Kramnik-Topalov starts… well, almost

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
The dates for the reunification match Kramnik-Topalov were known for quite a while: 21 September-13 October. Well, it's September 21st, but the two gentlemen will not play today. And neither tomorrow! Only Saturday the first move will be played, at 13.00 hrs Central European Summer Time. Right at the moment when most of us in Holland are getting back to that chessboard as well!

The opening ceremony is today (15.00 hrs CET)?Ǭ†with one important part: the drawing of the colors. So this afternoon we will know which player may start to serve on Saturday. Yes, Saturday, because this match will start tomorrow with a ... rest day!

The match The match consists of only twelve games. From Saturday on, all the?Ǭ†time there will be played two games followed by a rest day. Between game 11, 12 and the (possible) tiebreak there's one rest day every time. In case of a drawn match, the tiebreak consists of four rapid games (25 minutes plus ten seconds each move)?Ǭ†followed by, if needed, two blitz games (five minutes plus ten seconds each move),?Ǭ†and if needed one last decisive sudden death game. The player who wins the lots, may choose the colour. White will have six minutes, Black five. When this game ends in a?Ǭ†draw, the player with the black pieces will be the new world champion. (Let's hope it will not end this way!)

The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 for the next 20 and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game (thus?Ǭ†far just like the Dutch League tempo! the former Dutch League tempo) plus an extra 30 seconds beginning from move 61.?Ǭ†(By the way, the players may also choose the infamous FIDE tempo but I really don't expect them to do?Ǭ†this.)

Background How did it all happen? After the FIDE Wch in San Luis (Argentina) suddenly we had two world champions: FIDE Champion Veselin Topalov and Classical World Chess Champion Kramnik, who drew a match against Peter Leko. During the FIDE Wch in San Luis Topalov's manager Danailov said in an interview with the Russian magazine 64 that Veselin was interested in two matches: against Kasparov and against Kramnik. After Topalov?Ǭ†had indeed won in San Luis, he denied this; he didn't want to play against someone with sixty elo poinst less than him. "That is a different class altogether," Topalov said in an interview with Sport Express.?Ǭ†Kramnik's reaction came soon: "I firmly believe that I am the real World Chess Champion."?Ǭ†To which he added that he was prepared to cooperate for a reunification match.

In November 2005 the young German event agency Universal Event Promotion (UEP) came with an offer of 1.4 million dollars to organise the match, but?Ǭ†this ended nowhere after the negotiations with FIDE.?Ǭ†In the meantime, the FIDE World Chess Cup was being held in December in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The first step on the long road that will lead to the world champion of 2007.

Shortly after Kramnik had ended seventh in the Russian Ch superfinal, he declared he wouldn't play for several months because of illness. He had to skip the Corus tournament as well. Despit this, in the beginning of January FIDE announced the regulations for a possible reunification match: "FIDE is announcing the official regulations of a possible World Championship match between the World Champion V. Topalov and a challenger who is either an ex-World champion or has a minimum FIDE rating of 2700."?Ǭ†(This would later lead to the challange of Topalov by Teimour Radiabov.)

Because the next cyclus for the Wch 2007 had already started, FIDE added: "If the challenger wins the World Championship Match and becomes the new World Champion, then his previous status in the World Championship Cycle 2005-2007 (World Cup or Candidates or World Championship Tournament qualifier, etc.) passes to the loser of the World Championship Match. This would not be a replacement but a switch of status between the challenger and the World Champion. The winner of the World Championship Match shall be obliged to defend his title in the World Chess Championship Tournament 2007."

For everybody who completely lost track: here are the Rules?Ǭ†& regulations for the Candidates Matches of the World Chess Championship 2007?Ǭ†(PDF).?Ǭ†

When the fight was at its toughest between Bessel Kok and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Kirsan suddenly announced the reunification match, on April 13th 2006. The whole world immediately expected this to be a strategical-policital move, and didn't believe much of it. The rest is history: expectedly Kok didn't make it but the match surprisingly did.

Earlier encounters The players (both 31 years old) have met 62 times, including rapid and blitz games. The score sees a big advantage for Kramnik: 19-9, with 34 draws. In regular games its 11-4 for Kramnik with 24 draws. This also means that 62% of the games ended in a draw (which means 7.4 games in this match). By the way, the earlier encounters can be replayed here online. Here?Ǭ†is a nice overview of where the match can be followed online.

Prognosis Topalov?Ǭ†has shown his best form ever the last twelve months. Kramnik hasn't been around for quite a while this year, but at the Olympiad and in Dortmund he showed the world he can still play a game of chess. It will be a super exciting match, with a lot of draws I'm afraid. I expect a 6,5-5,5 win by Kramnik. What do you think?
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