Ponomariov is realizing that no one misses him. I tried to tell him
that in my
letter last January. FIDEís decision to cancel the match was
completely justified. Ruslan, you simply refused to play the match against
Garry Kasparov. If FIDE can default Bobby Fischer, they certainly can
default Ruslan Ponomariov. Ponomariov is realizing that FIDE Knockout
Champions are easily replaced and forgotten. You can easily get a new FIDE
Champion by holding another grab bag, blitz crazed FIDE Knockout
Tournament. True World Champions are neither easily forgotten nor easily
replaced. Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov are cases in point.
As I recall
Kasparov signed the contract, Ponomariov did not
Ponomariov held up the reunification process over unreasonable
a) Ponomariov wanted draw
b) Ponomariov did not want
to use standard time controls, 40moves in 2 hours. He wanted 90 minutes
and 30 second increments per move.
If Ponomariov wants to defend his title under similar conditions,
then he should play in the next FIDE Knockout Tournament. That's where he
Ponomariov passed up a great opportunity to play the strongest
player in the world for a nice sum of money. Ponomariov would have been
seeded in the next few future world championships. Ponomariov passed up a
no lose situation.
Ponomariov took unreasonable stances on basic issues. The
first being time control. He did not want to play using standard time
controls. True World
Championship matches have been played using standard time controls, 40
moves in 2 hours. The
sixth World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik stated, ď World Championship
matches are of competitive and creative importanceĒ. So why not use the
slower standard time controls and allow these matches to be decided by the
strongest player playing the strongest chess. This issue should not have
been a showstopper. Ponomariov should have agreed to play using standard
other unreasonable demand was that he wanted draw odds, just like Kramnik
has with his match against Peter Leko.
Chess fans wanted to see a decisive result in this match up between
Kasparov and Ponomariov. In
order to answer this draw odds question, we must compare the two titles.
Kramnik Brain game title was gained by beating the man who beat the man
who beat the man. In 2000, Kramnik defeated then World Champion Garry
Kasparov, greatest World Champion ever, in a match by a score of 2 wins,
13 draws, and zero losses. This was truly a great accomplishment. Kramnik
had summited the Chess Olympus. Ponomariovís title was won in the last
FIDE Knockout tournament, which is a grab bag, blitz-crazed process.
The tournament was missing two of best players in the world, namely
Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik. Simple
analysis tells us that Kramnikís title is the real one, the one that
holds value and canít be easily replaced or forgotten. Kramnikís title
follows rich tradition. It would be unconscionable to give Ponomariov draw
adds against the player who dominated chess for 20 years and who defended
his title for 15 years in numerous matches.
Kasparov is only one match removed from his title, still at the top
of the chess world. Ponomariov
is a talented player, but his chess resume falls well short of Kasparovís
resume. This issue should not have been a showstopper.
failed to realize that a victory over Garry Kasparov would have given some
legitimacy to the FIDE Knockout Championship.
It would have catapulted Ponomariov to chess stardom. It would have
increased his marketability for big dollar matches. It would have placed
Ponomariov one step from chess immortality. If Ponomariov wants to defend
his title under the same conditions he won it, then he should play in the
upcoming FIDE Knockout Tournament in Libya later this year.
wonders why the FIDE knockout tournament's prize funds are shrinking. This
can easily be explained. How can FIDE hold championships when the top
players donít play in them? Ex Champion and number one player in the
world, Garry Kasparov and current World Champion Vladimir Kramnik will not
play in the FIDE Knockout Championship. The
FIDE process is not worthy of world championship selection. The other
reason for poor sponsorship is players like Ponomariov, who make
unreasonable demands and cause postponements of chess events.
Sponsors need to know who will play and when these events will take
place. Sponsors donít want
to put up big money for events if top players donít play or hold up
events needlessly. I have a simple formula for great sponsorship and big
(big dollars) = (Players
Reliability) * (Players Ability) * (Players desire to win).
Advice to young talented players:
Never pass up a match against a great player for good money.
Should you win or lose such a match, donít retreat from the chess
world. Follow the examples of Karpov and Kasparov. Be active, play in a
lot of tournaments, and try to win these tournaments. Play to win from
both sides of the board.
Keep working hard on your game.
Do these things and you will
increase your marketability. All is not lost for Ponomariov, he is
still a young and talented player. He could become a true World Champion
This letter was sent to Alex Baburin - Chess Today and Joel Lautier