Hangin Takes on Ponomariov 
interview on 4/17/2004


  Ruslan Ponomariov is a talented young player. When his playing career is over, if his only big accomplishment is the 2002 FIDE Knockout win, then he will have wasted his chess talent.

Here is an interview with Ruslan Ponomariov by Alexei Ljakhovetsky and published in Ukrainian sports news paper "kromanda" on April 17th. I have taken experts from Chess Today Issue ct123(1272)


Do you believe that Kasparov definitely played a role in this boycott? There is another theory - that organisers of big tournaments have started to pass you by, because they consider you undependable


Ponomariov :

I would put it differently. Kasparov is a man who holds grudges, a man who sometimes will simply say, "If I'm going to be playing in this tournament, then I'll let these people play, but those people can't." He has great influence upon organizers, and uses his authority to pressure them. And Ilyumzhinov has his channels, also.

Hangin's take :
 Garry Kasparov signed his contract to play Ruslan Ponomariov.  To be fair Ruslan has not had great results since winning the FIDE Knockout Championship in 2002. 

Ruslan finished in 5th place in Linares 2003 with a 5.5/12 points. Ruslan finished behind Leko, Kramnik, Kasparov, and Anand. Ponomariov finished 5th of  7 place. 
Ruslan was very unimpressive at Corus 2003. He finished in 12 out of 14 place with a score of 6/13.

So after his nice Victory in the FIDE Knockout in 2002, Ruslan has not impressed. 


How do you explain Kasparov getting more than a Champion's privileges in the current cycle?

Ponomariov :|

This is not honourable: How does a Challenger get such fairytale privileges? Such a precedent is perhaps unknown, not only in the history of chess, but of any sport. And the agreement between Kasparov and Ilyumzhinov took place two years ago, when I became the World Champion. At that time, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov promised me a computer match. Sometime later, Deep Junior's representatives called me, and offered to negotiate the details of the match. As a man of honour, I explained to them that Ilyumzhinov had promised me that he would set up the match, and so I could not engage in side discussions; I advised them to approach FIDE. They did, and soon Ilyumzhinov announced that this match would be against ... Kasparov. And the President of FIDE didn't even offer me so much as an apology. Then came the Prague Agreement, which I wasn't even invited to. At that point, I was in training in Sevastopol, when suddenly there came a telephone call from Ilyumzhinov's assistant, Berik Balgabaev. He told me about the Prague meeting, and about how I was going to play Kasparov. I didn't even know what to say to him. Now, imagine if somebody had gotten hold of Kasparov, called him, let's say, and said, Look, we had a meeting, thought it over, and decided that you're going to play Ponomariov. No one would even think of such a thing.


Hangin's: take:
 Kasparov didn't get fairy tale privileges.  It was Ruslan Ponomariov that got fairly tale privileges. How did He get the right to play Kasparov for a world title.  Here are the reasons Garry Kasparov serves selection into the current world championship process: 

 1) He's been the number one player rated player going on 20 years now
  2) He has an incredible 20 year tournament win record
  3) He defended  his title on numerous times, against the best in the world. (86,87,90,93,95,2000)
  4) He is only one match removed from the REAL TITLE.
  5) He is the best ambassador to the chess world. He makes visits to most all the continents in the world.
  6) Due to the shortened version of the current reunification process, Kasparov can bring real value to the reunification, provided that he factors in significantly. Had Ponomariov beaten Kasparov, that would have brought legitimacy to the FIDE Knockout Champion. 

 Ruslan is a very talented young player. He is currently rated number 10 in the world. He was within striking distance of the being the best player in the world I am afraid this current opportunity has passed him by.

 Great players like Kasparov, Fischer, and Karpov get special treatment because they earned it thru great results. This is not unique to the chess world. Baseball great, Ted Williams didn't get called on strikes often, the umpires respected his hitting ability and great eye for the batters box. Great athletes get special treatment when they produce great results over a long period of time.
 Kasparov's road to his title was much tougher than Ponomariov's road.


There is an opinion out there that  it wasn't Ruslan Ponomariov who caused the breakup of the match in Yalta, but his advisers...


I consider this opinion to be the result of FIDE's propaganda. Ilyumzhinov needed to find a scapegoat. Apparently, he feared to name either the Match Organising Committee or myself, so he decided to stick it to my people - something like: Well, this Ponomariov doesn't understand anything, he's come under bad influence, etc. Whereas it was Ilyumzhinov himself, without consulting with anybody, who took and cancelled the match. Neither I nor the Organising Committee had the final power to cancel the match. They say that I had to agree to all FIDE's conditions. I don't believe that Ilyumzhinov would have stopped there. Kasparov and Ilyumzhinov are both Eastern people, unaccustomed to giving an inch. You meet them  halfway, they take that as a starting   point, and ask for more. And FIDE's regulations are set up so as to allow anything. For example, let's take the European Team Championship in Plovdiv, where my mobile phone rang, and they forfeited me. At the Linares tournament, Kasparov went to his room during the game, and got no punishment for that at all.

Hangin's take :
  I think this is a case of "too little success" to soon. I think Ruslan is surrounded by Yes men. 
I wrote to Ruslan and warned him about over pressing his case. Ruslan is still very young, and I believe he lost his coach back in early 2003.  Ruslan is certainly in need of fatherly advice.
Yasser Seirawan called the FIDE Knockout the worse system for choosing a world champion. He calls it a lottery. Ponomariov's problem was that he thought he was the real champion. He's not the champion.

Ponomariov refuses to sign the FIDE contract to play Kasparov 


In the above-cited open letter to the ACP, you insist that you want to defend your title under the  same conditions you won it. 

Ponomariov :

Yes, I don't want any special favours - I'm willing to play starting with Round One - the whole problem is this "superfinal" against Kasparov.



Hangin's take :
   This is just a case of sour grapes. This is the only way for Ruslan Ponomariov to get another shot at the title. Ruslan Ponomariov original stance was the he wanted to play using the same time controls he used to win the last FIDE Knockout, which is 90 minutes and 30 second increment per move. When he dropped that demand, he came up with others. He wanted to keep his title until the final reunification match. 

 MIG's take on the Ponomariov debacle

 Hangin's take on Ponomariov's open letter

 Readers questions 

 MIG's article on Tripoli and Ponomariov open letter

 Ponomariov refuses to sign the FIDE contract to play Kasparov 
 Pon0mariov I can beat Kasparov