put into jeopardy.

The German chess organiser Carsten Hensel, who was responsible for numerous Super-GM events in Dortmund and Budapest, is the manager of both classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik as well as his official challenger Peter Leko. We discussed the above press release by phone with Carsten Hensel.


Vladimir Kramnik discusses the situation with manager Carsten Hensel

Question: What is your reaction, and perhaps more importantly, what is the reaction of the two players Kramnik and Leko to the Einstein press release?

Hensel: The World Champion and his official challenger were prepared to play their championship match in June. They are very distressed to hear that the Einstein Group, the sole owners of the rights to this event, have been unable to secure the financing of the championship in the time frame that was originally agreed.

Question: So what is going to happen now? Will the match be abandoned, are there other options? Will Kramnik play directly against Kasparov?

Hensel: Absolutely not. I can assure everybody concerned that Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko will play against each other for the title of World Champion, and that there are no alternatives to this match that are under consideration.


Kramnik's challenger Peter Leko

Question: When and where could the match be held?

Hensel: I am convinced that we will stage the match before the end of this year. I have reason to be optimistic.

Question: Will it be held in Germany, perhaps in Dortmund?

Hensel: I'm not ready to cannot discuss any details, especially at this stage.

Question: We have heard rumours of German corporate sponsorship.

Hensel: Next question...

Question: What about the conditions of the contract between your clients and Einstein? We hear that Vladimir Kramnik could be released from this contract at the end of June should the staging of the match not be guaranteed.


CEO of the Einstein Group, Steve Timmins

Hensel: I can assure you that neither Vladimir Kramnik nor Peter Leko will issue any commentary on contractual details at this stage.

Question: What about the Reunification Plan that was agreed in Prague? According to this the winner of the Einstein world championship shall play against the winner of the FIDE world championship for the unified title.

Hensel: I do not think that the postponement of the World Chess Championship Kramnik vs. Leko will affect this plan. In any case we have to discuss the situation after both events (including the Ponomariov-Kasparov match) have been completed. I think that under the given circumstances everybody should have learnt that professional management and commercial structures are badly needed in professional chess.

Question: But it was supposed to be held in this year. The agreement states: "The two match winners will play a reunification Classical Chess World Championship match in October/November 2003".

Hensel: You probably know that the FIDE match has been postponed to October or November. The Einstein match will also be held in that approximate time period, perhaps in December. So the reunification match can go ahead early next year. We need to discuss the details with FIDE.

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