Chess play stalls after cheating claim

Published September 30, 2006

ELISTA, Russia - The future of the world chess championship was in question Friday when a player did not show up for the fifth game and threatened to withdraw from the match after he was accused of cheating and locked out of his private bathroom.

Vladimir Kramnik, a Russian, was accused by the manager for his opponent, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, 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.

Kramnik, the classical world champion, had been leading Topalov, the world chess champion, 3-1 after four games in the 12-game match - the sixth attempt to reunify the chess world since then-world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from the FIDE chess governing body in 1993.

But Kramnik boycotted game five Friday, angered by an Appeals Committee decision to lock the private bathrooms for both players and insist that each use a common bathroom for the rest of the match. Topalov was also unhappy with the decision; his manager said it would not prevent Kramnik from cheating since he would still be alone in the lavatory.

The committee's decision followed a protest by Topalov's manager, Silvio Danailov.

"The world champion Veselin Topalov is outraged by the suspicious behavior of his opponent Vladimir Kramnik," Danailov said.

Said Kramnik: "I am ready to continue the match and play the fifth game tomorrow on the conditions that were accepted prior to the start of the match. My dignity does not allow me to stand this situation."

The match is scheduled to conclude Oct. 13.