Kamsky asks USCF board to unite

PeterDoggers
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USCF / KamskyIn an attempt to support Gata Kamsky in the FIDE/Topalov match saga, the board of the United States Chess Federation once again revealed its internal disunity. We received several "open emails" by different board members quibbling. The sanest person seems to be Kamsky himself, who requested "all USCF Board members to unite and find ways to make sure that justice and fairness will prevail."

After Roustam Kamsky's letter in which Gata's father protested FIDE's decision to give the Bulgarian Chess Federation a last chance to bid for the Kamsky-Topalov match (and thus lowering the prize fund from $750,000 to US $250,000), it was USCF President Bill Goichberg who joined the fashionable act of sending open letters. He wrote that

"the U.S. Chess Federation is astonished to hear the latest position of FIDE regarding the Kamsky vs. Topalov match." (...) FIDE's position appears to be that it was happy to promise backing with words only, but that backing with actual money was not what FIDE had in mind. Incredible! (...) The chess world and the media will not be so easily fooled. It is apparent that FIDE made a public commitment, and now is seeking to back out for no valid reason. A "guarantee" is not subject to being revoked at the whim of the guarantor. Please reconsider this very unwise and inappropriate action."


This open letter was followed (and "cc'd" to all major online chess media) by a response by USCF Chairman Susan Polgar, who wrote:

"Bill, please kindly verify that this is only your personal opinion or the opinion of various individuals. As a board member of the US Chess Federation, I did not authorize this letter nor have I seen this open letter before it was published. You definitely do not have my permission to speak on my behalf. This is the first time I am seeing it. (...) "I encourage all parties to engage in diplomatic and respectful negotiation sessions to come up with a sensible solution instead of adding more fuel to the fire with this type of open letters."


Emails kept coming in. USCF Vice President (Finance) Randy Bauer subsequently stated that

"The USCF Executive Board, meeting in Nashville Tennessee last weekend voted to authorize President Bill Goichberg to write such a letter. Perhaps the fact that Ms. Polgar chose not to attend the meeting in person but call into it caused her to miss this point."


To which Paul Truong, Polgar's husband and also USCF Vice President (Marketing and Communications) responded:

"We certainly did not authorize or consent for USCF President Goichberg to issue this letter or to engage in a public war of words. However, he is free to do it on his behalf or yours, not ours. He has clarified this issue."


Thus far, the last words have come from Gata Kamsky himself:

Gata KamskyDear President, gentelmen, Susan, When I first seen Bill's letter I was happy, because finally USCF has been showing strong support for their representative. Whether there could be a better solution or a more diplomatic one is a good question, but the reality is that there is no time to negotiate and given FIDE's strong-arm history of negotiating, it is not likely to succeed. When I spoke with FIDE Vice President Mr. Makropoulos in Greece, it was decided that both my team and Mr. Topalov's team would meet during the rest day at the Olympiad in Dresden to negotiate and discuss everything, including technical details. With their last public statement, Mr. Illumjinov not only attempted to revoke his personal guarantee of the match, but he also imposed the time limit of 1 week for the players to acceed to his demands and at the same time re-awarded the bid to the Bulgarian Federation, which was the original FIDE's intention in the first place. You all are aware of the clause in the FIDE regulation for this "special" match that gave the Bulgarian Chess Federation a privilege of matching any bid that is coming from my side, which effectively ruined any attempt to find and submit a bid from the United States. Throughout the negotiations with my managers, FIDE did nothing to find a sponsor on their own, despite the fact that it was sole FIDE's decision to create this match and thus, to allow Mr. Topalov a backdoor into the final steps of the qualification proceedings for the world championship title, quite unfairly, I might add. FIDE's entire purpose, for the chessplayers, for fairness has been changed into a special interest group organization and I personally believe that any negotiations with FIDE rulers or tsars, or whatever you like to call them, will be unsuccessful. The time for the negotiation is over and the only way to fight FIDE is to expose their mistakes, and perhaps fight them in a court of law if and when FIDE broke the law. Therefore, I would respectfully request all USCF Board members to unite and find ways to make sure that justice and fairness will prevail. Sincerely, Gata Kamsky





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.
  • November 3, 2008: Ilyumzhinov receives a letter by Chernenko that states that the payment of 935,000 USD will be effected on November 5, 2008. FIDE accepts this date as the last ultimatum.
  • November 6, 2008: instead of keeping up to his promise of guaranteeing a US$ 750,000 prize fund, Ilyumzhinov gives the Bulgarian Chess Federation another chance, and a prize fund of 250,000 USD plus 50,000 USD as contribution to FIDE is enough.
  • November 7, 2008: an open letter Roustam Kamsky, protesting.
  • November 7, 2008: open letters by several USCF board members, quibbling over the best way to support Gata Kamsky, who himself asks the board members to unite.

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