Chess: World wars

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THE BATTLE for the world chess championship entered a new phase yesterday, with both contestants scoring notable victories, writes William Hartston. This is not, you will understand, the battle for the title of world champion, but the fight between the two organisations vying for the moral right to run the event.

Yesterday, the president of the International Chess Federation (Fide), Florencio Campomanes, announced that the quarter-finals and semi- finals of the Fide World Championship would be held in India and sponsored by a major textile and business consortium, Sanghi Industries. According to Mr Campomanes, their founder and chief executive, Ravi Sanghi, has also expressed a strong interest in the eventual title match.

Until now, the Fide championship seemed to be lagging behind its Professional Chess Association (PCA) rival, sponsored by the computer chip company Intel. The first Intel- backed PCA event, a 'Speed Chess Grand Prix', has just begun in Moscow, the first commercially sponsored event to be held in the Kremlin. In June the PCA/Intel World Championship quarter-finals will be held in New York, with a prize fund of dollars 50,000 for each match. By a curious coincidence, that is exactly the same as has just been announced for the Fide quarter- finals. For the next round, Fide are talking of half a million dollars compared with the dollars 200,000 offered for the PCA matches in Barcelona.

So in June, the PCA moves forward with Short-Gulko, Kramnik-Kamsky, Anand-Romanishin and Tiviakov-Adams. The following month attention will shift to a different circus with many of the same stars: Gelfand-Kramnik, Anand-Kamsky and Salov-Timman. The PCA eliminators continue until a challenger for Kasparov is found. The Fide winners will be joined by Karpov in the semi-finals.

Behind the scenes, there are rumours of negotiation between Fide and the PCA to unify the world championship again, but the guaranteed prosperity of the Fide cycle may well depend on the performance of Viswanathan Anand.