Tuesday 27 April 1999
Clearly, the usually scintillating Indian is in serious need of a long rest, but his play must also have been adversely affected by negotiations that started way back on 12 March - long before the beginning of Dos Hermanas on 6 April - as to a possible match with Gary Kasparov in October.
Billed as the "Ultimate World Chess Championship" this has been set up by the Dutch businessman Bessel Kok, the dynamo behind the wonderful Swift tournaments in Brussels in the late Eighties and the now long-defunct Grandmasters' Association (GMA), which last year organised Kasparov's match with Jan Timman in Prague, intended as a warm-up for the aborted World Chess Council (WCC) world championship match with Alexei Shirov.
Kok brought in the Canadian entrepreneur Serge Grimaux to promote and organise the event, the Swiss banker Dr William Worth, and a former Fide president - now speaker of the Icelandic parliament - the grandmaster Fridrik Olafsson, to bolster the bid, which includes a prize fund of $3m to be split 2:1.
Although Kasparov has already accepted - and crucially agreed to put his title on the line - Anand, who presumably felt railroaded, left Dos Hermanas for a month in India (nowadays he spends most of the year in Spain) without committing himself either way.
The organisers' deadline of Friday 23 April has passed, and there had still been no reply by Sunday night. But, before leaving, Anand told the top Spanish chess journalist Leonxto Garcia, of El Pas, that he considers the offer serious. No doubt, Anand will want some further time at home to compose himself. But at least there is now some possible action in the troubled world championship arena.
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