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 BGN.

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 years.

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 World Championship.

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 June.