February 18, 2009 1:36

Topalov-Kamsky starts with a draw and an odd legal note

Topalov-Kamsky Game 1In a great fighting game, Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky have started their Challenger's Match with a draw. In a Grünfeld-Indian, Topalov sacrificed a pawn for some attacking chances but Kamsky comfortably held his own and even took over the initiative for a moment.

The Kamsky-Topalov World Championship Semi-Final Match takes place February 16th to 28th in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Challenger's Match consists of eight games and possible tie-breaks and has a prize find of US $250,000 which will be shared equally by the players. The winner qualifies for a World Championship Match against Viswanathan Anand.

Game 1
Many of you who were following the game live today may have wondered about the following. From the start, below the famous, blue DGT game viewer there was a remarkable legal note:

Warning! It is absolutely prohibited the live broadcast of the moves or video during the game on other websites, media or software without the explicit permission of the orginizers [sic] of the match.

When the game was running for about half an hour, another, interesting line was added:

Currently the broadcast rights are being violated by ChessBase on its software PlayChess.

Since many other sources were covering the game live, including TWIC, Chessdom and ICC, we're clearly dealing with some private war between the Bulgarians on one side and Chessbase on the other. It's well-known that their relationship hasn't exactly been "deeply in love" for quite a while now, but to bring it into the open like the official site was doing today is, well, remarkable, let's put it that way.

Let's move on to more important stuff, like the game itself:

Name Nat. Rtg
















Kamsky USA 2725
Topalov BUL 2796

Chessdom provided all (and when we say all, we mean all!) the details of yesterday's press conference with the players and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Prime Minister of Bulgaria Sergey Stanishev, who is officially the head of the organizing committee.

Press conference

Topalov, Ilyumzhinov and Kamsky at Monday's press conference | Photo Ivan Stoimenov

Apparently, Kamsky had some requests for changes as far as the playing hall was concerned:

In general he is not happy that there is light into the playing hall. Kamsky and his team want the windows to be covered with dark cloth, while the lamps to be directed only towards the playing tables.

During the press conference both teams were made public as well:

Team Kamsky: GM Emil Sutovsky, GM Evgeny Najer, GM Andrei Volokitin.
Team Topalov: GM Ivan Cheparinov, GM Vallejo Pons, GM Erwin L'Ami

And so the match that was supposed to take place last year, has finally started. Especially after this first game we cannot but think that it's a real pity we're only going to see eight games max! Well, let's enjoy it while we can. Tomorrow at 14:00 CET game 2 will be played.


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


acirce's picture

"Thats not true! Unlike in the 2008-2011 cycle, the rules for 2007-2009 cycle remained unchanged from day one. It was known from the beginning that the 2007 World Cup winner will have to play a challenger match against Topalov.

There was never any indication that the World Cup winner will get a title match."

Of course there was. Don't speak with such confidence about things you don't know. There was a huge discussion about it when the change was announced. See for example http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2007/06/fide-follies-forever-ii.htm and http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=3948

Here's Karpov's comment on the matter: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4018

The original rules: http://www.fide.com/component/content/article/3-news/1848-339-decision-o...

"Following the decision of the Presidential Board at its meeting in Antalya, I was tasked to take a decision on the World Chess Championship cycle and the World Chess Cup.

After a thorough examination of the responses from the top Grandmasters and ACP and based on my consultations with national federations and various representatives of the chess public, I have resolved as follows:

1. In respect of the World Championship Cycle, to approve Proposal A.


The proposal is to terminate the World Championship Tournament and keep the World Cup as a Candidates tournament to find a challenger for a World Championship match. So in every odd year there will be only the World Cup (2007, 2009, 2011, etc.) and the respective winner will play every next year (2008, 2010, 2012, etc.) a match against the World Champion.

The chronological breakdown:

a1. 2008: The winner from WCCT 2007 in Mexico plays a World Championship match against the previous World Champion. If Kramnik does not win the WCCT 2007, then Kramnik can challenge the winner of Mexico in the first part of 2008. If Kramnik wins in Mexico, then the right to challenge goes to the previous World Champion, ie Topalov.

a2. 2009: The winner of the "a1" match plays a World Championship match against the winner of the 2007 World Cup which will be held in Khanty-Mansiysk.


Tarjei's picture

I don't see how they can copyright the moves. It's a piece of news, just like the current score in a Champions League game, or any other football game for that matter. And if they gave permission to let's say ICC to broadcast the event on their site, you can hardly prevent any other sites from broadcasting that on their own site. It's like preventing someone from saying that the current score half time in the World Cup final is 1-1.

me's picture

Those were PROPOSALS. Once the regulation for the cycle were accepted they weren't changed again! It was know since May or June 2007 that World Cup winner (played in November/December 2007) will have to play a challenger match against Topalov.

Talk about how Kamsky suposingly earned a title match started later.

Tom's picture

Could those who believe chessbase are acting illegally please point to the Bulgarian, EU, or international law that says so? (I mean law itself. The website of any chess organizer does not constitute law as far as I know. Although running a chess website myself sometimes makes me wish that were not the case.)

Peter Doggers's picture

You CAN put links in your comments - it only has the side-effect that it's going into moderation status first, because of spam protection.

Tom's picture

"Legally, the Bugarian Chess Federation as organizer can prevent Chessbase to commercially use information from the live broadcast without their consent."

I suspect this is true about the video feed, but surely it's not true when it comes to the moves themselves?

By analogy: the TV rights for football in this country are very heavily policed. However, it's not illegal for anyone to describe the play or give the current score. In fact 'live text' reporting is quite common.

me's picture

@ Euwe

Which part exactly you don't understand? Chessbase is pirating the transmision and is stealing other people's property.

And you are babling about some other things that have nothing to do with it.

Jagdish Dube's picture

Topalov has won the 2nd game in 31 moves.Kamsky was in severe time trouble.

silly2009's picture

Legal Trivia:

Chessbase (via paid access to their chessplay facility) are in a legal breach, but only because they use the transmission for commercial purposes without authorisation. The other web sites, even without permission, are on the right side of the law, because the access to them is free and they popularise the sport without earning money.

BTW, if we had non-free access to the tournament live coverage (which in general the organisers of any sport event are entitled to) then any web-site (commercial or non-profit) which transmits the event would be in breach of the law no matter what the purpose is.

Ricardo's picture

"Which part exactly you don’t understand? Chessbase is pirating the transmision and is stealing other people’s property."

And exactly what is it they are stealing? Because as far as I know the neither the players nor the organization own the rights to the moves played in these games.

If they were "stealing" the live webcam feed then that might be different, but are we talking about the moves?

me's picture


The Organizer is given all the commercial rights connected to the Tournament, and is entitled to exploit all the rights, including but not limited to; sponsorship rights, ticketing rights, Internet rights, televisions rights, graphic, media, SMS rights, all kind of transmission through cellular phones, all sort of electronics broadcast rights aheady existing or to exist , souvenir rights, merchandising rights, advertising and promotion rights, as well as all the source of income through this agreements."

Thomas's picture

@jussu: You can argue about the "weird 'on popular demand' ", but generally Chessbase is a commercial company website, so their primary objective ('reason to exist') is to promote and sell their products. And if you are not interested (neither am I most of the time), it is quite easy to skip those articles and still read the other content provided for free!

@Manu: I am reasonably fluent in German, English, French and Dutch (I have lived in various countries), but my Spanish isn't good enough - mostly tourist language such as "una cerveza por favor" - Cheers! ,:) But other people could translate your quote in the meantime ... .

jussu's picture

Absolutely. I am only whining about "on popular demand" articles on some trivial subject, written with the sole purpose of mentioning their software yet again. I also understand that the website is their playground, so the content is theirs to choose. Just makes me groan every time when I see that phrase.

me's picture

Why is my comment still not shown and is pending approval by the moderator?

Thomas's and Jussu's comments are there, but not mine which I posted before them.

noyb's picture

The Bulgarians are giving themselves a bad name, from the sponsers, to Topalov's manager and Topalov himself for putting up with such conduct. Disgraceful!

Arne Moll's picture

Can you prove that, Michael X Tractor? It would be interesting to see a screendump of that advice, and I'm sure Chessbase would find it interesting too...

VB's picture

chessbase was heavily backing Kramnik during his match with Topalov. It's showed that the site is biased and not objective. Too much rumors (like in yellow newspaper) and bad comments to the games.

Sneaky's picture

My comment above was not only about the recent 'message' to chessbase. I am a neutral chessfan and I have witnessed time and again the disgraceful behavior of Danailov and its reflection on top Bulgarian players. Not shaking hands with a player who allegedly took sides with their 'enemy' Kramnik, verbal assault on other players, having a hard time to accept a defeat etc. these type of attitudes are what amounts to disgrace!

I don't know why they keep this momo as a manager..it must be money&connections..

Popuscu [Bulgaria] 's picture

I am afraid that Topalov's team is preparing something if the outcome of the match goes in favour of Kamsky.

I do not understand ChessBase story about violating emmission rights, Can ChessBase do such a stupid" mistake??

Olaf's picture

Danailov did a LOT for chess in the last years. He has set up Mtel Masters, the Grand Slam, has backed the first big tournament in China, and has improved media coverage, for example by promoting the glass cage, which really took off in Sevilla. Without him, the challenger match would not even have taken place. So I think all chess fans owe him a little respect, at least.

Thomas's picture

I would separate Danailov's role as an organiser (MTel, Bilbao) from his role as Topalov's manager - not obvious or straightforward because it is the same person and he has Topalov's interests in mind in all of his actions.

Largely unnoticed so far (though maybe Guillaume was implicitly referring to - also - that story): What should we think about Chessdom's post "Topalov-Kamsky was on the verge of toiletgate"? As this wasn't picked up anywhere else there seems to be little substance behind it. Provocatively I suggest it's a new Bulgarian strategy:
1) Don't create scandals yourself, but accuse the other side of doing so
2) Do so before the match even started, so people will not think your actions are influenced by the match situation (as for the Elista toiletgate).

Olaf's picture


Bilbao, not Sevilla, my fault. But seriously, I would stop to put the "bad boy" image on Danailov. I repeat: Let us give him some credit!

Olaf's picture

And by the way. Legally, the Bugarian Chess Federation as organizer can prevent Chessbase to commercially use information from the live broadcast without their consent.

acirce's picture

"Without [Danailov], the challenger match would not even have taken place."

Exactly - Kamsky as the World Cup winner would have gone on to play for the title straight away, like the rules of the cycle stated before Danailov's little lobbying campaign gave Topalov this match for free...

Respect? Not really. I don't respect a cheater, a bully and a thief just because he might be skilled at it.

acirce's picture


"...we’re clearly dealing with some private war between the Bulgarians on one side and Chessbase on the other."

I don't see what Chessbase has been doing to make this statement true. It seems more like one-sided attacks from the Bulgarian side. What have they ever done to Topalov & c/o except reporting accurately from Elista etc?

Does anyone know if there is any kind of independent verification of Topalov's and Danailov's claim that the "anonymous Dutch chess fan" in the Kommersant article in fact being Friedel?

Thomas's picture

Olaf: I didn't even notice the Bilbao-Sevilla mistake - you must be about my age (41) or older if you connect Sevilla with chess ,:).
About legal issues: Apart from the fact that this is questionable (or controversially discussed) the odd thing [pointed out by Peter Doggers] is that Chessbase was singled out, while several other sites committed similar violations - and 'commercial use' (members only) also applies to ICC.
About Danailov: To rephrase or explain my first sentence (10:53AM): Danailov should get credit when he deserves it, but also criticism when he deserves it. I didn't use strong language such as 'disgrace to chess' .... .

Jeans's picture

Today Kamsky with white.

Tom's picture

The notice on the site serves to advertise both chessbase and the playchess server. I actually assumed from it that playchess offered the only alternative coverage, so promptly watched the game from there.

Ark's picture

Chessbase sucks, they often censor remarks that are flattering for the Bulgarians

Tom's picture

Oddly, the official site does link to chessbase via its (evidently selective) links page:

me's picture

"Exactly - Kamsky as the World Cup winner would have gone on to play for the title straight away, like the rules of the cycle stated before Danailov’s little lobbying campaign gave Topalov this match for free…"

Thats not true! Unlike in the 2008-2011 cycle, the rules for 2007-2009 cycle remained unchanged from day one. It was known from the beginning that the 2007 World Cup winner will have to play a challenger match against Topalov.

There was never any indication that the World Cup winner will get a title match.

me's picture

And about the current topic:
What does Danailov or "Bulgarians" have to do with anything???

Chessbase is pirating the transmition without paying! It's like if someone would broadcast a Champion's League final without purchasing broadcasting rights. Nothing is for free in this world, in case you didn't notice.

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

And as owner of the broadcast rights , one should be able to choose who get the privilege of broadcasting your event and who doesnt.
As for all the hatefull remarks im reading about Topa in this thread , it reminds me the Quixote , i dont know how to put it in English (maybe you Thomas , your writing is better) but it goes like this:
¬®Ladran Sancho , se?±al de que cabalgamos¬®.

ejh's picture

I would have thought the main question was whether Chessbase are, or are not, violating the law in making their transmission. Of course we can speculate as to motives and ask why one set of people are criticised and not another, these are resaonable points to raise. But they don't invalidate the question as to legality.

ejh's picture

I think "se?±al de que cabalagamos" would be well rendered "give the signal to advance" or "tell them that we attack!" but without the context I'm not sure about "ladran" - "they shout"? "They make a lot of noise"?

Euwe's picture

@me: "Nothing is for free in this world, in case you didn’t notice."

Your argument is like saying that because there'll always be diseases, it's useless going to the doctor. Just because the world is sometimes unfair doesn't mean it has to be that way.

jussu's picture

I don't particularly like Chessbase website (with all their weird "on popular demand" articles about their database and chess engine), neither do I have a negative or positive opinion about them violating broadcast rules - that is a legal issue and we don't know the details. However, I did not notice any bias in their coverage of Kramnik-Topalov match. What other ways could it have been covered - by writing that game five was won by Topalov but the score was never found?

ejh's picture

However, I did not notice any bias in their coverage of Kramnik-Topalov match

Did you not? There was an awful lot of commentary on the subject from their writers, i.e. not just reporting the facts. I mean did you really not read, for instance, Yasser Seirawan's pieces?

I've no objection to people expressing their opinion, and it's quite likely true that the weight of opinion in the chess world was against Topalov and Danailov, rightly or wrongly. But Chessbase was not some kind of impartial source (and very often isn't). A useful source for news, certainly, and often indisipensible. But not remotely impartial.

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

In Spanish means something like : they are criticizing us ,good sign that we are going in the right way.
I agree with you about chessbase.

Well , nice game for Topa , i bet that Kamsky was expecting Sicilian.

VB's picture

I think pete that's the point! "anthypaty from the Bulgarian side towards chessbase is smth normal considering their coverage from the match Topalov - Kramink."

sneaky's picture

This Danailov is a disgrace to chess. And I'm sorry to see that Topalov, though a good player, goes along with such propaganda. This bunch are just too good in earning an antipathy from a bystander!

leigh's picture

I don't think it is a "private war between the Bulgarians on one side and Chessbase on the other".

It is a war between the Bulgarians and Chess World!

Rubinstein's picture

Cheers for Chessbase ***rest deleted***

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

I agree with them about the broadcast rights , chessbase always attacked them and they are using this oportunity to hit them back.
I hope they can sue chessbase for this , not sure if thats posible though.

pete's picture

@leigh and sneaky: no offence, but that is bullshit. Danailov is not so black as some think he is and the anthypaty from the Bulgarian side towards chessbase is smth normal considering their coverage from the match Topalov - Kramink.

The first game was interesting and I hope to see more like it till the end of the week. My heart is with Topa, but I don't think it will be easy

chessfan's picture

MTel masters is a disgrace to chess too?

chessfan's picture


Philippe's picture

Now I understand why Kamsky was looking upwards to the right side so often...

ChessGirl's picture

Rubinstein and Chessfan, go back to kindergarten and doodle something to get the stress out of you both, if you please.

I think the first round was appropriate-- intriguing and well-fought, but nothing definite, we´ll see what happens next! :)

Guillaume's picture

Well, that settles it then. I was hoping Danailov and his team would have learnt a bit, but it seems they're ready to issue shameless stunts after another right from the start.
I hope Kamsky is ready for anything, cause it ain't going to be pretty.


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