Attempt to heal schism in world chess ends in the toilet
Stephen Moss
Saturday September 30, 2006
The Guardian

Just as cricket is recovering from its great forfeited match debacle, now chess – that other long-drawn-out, statistically minded sport favoured by anorak wearers – has a similar crisis to contend with.

Yesterday in Elista, capital of the Russian republic of Kalmykia, the Russian player Vladimir Kramnik forfeited the fifth game of his 12-game match with the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and threw into chaos the much-anticipated contest that was due to end the 13-year schism in world chess and produce an undisputed world champion.

And the reason for his dramatic action, with its echoes of Bobby Fischer’s forfeit in the second game of his match with Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972? Kramnik had been banned from using his private toilet. Even the irascible and unpredictable Fischer, who saw KGB plotters everywhere, never thought of this one.

“Toiletgate”, as chess’s latest crisis will no doubt come to be called, began when Topalov complained after game four that his opponent was visiting the loo too often – up to 50 times during the six-hour encounter, his aides said. The implication was that the Russian might be consulting computers in the privacy of the cubicle.

The rest can be read here.

Chess unification bout takes nasty turn
9/29/2006, 7:04 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

ELISTA, Russia (AP) — The future of the world chess championship was in question Friday when a player did not show up for the fifth game and threatened to withdraw from the match after he was accused of cheating and locked out of his private bathroom.

Vladimir Kramnik, a Russian, was accused by the manager for his opponent, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, of taking too many bathroom breaks — an apparent suggestion that he was secretly using a technical device or a computer program to help him with his moves.

Kramnik, the Classical World Champion, had been leading Topalov, the World Chess Champion, 3-1 after four games in the 12-game match — the sixth attempt to reunify the chess world since then-world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from the FIDE chess governing body in 1993.

But Kramnik boycotted game five Friday, angered by an Appeals Committee decision to lock the private bathrooms for both players and insist that each use a common bathroom for the rest of the match. Topalov was also unhappy with the decision; his manager said it would not prevent Kramnik from cheating since he would still be alone in the lavatory.

The committee decision followed a protest by Topalov’s manager, Silvio Danailov, who viewed videotapes of the players’ relaxation rooms behind the stage. There is no video camera in the bathrooms themselves.

“The World Champion Veselin Topalov is outraged by the suspicious behavior of his opponent Vladimir Kramnik, who actually takes his most significant decisions in a toilet,” Danailov said. “During every game, he visited the relaxation room 25 times on average and the bathroom more than 50 times.”

The rest can be read here.

Loo row threatens chess championship
By Malcolm Pein and Nicole Martin
(Filed: 30/09/2006)

The World Chess Championship hung in the balance last night after one of the grandmasters, who is accused of making unnecessary visits to the lavatory, refused to play the fifth game.
Vladimir Kramnik, a Russian ranked No 4 in the world, took his stand after the appeals committee changed the off-stage arrangements for the players following complaints about his repeated visits to the gents.

His Bulgarian opponent, Veselin Topalov, the world’s No 1, alleged on Thursday that Kramnik’s behaviour was “suspicious”.

After studying nearly 20 hours of video tapes, Topalov’s agent, the grandmaster Silvio Danailov, said that Kramnik had retreated to his relaxation room 25 times per game and visited the lavatory more than 50 times in every game.

He did not specify what kind of impropriety he was alleging or whether Topalov felt that the lavatory breaks were aimed at frustrating him.

The rest can be read here.
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