Josef Resch: "I am ready to resume negotiations with FIDE"
The UEP President Josef Resch is a successful businessman, who without a doubt
can take four million Euros out of his pocket as a guarantee for the World Championship
cycle. Not only does Resch passionately love chess, but he is most probably
the only chess patron and philanthropist left in the world. In Mukachevo in
Western Ukraine, where his parents come from, he uses his money to create a
chess school for children. He finances matches with leading players, and has
organized tournaments in Moscow.
UEP President and chess patron Josef Resch
However, our talk with the UEP President was not about his achievements in
chess, but the "failure” in his company’s negations with FIDE
in the matter of the organisation of the World Championship cycle 2010-2011.
Sport Express (Yury Vasiliev): “Failure”
is a neat word found in the UEP
press release, and most probably does not express all depth of the disappointment
of true lovers of chess, following the cancellation of the negotiations between
you and FIDE.
Josef Resch: I am also disappointed. We wanted to prepare
a real chess feast for the public. You attended the Bonn World Championship
and you liked it, and liked the organization, did you?
It was not just me who liked it, I can assume. All participants everywhere
were delighted. In their interviews both Kramnik and Anand spoke about the
impeccable organization of the Championship. However, now we found out that
the FIDE President in Bonn had to make a fuss (scandal) – because of
your attempts to lower the role of the World Chess Federation.
Briefly, this is what happened in Bonn. We had a contract with FIDE. Everything
regarding design, advertisement and posters was coordinated with FIDE. We were
acting strictly within the framework of this contract. Four days before the
start of the match we received a letter signed by Mr. Ilyumzhinov (we have the
information that the initiator was Mr. Geoffrey Borg, who prepared this letter
and had the President sign it), which said "we do not like it – the
FIDE logo is too small. We demand that you make it bigger." We replied:
"Sorry, gentlemen, we have coordinated everything with you. In four days
the match is to start, and we are not able to destroy it all and create something
new. This is a scandal. The letter left a strange feeling with me. Even there
it was a feeling that Mr. Borg is trying his best to justify his existence within
the FIDE structure.
But how were you trying to undermine FIDE's authority? Whose aegis was
this Championship to be under?
Firstly, if we had intended to organize the tournaments under somebody else’s
aegis and not FIDE's, what was the point of signing the contract with FIDE and
coming to any agreement at all? Secondly, everybody understands very well that
the World Championship title belongs to the World Chess Federation. It is useless
and senseless to dispute this. And we were not going to do this.
So why was Mr. Ilyumzhinov sure that you were intending to undermine
FIDE stock and bring us back to the times of the matches of Kasparov with
Short and Kramnik, organized outside of FIDE?
I have a very deep respect for Kirsan Nikolayevich. He is trying to do only
good things for chess, but sometimes he does not succeed. Because of his extremely
busy schedule in his main activity, he is forced to trust those who are around
him. And they absolutely misinform him! This applies especially to Mr. G. Borg,
whose politics are anti-UEP. For this reason Kirsan Nikolayevich has an absolutely
wrong opinion about us.
Why didn't your negotiations with FIDE succeed, as was the case before
As you will recall, FIDE announced its bidding procedure for the cycle 2010-2011.
UEP won it. As we had a previous agreement with FIDE about the match in Bonn,
which satisfied all parties, and so we sent out our proposals using this contract
as a basis. This was a preliminary variant, needing finalization.
We received back a completely new agreement. This was an absolutely unreal
document, which would deter any organization, not only in the chess world, but
in any other field of human activity. We were told, very harshly, that the organizer
– in this particular case UEP – had no freedom of activity at all.
FIDE had a right of veto for the selection of sponsors and the venue, and we
were in fact cut of all commercial freedom.
My understanding of this contract was as follows: UEP bears all financial
risk for what it is organizing, while all possibilities of its re-financing
should be coordinated with FIDE. If they say no, it means no. Of course there
was nothing like this in the previous contract. In plain words, we were told:
"Guys, you pay all expenses and bear all commercial risks, while we order
the music, and are in charge of parade. So our logical answer was "Okay,
then do everything yourselves." The reaction was like this: "Oh, so
you do not want it, then good, we close the negotiations and say our good-byes,
and no hurt feelings. Adios."
I have a clear impression that the FIDE functionaries needed just a pretext
to get rid of us. They do not need UEP. Ok, we are not going to impose ourselves.
Who in particular was handling the negotiations?
In the beginning it was Deputy President G. Makropoulos. He did not have any
objections to our variation of the contract, as it was based on the previous
one. Makropoulos said "I cannot guarantee anything, because it is not me
who takes the decisions. There can be some small fault-findings, but let’s
continue our cooperation, based on this variation."
And then we received a new contract, where a hand of Borg could be felt. The
thing is that amongst the completely unexpected new financial demands, regarding
the hosting of FIDE members, inspection teams etc, there was a funny provision
– we were supposed to send money in favour of Global Chess! We had told
Mr. Borg before, please do something, find sponsors, for instance. Then of course
we are ready to share. But just to pay money, for nothing! I refuse to understand
this. Not mentioning that in the bidding conditions, which we followed strictly,
there has been nothing like this included. Of course we could not accept it.
I already gave you the reply of the FIDE functionaries: If you do not want,
Geoffrey Borg, CEO of Global Chess, with FIDE Deputy President Georgios
I am sure that Mr. Ilyumzhinov is not aware of this. He trusts Geoffrey Borg,
who intentionally confuses Mr. Ilyumzhinov, trying to justify his activity by
any means. The results of these activitites in the last three years are not
equal to zero – they are below zero, as they damage chess and FIDE.
I do not want any conflict with FIDE. I deeply respect Mr. Ilyumzhinov. I love
chess a lot and would like to do something else for it. Therefore I am saying
– Kirsan Nikolayevich, look around you, look who you trust and where these
people are leading the chess world.
This painful failure will not diminish your desire to organize chess
tournaments, will it?
No, it won’t. I love chess too much and believe in chess. The above
collisions have nothing in common with children’s chess in Ukraine. I
will continue organizing matches of Grandmasters in Mukachevo. There will be
a match of GM Efimenko with GM Short in September. For us people of TransKarpaty
region, this will be an event we are looking forward to.
As for world chess, if FIDE reconsiders its attitude and we will be given
commercial freedom and a chance to refinancing, then I am ready to return to
So this failure has a chance to turn itself into a positive situation,
It is all up to FIDE. If they were looking for a pretext to get rid of us,
having someone else in mind, and if they succeed, I will be just happy. But
it will be a pity if everthing does not work out. This will be a heavy blow
for chess – and especially painful for top grandmasters.
In the meantime the reply by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has appeared
in Sport Express, and both interviews have been published side-by-side in the
printed edition. We will bring you Ilyumzhinov's reply shortly.