Reports | November 19, 2008 1:45

"Kamsky-Topalov in February in Sofia" (3nd update)

Kamsky-Topalov3nd update, November 20: Silvio Danailov confirmed that today both parties have signed the contracts.

Today all parties involved reached an agreement on the Kamsky-Topalov match. The match that should provide a challenger to world champion Anand is now scheduled to take place in February 2009 in Sofia.

Update November 20, 2008, 17:33 CET: Today Silvio Danailov, manager of Veselin Topalov, confirmed to me that both parties have signed the contracts.

Update November 19, 2008, 20:32 CET: Although FIDE published the following press release, it's still unclear whether contracts have been signed.

FIDE is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached for organisation of the Challenger Match between Topalov and Kamsky. There has been full agreement between FIDE and the players regarding all aspects of the Match.

The Match will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 16th to 28th February, 2009 with a prize fund of USD 250,000 which will be shared equally by the players.

Both teams agreed on the following appointments:

Appeals Committee:
Nigel Freeman (BER) Chairman
Boris Kutin (MNE)
Vanik Zakarian (ARM)

Ignatius Leong (SIN)
Ashot Vardapetian (ARM)

Match Supervisor:
Hal Bond (CAN)

Gata Kamsky announced that Mr Chernenko is no longer his Representative and that he has appointed Emil Sutovsky as his Official Representative in all negotiations and as chief of his delegation and spokesperson for the team.

FIDE is pleased that the meetings with both delegations were conducted in a very friendly and constructive atmosphere and thanks both teams for their cooperation.

Thus far only drafts of a contract seem to be circulating among FIDE officials, the players and their representatives. Israel Gelfer, honorary FIDE Vice President, told Macauley by phone: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThere are no problems, we are just working on the wording.?¢‚Ǩ? Gelfer expects the draft contracts to be approved and signed by both players ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwithin one or two days.?¢‚Ǩ?

At 10:00 AM this morning, on the first rest day of the Chess Olympiad, a closed door meeting was convened in the International Congress Center in Dresden, to attempt to reach agreement on the terms of the World Championship semi-final match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov.

Gata Kamsky was there, together with Emil Sutovsky (Kamsky's second and now de facto manager), Silvio Danailov (manager of Topalov), Stefan Sergiev (President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation), Israel Gelfer (Honorary FIDE Vice President), William Kelleher (FIDE Vide President and USCF Delegate), Georgios Makropoulos (Deputy FIDE President), Zurab Azmaiparashvili (FIDE Vice President), Boris Kutin (Continental President for Europe), Berek Balgabaev (special advisor to President Illyumzhinov) and Lakhdar Mazouz (FIDE Verification Commission). Topalov himself, was not present, nor was Alexander Chernenko, previously serving as Mr. Kamsky's manager.

ICC's Macauley Peterson was on the scene and reports that after the meeting, Georgios Makropoulos confirmed that an agreement had been reached. Then,

"FIDE officials immediately began drafting, not just a FIDE statement (to be published tonight or tomorrow morning), but contracts for the match itself, which are to be signed as soon as they have been checked and approved by both players."

Independent sources in the meeting confirmed that the match will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in early February. Chessdom reports that the dates are 16-29 February 2009:

"Initially the dates offered by the Bulgarian Chess Federation have been 3-15 February, but Kamsky has requested later dates. The reason is that Gata Kamsky will participate in the Corus 2009 tournament."

But since Topalov is scheduled to play in Linares from February 18 to March 8, these date's can't be considered definite either. Asked whether Topalov has a contract with Linares to play, Silvio Danailov replied: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYes. So what??¢‚Ǩ? Topalov's manager declined to say definitively whether this would or would not pose a problem.

According to Peterson, Honorary FIDE Vice President Gelfer confirmed that it is expected that contracts will be signed this evening. Updates to the story will follow as soon as possible.

More details on today's meeting at ICC's Chess.FM blog.

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.
  • November 18, 2008: in a meeting in Dresden during the Olympiad, all parties agree on the match to take place in Sofia in February 2009.

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.


guitarspider's picture

meh. I don't think Anand - Topalov will be great, Topalov doesn't stand much of a chance. I think only Kramnik and Carlsen can take out Anand in a match.

hektor's picture

good news for the chess world. now we finaly know when and where the match willtake a place. but is sad that topalov will miss corus 2009 and linares 2009...

pete's picture

He declined the invitation for Corus before that, but yes, it will be sad if he does not participate in Linares as well.

Michel83's picture

Although it would have probably brought even more mess (although I'm not sure if that's possible............) I was secretly hoping for Topalov-Shirov. ;)

Kamsky is a good player and although I think Topalov will win I think it will be a tight match- but Kamsky is not that exciting as a player. Topalov-Shirov would have given us chess games for the eternity! The board would have burned down (I hope) ! :)

hektor's picture

i really want to see world champion mach between anand and topalov. this will be a great and memorable

hektor's picture

it's not correct! anand is not plus score against topalov in clasic chess games. to the beginning of 2006 they was = (from 34 games: +8 -8 =18) after that anand won one game in sofia 2006, but in next tour topalov won too, so scores was again equal. topalov won in corus 2007, but anand won in corus 2008. i think in linares they was = (or +/- 1). in last game between topalov and anand in bilbao final 2008, topalov win. so anand and topalov are almost equal and the match for the world chess champion will be very interesting.
p.s. you think that kramnik is better than topalov?? hmm... if you remember in last few years topalov play very agressive against him. kramnik only defence... in result the games are draw or win for topalov. even in the world champion match - kramnik won first 2 games in very lucky style - only boring defence and: in first game topalov miss draw in 3 moves, in second game topalov miss to give a mate in 2-3 moves... after that for kramnik was very easy to play in the same boring style for draw... do you belive that if topalov was not miss the draw and win in 2-3 moves in the first 2 rounds and the result was 1,5 - 0,5 for him, kramnik had some chances??

Christos (Greece)'s picture

?¢‚Ǩ?ìYes. So what??¢‚Ǩ?! Haha, typical Danailov and maybe he has a sense of humour, after all.

dash's picture

I think in future I would like to see a Anand-Carlsen match.....he is the true heir to the throne in future...

Hugo van Hengel's picture

I am surprised that the contracts of a match in Sofia, Bulgaria, seem to be signed soon. How about Kamsky's request for neutral playing conditions?

To quote Rustam Kamsky (November 7, 2008) :
"Most chess fans would recognize now that American GM Kamsky?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s fight for neutral playing conditions is a necessity because neutrality was the foremost important rule for all world championship matches that FIDE must observe. Otherwise the match in Bulgaria will become a second rehearsal of his match against GM Karpov in Elista, Russia in 1996."

On Gata Kamsky's website we can read about this 'second rehearsal of his match against Karpov':

"What actually occurred in Elista was more shocking than reports about ?¢‚Ǩ?ìthe Toilet War?¢‚Ǩ? flushed from the Kramnik-Topalov match. What people do not know is that the organizers of the 1996 World Championship Kamsky-Karpov match had arranged for a ?¢‚ǨÀúhidden?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ back stage computer room just before players?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ resting rooms and bathrooms. That room was used by Karpov?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s seconds, grandmaster Vasukov who accompanied Karpov in the match with Korchnoi and master Gagarin.
The door to that room was always open to the hallway where A. Karpov was passing thru to get to his resting room. (...) "

I am not sure whether the request for neutral playing conditions is from Rustam Kamsky or from Gata Kamsky himself.

me's picture

Do you believe a single word from Rustam Kamsky's mouth??? He is one of the most paranoid people on the world. He is suspicious on his own shadow that is following him.

Hugo van Hengel's picture

It is not at all important whether I believe Rustam Kamsky's words. It is more important whether Gata Kamsky believes his father's words. If that is the case (which I think it is) then I wouldn't expect Gata Kamsky to sign a contract to play in Bulgaria.

Barney Rubbel's picture

There is no reason you cant have a fair match in Bulgaria , Kamsky has no choice now as his old manager was full of BS . The prize fund seems a little too low - but both players have alot to play for as the winner will get a great future payday against Anand. Topalov is certainly the favorite but Kamsky has a history of playing great when it matters most , so he can win . It should be a great match.

hektor's picture

guitarspider, why you think that topalov not have a chace vs anand??? in the last 3-4 years they played about 10 games and topalov won 3 or 4 of them, anand won only 2 or 3 (if a remember correct). so i think that the match will be great.
p.s. don't think that the match topalov-kamsky will be not fair in bulgaria. many times the matches for the world champion title was in the country of one of the players. bulgaria is the nice country and everything will be ok.

guitarspider's picture

A match is different than normal games and I don't believe in Topalov as a match player. Hadn't Danailov used tricks Topalov would've lost by a much wider margin against Kramnik. More reasons: If I count just the last 10 decisive games between Anand and Topalov (2005-2008, my database may miss some games), Anand won 7 of them. Overall he has a plus score. Topalovs way of playing is probably less suited to a match. Anand will probably have Magnus on his side again. And I believe Anand is simply the better player, whatever ratings say (I also believe Kramnik is better than Topalov). I do believe we'll see some fireworks, preferably chess fireworks, but I think in the end Anand will win. I admit "not much of a chance" is probably an overstatement :)

pete's picture

According to Anand and Topalov played 7 classical games since 2005 and the score is 4:3 in favor of Topa. Anand won more games but don't forget that most of them are rapid ones .... if we are speaking in classical games they are approximately equal.

hektor's picture

pete you was write. my last answer was ro guitarspider. in classical chess anand and topalov played more than 40 games and the scores was equal (or 1 plus for topalov)

VB's picture

I would like to see Anand - Topalov match too.

guitarspider's picture says: Viswanathan Anand beat Veselin Topalov 23 to 14, with 46 draws (Games from 1993 to 2008). That's what I meant with plus score. And I don't think you need to exclude rapid games. My other arguments still hold :)

Concerning Kramnik: In the first game Kramnik defended well and when he got his chance he took it. Topalov blundered, as simple as that. Second game: Both missed the mate, and after that Topalov started to play badly, while Kramnik found the right moves. In the end Topalov could've drawn, but he didn't find the move. You can't say Kramnik played for a draw and won, that doesn't make sense. And the whole point is that Topalov did not use his opportunities. Kramnik did. Other than that, your claim that Kramnik either draws or loses to Topalov doesn't seem very convincing to me. Kramnik wins about as often as Topa does.

VB's picture

pete wrote: According to Anand and Topalov played 7 classical games since 2005 and the score is 4:3 in favor of Topa. Anand won more games but don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t forget that most of them are rapid ones ?¢‚Ǩ¬¶. if we are speaking in classical games they are approximately equal.

I think this says enough. No much draws

Lajos Arpad's picture

Kramnik played better than Topalov in 2006, Elista. The match was 6-6 drawn (with a gift point to Topalov, so it was 6-5 for Kramnik, really) and after that Kramnik had beaten Topalov 2,5-1,5 in rapid. So Kramnik played better than Topalov both in classical and rapid. You can call his style boring, but don't forget, he was too powerful for Topalov in 2006. Topalov made a novelty in Wijk aan Zee and won a very nice game, but Kramnik played better in Elista, than him.

pete's picture

@guitarspider: u r not exactly right. Lets take Hikaru Nakamura for example, he is one of the best players in the world on bullet chess. I recon he can beat most of the top players in that format. However, that does not make him a better player than Kramnik or Morozevich for instance.

I think only classical games should be counted, and looking the stats Topa is doing good.

Manu's picture

@lajos :
Elista was Topalovs first important match , and against a much more experienced player.
And yet he dominated the match (only to blunder more than ever and losing games in one or two moves).
Topa could have repeated moves in the first game and won the second easily , but in Elista he made too many blunders , thats all.
You can?Ǭ¥t say that Kramnik was too powerfull for him in that match at all , he just was at a better moment than Topa and had a lot more experience in matches.
Topa recovered and is now number one again in the ratings , and heading for his second important match (against Kamsky) .

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