08 March 2023

Sanghi Nagar: The Kamskys vs. the World

A couple of weeks ago I posted How to Lose a Sponsor in Ten Days (February 2023). It ended with a question:-
What happened between 'Chess deserves to be promoted' and 'I will never organize an event in which Gata Kamsky participates'? It will take another post to explain.

Remember that the post was part of a series about the 1994-96 FIDE Candidates Matches (m-w.com), specifically the 'Final matches', Sanghi Nagar, February 1995: Karpov - Gelfand and Kamsky - Salov. The 'Lose a Sponsor' post quoted from Leontxo Garcia's report in Europe Echecs, April 1995, translated from the French language. Garcia described an incident that defined the matches in the public's memory:-

Karpov has taken a number of precautions: his team is made up of [...] The Kamskys had strengthened their team with Alexander Shabalov, but he has just left after a quarrel with Rustam. According to several witnesses, [Gata] Kamsky's father had hit the second. Which Rustam denies by declaring: "It was a discussion between men" and by specifying that Shabalov was incapable of working more than two or three hours a day, against the thirteen or fourteen that he asked of him. Shabalov, who had a lip injury, explained the situation before returning to New York:

"It is very difficult to work with Rustam. Financially, he always keeps his word but he wants to make all the decisions, including on the purely technical level, despite his poor knowledge of chess. I'm sorry for Gata. But whether he loses or wins, it will not be because of my departure."

Rustam Kamsky was just getting warmed up. Later he took on the match organizer and sponsor:-

As match interest begins to dwindle faster than expected [NB: because the winners were clear], Rustam escalates the tension with a stormy statement. After Gata and Salov's relatively peaceful press conference, Rustam, still nervous despite the victory, goes to Ravi Sanghi's office to demand Gata's "money". According to Ravi, travel costs and the prize itself, according to Rustam, only plane tickets. Rustam complains that he is tired of always being told "tomorrow" when he comes to ask for his team's $7,000 for tickets. Sanghi explains to Rustam that it is very difficult to obtain foreign currency in India and reminds him that he has offered to pay him several times in rupees or traveller's checks, instead of cash. Kamsky's father becomes even more agitated and returns to the press center to launch an attack on Sanghi, accusing him of not providing him with proper food, of conspiring with Kasparov and Campomanes, of deliberately making life difficult for Gata in these semi-finals as in the previous quarter-finals, etc.

Sanghi then gets very angry and prepares to "take very severe measures". Dzindzi [GM Dzindzihashvili; see below], who has also been made aware of Rustam's outburst, then calls Sanghi to restore the situation. He demands a written apology from Rustam "before 8:30 p.m.", the time at which most Indian journalists must return to Hyderabad. In return, Dzindzi asks for a written guarantee that the amount due will be paid in full.

Rustam [Kamsky] then signs a document in which he retracts his attacks against Sanghi and the organizers. But Sanghi does not calm down and declares to the Indian press that he "will never organize an event in which Gata Kamsky participates". And Sanghi insists that Rustam can no longer give interviews without his formal permission.

The next day, Campomanes sends a fax to Rustam, announcing that his apologies "attenuate but do not absolve this misconduct... And [he] imposes a symbolic fine of 150 Swiss francs. Any recidivism or any similar attitude in the future will be severely punished". Rustam reacts very badly to the answers of Sanghi and Campomanes, and declares: "I am afraid for the life of my son".

Given that every controversy has at least two sides, the other side of the story was described in Kamsky's House Arrest (rec.games.chess; March 1995; 'Copyright by Chesstours'): 'Interview with GM Roman Dzindzihashvili (Gata Kamsky's second) by GM Larry Evans'.

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