No interest in organising


Mark Crowther reports

The proposed match between Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov is unlikely to go ahead due to lack of sponsorship. The match would have produced an undisputed World Chess Champion. The regulations for the match were broadly agreed in
discussions between the two players during the chess Olympiad inYerevan last year.

There have been two title holders since 1993 when Kasparov took his World title match against Short outside the international chess federation, FIDE's control. FIDE responded with a title match of their own which was won by Karpov. For most of the time since Kasparov has been recognised as the strongest player in the World and Karpov the second strongest. In these circumstances a high profile and lucrative match seemed very possible especially as the only tournament that both played in, Linares 1994, was won clearly by Karpov.

However after the two players came to an agreement they also decided to play in a tournament together. The Las Palmas tournament in December 1996 brought together the top six players in the World. The result of the event cast doubt on the commercial value of a match. Kasparov was an impressive winner whilst Karpov finished last. The result was Karpov's second consecutive poor result. The impression that Kasparov was playing his best chess for many years was confirmed by his victory in the Linares tournament this year. Karpov did not compete as he was standing for election to the Russian parliament.

There have been reports in recent weeks that the match would be held in the Municipality of Compiegne in France. The stories started in Liberation a French newspaper but gained international currency through their reporting on the Chess Planet www page. They added some plausible details: the match would be in Napoleon's Palace with a prize fund of $3,000,000 starting on October 21st. However even cursory checking at the time of publication (3rd March) convinced me that there was very little substance to the story. Since then a number of chess magazines have published the details. Raymond Keene of the Times went as far as to say that these details came from an announcement that the match was to go ahead. He seems to have got a garbled version that had been translated from French, to English, to German before being returned to English. However after Keene's article the chess correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, Malcolm Pein, brought these stories to Kasparov's attention. Kasparov said that the reports had no basis in truth, going to far as to claim that they were a fabrication by "friends of Karpov". He added that there were no funds for the match.

Starting on March 31st there will be an international tournament in Dos Hermanas, Spain. The competitors will include most of those who played in Linares excluding Kasparov. If Karpov were to win convincingly there then belief in his chances against Kasparov and possibly sponsors might return. If he plays badly I see no prospect of a reunification match happening at all.