Reports | November 16, 2008 1:04

New open letters, but no news

The Kamsky-Topalov match / FIDE saga continues with two more open letters: one by the Bulgarian Chess Federation and one by Kamsky's manager Chernenko, but there's not much new under the sun.

To get you updated: on November 3, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov received a letter by Oleg Chernenko, the manager of Gata Kamsky, that stated that the payment of 935,000 USD would be effected on November 5. Ilyumzhinov accepted this date as the "last ultimatum".

On November 6 the money wasn't there, and instead of keeping up to his promise of guaranteeing a US$ 750,000 prize fund, Ilyumzhinov gave the Bulgarian Chess Federation another chance to organize the match, but for a prize fund of 250,000 USD plus 50,000 USD as contribution to FIDE (which was 100,000 USD more than the initial prize fund offered by the Bulgarians and accepted by FIDE last year).

The next day, November 7, an open letter by Gata Kamsky's father Roustam appeared, protesting. More open letters by several USCF board members followed, quibbling over the best way to support Gata, who himself asked the board members to unite.

This week, in another open letter, the Bulgarian Chess Federation accepted Ilyumzhinov's offer:

Bulgarian Chess Federation
To Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
President World Chess Federation

1. The Bulgarian Chess Federation confirms its wish to host the semi final match for the World Title in chess between Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky. We are extremely surprised why the financial arrangements for the match have been changed without sufficient arguments. It is in the best interest of chess and the necessity for this match to take place in order to determine the contender for the world title and we guarantee that we can raise the necessary USD 250,000 for a prize fund as well as USD 50,000 FIDE charges and will cover all organizational costs related to preparing and hosting the match.

2. We guarantee best conditions for both contenders for the world title to be able to demonstrate their merits.

3. Bulgarian security authorities guarantee the full safety and security of Gata Kamsky and the members of his staff.

Bearing in mind the importance of this major chess competition, we believe that the timeline proposed for its preparation is far too short (preparation of the playing hall, accommodation, PR, the design of the logo and the advertising material etc.) and therefore we would like to propose the match to take place in Sofia from the 3rd to 15th February 2009 (opening Feb. 3, first game Feb. 4 ... tie-break in case of possible draw 4:4 and closure -- Feb. 15). We are ready to talk about details and signing the contract for preparing and hosting the match.

Gens una sumus!

Respectfully yours,

Stefan Sergiev,
President Bulgarian Chess Federation

Yesterday an open letter by Kamsky's manager Chernenko was published at Chessbase. He tries to explain 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:

Manager of GM Gata Kamsky
Postal Address: Kovpaka str. 17, app. 131. Kiev, Ukraine, 03150.
Private office: Phone: +380445694162; Fax: +380445694163.
International mobile phone: +37253687587; Mobile in Ukraine: +380504628674.

Date: November 13, 2008.
Re: Kamsky-Topalov match

I was asked several times from several sides to give my point of view regarding the financing of the match Kamsky-Topalov from my side. It is especially topical after FIDE's letters of November 06 and November 07 blaming me that I lied about availability of funds for the match Kamsky-Topalov in city Lviv in Ukraine.

I don't want to blame anybody but I would like to explain why the announced amount of USD 935 thousand (including FIDE charges) was not transferred to the FIDE account. At first my sponsors and then I promised to do it, several times. I will explain now why it has not yet happened (the same situation will be with sponsors from the Bulgaria side). The money was and is available now.

The main reason is that FIDE did not present the necessary contracts beforehand: for the match Kamsky-Topalov and for match Anand-Kramnik. We asked about it dozen times. The position of FIDE, money first, is not acceptable for us. We don't know what kind of ?¢‚Ǩ?ìtricks?¢‚Ǩ? can be contained in these contracts. As soon as the money will be on FIDE's account we could not change any issues, and FIDE will push on us to sign the proposed variant.

I see only one way out: conditional transfer. As soon as the contracts will be looked through, and as soon as the contract will be acceptable for everybody (Topalov, Kamsky, FIDE) and will be signed, only after that the money will be lodged to FIDE account.

I will be present at the FIDE Congress as the Manager of GM Gata Kamsky and as a sponsor also. I think we will find a solution to the main issue, and the match will definitely take place. I still hope that will happen in Ukraine (city Lviv). The time that is proposed by the Bulgarian Chess Federation is acceptable.

In the mean time I wish good health to President FIDE Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov after yesterday's car incident. Also best regards to our counterpart: Mr. Danailov and Mr. Topalov.

Oleksandr Chernenko

Strictly speaking, Chernenko doesn't stand a chance, because last week Ilyumzhinov wrote: "The Bulgarian Chess Federation will be re-awarded with the event if it accepts in written form, by 14 November 2008 12:00 GMT, to hold the match with a prize fund of 250,000 USD plus 50,000 USD as contribution to FIDE and all organising expenses covered." And the Bulgarians accepted. Besides, manager/sponsor Chernenko doesn't have much credit left by now, and his explanation isn't very convincing either.

But since virtually everybody involved in this soap is in Dresden right now, anything can happen. Let's hope it will be solved during a few meetings, and they'll save us from more open letters...

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.

Relevant posts:

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


ebutaljib's picture

Unless Chernenko literally puts 935.000 USD (in cash) on the table, the match will be in Bulgaria. And it is going to be Topalov vs. Shirov.

Popuscu (Bulgaria)'s picture

Did the players (Topa and Kamsky) confirm their participation ????
I am almost sure that Topa did it in secret and Kamsky did not.

Let us recall FIDE rules:
"By 14 November 2008, 12:00 GMT, both players have to officially confirm, in written form and in a clear and explicit way, that they will play the match. If GM Topalov refuses to confirm his participation, then GM Kamsky qualifies automatically for the 2009 WCC match. If GM Kamsky refuses to confirm his participation, he will be replaced by GM Shirov (the runner-up of the World Cup 2007). The confirmation letters should be sent by email at and by registered post to the FIDE Secreteriat, address: 9 Syggrou Ave, 11743 Athens, Greece."

May be this rule will not be apllied because FIDE president had an accident !!!

Ricardo's picture

I dont think FIDE gives a damn about their own rules, seeing how they decide to ignore them whenever they feel that way.

First of all, I'm sure I'm not the only one who still does not understand why this match has to take place, but again, with that joke of a president and people like Azmaiparashvili, Danailov and so many others, this whole thing looks more like a parody of The Sopranos than a real chess federation.

And then we complain that chess is not taken seriously by the sponsors. Heh, I wonder why.

Manu's picture

@Ricardo : If Danailov is such a shame for the sponsors please explain to me why his tournaments are so succesful .
The almost half millon dollar in prices for Bilbao (one of the strongest tournaments ever) , where do they came from?

ebutaljib's picture

I don't understand why people keep on talking trash about FIDE and Danailov/Topalov.

FIDE is by no means a model of well runed organization and Danailov and Topalov may have done some unethical things in the past, but this whole mess is only ones fault - Kamsky!!! It's Chernenko's and whole Kamsky's camp fault that all this is happening. And Kamsky is 100 % responsible for the actions of his delegation.

The only mistake FIDE made in this case is, that it believed to Chernenko's promises. They should have given the match to Bulgarians after the original deadline expired. And if kamsky refuses, then this is his problem, just call Shirov.

James's picture

What if Kamsky refuses and is replaced with Shirov, and then Shirov refuses to play?? Does Topalov automatically qualify for the final then?

But what if Kamsky refuses and is replaced with Shirov, and then Topalov refuses to play?? I don't know how FIDE would manage that situation.

The tournament system is much easier, simpler, clearer and less exclusive than the match system. In reality, the match system leads to more political moves than chess moves (the chronological list in this article being a case in point).

Grzegorzetze's picture

Keres, Schlechter, Fine, Bronstein and Korchnoi would all have become world champions, were it not for that disorganisation by the name of FIDE...

Manu's picture

Disorganisation is a naif way to look at what happened ,some of the people you mention were stolen (even threatened).
Kamsky should play , but if not Shirov would be a blessing to all chess fans.
Chess is less fair sport since he didn't play Kasparov , maybe if Alexei plays the balance of the force is restored somehow.
The only thing i cant decide is who would be de Jedy and who would play the Sith :)

ebutaljib's picture

"Keres, Schlechter, Fine, Bronstein and Korchnoi would all have become world champions, were it not for that disorganisation by the name of FIDE?¢‚Ǩ¬¶"

LOL! You clearly don't have a clue. At least 3 of them have nothing to do on this list.

jussu's picture

"Keres, Schlechter, Fine, Bronstein and Korchnoi et c."

Well, this is an impresive list. If I recall correctly then Schechter played his title match (an almost won it, to everyone's surprise) way before FIDE was founded. As for the others, I still do not see how FIDE has stripped them from their titles.

me's picture

Grzegorzetze's credibility on this matter is the same as Chernenko's credibility in Kamsky-Topalov negotiations - ZERO!

me's picture

Sorry I am very stupid.

Grzegorzetze's picture


I am the stupidest person in this Forum.

Gubbins's picture

A very unconvincing letter from Chernenko, this sort of uncertainty is what escrow accounts exist for, and well he knows it.

Hopefully these guys will just meet face to face and sort this out.

me's picture

Breaking news!!!

Kamsky sacked Chernenko and agreed to play in Bulgaria! The match will be held in second half or February.

VB's picture

WOW! Finally! Better later than never!

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