The International Chess Federation (FIDE) yesterday nullified world champion Gary Kasparov's title and said it would ask two other players to compete for the championship later this year. Kasparov had been scheduled to play English grandmaster Nigel Short, who had been officially designated as the challenger.
The move was a counter-gambit against Kasparov and Short, who last month refused to play for the title under arrangements made by FIDE. (The organization's initials are based on its title in French, Federation Internationale des Echecs.)
Two players who were beaten by Short in preliminary matches, Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman and former world champion Anatoly Karpov, will be invited to play for the world championship, FIDE said in a statement released at its headquarters in Zurich. It also said that Kasparov and Short will not be allowed to play against the winner of their match when the championship comes around again in three years.
A likely outcome of the dispute will be the development of two world chess championships, one administered by FIDE and another controlled by the players. If Bobby Fischer is included, there could be three players claiming the title of world champion by the end of the year: the winner of the Kasparov-Short match; the winner of the FIDE match; and Fischer, who claims to be the still-undefeated champion, having won the title in 1972 and been deposed by FIDE in 1975 without playing another game.
The winner of the Kasparov-Short match is likely to be the champion taken seriously by most other senior players because of their top rankings. Kasparov and Short also have taken a substantial lead over FIDE in raising a prize fund.
Last month in London, Kasparov and Short issued a statement rejecting FIDE's plan for an August match in Manchester, England, and calling for bids for a match in September, which they intended to organize themselves. They said they would donate 10 percent of the prize fund to establish a new Professional Chess Association to administer the world championship and other world-class competitions, according to the Reuter news service. The bids they received ranged from $1.8 million to $6.1 million, they announced earlier this week. The highest bidder was anonymous. This amount is substantially more than the $1.68 million FIDE raised for its match, and it is not sure that even that much can be raised for a match between Timman and Karpov.
Kasparov and Short both complained last month that they had not been consulted, as the agreement required, before FIDE decided to stage the match in Manchester. They said FIDE had often shown "willful disregard" for the players in world championship matches. In 1985, the statement recalled, FIDE President Florencio Campomanes had stopped the first match between Kasparov and Karpov, who was then the champion, when it began to look like Kasparov might win.
This intervention was "condemned as profoundly unethical" by chess players around the world, they said. "Also later FIDE, under Campomanes, has shown disregard for its own rules. It is clear that FIDE cannot be trusted to organize the most important professional chess competition in the world."
FIDE officials could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon because of the time difference, but they have refused to comment in the past beyond their official statements.
Kasparov and Short's resentment is shared by many other top players, beginning with Fischer, who refused to defend his championship in 1975 because he found FIDE's arrangements unacceptable. Raymond Keene, a world-class player and chess columnist for the London Times, predicted that the rebellion "will be the demise of FIDE as far as professional chess is concerned. There will be a rump left organizing amateur chess, which is fine."
"There will be no compromise between ourselves and FIDE. We plan to create something entirely new," Short said in an interview with Reuter last month. "This should be seen as the players versus the officials. If the players are with us, then that's it. FIDE will be finished."