Reports | November 08, 2008 19:31

Kamsky asks USCF board to unite

USCF / KamskyIn an attempt to support Gata Kamsky in the FIDE/Topalov match saga, the board of the United States Chess Federation once again revealed its internal disunity. We received several "open emails" by different board members quibbling. The sanest person seems to be Kamsky himself, who requested "all USCF Board members to unite and find ways to make sure that justice and fairness will prevail."

After Roustam Kamsky's letter in which Gata's father protested FIDE's decision to give the Bulgarian Chess Federation a last chance to bid for the Kamsky-Topalov match (and thus lowering the prize fund from $750,000 to US $250,000), it was USCF President Bill Goichberg who joined the fashionable act of sending open letters. He wrote that

"the U.S. Chess Federation is astonished to hear the latest position of FIDE regarding the Kamsky vs. Topalov match." (...) FIDE's position appears to be that it was happy to promise backing with words only, but that backing with actual money was not what FIDE had in mind. Incredible! (...) The chess world and the media will not be so easily fooled. It is apparent that FIDE made a public commitment, and now is seeking to back out for no valid reason. A "guarantee" is not subject to being revoked at the whim of the guarantor. Please reconsider this very unwise and inappropriate action."

This open letter was followed (and "cc'd" to all major online chess media) by a response by USCF Chairman Susan Polgar, who wrote:

"Bill, please kindly verify that this is only your personal opinion or the opinion of various individuals. As a board member of the US Chess Federation, I did not authorize this letter nor have I seen this open letter before it was published. You definitely do not have my permission to speak on my behalf. This is the first time I am seeing it. (...) "I encourage all parties to engage in diplomatic and respectful negotiation sessions to come up with a sensible solution instead of adding more fuel to the fire with this type of open letters."

Emails kept coming in. USCF Vice President (Finance) Randy Bauer subsequently stated that

"The USCF Executive Board, meeting in Nashville Tennessee last weekend voted to authorize President Bill Goichberg to write such a letter. Perhaps the fact that Ms. Polgar chose not to attend the meeting in person but call into it caused her to miss this point."

To which Paul Truong, Polgar's husband and also USCF Vice President (Marketing and Communications) responded:

"We certainly did not authorize or consent for USCF President Goichberg to issue this letter or to engage in a public war of words. However, he is free to do it on his behalf or yours, not ours. He has clarified this issue."

Thus far, the last words have come from Gata Kamsky himself:

Gata KamskyDear President, gentelmen, Susan,

When I first seen Bill's letter I was happy, because finally USCF has been showing strong support for their representative. Whether there could be a better solution or a more diplomatic one is a good question, but the reality is that there is no time to negotiate and given FIDE's strong-arm history of negotiating, it is not likely to succeed. When I spoke with FIDE Vice President Mr. Makropoulos in Greece, it was decided that both my team and Mr. Topalov's team would meet during the rest day at the Olympiad in Dresden to negotiate and discuss everything, including technical details. With their last public statement, Mr. Illumjinov not only attempted to revoke his personal guarantee of the match, but he also imposed the time limit of 1 week for the players to acceed to his demands and at the same time re-awarded the bid to the Bulgarian Federation, which was the original FIDE's intention in the first place. You all are aware of the clause in the FIDE regulation for this "special" match that gave the Bulgarian Chess Federation a privilege of matching any bid that is coming from my side, which effectively ruined any attempt to find and submit a bid from the United States.

Throughout the negotiations with my managers, FIDE did nothing to find a sponsor on their own, despite the fact that it was sole FIDE's decision to create this match and thus, to allow Mr. Topalov a backdoor into the final steps of the qualification proceedings for the world championship title, quite unfairly, I might add.
FIDE's entire purpose, for the chessplayers, for fairness has been changed into a special interest group organization and I personally believe that any negotiations with FIDE rulers or tsars, or whatever you like to call them, will be unsuccessful.

The time for the negotiation is over and the only way to fight FIDE is to expose their mistakes, and perhaps fight them in a court of law if and when FIDE broke the law. Therefore, I would respectfully request all USCF Board members to unite and find ways to make sure that justice and fairness will prevail.

Gata Kamsky

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.

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.


me's picture

Kamks'y letter tells me that he won't play in Bulgaria. Anyone else read's it the same way?

Looking forward to Topalov vs. Shirov.

Manu's picture

Kamskys letter tells me that he should complained BEFORE playing in the cup , he knew that Topalov?Ǭ¥s was waiting at the end of that line.
I remind everybody that GM Morozevich didnt played there because he Knew that Topalov will play tthe winner.
Kamsky is trying to take advantage of Topalovs situation in the chess world to get a free ticket to Anand.
As stated by many this sistem is far from perfect , but Kamsky should obey and play the match without making so much noise.

nonesuch's picture

... the main point seems to be that Kamsky is evading the fact that his side - Chernenko etc. - did not come up with a valid bid and a valid deposit in FIDE accounts in time! I m not sure whether Ilyumshinov guaranteed - that the match would take place, that the match would take place with 750.000.- USD funds gauranteed from the presidents of FIDE's coffers, or that the prize fund would be guarantted to that amount.
If this match as all matches ws open for a bid, then the only valid bid has come from the Bulgarian side. kamsky is trying to invert the obligations - instead of his side puting in a valid - thais is upported by cash - bid, as in any auction, he is trying to shift the onus onto Ilyumshinov of providing these funds! Looking at Kamsky's recent results, perhaps it would be better if this match was aborted anyway...

muti's picture

Kamsky and his followers are acting like playing in a home country of one of the participants is something unprecedented. IT IS NOT!

Many candidates matches in the past were played in a country of one of the participants. and this match is some sort of a candidates final match.

There is absolutely no reson why the match can't be held in Bulgaria. Especially since they are the only ones who are willing to organize it.

noyb's picture

Polgar and Truong are bad for US Chess and need to get out. Go away! You are not welcome and not wanted!

pete's picture

This whole thing is getting too "noisy" for I don't know what. Rules seem clear to me ... the bidding process is transperent and open ... whoever makes the best offer will win. Bulgarians made the first offer and according to FIDE's rules Kamsky's camp had plenty of time to come up with someting better. So far we'd seen nothing.

Also, Kamsky should take responsibility for his manager's actions ... or no actions, not try make it like he is the victum.

I am getting more and more inclined to see Topalov - Shirov match now, at least it will fire on the board for sure.

Eiae's picture

All else aside, FIDE is responsible for arranging these matches. The current leadership is not able to do so and should resign or be kicked out.
Unfortunately the wholde organisation appears to be too currupt, so we should probably let it just die and look elsewhere.
Now that Kasp is detached from chess and has no chance in Russian politics, maybe he should take another shot at a grandmaster association? Or maybe the Grand Slam organisation should arrange something.

Hopeless's picture

The grand slam organization is run by....drumroll.......Danailov! The only hope chess has with the current crooks also known as FIDE is to find a VERY rich person(s) who would be willing to bankroll a whole SERIES of matches/tournaments that would establish a credible cycle both to players and fans and more importantly, be independent of FIDE's whimsical wishes. And well, there is more hope of understanding 'God' than that happening....

Manu's picture

You are wrong , FIDE is responsabile for arranging the match but the place is something diferent.
Like it or not they HAD an offer, but Kamskys team came up with a better one that never happened.
FIDE is by not means responsabile for doing this where Kamsky wants .
Kirsan was wrong in backing up this offer , but this is what happens when you have a Godfather thing going on in such organization.
One thing i never understood is why FIDE is such a necesary thing to have.
The chess market is there and is not going anywhere, and certainly can?Ǭ¥t get lower than this.I dont understand why everyone is so afraid in leaving FIDE.
If FIDE is left behind it can be caotic the first years but eventually a new and more professional alliance will emerge for sure.
What is there to lose? I can calculate ELO too..

lods's picture

Manu, don't you remember that some players DID leave FIDE in the past? Without that we wouldn't have this mess at all!

And like it or not we do need an organization. When PCA collapsed Kasparov needed 5 years for his title defence. And there was no cycle and no rules at all. Do you even know why Shirov is still pissed off? When he and Kramnik played a "challenger match" Kramnik lost and got paid 100.000 USD. Shirov didn't get anything. He should be paid after the Kasparov match (depending on the result). We all know that this match never happened, so Shirov (as the winner) didn't get paid and didn't get a shot at the title. On the other hand Kramnik (as the losser) got paid and got the title match.
Also when there is no organization, the title is a personal property of the champion. While Kasparov always seeked to play with the worthiest opponent, others (like Kramnik, Alekhine, Lasker) didn't.
Do you really want those times to return???

FIDE is corrupt, incompetent, private organization, but it is all we have.
If you look into the history, you'll see that it's better to have such an organization as FIDE, than nothing at all.

Manu's picture

That wasnt my point, that was just some players leaving FIDE in the past, i meant all players leaving FIDE now.
Imagine that , same tournaments , same ELO system , just without FIDE.
It is just an example , my point is that FIDE is just an abstraction, and that all the problems you mention can be solved by other ways.
I know how weird this sound but i do believe that FIDE is not that necesary , and that if it is replaced by another organization , (even a private one) things can only get better.

Eiae's picture

FIDE is responsible for arranging the matches, period.

Alekhine, Lasker?? Give me a break, this is 2008. Besides, I asked for another organisation to form or step up, not to go without anything at all.

Danailov or not, the Grand Slam is the most progressive and successful event we have in chess today. They just need to make a few changes and their champ will be a credible world champion.

Manu's picture

I agree but i think their champ should be a challenger not a WCH.
Funny as may sound, Danailov is doing for chess more than the FIDE president.

lods's picture

There is no other organization. And all other organizations like GMA, ECU, PCA and WCC failed miserably.

If there is no FIDE than we have nothing. Just a title holder who may or may not defend his title properly. Chess players are too egoistic and too childish to set up a cycle that would determine the challenger, on their own. They are too childish to set up one match, not to mention the whole cycle.

A worldwdie organization is needed - an organization that is stronger than FIDE. An organization which says "this is how it's going to be".

Brian Lafferty's picture

You are in error. Paul Truong is no longer the USCF's VP of Marketing and Communications. The USCF Executive Board has stripped Mr. Truong of that position and has stripped Ms. Polgar of her position as Chairman of the USCF. Additionally, the majority of the USCF Executive Board has called for Mr. Truong's resignation from the board.

croos pin's picture

re: Polgar-Truong...

Where is the evidence for this statement? On, Polgar and Truong are still named as Chair(wo)man and Communication Officer. Normally , it takes a formal assembly to destitute Board members....

hgjhfg's picture

"Where is the evidence for this statement?"

There is no evidence, because it is simply not true.
Lafferty is a known trouble maker that is trying to discredit Susan and her husband wherever and whenever it is possible.

Popuscu (Bulgaria)'s picture

1/ I think that the only loser in this back and forth (i.e. va et vient) - during the last events - is chess.

2/ I do not understand the silence of Bulgarian Chess Federation. I guess that Topalov will sign the contract of the match just an hour before the deadline and therefore he will win by forfeit (as usual).

3/ @lods, You got right, I never seen an injustice like what happened to Shirov in 1998.

4/ If we assume that Kamsky will not participate and he will be substituted by Shirov, then there is still an injustice: how can Shirov prepare for the match just 2 weeks before ???? Did FIDE overlook this fact ???

laks's picture

I trhink the Topalov-Shirov match will be in January. Thats why Topalov cancelled his invitation to Corus.

semipatz's picture

Susan Polgar is up to her usual manipulative tricks, while eternally pretending to be Little Miss Perfect Goody Two Shoes.

Barney Rubbel's picture

Kamsky is about to make a big mistake , he caused this situation by placing his trust into someone who could not deliver or his promises . Kamsky should just play against Topalov wherever , then win & get the Big Money match against Anand . But Kamsky obviously feels he will lose against Topalov so he is trying to get as much money now . I have a feeliing he will now be freezed out altogether & never get a chance for a big money match at all .

Popuscu (Bulgaria)'s picture

your photo is very nice.

GM's picture

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