Reports | September 27, 2008 5:27

Bulgarian Chess Federation: "Mr Ilymzhinov, please inform us" (UPDATE)

On June 1st, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov personally guaranteed the prize fund for the match Topalov-Kamsky scheduled, for November this year. Since then it has been quiet around this match - a bit too quiet, says Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, in an open letter - its translation has been corrected now.

Our colleagues of Chessdom, who read Bulgarian newspapers more often than we do, brought the news today that Stefan Sergiev has sent an open letter to Bulgarian media, in which he protests against the FIDE President for, well, basically doing nothing. Chessdom translate:

Dear Mr. Ilyumzhinov,

The Bulgarian sports community worries about the uncertainty around the semi final match between GM Veselin Topalov and GM Gata Kamsky. The decision taken at the PB meeting in Tallinn in 2007 was welcomed by everyone expecting the end of the schism in the chess family. This decision was confirmed at the November 2007 congress in Antalia. Everyone expected it to become true and the match date to be appointed. Until now this did not happen and that fact practically questions whether the match will take place.

On June 1st, after all the deadlines were over, you personally declared that you guarantee the prize fund and took the responsibility for its organization. Since then more than 3 months have passed. We still do not know any details about where and in what conditions will be the match, and the announced by you date November 26th is approaching.

Mr Ilymzhinov, please inform me where and when the match will take place. We insist the decision for the match to be reflected in the players contracts, and they to be signed before the other semi final match between GM Kramnik and GM Anand. Further delay could be fatal and to ruin all the efforts so far. I think nobody has interest in the failure of the match Topalov - Kamsky. The Bulgarian chess player who is no. 1 in the current rank list cannot be eliminated from the competition for the world championship.

Sincerely yours,
Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation

Sofia, Bulgaria

Update September 28, 10:35
As many of you have already pointed out, the text of this letter was full of mistakes, mostly caused by bad translation. Chessdom reports:

Early Saturday morning there was a quick reaction by the Bulgarian Chess Federation members. They said, "The text of the letter in the Bulgarian news agencies is a wrong translation of the original that we have sent them." (...) "Of course we did not call the match between Kramnik and Anand semi final, as it was published in Bulgarian media. This would be total disrespect to the match itself."

Here's the correct version:

Note that his letter is dated exactly two months before the "scheduled" start of the match. Ilyumzhinov mentioned the dates November 26-December 14 in a press release on June 1, 2008.

Then, the FIDE President seemed to have resolved the unclear situation around the Topalov-Kamsky match: he guaranteed the Lviv organiser's offer by backing the event from his personal finances. But since then it seems that nothing has happened, and thus far neither Topalov nor Kamsky have signed any contract yet.

Asked about the match at the Bilbao Grand Slam Final, Topalov stated that it "was FIDE's problem now, not mine. My job is to play chess." About the guaranteed prize fund, his manager Silvio Danailov said: "OK, there's money, but that still doesn't mean the match will be organized. We haven't heard from Lviv yet. We're not the ones to act at this point; it's up to FIDE now."

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.

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.


Revant's picture

Yet another instance of poor organization by FIDE

Theo's picture

Gaan de Bulgaren weer een politiek spelletje spelen!? :O

semipatz's picture

"The other semi final match between GM Kramnik and GM Anand"???

Hmmm, that's funny...I had this strange idea that one was actually a world championship match.

But wait a minute. Kramnik earned his place in this match by beating Topalov. If it's actually only a semi-final, does that mean Kramnik-Topalov was a quarter-final?

Andre Gan's picture

The Bulgarian President erred in his letter thathe opined that the Kramnik-Anand World Championship Match is deemed a semi-final match. On the other hand, what he meant maybe is that he is referring to the next World Championship Match whereby the results of the two matches (Kramnik-Anand and Topalov-Kamsky) have bearing thereon. Nevertheless, it sounds absurd. In addition, it does not mean that if Topalov is currenly number 1 in an unofficial ratings list, and soon to be made official, he cannot be eliminated. What if Topalov loses to Kamsky? Or maybe the Bulgarian Chess Federation President meant that Topalov deserves to be treated equally well for his supposed match with Kamsky. For me, the sentence construction made by the Bulgarian Chess Federation , as shown in his letter, is somewhat strange. I just do not know where he got it!

Regarding the forecast as to who would likely be the winner between Kamsky and Topalov, all I can say is that talent wise and in terms of preparationI can say that Topalov maybe has the slight edge. But I want Kamsky to win their match. What Topalov had done to Kramnik in their World Championship Match was simply unforgiveable.

Good Luck to Chess Vibes!!!!

David Korn, Seattle's picture

i dont know the chess side. but i know a LOT about capital markets, and am willing to bet Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has felt the global pinch as much as or more than others. i am not excusing this. not at all. but therein probably lies the reason for these (of course) totally inexcusable delays. who knows what forward oil, gold, silver, or DAX or FTSE or Dow Jones contracts he has bought or sold! the global disturbance is everywhere and i am willing to bet this is not something that he of all men can admit, given his sociopathic character. i know from one very high level GM who is a very close friend that FIDE doesnt even have a FAX machine that works at times, or a number to call or such modern communication tools. time to have all high level GM's boycot him and his travesty. he has done much for chess. yes. but he has also cost chess a lot. what, more matches in Libiya?? take care, dk

Janis Nisii's picture

It seems the semi final thing was just a translation mistake. I cannot know what really happened, but here you can find another version of the same letter:

tim gluckman's picture

It's good to see the position of Bulgarian players and admin foregrounded positively after the viciously biased and hostile public / press that resulted out of the notorious Elista "match".

But why doesn't somebody tell the Bulgarian chess managers to get a native speaker to do their translations?

Some of your observant readers have already spotted a significant mistake. Normally in the translation process such questions are clarified by sharp-minded translators who are in a position to ask such questions of their clients concerning semantics.
It seems that sb less than competent did the job on this occasion, all too typically in the chess world. By offering such poor English ridicule is invited unfortunately. For those in the weak position of the unpopular Bulgarian chess elite -- who urgently some PR consultancy -- a mistake they can ill afford.

Pal G.'s picture

I think the biggest mistake the Bulgarian Chess President makes is mentioning his contender is #1 in the world, on an _unofficial_ rankings list. He might as well have said Topa's MySpace page has more friends on it than Kamsky's or Kramnik's and therefore Topa should have a spot in the next world title match.

Theo's picture

Let's cancel this expensive match Kamsky-Topalov and spend the money on truely benefecial things for chess like youth trainings.

Who needs this match anyway? We already have a World Championships final coming up in a few weeks (Anand-Kramnik) and that is the match between the current WorldChamp Anand and the challenger Kramnik.

So why have another semi-finals?
The result of Anand-Kramnik will give us the new World Champ.

raj's picture

Even the another version is pathetic .
1. Other match for WC? is wrong. It is not another match , but WC match.
2. Topalov No 1? . When has become official ??

I have no doubt left over that the " Toilet issue" was just another Bulgarian Hypocrisy.

Lajos Arpad's picture

In the Bulgarian chess elite we can find shady figures:

Danailov. What did he do?
- He made a negative picture against draws
- He made chess players to play in an aquarium
- He is responsible for the toiletgate
- He accepted Danailov as a manager and followed his advices
- He is also very arrogant
- He refused to shake hands with a world class GM, Nigel Short, a true gentleman.
Sergiev was very demagog:
- Topalov is not number 1 in the FIDE ratings list now. He will probably be on october 1.
- Kramnik-Anand is THE World ChessChampionship match.

Lajos Arpad's picture

These persons don't deserve the right to represent a great nation like the Bulgarian.

Theo's picture

As a chessplayer i would feel slightly unproud if Topalov ever becomes worldchamp. Let's hope that never happens.
They are a disgrace for Chess!

We need true gentlemen to be the worldchamp. Just as Anand and Kramnik.

Aleksander's picture

Well, chess strength was never measured in courtesy. Karpov used variety of psychological tricks to beat his opponents and yet he was a champion no chess player felt unproud of. What is more, last two tournaments Topalov had attended were staged in sound and vision proof acquariums. With his great performance he falsificated all accusations of cheating; I therefore see no point in still calling him a "disgrace".

jurgen's picture

To me Topalov is a great player and has well deserved his no 1 position on the forthcoming (official!) Elo-list.
Furthermore I can justly place the worries of both (!) players concerning the organisation of this match.

IG's picture

@ Lajos: Ignorant as I am in many chess matters, I can say from my personal experience that Topalov is not an arrogant person at all. Quite the contrary, to be honest. And I don?Ǭ¥t know what kind of criteria you follow normally to decide which GM?Ǭ¥s are gentlemen and which aren?Ǭ¥t... I agree, Cheparinov?Ǭ¥s was a diplomatic mistake, but I don?Ǭ¥t think that a GM?Ǭ¥s public image and acts should determine whether or not they are "a true gentleman"... in many cases you could be surprised.

pete's picture

@Lajos Arpad: it is alway amuzing to read your anti Topalov/Danailov/Cheparinov comments. However, shouldn't u concentrate more on the performace of your "hot" favourite player Leko and his "great" chess?

Theo's picture

The only good thing about Bulgarian chess is Antoanetta Stefanova! :P

Michel83's picture

@ Lajos

Danailov being shady + toiletgate: Agreed.

- He made a negative picture against draws
- He made chess players to play in an aquarium

What the hell is shady about that? If you disagree with those things, fine, but they are hardly objective arguments against Danailov.
There are quite a few chess players who did like the Anti-Drawing-Rules and the Auquarium? Do you think all of those chess players are shady too?

- Nigel Short, a true gentleman
- Topalov, arrogant

Again: This is your very personal opinion. I personally find Nigel Short quite arrogant, but this is also just my very own opinion and hardly objective (besides, I wonder what the question wether he is a gentleman or not has to do with the idiocy Cheparinov did, it's of no importance- you simply use propaganda methods here, you try to lower down Cheparinov (who, yes, behaved badly) by elevating Nigel Short).

The only objective things you mention are toiletgate, Topalov accepting Danailov as his manager and Cheparinov not shaking hands. I agree there with you.

Everything else is your very personal views; you might diagree with the aquarium or the Drawing-Rules, but they surely do not make Danialov shady or a disgrace (I think he does enough other things that make him that ;) ).
Unless of course you consider your opinion the main criterion for everything and everybody disagreeing with you is a poor fool..

Michel83's picture

P.S.: Oh, and of course the last two points you mentioned are right, I overread them. The things about the "other" WC match and "Number 1" are of course a joke.

MvE's picture


Why can't the Bulgarian chess federation not just send a private letter to Ilhumzhinov? Why must their worries be shouted all over the (chess) world? Why must I know about it?
I know, an open letter puts more pressure on the addressee. But this practice is not 'chic'.
By posting this comment I am already spending too much attention on the issue...

hektor's picture

Topalov is a great chess player and everybody know that. He make the chess more interesting and his games usually are nice pleasure for all chess lovers in the world. So please don't speak only bad about him... He deserved his number 1 in the rating list (which will be official after 2 days).
About Silvio Danailov - yes, he do a many conflicts, but he do a lot of good thinks for chess too. For exaple: the Bilbao score sistem and Sofia rules was a big step ahed for all chess fans, because we wach a great games and beautiful result games...
About Stefan Sergiev which is president of Bulgarian chess federation - his letter to Ilyumzhinov is very normal. It's not good for FIDE and Ilyumzhinov that 2 monts before the semifinal match nobody don't know any information about it...
About Anand-Kramnik: I wish to them good luck! Lets see an interesting and fight games. I like more Anand, but the Kramnik is fantastic player too.
P.S. Sorry for my bad english...

David Korn, Seattle's picture

comment @hektoer, immediately above: Thank you. All excellent points. To conclude, really, this news is not about adjudicating Topalov's or Danailov's character or accessing the merits of Topalov's obvious greatness as a fighting chess player who creates beauty, but rather concerns one of the three major social-psychological categories that rule our lives: DELAY [1]. this is about the harm done not by parties in Bulgaria or in the fine negotiations by both sides, assuredly sincere with every interest to meet at the board whether it be for more or less money, but this news is about the lack of integrity by FIDE and with it, the patent irresponsibility of Ilyumzhinov that is the concern. lets not get distracted here. Many good points are made by many readers, but again, this is about delay and broken promises. This is what this is about. Let us not forget how GM Seirawan penned his Prague Accord years ago, and this is not only about unification, but the furtherance of unification, good or bad but unity all the same. This is about completion of a very, very long term process. Thank you. dk

[1]: Brief Versus Long Psychotherapy, James Paul Gustafson as well as his Self Delight in a Harsh World, point out with delay, subservience, and overpowering, the three social modes. Here we witness excess delay.

Manu's picture

Wow , so much hostility against Topalov...
GM Short a gentleman? Wasnt he the amulet at Topalovs table in Argentina and then said that something sinister happend?..
The Cheparinov incident was something planed by Short , it was obvius that Cheparinov wasnt going to shake hands with him.
Many of you seem to forget that Morozevich didnt shake hands with Topalov few months before that, and Topalov never complained ...
It is really sad that the match Kamsky vs Topalov is still an uncertain thing , both players earn they right to be there.

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