The latest from Yalta, Prague and FIDE

6/26/2003 – It looks like the FIDE world championship will be held in early September in Yalta, Ukraine. Unfortunately it clashes with the annual Eurotel Trophy in Prague, which this year will be a six-game Man-vs-Woman extravaganza. Meanwhile FIDE president Ilyumzhinov has "local difficulties", as reported on the pages of The Scotsmanby John Henderson.

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24th June, 2003 AS revealed in this column some two week's ago, the on-off-on again FIDE title match between Garry Kasparov and Ruslan Ponomariov now looks set for a change of venue from Buenos Aires in Argentina to Yalta in the Crimea region of the Ukraine.

It's now reported Ukrainian sources that both players have received official confirmation of the switch of venue from FIDE, and the match date now looks set to be in early September.

Yalta is famed for a world summit held there in the dying days of the Second World War between the "big three" of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, which endeavoured to unify the world. Hopefully the new Yalta summit match may yet lead to unity in the chess world!

Worryingly, however, the proposed dates look likely to clash head-on with the annual Eurotel Trophy match in Prague – yet another Bessel Kok and Serge Grimaux extravaganza – which is believed to be a six-game "Battle of the Sexes" classical match between world number three Vishy Anand and top female player Judit Polgar.


26th June, 2003 AS if he hasn't enough problems in the chess world as it is, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov now has to deal with a "little local difficulties" back home in the impoverished Russian republic of Kalmykia, where he is also the head of state.

On the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kalmykia's Interior Minister Timofei Sasykov, one of Ilyumzhinov's most trusted supporters, was arrested recently on major charges of corruption and abuse of office.

Last October, as Ilyumzhinov faced an election challenge for the first time in Kalmykia since being elected in 1993, Putin stepped in to suspend Sasykov from office as he was seen to be interfering with the campaign. After winning a runoff election against the Putin-backed candidate Baatyr Shondzhiyev, Ilyumzhinov once again gave Sasykov the post of Interior Minister.

In a classic sting operation, Russia's Deputy Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky explained to the Moscow Times that Sasykov first had to be lured out of the safety of Kalmykia to Nalchik in the southern Kabardino-Balkaria region on the pretext of having to attend a conference, where authorities lay in wait to arrest him. Fridinsky also hinted that the charges levelled against Sasykov could just be the tip of the iceberg.

The worry for the chess world, which has directly benefited to the tune of some $30 million from Ilyumzhinov since he took office in 1995 -funds which many have questioned the legitimacy of – is that the arrest may well be the opening gambit in a cleaning up process by Putin, and one that could seriously endanger Ilyuhmzhinov's continued support for the game that has solely depended on his largesse's.


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