Long after the bitter days of rivalry between Kasparov and Karpov, another chess star war seems to be in the offing.
Vladimir Kramnik, dethroned as the FIDE world chess champion by Viswanathan Anand, has passed disparaging comments against the Indian star, who has retaliated strongly.
In a recent interview to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, Kramnik said that he has "lent the title temporarily to Anand". He added that he would accept Anand as the champion only if Anand wins their rematch next year.
"OK, on paper Anand may be world champion, but from my point of view, there is a difference in significance between a title won in a match and in a tournament," Kramnik said. "For me, the forthcoming match with Anand is more important. If I lose that, I will accept completely the fact that I have lost the title."
Kramnik's comments re-ignite the debate over the best format for the event, apart from showing Kramnik in a poor light, for he had acknowledged Anand as the champion soon after the World Championship in Mexico in late September.
Anand has suggested that Kramnik's argument was based on mere technicalities.
Anand reacted strongly to Kramnik's comment and told HT: "He is trying to make the most of the political patronage he enjoys from the FIDE. Kramnik's position seems like a legal explanation of a situation arising from the political patronage."
"Who the best player in the world is decided on the board," Anand said over the phone from Chennai. Kramnik also claimed that his rematch with Anand - a gift guaranteed to the Russian by the FIDE even before the Mexico event - would be played in September 2008 in Germany. Kramnik told Izvestia that sponsors and organisers were already in place and contracts would be signed within a month. Anand refuted these claims and said nothing had been decided as yet.