A new chance for reunification or just another dream?
By Bessel Kok
Over the last few days, I have been flooded with telephone calls and electronic messages asking me to comment on the recently announced match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. I was aware that Joel Lautier had been working on this and I must thank him and anybody else who worked hard for this reunification match.
My initial reaction was of great joy for the players as well as for the whole chess world! At long last the possibility exists for a match to be played, thereby resolving the split that has been in force for the eleven year duration of Ilyumzhinov’s administration.
It was four long years ago that I hosted a conference in Prague. My goal was to heal the split besieging the chess world and resolve the impasse. The conference resulted in the Prague Agreement, that bound the parties to a unification match in … 2003!
After re-reading the announcement I began to worry as important details were missing. What are the conditions and rules under which this match will be played? Does the FIDE consider this to be the final outcome of the Prague Agreement? Or is this match merely a response to Ilyumzhinov’s announcement that anyone possessing a 2700 rating has the possibility to challenge the World Champion? Alternatively, is it to be a friendly match only?
Further worrying concerns are raised in case Vladimir Kramnik wins the match. If the match is for the official World Championship, would he then participate in the 2007 Championships? If the answer is yes, this raises a new question: According to the rules of the current cycle, Veselin Topalov, the number one rated player would be out of the 2007 Championship.
Is it smart or is it stupid that the highest rated player in the world could be potentially excluded? Wouldn’t such a circumstance put the validity of the 2007 Championship in doubt? Who is responsible for creating rules that discourage unification by excluding the strongest players from competing in future Championship events?
FIDE should not give the impression that the electoral gain of announcing this match prevails over the need for correct and adequate information, especially for the other top Grandmasters. Is the match to be sponsored by Ilyumzhinov or another source? Would the match be played if I were to win the FIDE Presidential election in Turin in June? Has the prize money been transferred to the FIDE accounts insuring the match will be played regardless of the election outcome?
Once again, I am delighted that Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik can contest a match but the FIDE must communicate all details of the event; address the questions made above; confirm that the financing has been properly secured; that the players have signed an agreement and last but not least that the chess world will not suffer another disappointment.
What is your opinion?
Do you agree with Bessel Kok?