Monday, November 26, 2007

Deja view all over again

Strange to think that despite being widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history, Capablanca never won a match as World Champion. The Cuban won the title easily, beating
an old and ailing Emmanuel Lasker in 1921, then spent half a decade avoiding a challenge from Alekhine. Time ran out in 1927 of course, whereupon Alekhine returned the compliment and never allowed Capablanca a rematch.

Fast forward eighty years and since the end of Mexico City I, along with most of the rest of the chess world no doubt, have been eagerly awaiting the Anand-Kramnik showdown. Expectations are high, not only because of the inherent interest in such a contest but also due to ongoing doubts around legitimacy of a claim to the crown based on tournament rather than match success.

(Aside: The Red Hot Pawn forum has a lengthy debate/discussion/row about this - though frankly if you can bother your arse to read all twenty pages of it you're a better man than I. Alternatively visit the BCM Blog for a conspiracy theory involving Kramnik, a piece of kitchenware and a real trophy held hostage until Anand wins a head to head challenge.)

Last Wednesday, ChessBase reported an interview with Kramnik from Moscow's Sport-Express Daily. When asked about the forthcoming match, Vlad the former Impaler, said the not entirely reassuring:

"I can say that there are no problems on my side. I have signed the contract and sent it off. I know that Anand is having discussions with FIDE, but I do not know the details. On this subject, you should ask the FIDE leadership and Anand himself."

Worse news followed in yesterday's Guardian when Leonard Barden confirmed:

"Fide's planned Anand v Kramnik championship showdown, scheduled for autumn 2008, has already run into problems. A German sponsor is lined up, but Anand has objected to Germany as a venue on the grounds that Kramnik's manager is German. The Indian also wants draw odds as holder in place of Fide's wish for speed chess tiebreaks if the classical games finish level.

Not too surprising then, given the history of our game at the highest level, but nonetheless depressing.

Hopefully somebody somewhere will bang a couple of heads together and get this match on. Here's hoping we won't be waiting six years for it to happen.

No comments: