April 15 2001
After Braingames Network's sponsorship of last year's World Championship
match between Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik, little has been heard of
After using a controversial prospectus to raise $A9m from investors in
London and spending half of that on the K-K match, BGN secured the rights
to World Championship contests involving Kasparov and Kramnik for five
However in February BGN allowed the option to lapse, leaving both players
as free agents.
It had been thought that Braingames had been suffering from the same
problems afflicting many technology companies in recent times but this week
it became clear that BGN's difficulties run far deeper.
After revelations by a former BGN official, Suzanne Martin, British police
are currently investigating allegations the Russian mafia may have used BGN
as a money-laundering vehicle.
The former Chairman of the Conservative Party in England and Chairman of
BGN, Sir Jeremy Hanley, stresses his innocence of any wrong-doing and is
helping police with their investigations.
Braingames founder Raymond Keene has been more aggressive in his reaction,
calling Martin's allegations "lies" and threatening to sue her for libel.
The allegations against BGN will be music to the ears of the official world
body, FIDE, who recently suffered yet another set-back, being required to
pay $A50,000 to Susan Polgar for their mishandling of the 1998 Women's
FIDE have been accused by Kasparov, amongst others, of using tainted money
for their world title contests and Kasparov has frequently stressed that he
would not play for 'dirty money'. Should the allegations against BGN be
proven, it is unclear how Kasparov will then treat his $1m loser's share
from the BGN match. (Kasparov's manager Owen Williams has stated that
Braingames honoured their contract with Kasparov to the letter, presumably
indicating that Braingames was a 'correct' company.)
In any case, the likely demise of BGN has further reduced Kasparov's
chances of securing a rematch against Kramnik, although Keene claims that
Braingames have a Kramnik versus computer match in the pipeline.
Kramnik has stated that he plans to enjoy his new title before considering
accepting any challenger but, notably, has agreed to play a fast time limit
match against FIDE World Champion Viswanathan Anand in Mainz, Germany, in