Hangin writes to Alex Baburin and Chess Today
regarding Yasser Seirwan's open letter about reunification

 

 

 Yasser's open Letter part one 

 Yasser's open letter part two in chess today 

 

 5/18/2004 My response :

    Why do we want to abandon the Prague agreement now? Back in late 2003, I saw no hope.  Now we have dates scheduled for Kramnik vs. Leko and for the FIDE knockout tournament in Tripoli. I see no reason to change course now.  I am confused by Yasser Seirawan, one of the fathers of Prague, proposing that Kasparov step down as the challenger to the winner of Fide Knockout.  Why should Kasparov be penalized by Ponomariovís poor decision?  Also, the players refusing to play in Tripoli, because Kasparov is automatically seeded in the reunification, couldnít beat Kasparov anyway.   Kasparov is needed for the changing of the guard. He has dominated for 20 years and is only one match removed from the REAL TITLE, which he defended numerous times against the best in the world.  In 1975, chess did not have a proper changing of the guard. However the world championship process and Anatoly Karpov saved the chess world. Yasser is absolutely correct when he claims the FIDE Knockout process is one of the worst methods for choosing a champion. Yasser calls it a lottery process. After reunification, Fide needs to return to the system that produced: Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov.

    As far as Yasserís call for another 1948 style championship tournament consisting of Kasparov and the previous winners of the FIDE Knockout, his proposal is very unfair.  Why do past FIDE Knock out winners deserve special consideration? Only two of the players are worthy of world championship contention (Anand, Kasparov). Instead of having a tournament with Karpov (top 22), Khalifman (top 32) and Ponomariov (top 10) , why not include Topalov (top 5), Svidler (top 6), Morozevich (top 7). These players are a lot more deserving of consideration in such a tournament.  
  
   
Lets not forget the 1948 World Championship tournament included 5 of the best players in the world.  I would much rather see Kasparov vs. Anand in a 12 game match, that could be another Ali vs. Frasier two. There is precedence for such a match.  In 1978 Bobby Fischer refused his right, as a true ex world champion, to be seeded in the 1978 world championship cycle. Fide stayed the course by selecting Bobby Fischerís predecessor, Boris Spassky.  Should Tripoli fall through, FIDE is well within its rights to select Anand as Ponomariovís replacement. Kasparov brings great value into the reunification process. For the good of the reunification, Kasparov should only be eliminated via match play. This is the only way Kasparovís value can be passed to another player.

   As far as repeating the mistakes of 97-98 by seeding Kasparov into the final, the real problem in 98 was not giving Anand enough time to recharge before playing Karpov.  This time, the Tripoli knock out winner has up to one year to play Kasparov. The mistake thatís being recast here is the Knockout process itself. Itís a lottery. Itís a blitz crazed, grab bag process. A bigger mistake would be to ask Kasparov to play from round one have him get eliminated in the third round because he had a bad tuna sandwich. Kasparov is important to reunification; he must factor in it significantly.  Kasparov is not being seeded into the finals; heís being seeded into the semi final match of the reunification.

   Yasser says  that knowing the contestants before hand before pressing local national sponsors is ridiculous.  He feels hosting should be determined years before the finalists are known.  I could not disagree more. Chess championships are not like the Olympics. Chess is like Boxing. The event is not so important; itís the talent in the event that brings excitement to sponsors and fans. Sponsors and fans will pay a lot more money to see Ali vs. Joe Frazier, than to see Tyson vs. Marvis Frazier (got knockout in 30 seconds.). Sponsors will play top dollar for Bobby Fischer to play. Kramnik vs. Kasparov will fetch more dollars than Leko vs. Ponomariov. What makes a championship chess or boxing match exciting is having the best going toe to toe and not knowing whoís going to win.

   FIDE should break up and open up this process so that more sponsors can bid. Spread this process and the cost over time and geography.   Spread the chess love around.  Allow cities or countries with up and coming chess talent to host a part of this process.  Allow the local people to root for their homeboys and homegirls and see some of the international chess stars.  A good World Championship process is like a fine wine; let more people take a sip. Spreading the process over time and geography will bring more young fans and media coverage into this great game.  In the long run, more money will be raised for these events.  Make the process more affordable for sponsors around the world. Showcase your great talent around the world.  Yasser was right, a properly run World Championship process is the Crown Jewel of Chess.  The process needs to enrich the players, promote the game around the world, introduce new fans to this great game, and finally, to find a worthy proud World Champion.

    Lets not allow Ponomariovís poor decision-making to throw reunification off course. The Chess World needs to make better use of the Internet and get back to the glory days of the World Championship, when both champion and challenger were forged into steel by the process. Whatís wrong with going back to the old style world championship process?  I really would like to know.  I would also like for Yasser to reconsider his retirement and play in one more US Championship.