Will FIDE champion Ponomariov be defaulted?

by ChessBase
1/11/2003 – FIDE has set an ultimatum until January 10, 2003, for Ruslan Ponomariov to sign a contract to play the world's top-rank player Garry Kasparov as as part of the reunification plan agreed in Prague. If the FIDE champion did not sign the agreement by that date then he would be replaced by runner-up Vassily Ivanchuk. This would mean that Kasparov would play Ivanchuk, and the winner would face the winner of Kramnik vs Leko in a unification title match. More.

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Ponomariov (left), who is currently playing in the Corus Wijk aan Zee tournament (as is incidentally Vassily Ivanchuk), has so far has strictly refused to sign the contract he received from FIDE, citing a number of problems in the document. For instance the FIDE world champion has demanded that a time control of 90 minutes + 30 seconds per move should be used, the same time rate under which he won the title. He also wants draw odds, the same classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik will receive in his match against challenger Peter Leko.

The Ukrainian Chess Federation has backed Ponomariov's position, saying "The Ukraine Chess Federation considers the urgent signing of contract on 10th January unacceptable. It is necessary to conduct normal negotiations between all sides in order to accept the compromise and, most importantly, objective solution." They add that in their view decisions made in Bled about the negotiations have been broken.

From GM Mikhail Golubev of Ukrainian Chess Online we received the following message:

Dear colleagues,

We apologise for the inconvenience but we are sending you some urgent news (which appeared in Russian on the Kiev chess page) regarding the planned FIDE reunification qualifier match between Ruslan Ponomariov and Garry Kasparov.

FIDE originally demanded said that Ruslan Ponomariov should sign a contract or agreement with regard to the match against Garry Kasparov. The Ukraine side had grave doubts about the quality of this document, and Ruslan Ponomariov didn't want to sign it. Now FIDE has given hi an ultimatum to sign it by January 10th. If he didn't then a Kasparov vs Ivanchuk match will be announced by FIDE.

We do not know or have any information on Ivanchuk's opinion in this matter. We do not know if the ultimate outcome, even if Ponomariov would sign the document under incredible pressure, is in the spirit of the Prague agreement.

There is some hope that it may not have been the FIDE president Kirasn Ilymzhinov himself who prepared the ultimatum. We do not have enough official information at the moment. Unofficially it was Mr. Omuku who was responsible for contacts with the Ukraine Chess Federation. I have written my own brief comments at Ukrainian Chess Online, but it does not represent any official opinion, including Ponomariov's, just my own. There is an express interview with Ponomariov published in the Ukrainian newspaper Facty i kommentarii on 9th September. All of these are in Russian (the official language of communication of FIDE?). I hope that someone in the web will translate the most relevant points before the ultimatum will expire.

Ruslan Ponomariov is currently playing in the Wijk aan Zee tournament. We hope he will be able to play normally there, especially if he will be not distracted too much by journalists.

Mikhail Golubev,
Ukrainian Chess Online

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