It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.
Antoine Boulay de la Meurthe
This letter, which seems to have been never published, dated May 13th, 1988 was addressed to Florencio Campomanes. At the height of the confrontation between FIDE and recently established Grandmasters Association (GMA) the signers, who were the most famous chess-players of that time, in terms of an ultimatum demanded to renounce the introduction of ratings and titles for active chess. What were they guided by?
– I don’t know. Probably, first of all, it was good intentions – reluctance to devaluate the Grandmaster title. I’m sure the logic of war has also something to do with it when any initiative by FIDE, even reasonable one, has to be opposed vigorously. A cynic is likely to see here the unwillingness of the elite chess-players to plunge into the crowd and a historian is sure to think of the fact that at just finished World Blitz Chess Championship (February 1988) neither Kasparov nor Karpov headed to the semifinal. Anyway, this démarche was a complete success – FIDE revoked the package of reforms which had been previously approved, active chess and blitz came to be a marginal form of chess for a long period of time. All this happened 23 years ago.
Today is 2011 and it seems to be the time for reappraisal of values. In the situation where classical chess tournaments breathe their last one after another, every month there breaks out cheating scandals, and Candidates Matches beat the records in the number of “grandmaster’ draws it is necessary to think about long-felt changes. And it’s we, the chess community, who must do that.
I believe we should return to the idea of full-scale World Championships for rapid chess and blitz with mandatory qualifying continental tournaments and separate ratings. It’s necessary to think again of attractive TV format. The image of a chess-player as an autistic person inclined only to reflection and soul-searching should become a thing of the past. Since, first of all, it doesn’t square with reality and we all know this.
The future will tell us what type of chess is the most favourable to that. “All genres are good except one that is boring”. Classical chess, rapid, blitz – delete where applicable.
I made my choice about 15 years ago.
It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder