Where is the World of Chess Going???

Earlier this year, GM Ruslan Ponomariov won the FIDE World Championship crown by upending his Ukrainian compatriot, GM Vassily Ivanchuk. There was a lot of doubt on whether the 18-year old was worthy of joining the elite class of chess GMs. GM Garry Kasparov even remarked (before Linares) that he wouldn't know the young champion if he were sitting right next to him.  After winning Linares, Kasparov seemed as if he knew Ponomariov quite well (see picture on right).

GM Ruslan Ponomariov - GM Garry Kasparov (Linares 2002)

Ponomariov's initial decline to the Linares Super-GM tournament fueled further speculation that he would avoid top flight competition during his reign much the way GM Vladimir Kramnik has done. In fact, the Mayor of Linares wrote a tasteless letter scolding the FIDE World Champion about his refusal to play and even threatened litigation.  The world of chess really stooped to a new low when Ponomariov pathetically had to say, "I want to be treated like a World Champion."

These notions were put to rest after "Super Mario" Ponomariov took 2nd in the strong Linares tournament silencing all doubters including GM Ivanchuk. After Ivanchuk was outclassed by Ponomariov in the first round of Linares, all (including Kasparov) had to give Ponomariov his due respect, or "props." On the other hand, GM Kramnik seems to rather play 11-year old IMs and computers rather than super-GMs, and his poor performance in Amber Melody is  proof that the world of chess is in a state of flux. Even
GM Bobby Fischer has claimed that the world of classical chess is "dead" and has suggested a new form of chess called "Fischer Random." Interesting.

The latest in this chess saga is a very well-constructed letter written by GM Yasser Seirawan titled, "Fresh Start." In this detailed letter, GM Seirawan (America's #1 player) makes a proposal to end the current schism and unite the chess world under one champion. Currently, neither World Champion is the world's strongest chess player and neither recognizes the other as the official champion. Kasparov recognizes only Kramnik although most still see GM Kasparov as the world's best chess player (as most of the world sees Mike Tyson as the best boxer).

GM Yasser Seirawan

GM Fischer still claims to be World Champion as he claims he never lost his title.  Hopefully, Seirawan's proposal will  gain widespread interest in order to avoid the same debacle plaguing sports like boxing where there are three heavyweight crowns.

Will the REAL World Champion step up???

Yasser Seraiwan's "Fresh Start" Proposal

Lev Grossman, "Knights and Knaves," Time.com, 17 March 2002.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 27 March 2002