Chess: Dear Nigel . . .

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The Independent Culture
A letter to grandmaster Short from William Hartston:

Dear Nigel,

Just between the two of us, you've made a bit of an ass of yourself, haven't you? I'm sure you felt that Fide were robbing you when they awarded the world title match to Manchester, but your decision to go it alone with Kasparov has all got a little out of hand, hasn't it?

When your opponent re- opened negotiations with Fide, it must have taken you a little by surprise. You had, after all, been unequivocal in rebutting them. Of course, there are very few grandmasters who approve of the methods of Fide President Campomanes, but your actions have even brought Jan Timman, one of Campo's most implacable critics, back into the Fide fold. From being an international hero, your own reputation has slumped rather horribly.

But don't worry. I have a plan to regain the esteem of your peers, unite the chess world, win you the world title and kick the forces of evil in the groin. Interested? Well, here goes:

You must have a sudden conversion. Tell the world that you were justifiably angry, but you now realise you went too far and let yourself be talked into some bad decisions. You then propose a four-man contest for the world championship, with yourself, Kasparov, Timman and Karpov competing under Fide's auspices. Kasparov could never accept the humiliation of agreeing to such a scheme, so you end up playing for the title against two men, both of whom you have already beaten. Manchester, the Times and the London Chess Group would probably all be delighted to host the venture. Take your pick. And don't forget that the winner's purse from a three- man event would be higher than the loser's from a two-man.

Best of all, you can then claim you had planned it all along.

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