It's not the Legality that matters
 it's the Value

10/01/2005 - Interesting comments by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov that I saw on ChessBase.

    I could not disagree more with Ilyumzhinov’s belief that FIDE owns the title. He refers to the winner of San Luis as the Legal world championship. I believe the title belongs to the champion who won it by defeating the prior champion in a match. The champion only keeps the title if he successfully defends his title against top players on a regular basis. If the champion does not honor the title by defending it properly, he or she loses it.

   True champions from Steinitz thru Alekhine held the title prior to the existence of FIDE. In 1946 FIDE was created to help facilitate world championship matches. I consider the title a chess living trust that exists in perpetuity. It was created in 1886 with the first chess world championship match between Steinitz and Zukertort.  FIDE is the facilitator or the executor of the living world championship trust. If the executor does not perform properly, then he or she should be replaced. 

    FIDE’s job is to organize the next world championship process.  Their job is to find the champion a worthy opponent and to hold world championship matches on a regular basis. One of FIDE’s roles is to make sure that players worthy of world championship consideration get a chance to play the champion. FIDE’s role is to preserve the rich chess world championship tradition.

    I find it strange that Ilyumzhinov says FIDE owns the title, but yet leaves the decision to the winner of San Luis on whether or not to play a match against Kramnik.  FIDE should not abandon reunification.  But I find it encouraging that Ilyumzhinov would refer to the historic Alekhine vs. Capablanca world championship match. While he is president, Ilyumzhinov must  create other historic world championship matches that match the best vs. the best of the rest. So far he has failed to accomplish this. It was a shame that Ilyumzhinov was unable to use his influence to create two historic matches that would have unified the chess world. Those matches could have been Anand vs. Kasparov and winner to play Kramnik.

    The issue that FIDE misses about World Championship titles is that it's the HOW and WHO that gives a world championship title value. A value that is worthy of legal wrangling. Compare the roads taken to the title by Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov with the roads taken by Khalifman, Anand, Ponomariov, and Kasimdzhanov. It is easy to see which titles have more value. It is important that the champion be the best of their kind and the road to the title should be Herculean.

 Mr. Ilyumzhinov tear down the wall that keeps the chess world divided. Create a historic world championship match on your watch. Have the winner of San Luis play Kramnik in a classical world championship match. Do this on your watch. 

    It is strange to talk about titles in terms of their legality. I can assure you Kramnik title is legal. He defeated the greatest chess champion in a match. The legality of the title is not the issue. It's more important to speak of the value of the title.

   The old world championship system, that FIDE perfected in the mid 1960s was the best process for determining a new champion. It consisted of interzonal tournaments, candidate matches and a world championship match. Since 1993, FIDE has cheapened the value of its title. They made it too easy to become a champion.  FIDE has the ability to finish reunification and give the title the value it deserves. Should this occur, there will be no question of the title's legality.

   I hope FIDE does not waste this opportunity. Kramnik is willing to play the winner of San Luis. A match of this magnitude would be a great boost to chess.


Chess Base Article -
FIDE Unification - Chess Reporter
San Luis - Chess Reporter
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov - Chess Reporter