Mon, Oct 02, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Chess championship game canceled over cheating allegations


Chess officials called off a game between Classical World Champ-ion Vladimir Kramnik and World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov on Saturday pending talks to overcome a crisis over cheating allegations.

The match is the sixth attempt to reunify the chess world since then-world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from the World Chess Federation, known by its French acronym FIDE, in 1993, over what he alleged was its officials' indifference to the fate of chess.

The rift only grew after Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the wealthy head of Russia's majority Buddhist Kalmykia region, became president of the organization in 1995.

The manager for Bulgaria's Topalov accused Russia's Kramnik of taking too many bathroom breaks -- an apparent suggestion that he was secretly using a technical device or a computer program to help him with his moves.

Topalov's team on Friday demanded an end to the use of relaxation rooms and their adjacent bathrooms for both players, and said both players should be accompanied to the toilets. The team also said surveillance videotapes taken in the relaxation rooms -- which are used by the players between matches -- should be released to accredited journalists.

An appeals committee ruled that both players' private bathrooms would be locked, and they would have to use a common bathroom.

Angered by the decision, Kramnik boycotted the fifth game on Friday. The 12-game match was scheduled to conclude on Oct. 13.

In an open letter to Ilyumzhinov, Kramnik protested the ruling and threatened to withdraw from the entire match. He also accused the Topalov team of purposely miring the match in distractions.

Ilyumzhinov opened talks with the two sides on Saturday, and said Saturday's match was to be played yesterday.

In a short message to the press, Ilyumzhinov said that "both sides are ready to resume the match and are ready to play."

"But the score is the main obstacle," Ilyumzhinov added.

Kramnik, who was leading 3-1, forfeited a game after not showing up on Friday. He suggested the match should resume from game five, while Topalov insisted he was now one point behind and it was game six that should to be played.

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