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In view of the present confusion over bids for the Kasparov- Short world title match, I think it a propitious moment to explain the arcane rules and practices governing the decision. As far as I have been able to work out, the procedure is as follows:

1) Notwithstanding a formal rule that bidding for the match shall continue until four weeks after the challenger is known, the match is awarded to Los Angeles a year in advance after it has offered a dollars 4m purse.

2) Los Angeles is unable to raise the money.

3) Without formally re-opening the bidding, an option is given to Ontario to take over the match for the same sum.

4) Ontario declares itself unable to raise the money.

5) The President of Fide (the International Chess Federation) flies to the Fischer-Spassky match as a personal guest of the Serbian sponsors.

6) Bids are invited, with a closing date of one week after the end of the Candidates Final.

7) Strong rumours are circulated that Barcelona is bidding dollars 4m.

8) Weaker rumours of large bids from Jakarta, Berlin, Santiago de Compostela and Zagreb.

9) Britain, apparently taken by surprise by Short's victory, starts looking for a sponsor one week before the deadline.

10) Barcelona announces that it will not be bidding.

11) Britain announces that it will not be bidding.

12) The envelopes are opened to reveal one huge bid from Serbia and a tiny one from Santiago de Compostela.

13) Fide promises a decision in a fortnight.

14) Everyone accuses everyone else of incompetence.

15) Everyone refuses to play anywhere that anyone else likes.

16) Fide, Short and Kasparov all look for new sponsors.

17) Fide takes a decision.

The whole process may then be repeated as often as necessary, changing the place-names and prizes if required.