Short's breakaway may be a blunder

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The Independent Online
LEADING figures in the British chess world are concerned that Nigel Short may have made a tactical error in backing a breakaway organisation which is attempting to seize control of the world championship.

They fear that the Professional Chess Association, whose formation was hastily announced on Friday, still has no constitution and could therefore favour the cause of Garry Kasparov, the defending champion, because no safeguards exist to protect the challenger.

There was also concern that the joint statement by Short and Kasparov that they were refusing to play their title match in Manchester under the auspices of Fide, the World Chess Federation, might mean that the championship would eventually take place outside Britain.

It emerged yesterday that the new chess body's lack of a constitution means that it has no mechanism for resolving disputes over matters such as the choice of venue for the championship.

Raymond Keene, chess correspondent of the Times, who helped draft the announcement of the new organisation, said that the players would be working together to evolve a workable constitution.

Murray Chandler, a British grandmaster since 1983 and editor of British Chess magazine, said that Kasparov, as the champion, was in a stronger position than Short because there would be no independent authority to force him to defend his title.

Short might have rushed into the decision because of his anger at not being consulted about Fide's decision to choose Manchester as a venue, he said.

Mr Chandler went on: 'Kasparov has a strong personality, and without Fide there is no independent body to make sure the challenger gets a fair crack of the whip.'

He said there was widespread dissatisfaction among British players but the situation required a considered response. 'I'm not saying that an alternative to Fide isn't preferable, but it's got to be the right alternative. The history of chess is littered with new organisations which come out of nowhere then quickly disappear.'

Simon Brown, international director of the British Chess Federation, said that he was 'extremely nervous' about the new body and hoped that a compromise could yet be hammered out between the players and Fide.

He added: 'This new body is apparently to invite new bids for venues, so the championship could yet be played outside Britain.'

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