Fate of Reunification Match Hangs in the Balance

09.29.06 Accusations, counter-accusations, open letters, complaints and demands permeated the atmosphere at the Topalov - Kramnik Match for the World Chess Championship in Elista, Kalmykia. The fifth game was officially forfieted by Kramnik earlier today when he refused to arrive at the board thus allowing his game time to run out. We bring you an update on the series of events that has left this reunification match hanging in the balance.

Veselin Topalov waits in vain for his opponent Vladimir Kramnik to arrive for Game 5. Kramnik was subsequently forfieted.

Topalov opens with...The Toilet Gambit?

As we previously reported The FIDE Appeals Committee responded to Topalov's team deciding:

(a) To close both the toilets in the players' rest rooms and to open another toilet that will be available only to the two players.

(b) Not to accept the request of Mr. Danailov, to stop the use of the rest rooms by the players.

(c) The Appeals Committee believes that the publication of the videotapes to the mass media is not within our authority and we consider such action to be against the privacy of the players.

(d) The Appeals Committee will return the fee of USD 5,000 for the appeal to Mr. Danailov.

This letter from team Topalov came just hours after the FIDE Appeals Committee's decesion:

To the Organizing Committee
of the match Topalov vs Kramnik
To the Appeals Committee
Mr. Makropoulos
Mr. Azmaiparashvili
Mr. Vega

To all mass media

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After we got acquainted with the ruling of the Appeals Committee of the Topalov vs. Kramnik world championship match we deem it necessary to point out the following:

The ruling in its present form is not satisfactory to us since it practically does not result in any change. Mr. Kramnik will be able to visit the new bathroom an unlimited number of times without being subject to further control.

We would accept the current relaxation rooms to continue to be used provided that the presence of controllers in both rooms is ensured.

When the two players need to go to the bathroom, they should be accompanied by an assistant arbiter.

The checks carried out in the relaxation rooms were made only by experts of the Organizing Committee, whereas our experts were present as observers and only after the second game.

We find it difficult to understand why is it that the accredited journalists are denied access to the video tapes from the relaxation rooms.

The World Champion Veselin Topalov is outraged by the suspicious behavior of his opponent Mr. Vladimir Kramnik who in actual fact takes his most significant decisions in the bathroom.

Despite the above, in the name of the chess game and out of respect to FIDE, to Kalmikia and the millions of chess lovers, Veselin Topalov is willing to continue his participation in the match provided that measures to guarantee fair play are taken.

If the match were to continue, the World Champion would refrain from shaking hands with Mr. Kramnik before the games and would not take part in joint press conferences with him. Veselin Topalov will make statements for the media separately.

We look forward to receiving your response by 14.30 h hoping that it will give concrete answers to the questions that we pose.

Elista Sincerely:
Silvio Danailov
Manager of the Bulgarian team

That letter was, in turn, followed by this open letter from team Kramnik to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

Elista, 29 September 2006

Open Letter

’Ä¢ FIDE President H.E. Kirsan Iljumshinov

Copied to
’Ä¢ Executive Committee of Kalmykia Mr. Valery Bovaev
’Ä¢ Chief Arbiter Mr. Geurt Gijssen
’Ä¢ Russian Chess Federation

Dear Mr. President,

The Appeals Committee of the World Championship Match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik made the following decision on the protest of the Topalov Team:

’Äúto close both the toilets in the players rest rooms and to open another toilet that will be available only to the two players’Äù

The Kramnik team received the mentioned decision a few hours before the start of game 5 and was officially informed about the protest of Mr. Topalov only yesterday evening, 10 p.m., 28 September 2006. With such a decision the WCC Committee is clearly violating both the rules and regulations of the WCC match and the rights of Mr. Kramnik.

The relevant clause in contract of Mr. Kramnik expels: ’ÄúFIDE shall provide a rest room and toilette for the players during the WCC match in the playing hall and close to the stage (if possible backstage) to be equipped with a live monitor furnished with coffee and tea as well as with light refreshments.’Äù

The reasons that Mr. Kramnik is entering his own bathroom often is simple: The restroom is small and Mr. Kramnik likes to walk and therefore uses the space of the bathroom as well. The Appeals Committee has been informed about the issue before they decided. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Kramnik has to drink a lot of water during the games.

On the request of Mr. Topalov the agreed live monitors have been removed as well as the shower cabines in the bath rooms. The moves are provided on demonstration boards only. The substance of Mr. Topalov protests (dated 22, 24 and 28 September 2006) were basically always met by the approval of the Appeals Committee. Everything has been done here to satisfy Mr. Topalov’Äôs requests.

On a regulary basis the restrooms and toiletts are heavily checked by specialists, obviously local police forces. This goes together with the arrival of the players. The arbiters are observing all the measures. One representative of each team has the right of being present in order to observe the activities. The playing area is banned from signals and the glas wall protects from any kind of view contact and/or body language. There is not a single reason or evidence to believe that a player would have any kind of cheating possibilities.

It is and was no problem for the organization to assure all necessary measures in order to avoid any kind of cheating. By starting the match both participants agreed all the playing conditions de facto and de jure and the conditions are therefore legally binding. Any change of the playing conditions without a good reason would in our understanding request the approval of both players which is not the case here.

Mr. Kramnik believes that the latest decision should increasingly concern the world of chess as it shows very clearly and once again the biased stand of the Appeals Committee members involved. In person: Mr. Makropolous, Mr. Azmaiparashivili (well known as a close friend to Mr. Danailov), Mr. Gelfer (now replaced by Mr. Vega). Therefore Mr. Kramnik requests to exchange the mentioned persons immediately. Enough is enough.

We would like to add that the recent decision not only insults Mr. Kramnik but is clearly critizing both the excellent work of the local organisation at Elista and the nominated arbiters. Yesterday evening the chief arbiter and the head of the excutive committee once again confirmed that the indirect accusations of cheating are nonsense.

The protests of the Topalov team into the direction of Mr. Kramnik and the suspicions in the press release of Mr. Topalov are utterly disgraceful and are touching Mr. Kramnik’Äôs privacy. We do not think that the Topalov team has any right of getting access to the recordings. This shall be job of the nominated arbiters only.

The Topalov team includes a parapsychologist and more people which are obviously having no other tasks as to distract and to insult Mr. Kramnik especially since their team is realizing that Mr. Topalov finds himself in a difficult situation. This is what we call an utterly unfair behaviour which is not in accordance with the FIDE Code of Ethics. The decision taken by the Appeals Committee can only be seen as another attempt to disturb Mr. Kramniks concentration since it is difficult to understand what kind of improvement it shall be to have one toilet instead of two.

Our team does not trust the objectivity of the Appeals Committee anymore. Therefore it makes no sense for us to bring a protest to this table and Mr. Kramnik strongly insists once again that the members of the Appeals Committee will be changed immediately and that the heads of the Organizing Committee are taking their responsibilities.

In the meanwhile Mr. Kramnik will stop playing this match as long as FIDE is not ready to respect Mr. Kramnik’Äôs rights, in this case to use the toilet of his own restroom whenever he wishes to do so.

Further and more detailed legal investigations are already in process.

On behalf of Vladimir Kramnik

Yours sincerely,
Carsten Hensel
(Manager to Vladimir Kramnik, Classical World Chess Champion)

President Ilyumzhinov responded with an open letter of his own:

Sochi, 29 September 2006

GM V. Kramnik

Dear Vladimir,

I am currently in Sochi, at meeting of meeting of the Heads of the Regions of the South Russian Region of the Russian Federation led by the President of Russia V. Putin.

I have carefully read your open letter of today addressed to me, and I hereby inform you of my full trust in the members of the Match Appeals Committee and their latest decision taken in respect of the appeal of Topalov’Äôs team dated 28 September 2006.

I am also asking you in good faith to continue your participation in this match for the sake of the principles of our sport and prevention of the destruction of our long-sought efforts to organize this World Championship match, which is of utter importance for the whole world.

Millions of chess fans in the whole world are following this match with great interest and are looking forward for the just outcome produced over the chessboard and not from exchanging open letters which we are receiving from both teams. The Republic of Kalmykia and me personally as well as the Russian Chess Federation with its President, Mr. A. Zhukov have done our best in order to secure excellent conditions for the both participants. Therefore, I am kindly asking you to respect all these steps taken towards the smooth organization of the event.

Yours sincerely,
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Images courtesy of FIDE.com and The Susan Polgar Foundation

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