Bulgarian Chess Federation: "Mr Ilymzhinov, please inform us" (UPDATE)

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On June 1st, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov personally guaranteed the prize fund for the match Topalov-Kamsky scheduled, for November this year. Since then it has been quiet around this match - a bit too quiet, says Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, in an open letter - its translation has been corrected now.

Our colleagues of Chessdom, who read Bulgarian newspapers more often than we do, brought the news today that Stefan Sergiev has sent an open letter to Bulgarian media, in which he protests against the FIDE President for, well, basically doing nothing. Chessdom translate:

Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov,

The Bulgarian sports community worries about the uncertainty around the semi final match between GM Veselin Topalov and GM Gata Kamsky. The decision taken at the PB meeting in Tallinn in 2007 was welcomed by everyone expecting the end of the schism in the chess family. This decision was confirmed at the November 2007 congress in Antalia. Everyone expected it to become true and the match date to be appointed. Until now this did not happen and that fact practically questions whether the match will take place.

On June 1st, after all the deadlines were over, you personally declared that you guarantee the prize fund and took the responsibility for its organization. Since then more than 3 months have passed. We still do not know any details about where and in what conditions will be the match, and the announced by you date November 26th is approaching.

Mr Ilymzhinov, please inform me where and when the match will take place. We insist the decision for the match to be reflected in the players contracts, and they to be signed before the other semi final match between GM Kramnik and GM Anand. Further delay could be fatal and to ruin all the efforts so far. I think nobody has interest in the failure of the match Topalov - Kamsky. The Bulgarian chess player who is no. 1 in the current rank list cannot be eliminated from the competition for the world championship.

Sincerely yours, Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation

26.09.2008 Sofia, Bulgaria

Update September 28, 10:35 As many of you have already pointed out, the text of this letter was full of mistakes, mostly caused by bad translation. Chessdom reports:

Early Saturday morning there was a quick reaction by the Bulgarian Chess Federation members. They said, "The text of the letter in the Bulgarian news agencies is a wrong translation of the original that we have sent them." (...) "Of course we did not call the match between Kramnik and Anand semi final, as it was published in Bulgarian media. This would be total disrespect to the match itself."

Here's the correct version:

Note that his letter is dated exactly two months before the "scheduled" start of the match. Ilyumzhinov mentioned the dates November 26-December 14 in a press release on June 1, 2008.

Then, the FIDE President seemed to have resolved the unclear situation around the Topalov-Kamsky match: he guaranteed the Lviv organiser's offer by backing the event from his personal finances. But since then it seems that nothing has happened, and thus far neither Topalov nor Kamsky have signed any contract yet.

Asked about the match at the Bilbao Grand Slam Final, Topalov stated that it "was FIDE's problem now, not mine. My job is to play chess." About the guaranteed prize fund, his manager Silvio Danailov said: "OK, there's money, but that still doesn't mean the match will be organized. We haven't heard from Lviv yet. We're not the ones to act at this point; it's up to FIDE now."

Chronological list of events:

  • June 25, 2007: at the Presidential Board meeting in Tallinn, FIDE accepts a 150,000 USD bid by the Bulgarian Chess Federation to organize a match between Veselin Topalov and the winner of the 2007 World Cup, to be held in Bulgaria in the second half of 2008.
  • November 2007: FIDE confirms the accepted bid by the Bulgarians at the 78th FIDE congress in Antalya.
  • December 2007: Gata Kamsky wins the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, and with it the right to play a match against Topalov.
  • January 2008: Kamsky states that he isn't going to play the match in Bulgaria but prefers neutral grounds.
  • February 12, 2008: despite the Bulgarian bid that already stands, FIDE extends the bidding period for the organization of the Kamsky-Topalov until April 11, 2008, "in order to try to improve the financial terms and conditions for both players".
  • April 10, 2008: FIDE extends the deadline for receiving bids once more, until April 23, 2008, as was asked for by the Kamsky team. The Bulgarian Chess Federation publishes a protest, urging FIDE "to follow the decisions of its governing body - the Congress."
  • April 11, 2008: Gata Kamsky's manager Alexander Chernenko tells Yuri Vasiliev, journalist for Sports Express, that "the match will be held in Lviv, Ukraine for a prize fund of US$ 750,000."
  • May 15, 2008: Russian chess website Chesspro publishes an interview with Chernenko and chess media report the Lviv bid as "confirmed".
  • May 18, 2008: Macauley Peterson, in a piece for Chess Life Online, makes clear that both Chernenko and FIDE rebut Vasiliev's account that "the financial guarantees have now been received by FIDE, at their Swiss bank account." Things remain highly unclear.
  • May 29, 2008: Alexei Shirov, who lost the World Cup final in December 2007 to Kamsky, loses his patience and publishes an open letter, stating that by now he should be the one to play Topalov.
  • May 30, 2008: The Kamsky team responds, also in an open letter, and obviously not amused.
  • June 1, 2008: after discussing the Kamsky-Topalov match at a Presidential Board Meeting, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov personally guarantees the prize fund of US$ 750,000 for the match Topalov-Kamsky.
  • September 26, 2008: Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, protests once more against FIDE's actions - or non-actions, this time.

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