The following interview with GM Dmitry Komarov, one of Ruslan Ponomariov's seconds, appeared in the Ukrainian newspaper 'Segodnia' on 4 September 2003. If you read Russian, you can see the original here. The English version was first published in Chess Today newspaper on 7 September.
Maybe Kasparov got scared? English translation by GM Alex Baburin
About FIDE Ponomariov dialogue:
Beginning from July Ponomariov suggested several times to Ilyumzhinov to meet and sort out all issues under dispute. However, his suggestions were ignored, while FIDE officials also avoided communications with champion's lawyers.
About the contract:
Ruslan signed the contract on the 12th of August, but with amendments. The FIDE Council held in Nigeria ordered him to sign the contract without any amendments by the 25th of August.
About persons making decisions in Ponomariov's team:
All documents are prepared by lawyers, assistants and translators. Then Ruslan checks the text and decides whether to sign it or not. All four amendments to the FIDE contact came from him.
About financial compensation:
For the cancellation of the match in Buenos Aires FIDE had to pay the players $100,000 each. Ilyumzhinov confirmed that he received from the Argentinean side $150,000, but later his aids claimed that no money had been received. Later Ruslan dropped his claim to pay him that sum.
About the prize fund of the match disputed:
At the meeting of the Match Organising Committee on 25 July it was agreed that the prize fund would be $1m. If the final prize fund exceeded this sum, then 20% of the surplus of the prize fund would go to FIDE. Four days later we were sent a document where the word 'surplus' disappeared (!) so FIDE was going to get 20% of the prize fund, in other words, $400,000 instead of $200,000.
About the statement of the Organising Committee:
"After FIDE declined all Ponomariov's amendments, he asked the Organising Committee to help to broke a deal. He examined his options and trying to reach a compromise, left just four claims. He gave written guarantees that should his amendments be accepted, he would certainly play in the match.
About the reserved player:
This clause in the contract was not regulated at all. Surely, as FIDE did not replace Ruslan before the match (as we know), he won't be replaced during the match either. Why not to strike off that clause then? Also, it was not clearly explained what FIDE meant under 'player's behaviour' what were the actions for which the player could be punished during the match? That clause should be either dropped or clearly explained. FIDFE did none of it. Over all, neither side trusted each other.
There were rumours that Ivanchuk signed an agreement to play Kasparov, if Ponomariov did not play, but this cannot be verified.
About the extra day before tie-breaks:
In the Rules of the Match approved by the President's Council, there was no mentioning of this day. The fact that it appeared in the contract, was spotted only by our translator. At first FIDE claimed that an extra day-off was added on request of the Argentinean organisers (what did they have to do with the match by then?). Then that it was a request from the media. Later they claimed that it was a request from the players. While objectively this change did not favour Ponomariov, Ruslan could have agreed with that if FIDE took part in a fair discussion. However, that was an obvious falsification from FIDE, whose ability to change the rules at will worried us.
Who benefits from the cancellation:
FIDE was 'under Kasparov' and no question was deal with without his approval. His team saw that there was no day-off before the tie-breaks and decided that it would be suit Kasparov to have one. It was not possible to change the rules, but FIDE falsified it.
It should be not difficult to reach an agreement with FIDE on all the disputed issues. However, while chess fans may think of FIDE as a normal organisation, we see its leaders as people who break their word all the time.
About cancelling the match:
According to FIDE Constitution, Ilyumzhinov had not power to cancel the match. His actions are illegal, but FIDE is the organisation of one man, where complete legal chaos rules.
About financial loss:
Ruslan had been preparing for this match since last December. Every day of preparation costs about $1,000, so you can get an idea about his losses.
If Ponomariov accepted everything, he would have felt psychological discomfort. Why does the world Champion have to yield all the time? Why, with the match planned in his country, he is being humiliated?
About FIDE's attitude to Ponomariov:
FIDE treated Ruslan as a subordinate and dictated him, while he is the world Champion. When all his amendments and reservations are declined, it affects him. When you are treated like this, where is the guarantee that the pressure won't continue during the match?
Some people blame Ponomariov for this, but perhaps it is Kasparov who got scared? How else would you explain that FIDE (read Kasparov) did not accept the proposals of the Ukrainian? Particularly when the threat to replace him has remained a fiction.
About the world championship:
Ruslan wants to have a fair system, where Kasparov, Kramnik and Leko will all play to find out who is the best player. Meanwhile FIDE offers the system where winner of the knockout tournament will meat Kasparov in one semi-final, while Leko and Kramnik play in the other. Then there will be a final. But then why these three grandmasters are given privileges over other players, including the world champion? And if other players will agree with this system, where is their dignity?
Copyright Alexander Baburin & Chess Today, 2003