U. S. Chess Federation
Bill Goichberg, President
PO BOX 3967
CROSSVILLE, TN 38557-3967
Phone: (931) 787 – 1234
Fax: (931) 787 – 1200
November 7, 2008
Open letter to FIDE Office and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
The U.S. Chess Federation is astonished to hear the latest position of FIDE regarding the Kamsky vs. Topalov match.
On June 1, 2008, FIDE announced that this match would take place in Lvov, Ukraine, beginning November 28, with a prize fund of $750,000. Following is the FIDE press release of that date, as posted on the FIDE website:
President guarantees Topalov–Kamsky match
President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has announced that the World Championship Challenger Match between Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Gata Kamsky (USA) will take place in Lvov, Ukraine in November 2008.
The organiser offered a prize fund of 750,000 USD and to hold the match on the “neutral” territory of Ukraine, as the players wanted to avoid Bulgaria or the USA. President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov guarantees the organiser’s offer by backing the event from his personal finances.
FIDE Presidential Board acknowledged the offer as well as the guarantee and assigned Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos to conclude the final contracts and to check the availability of the finances. The Match will be held in dates between November 26th and December 14th 2008.
Now we are being told that the “guarantee” that FIDE announced can be withdrawn because the organizer of the Lvov match has failed to make the necessary payment to FIDE? But this guarantee had significance only under precisely these circumstances!
If the organizer had made this payment, then for the FIDE President to “back the event from his personal finances” would not be necessary. Since the organizer has failed to make the payment, “backing the event from his personal finances” is now needed- and FIDE’s position appears to be that it was happy to promise backing with words only, but that backing with actual money was not what FIDE had in mind. Incredible!
Retail products are often sold with guarantees. Imagine if your product does not work, and you return it for repair or refund, and the seller says “Sorry, we have decided that the guarantee we offered is only valid if the product is working perfectly.” That is exactly what FIDE is trying to do to the players in this match.
The chess world and the media will not be so easily fooled. It is apparent that FIDE made a public commitment, and now is seeking to back out for no valid reason. A “guarantee” is not subject to being revoked at the whim of the guarantor. Please reconsider this very unwise and inappropriate action.
President, US Chess Federation
Below is my letter in response to the open statement by USCF President Bill Goichberg:
November 7, 2008
Please kindly verify that this is only your personal opinion or the opinion of various individuals. As a board member of the US Chess Federation, I did not authorize this letter nor have I seen this open letter before it was published. You definitely do not have my permission to speak on my behalf. This is the first time I am seeing it.
This is a very serious matter as it will clearly affect the professional careers of two great players: Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov. I would like to see these two world-class players settle their differences on the chess board and not through war of words. I encourage all parties to engage in diplomatic and respectful negotiation sessions to come up with a sensible solution instead of adding more fuel to the fire with this type of open letters.
Our chess community has suffered enough already. If you would like to be personally involved in this negotiation, you are more than welcome to come to Dresden next week and speak to the FIDE officials. But let’s not go down this destructive path with no possible amicable ending.
USCF Minority Board Member
Here is the immediate response from Mr. Goichberg:
Susan, I am speaking for the USCF, which means the majority of the Executive Board. I have not claimed that every member of the Executive Board agrees with my statement.
The USCF Executive Board, meeting in Nashville Tennessee last weekend voted to authorize President Bill Goichberg to write such a letter. Perhaps the fact that Ms. Polgar chose not to attend the meeting in person but call into it caused her to miss this point.
The professional career of Grandmaster Gata Kamsky is on the line. Your personal rhetoric is not helpful for anyone.
We all want this match to happen. We are all on board to have President Goichberg issue a professional statement. He did on November 4.
We certainly did not authorize or consent for USCF President Goichberg to issue this letter or to engage in a public war of words. However, he is free to do it on his behalf or yours, not ours. He has clarified this issue.
I fully agree with Susan and I join her in urging all parties to engage in diplomatic, professional, and respectful negotiation to come up with a sensible solution. I have the utmost respect for the talent of GM Kamsky and Topalov and I hope that a compromise can be worked out.
Captain and Business Manager of the 2004 US Women’s Olympiad Silver Medalist team
I am happily reporting your interactions to some 60,000 chess fans per month – as the #1 US-based chess site.
It does appear to me that that – without avail to other intelligence – President Goichberg did commit the USCF Federation Board to a course of action when 2 members of said board were not even informed of the issue, nevermind being able to register their dissenting views or register their wishes during /in camera/ or simply said ‘secret’ conversation on the best move to forward Gata Kamsky’s chances on behalf of USA. If that is so, what providence is there in a board declaration to FIDE which the entire board was not even informed thereof?
While the power exists from the current USCF board to do as it has done without apparent blush, is it honest to proceed this way? – without concomitant mention that other board members were not even informed of the ‘board’ decree?
Is this another putsch scenario by the president of the board?
Is it indeed decent, legal, honest or truthful on his part? This is to say nothing of what is wise, and certainly, neglecting to even consult GM opinion on the board is … well, you all read what Max Dlugy and Arnold Denker already said.
I am not interest in petty or political bickering. I am only interested in making sure that GM Kamsky and GM Topalov will play this match. It is in their best interest and the interest of chess fans worldwide.
There are a lot more than what was addressed by USCF President Goichberg. What I fail to see is how it would help GM Kamsky for the USCF and the USCF President to publicly insult FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov or other FIDE officials, regardless of our personal opinions?
I am not picking a side. I am for a sensible, level headed, and equitable solution.
It is best for this matter to be discussed, negotiated, and settled in a professional and respectful manner behind closed doors.
Dear Mr. Paul Truong,
I have very little interest myself in these affairs, except from personal, candid and direct knowledge of the private and public views of GMs Kasparov, Karpov, Khalifman and Keene [to mention only the K’s] on how things might proceed from their direct knowledge of things.
My entire thrust in the previous message was to the effect that the USCF ‘board’ has seemed to proceed unclearly from any deliberations or even knowledge of said board, and seemed only to be an edict from President Goichberg of those attendind some secret meeting – secret even from other board members – the result of which is a declaration to Fide not clearly the result of Mr. Gocihberg’s personal opinion, some partial opinion of the board which others did not even take part in, or some official stance of United States Chess Federation?
I have not read anything here, so far, sufficient to be called an answer by those I questioned.
That is a matter of opinion if the gentleman should be insulted by USCF. I make a simpler and more minor point about who issues the insult? Is it the USCF board, or some sub-sect of it acting from some closed and partial discussion?
That, Sir, is not my opinion, though I do acknowledge your need to make such negotiations which will progress our affairs as it seems best to you and from your perspective on the world chess scene. For myself, and I think fairly representing most chess players, I merely offer you the demurrer interrogatory of what should be private and what public information?
What exactly should be secret from our discussion of the World Championship? If it is merely business then so be it – but is that all it has become?
But I see your intent is to make proper engagement with FIDE on the subject of GM Kamsky’s chances and engagements in the World Championship process, which is one I also wish to advance. To this effect, let us further conspire together, and see if the President of Fide’s recent declaration is suitable to the sport of chess – and is fair to the candidates engaged in it.
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– GM Susan Polgar