"Kamsky-Topalov in February in Sofia" (3nd update)

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Kamsky-Topalov3nd update, November 20: Silvio Danailov confirmed that today both parties have signed the contracts.

Today all parties involved reached an agreement on the Kamsky-Topalov match. The match that should provide a challenger to world champion Anand is now scheduled to take place in February 2009 in Sofia.

Update November 20, 2008, 17:33 CET: Today Silvio Danailov, manager of Veselin Topalov, confirmed to me that both parties have signed the contracts.

Update November 19, 2008, 20:32 CET: Although FIDE published the following press release, it's still unclear whether contracts have been signed.

FIDE is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached for organisation of the Challenger Match between Topalov and Kamsky. There has been full agreement between FIDE and the players regarding all aspects of the Match.

The Match will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 16th to 28th February, 2009 with a prize fund of USD 250,000 which will be shared equally by the players.

Both teams agreed on the following appointments:

Appeals Committee: Nigel Freeman (BER) Chairman Boris Kutin (MNE) Vanik Zakarian (ARM)

Arbiters: Ignatius Leong (SIN) Ashot Vardapetian (ARM)

Match Supervisor: Hal Bond (CAN)

Gata Kamsky announced that Mr Chernenko is no longer his Representative and that he has appointed Emil Sutovsky as his Official Representative in all negotiations and as chief of his delegation and spokesperson for the team.

FIDE is pleased that the meetings with both delegations were conducted in a very friendly and constructive atmosphere and thanks both teams for their cooperation.

Thus far only drafts of a contract seem to be circulating among FIDE officials, the players and their representatives. Israel Gelfer, honorary FIDE Vice President, told Macauley by phone: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThere are no problems, we are just working on the wording.?¢‚Ǩ? Gelfer expects the draft contracts to be approved and signed by both players ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwithin one or two days.?¢‚Ǩ?

At 10:00 AM this morning, on the first rest day of the Chess Olympiad, a closed door meeting was convened in the International Congress Center in Dresden, to attempt to reach agreement on the terms of the World Championship semi-final match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov.

Gata Kamsky was there, together with Emil Sutovsky (Kamsky's second and now de facto manager), Silvio Danailov (manager of Topalov), Stefan Sergiev (President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation), Israel Gelfer (Honorary FIDE Vice President), William Kelleher (FIDE Vide President and USCF Delegate), Georgios Makropoulos (Deputy FIDE President), Zurab Azmaiparashvili (FIDE Vice President), Boris Kutin (Continental President for Europe), Berek Balgabaev (special advisor to President Illyumzhinov) and Lakhdar Mazouz (FIDE Verification Commission). Topalov himself, was not present, nor was Alexander Chernenko, previously serving as Mr. Kamsky's manager.

ICC's Macauley Peterson was on the scene and reports that after the meeting, Georgios Makropoulos confirmed that an agreement had been reached. Then,

"FIDE officials immediately began drafting, not just a FIDE statement (to be published tonight or tomorrow morning), but contracts for the match itself, which are to be signed as soon as they have been checked and approved by both players."

Independent sources in the meeting confirmed that the match will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in early February. Chessdom reports that the dates are 16-29 February 2009:

"Initially the dates offered by the Bulgarian Chess Federation have been 3-15 February, but Kamsky has requested later dates. The reason is that Gata Kamsky will participate in the Corus 2009 tournament."

But since Topalov is scheduled to play in Linares from February 18 to March 8, these date's can't be considered definite either. Asked whether Topalov has a contract with Linares to play, Silvio Danailov replied: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYes. So what??¢‚Ǩ? Topalov's manager declined to say definitively whether this would or would not pose a problem.

According to Peterson, Honorary FIDE Vice President Gelfer confirmed that it is expected that contracts will be signed this evening. Updates to the story will follow as soon as possible.

More details on today's meeting at ICC's Chess.FM blog.

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.
  • November 12, 2008: open letter by the President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, accepting Ilyumzhinov's offer and promising the 250,000 USD prize fund.
  • November 14, 2008: open letter by Chernenko, "explaining" why FIDE didn't receive the money yet: "The main reason is that FIDE did not present the necessary contracts beforehand." Chernenko still hopes to find a solution.
  • November 18, 2008: in a meeting in Dresden during the Olympiad, all parties agree on the match to take place in Sofia in February 2009.

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