Open Letter to Mark Crowther,
In respect to your letter from January 14, by which you complain about the current status of the World Championship title, let me remind you of the fact that the journalists themselves are definitely the only ones to be blamed for it. The problems the chess world is now confronted with, were created, cultivated and fostered by the journalists for a number of years to come. Those problems had not struck us from the blue of the sky, but were deliberately exaggerated and disproportionately blown up by the individuals with destructive and anti-democratic mentality that, unfortunately, enjoyed a full support from the mainstream western media.
The only more or less rational argument maintained by them against the new format of the World Championship was a higher importance of luck inherent to the knockout events. This only consideration had blinded them completely to all positive changes that the new format brought about with it. But, please, look at the facts: the World Championship in Delhi - Tehran, organized in a truly democratic way, without privileges of any kind to anyone, open to all those who wished and gained the right to compete, supported by the overwhelming majority of players but ridiculed by some journalists as a "lottery", "show" and "FIDE Championship", has proven to be very objective in its results. Both in men's and women's sections the pre-tournament favorites and top-seeded players, Vishwanathan Anand and Xie Jun, had convincingly won the corresponding World Championship titles. At the same time, in the parallel "BGN World Championship", organized in a highly irregular way but in full accordance with the journalists' ideas of what "objective" format should be, the highly publicized "undisputed number one player" lost his title (or whatever it was) to a number 3 from the rating list. Well, where is the objectivity?
Now you feel "uncomfortable, unhappy and annoyed" at calling anyone 'World Champion' at all. Who is the World Champion - Anand or Kramnik? - it is really an exasperating dilemma for most of you. On the one side we have a player (currently number 2 in the rating list) who won the World title in a fair and square struggle against the world's best 100 professional players who had themselves passed through a tough and rigorously objective qualification system; on the other side a number 3 player who was selected by the virtue of having lost a qualification match and after having robbed his fellow-grandmaster of both his money and legitimate rights to dispute a match against the PCA-WCC-BGN champion.
Let me avow that I understand all too well your difficulties in making up your mind on the subject. In fact, some colleagues of yours have already made up theirs. It's not the first time that the journalists place their corporate interests above the principles of fair play, common sense, legality and professional rights of the chess players. During the match in London I followed attentively the persistently anonymous reports by the major press agencies (Reuters, AP, AFP), which had unambiguously endorsed it as a World Championship and in this way deliberately undermined the status of the true World Championship in Delhi - Tehran. Exactly the same effect was achieved by the circular letter from the London Chess Center, which, as you claim, was drafted in a very precipitate manner, and whose author again preferred to remain anonymous.
You write that "you also expect those [FIDE] championships to run into some difficulties shortly" because you "simply don't see where the money is going to come from in the future if Kirsan doesn't provide it".
I'm ready to accept it as a rationale behind the seemingly desperate, berserk and irrational insistence with which the press continues to deny and ignore the obvious. By obstinately denigrating the democratic format of the World Championship the journalists expect to reduce to minimum the FIDE's chances of finding sponsorship for its events and, FIDE President got tired of supporting it financially, destroy the whole harmonious structure upon which the chess professionalism is based. This would offer unlimited possibilities for manipulation of the competition, Gag Rules and practice of blacklisting any player who dare to oppose it, - a fertile soil on which so many a journalist seem to thrive.
On behalf of the World Players' Council I suggest the journalists desist from their destructive policy of belying FIDE, its President and new democratic format of the World Championship and make steps in bridging up the gap of unilateral misunderstanding of the members of our Council and present FIDE leadership. Dear Mark, the corrupt journalistic practices of taking hasty irresponsible decisions and presenting them in an anonymous way are long overdue. The times of unaccountability and despotism of the chess press are over. We have just entered new millennium, new era, it's high time you all change the tack.
GM Valery Salov
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