Controversy in Chess #2 – Toiletgate

Controversy in Chess #2 – Toiletgate

Hello everybody, it’s jrobi! We have rest
day again at Chess Candidates 2014, and I wanted to do a video expanding on what I had
talked about in the Round 6 video. I didn’t cover the Topalov / Kramnik game because
I was let down that these gentlemen did not shake hands before or after the game. Now
this decision was — you know — on both their parts. And it was disrespectful
to the game and unprofessional, in my opinion. For my full comments on the incident, you
can check out the round 6 video. However, some people are wondering,
just what caused this disrespect in the first place? What is the bad blood between these
players? Well, I was curious as well, and I checked into it. The game you
are seeing on the screen is the last game of the unification World Chess Championship
in 2006 that took place between Mr. Kramnik and Mr. Topalov. Apparently back in
2006, a year before I started my personal chess journey on YouTube, Kramnik and Topalov
were competing against each other in a World Chess Championship match. The location
was in Elista, Russia – hopefully I pronounced that correctly! This was no ordinary World
Chess Championship match. Because at the time there were two world champions.
The “Classical” champion, which was the designation given to the person who defeated the previous
champion, which Kramnik won after defeating Kasparov in the
Classical World Chess Championships of 2000 and there was the Official FIDE world champion
which was held by Topalov after the FIDE World Chess Championships in 2005.
Gary Kasparov left FIDE in 1993 and it kind of split things up there. From the time Kasparov
left all the way to 2006, there was no match between the Classical Champion
and the FIDE champion. Kramnik, however, agreed to play the winner of the FIDE World Chess
Championships of 2005 to unify the title. Topalov won this competition
and the stage was set for a showdown to unify the World Chess Championship. After a series
of negotiations, a match was finally set for 2006. When the match finally
started, Kramnik got off to a great start. He won the first two games, and drew the next
two. In-between games 4 and 5 however, Toiletgate was born. Topalov’s manager
Silvio Danailov, hopefully I pronounced that right, complained that Kramnik was using the
bathroom way too many times during the games and that this was suspicious.
He was basically hinting towards Kramnik using some kind of computer assistance while he
was using the Toilet because the bathrooms were the only places that did
not have audio or video surveillance. To pacify the situation, the Appeals Committee at the
time decided to immediately open a common bathroom for both players. Prior
to this, they had private bathrooms. Kramnik’s camp was furious that this transpired, and
issued a public statement saying that Mr. Kramnik could use the bathroom as
much as he wanted and that he liked to walk a lot when thinking, and he liked to drink
a lot of water. They were very upset, understandably, that any kind of allegation
towards something illegal happening, without any proof whatsoever, yeah — they were pretty
mad! You have to understand, at this top level in the chess world, an allegation
of cheating, especially with no proof, is not only an attack on the integrity of the
game, but the very integrity and honor of the player in question. Kramnik’s
anger was totally justifiable. Kramnik elected to appeal the decision to create a common
bathroom based on the pre-match conditions and to defend his honor. Unfortunately,
his team did not file the appeal in time, and when Kramnik did not show up for game
5, he forfeited the game to Topalov. This was a big fiasco for everyone
involved, and a lot of discussions had to take place. In the end, both players returned
to the match, with the score now Kramnik 3 and Topalov 2. Topalov was given
credit for a win for the game Kramnik did not show up to. And Kramnik was not too happy
about that. He even went as far as saying he would not recognize Topalov as the
champion if that point was a deciding factor in the outcome. It didn’t matter though because
the original match conditions were reinstated, and both players could enjoy
their own toilets again. The world has been saved, and things move on, right? Well, not
entirely. The rest of the match was quite exciting, leading up to a final
overtime showdown. Kramnik was furious about the point being given to Topalov for game
5, It didn’t matter though because in the end Kramnik won. But Topalov’s team
was not done with Toiletgate. Topalov’s manager came out with what he called “coincidence
statistics” that drew parallels between Kramnik’s moves and moves recommended
by Fritz 9. At the time Fritz was the big deal of computer engines. With outside analysis,
however, this allegation didn’t hold water. A lot of notable chess
players around the world, including men and women, like Mrs. Susan Polgar came out in
support of Kramnik, and Mrs. Polgar was quoted as saying that the allegations being
made were “…unprofessional and unacceptable.” Topalov has since reinforced his belief that
cheating did take place, but here’s an interesting note: When analysis
was done of engines and moves, Topalov scored a higher percentage of similarity with chess
engines of the time with his own moves, especially those that took place in
San Luis. Does this mean he was a cheater? No! Absolutely not, however, it ironically
put yet another nail in the coffin of the argument his own camp was trying to
put forward against Kramnik. Now, this whole mess has never been resolved, and has plagued
both these players for many years. And it came to another head when they
sat down in round 6 against each other to play in the Chess Candidates 2014 competition.
Both men didn’t shake hands, didn’t look at each other, and basically let
the past continue to impact the present. But there’s a problem, this isn’t just about them.
It is about the game of chess. A game with many traditions and rules
of etiquette and respect handed down after generation after generation after generation.
Both players violated these basic tenants in front of everyone in the
chess world, and that is very unprofessional. There are many examples of heated sports rivalries
and allegations in professional sports, and many examples of
even the most hated rivalries coming to a level of basic respect and integrity. Do you
remember when Mike Tyson bit the ear off of Evander Holyfield? As horrible as that
was, Holyfield forgave him and gave him a hug. Sure, it took a lot of time, but if a
man can forgive another man for biting off his ear in a sports match 15 years
later, Kramnik should be able to step up 8 years later and offer his hand up for a shake
– if not for forgiveness, then at least for the integrity of the game and basic
human respect and dignity. If Topalov refuses that shake then — well — hey — it’s all
on him, right? Take care, thanks for watching the video, and we will
see you time.

18 thoughts on “Controversy in Chess #2 – Toiletgate

  1. its a sad story, they are both great chess players, I remember Topalov playing Anand in 2010 and Topalov scacrified a knight to win the game, always held him in high regards for that move/game, however, they should both man up and act their age and intelligence, great coverage jrobi, thx for making these vids

  2. Toiletgate – cool! I love 'gates'. If there was a scandal in the baby food industry it would be Cow&Gate, would it not?
    Kramnik lost the game against Topalov. So  – on that flimsy evidence, admittedly –  maybe the Toiletgate incident has affected him more in the long run. Maybe its time for him to close the lid on this whole business.

  3. do you know where to find more details? after which moves did he go to the bathroom, what times did he go to the bathroom (eg: every 20 min, every hour?), etc?

  4. Though I very much enjoyed your recount of the events that transpired between Kramnik and Topalov, I don't completely agree with you that Kramnik should forgive Topalov for his allegations; I mean, without evidence Topalov essentially called Kramnik a cheater (the most dishonorable trait in chess) and never apologized himself. If I were in Kramnik's shoes, I would not forgive Topalov unless he publicly expressed regret for making such allegations. Additionally, I'm not of the opinion that this is bad for the game of chess; rivalry is very common – it exists in all sports. I don't think it tarnishes the integrity of the game, I just think it makes it more interesting and exciting to watch. Anyway, still a very nice video jrobi – these are just my opinions.

  5. Interesting that Kramnik fell apart shortly after his loss to Topalov in the candidates.  He beat Mamedyarov in the next round but then he missed a win against Andreikin and lost his next two games by making terrible one move blunders against Svidler and Karjakin.  Maybe he was still thinking about that Round 6 loss to Topalov…

  6. Afterwards Topalov came out and said that there was found cables (for a computer of some sort) in the ceiling of Kramniks toilet.But the whole point was that white had a bathroom and black had a bathroom,and each player changed bathroom after each game!Topalovs actions STINK!And I completely agree with Kramnik not wanting to shake hands with someone like Topalov!
    I am surprised u didnt mention anything about this in the video…
    And even if theres many controversys like this in the sports world,it doesnt excuse making false allegations-which is quite clear in this case.Shame on Topalov!!!

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