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FIDE makes another attempt at unification

TBILISI, FEB. 28. The World Chess Federation said it would hold a tournament this year in an attempt to unify the chess world that splintered nearly a decade ago with the world champion's walkout.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of the federation known by its French acronym FIDE, said the world's eight top chess Grandmasters would play a tournament in October to name the world champion.

Under the latest plan, Grandmasters FIDE champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov, his runner-up Michael Adams of England, Peter Leko, Viswanathan Anand of India, Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and Russians Vladimir Kramnik, Kasparov and Alexander Morozevich will play two round-robin rounds to decide the world title.

There was no immediate reaction from any of the eight chess players.

``A historical decision was made which will ease the nervousness in the chess world,'' Ilyumzhinov said on Sunday after the federation's Presidential Council meeting in Tbilisi.

Ilyumzhinov said that the likely venue for the event would be Kalmykia's central city of Elista, but several other options are also being considered. ``The minimum prize-money for the event is set at $500,000 (euro378,000) but it will most likely rise,'' he said.

Deadline

All the participants will have to sign up for the match by March 15. In case any of the eight Grandmasters refuse, they will be substituted by their follow-ups in the FIDE rankings.

The planned match is the fifth attempt to reunify the chess world since then-world champion Gary Kasparov broke away from FIDE in 1993.

The most recent attempt at unification failed last month, when Kasparov withdrew from a World championship match with FIDE champion Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan scheduled for this spring. Kasparov said he had suffered financial and psychological damage from the match's repeated postponement.

In 2003, FIDE champion Ruslan Ponomarev of Ukraine refused to sign a contract with FIDE to play Kasparov.

The rift in the chess world grew after Ilyumzhinov, the President of the impoverished Russian province of Kalmykia, became president of the federation in 1995. While Ilyumzhinov was praised for pouring millions of dollars into chess, he also introduced numerous controversial changes, including a new knockout format for the World championship and a new, faster time control.

Under a 2002 plan to reunify the chess world, known as the Prague Agreement, Kasparov was to play a FIDE champion. The winner of that match was to face the winner of a contest between Kramnik of Russia and Leko of Hungary. Kramnik beat Kasparov in 2000 to become the Classical world champion, a title not recognised by FIDE. — AP

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