Sunday, September 19, 2010

Heat on FIDE Presidency

Campaign for Chess Federation Presidency Becomes More Heated

Chess politics is proving to be every bit as nasty and competitive as politics in any other sphere.

Anatoly Karpov, the former world champion, who is running for the presidency of the World Chess Federation, which is also known by the acronym FIDE (for Fédération Internationale des Échecs), has in recent days attacked his opponent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, with sharply worded press releases on his campaign Web site.

In one of them, Karpov’s campaign recounts what it says are the broken promises, failures and mismanagement since Ilyumzhinov became president of the federation in 1995. Among the allegations are that he failed to provide money raised by the federation to the Committee for Assistance to Chess Developing Countries, that he failed to attract sponsors as he said he would and that he has badly mismanaged FIDE’s finances.

The second release discusses what it says are the looming problems with the Chess Olympiad to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, including that the hotel for the participants is not finished and no company has been hired to provide services for the event.

The election for the presidency will take place during the Olympiad, which begins Sept. 19, at a meeting of the federation’s general assembly.

The site also contains a link to an article in La Nacion in Argentina raising questions about whether Ilyumzhinov is a member of the Argentinian Chess Federation. Whether he is a member is important as Ilyumzhinov has been nominated by Argentina for re-election and candidates can only be nominated by federations to which they belong.

Ilyumzhinov also claims to have been nominated by Russia and Mexico, but Karpov and five federations have filed a lawsuit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, challenging his nominations and therefore his legitimacy as a candidate. The lawsuit is pending.

For his part, Ilyumzhinov has acknowledged that there are problems with the preparations for the Olympiad, but he has said that he believes that things will be finished in time.

On his campaign Web site, Ilyumzhinov claims to have the support of 80 federations, or almost enough to be elected. (There are about 170 members of the federation and each has one vote.)

The Web site also contains responses to some of Karpov’s charges. There is a question-and-answer article with Nigel Freeman, the federation’s treasurer who is running for re-election on Ilyumzhinov’s ticket, in which he claims that the federation’s finances are in better shape than they were four years ago. He also says that Karpov’s allegations of corruption are baseless and that his campaign has been negative and “mean spirited.”

There is also what amounts to a testimonial by Dr. Milton Iturry, the president of the Peruvian Chess Federation, in which he enumerates the reasons he believes that Ilyumzhinov should be elected. Among the reasons he gives is, “The vision that Kirsan promotes for world chess exceeds that of the game, that of the movement of pieces on the board and leads to a more extensive transcendence for humanity, that of chess being a useful tool for an improved development of children in all of the cities/villages/towns throughout the world.”

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