NIGHT WATCH №14: MAKING ORDER OUT OF CHAOS
Rumors and interviews of Danailov is the most interesting thing that is published on chess websites and in sports newspapers. Topalov's reflex wish to have rest and finally do some literary work was not a surprise for anyone. It would be another thing if he said: "At last Silvio will allow me to start a family and jump with parachute!"...Danailov, in general, did not shock as well. Goods will be delivered in the evening if he is paid in the morning. Inconvenient FIDE decisions will be revised – it's so easy. It will go hard with personal enemies – even in his triumphal interview the Bulgarian International Master did not loose an opportunity to hurtle Lautier. Well, it's time to stop calling him a manager. Carsten Hensel and Owen Williams are managers. Danailov is a promoter, a chess Don King for whom chaos is a convenient environment for making money.
Topalov had hardly felt himself a champion, when rumors were spread about demolition of puzzling pride of the FIDE rulers – the championship cycle, as viable as a rhinoceros on a baobab. Yes, I will agree with others. Damn the matches! What for this sacralization, column halls, carpets and whispers? When there are eight players on the stage, three or four of whom consider themselves to be favorites, there will be at least two who will make a circus performance for public. It's more interesting to watch any strong tournament than a match. Putting prefix "world" adds value to both. A very right decision, comrade Ilyumzhinov!
By the way, will Khanty-Mansiysk competition happen? There should certainly be a qualification for the next match-tournament. But is there a reason to hurry? Danailov said quite clearly that a match against Kramnik is possible in November 2006. Veselin does not want to reign less than a year, he is not Smyslov. Unification match comes next. Let's add about a year and a half for rest and slow negotiations between unified champion and FIDE. Here comes New Year 2008, hello. By this time the bear can get out of his political den. And you can keep on rejoicing...
Only great Dvorkin managed to turn Chaos into Order within the shortest time span but this effort drove him mad (see "Chronicles of Amber" by Roger Zelazny). We do not have such Dvorkin now. Kirsan and his team, due to specific character features and, perhaps, Buddhist ideology, do not want to struggle against entropy. Karpov does not claim leadership any more. Bessel Kok (the one who "will do a better job than Ilyumzhinov") also caved in. Let alone Karpov and Kok! On the pages of Kasparovchess guestbook (which outlived the parent site considerably) a more deserving chess candidate, Khalifman, withdrew his candidature, and business candidate Ilya Gorodetsky, who was incited to participate in elections for a long time, confessed recently to the lack of financial attraction of this position ("if one does without stealing anything"). Thus, there is no competitor to Kirsan Nikolayevich, and for this reason no turn for the better in the issues of looking for respectable sponsors and sound policy in general is expected. Or, perhaps, chess Shenderovich named, let's say, Short, will appear?
For some reason I'm convinced that uncorrupted FIDE president coming to power with uncorrupted team will be able to sustain any schedule of the championship cycle. I realize that many people forgot what it's like to have a leader with untarnished reputation (there has not been such in the FIDE since 1981 at least) and what it means for legal business. Here comes the origin of conviction that Ilyumzhinov and Co although badly, but work, and any replacement will make everything worse. Perhaps there is no place for dispute – any analogies with other sports and fields of activity can be easily parried, and the conversation slides to the sphere of personal experience and belief.
A question "what's to be done with the champion's title?" has a subparagraph "what's to be done with Kramnik?". "I believe leaving things undone to be almighty" – answers Tao FIDE. Indeed, Kramnik can be ignored. A few more years of standstill and his title will be of no value, like Fischer's. However, it's silly to shout from the housetops that Kramnik does not exist anymore, if there are sponsors, who are ready to finance Vladimir vs. Veselin match. Let us believe conditionally that such sponsors exist.
The unification match should be carried out in 2006 and included officially into the world championship under the aegis of the FIDE. And the winner is to be proclaimed the one and only world champion. The same was decided to do in Prague, and no one will invent anything better (the idea of creating an alternative branch with annual budget of 50 million Megabucks from the pocket money of Bill Gates is not considered). The match Topalov – Kramnik does not hamper the qualification for the championship match-tournament of 2007. In case of unexpected failure, Topalov will reign a year instead of two. On the other hand, he will earn more dough.
What do unification match critics propose instead? They say: shoot Kramnik and repaint the Mausoleum green. (There is an old anecdote of perestroika times. One day Josif Stalin resurrects. He comes to Kremlin and gathers the Politburo members around. They ask him: ‘We are losing control over the country, help us, give us your advice!' Stalin lights up the pipe and replies slowly: ‘You've got to do two things. First – shot all deputies in a parliament. Second – repaint the Mausoleum green.' A silence emerges. Then a shaky voice comes: ‘Comrade Stalin, why green?' Stalin nods affirmatively: ‘I knew that there are no objections on the first issue'.) Kramnik is said to be an obstacle on the path of Radjabov, Aronian, and Karjakin to the summits of spirit. He is not a champion and he has no right to play Topalov right away, etc... One reason of discontent is Kramnik's supporters' frustration due to his absolute loss of motivation after a won match of 2000. For this reason, they suggest throwing the one who defeated Kasparov to the garbage heap of history as he failed in trust and that's why deserves no compassion and will get a full-scale punishment. It is extremely unjust, in my opinion. Kramnik was the only one, who fulfilled all his Prague obligations. It was FIDE that foiled three matches, and these are FIDE's leaders, who should be criticized much more severely than Kramnik (my experience of amateur preference player prompts that a successful game with eight tricks does not cover three lost misers). But, alas. As Dovlatov wrote: "You know, an interesting manuscript impels too high requirements, while it's quite the contrary with an untalented one."
The critics do not believe that FIDE will be able to maintain an ideal schedule (2006 – unification, 2007 – culmination of the new cycle with unified champion) and in case of any blunders, delays, cancellations and other disorder the innocent will suffer. But this is FIDE's problem, not Kramnik's, isn't it? If on the coming elections there will be no alternative to the management of international federation with such reputation (or, as a version, no cardinal changes within the president's team happen), we can forget for a long time about bringing professional chess out of the shade as it's not worthy of it. As for children's chess, it will exist without Makropoulos and Azmaiparashvili – updating heroes' pantheon regularly is enough, Susan Polgar and Nakamura will do a better job.
Struggle for the crown is over. Well, a no less intriguing stage starts – sharing out the inheritance. While almost 25 years have passed since the death of the last authoritative FIDE's president, the last authoritative chess champion retired not so long ago, and his inheritance has not been scattered completely. I hope that Topalov will be the best in his generation successor of Kasparov and will prefer defending his title in the honest struggle against the strongest opponents. Even in case he has a legal opportunity of avoiding this fight. See you online!