Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "It is not the size of the logo, it’s the principle"
Before speaking to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on the fate of the World
Championship cycle 2010-2011, I would like to know – is it true that during
the negotiations with UEP such grave controversies came into play that new partners
had to be sought as well as other venues, in order to accommodate the candidates
tournament 2010, and the World Championship match 2011?
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
In his response to my question the FIDE President hinted that what is important
for him is not to have brilliant conditions for the organization of the world
championship, as witnessed in Bonn, and not a very big prize fund. It is the
principle that is important – which is that when FIDE gives the right
to organize the most important chess calendar events to someone, it is not going
to stay in the shadow, and intends to remain an equal partner and to supervise
in details the important, from its point of view, moments of the tournament
Kirsan Nikolaevich, UEP won the bidding process for the 2010 Candidates
Tournament and the World Championship 2011. So what was there in the contract,
offered by Mr. Josef Resch, that did not satisfy your negotiating team?
I would like to say that I know the UEP management and Mr. Resch himself well.
He is a very interesting person. We have numerous contacts on other projects,
and I was trying to help him in his initiatives in Russia and abroad. I am sure
that the more such solid businessmen invest in chess in the world, the better
it is for FIDE.
Josef Resch at an opening ceremony of the World Championship 2008
When UEP won the bidding procedure, it had full freedom to prepare a final
contract. However, we have not succeeded in finding a variation which would
have fully satisfied us. I know that Resch expressed his unhappiness with FIDE
Vice President and Global Chess CEO Geoffrey Borg, with whom they could not
find common grounds. But it was not Borg who was the head of the negotiating
team, but [FIDE Deputy President Georgios] Makropoulos who was approved by the
Presidential Board. Also the group included Mr. [Israel] Gelfer, who is head
of the World Championship Committee and member of Presidential Board, and FIDE
Executive Director David Jarrett. Also, Mr. Borg did not participate in the
final stage of the negotiations – he was with me in Azerbaijan.
FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos
As a result, UEP sent us a letter ultimatum, saying that we are to accept their
conditions on a number of the contractual provisions by the 6th of May. Otherwise
it would cancel the negotiations. I did not like the tone of the letter. We
are not used to ultimatums. If people want an agreement, they should not push
their partners into a corner. Here they were trying to dictate their conditions
to us. Also, when before the start of the Anand-Kramnik match in Bonn I visited
the site of the Championship, I did not see any FIDE logo there. They had sponsors’
logos, the UEP logo, but there was no FIDE logo!But...
The stage of the World Championship in Bonn
The board on which the games were played
Press conference after the games
It was nowhere to be seen, on a table, at the back poster. Only the UEP sponsors
badges, but not FIDE. Both Makropoulos and Borg got a severe reprimand from
me. And only after my non-ceremonial intervention the FIDE logo was placed at
the Championship site and on the stage.
I understand Resch as a businessman. In his place I might have acted in the
same way. But in my capacity as FIDE President, I cannot close my eyes to such
As for this contract. I never interfere in the process of its finalization
and signing. I always fully trust the commission which is dealing with this
business. But here, at the very last moment, I receive a letter from Makropoulos,
where he mentions that the UEP negotiators stubbornly refuse to sign several
points. One point was about sponsors. We were insisting that these do not include
companies whose activities are not in conformity with the Olympic Charter. We
had already negative experience when the Kramnik-Leko match took place at a
tobacco factory in Brissago under the aegis of a tobacco company. We were on
alert. Moreover, an ex-manager of Kramnik and Leko – Carsten Hensel –
became one of Resch’s assistants.
The Swiss tobacco company Dannemann, which sponsored the 2004 World Championship
Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik with the Dannemann logos
Back then, in 2004 I had an unpleasant discussion with the IOC Honorary President
Juan Antonio Samarach, who was not happy at all with the tobacco history. Therefore
we did not want any repetition. And if we had signed the contract in the variation
offered by UEP, then we would not have any right to interfere, in case such
an unwelcome sponsor appeared on stage.
And the most important thing – I was informed that the abbreviation
“FIDE” was absent from the name of the Championship.
I said – “What is this? Are we going back to the times of Kasparov,
who used to organize his matches first under the Times newspaper aegis, then
Intel and then a one-day company Brain Games? And all members of the Presidential
Board, without any earlier consent, unanimously wrote to me – this is
a violation of FIDE principles!
However, UEP by no means wanted to coordinate the sponsors with us. And they
wanted to determine the Championship logo by themselves. Then I told to Makropoulos,
please write to them that we are not in agreement with these provisions.
I reiterate: we did not cancel negotiations, we were just reacting to their
demands. They wanted us to inform them of our decision by May 6. And we did.
What if UEP agrees to make a FIDE logo the size of a whole wall? And
also consents that you will be supervising things, so that “bad”
sponsors will not get through. In that case are you going to continue the
negotiations with Resch?
(Laughing) The thing is not what is the size of the logo, the thing is our
principles. Let this logo be the size of a pin’s head, but in the mind
of a spectator there should be a clear icon – that the championship is
being organized not by some company, but by the World Chess Federation. It is
the sponsors who start confusion in the head of the spectators. When I entered
the hall where Anand and Kramnik were playing, I saw huge letters with the names
of two renowned companies. The FIDE logo appeared there only after my harsh
intervention. I have nothing against them. Moreover, I do respect them a lot.
But the FIDE logo appeared only after I interfered. And its size was completely
FIDE: Geoffrey Borg, Georgios Makropoulos, Israel Gelfer and Polina Tsedenova
We cannot allow being dictated conditions, on what size the championship logo
must be. And we cannot allow that any company can become a sponsor. If UEP is
ready to come to the negotiations table again and will not dictate us any conditions,
our doors are open.
But if the negotiations with UEP are not resumed, how are you going to
solve this crisis?
We are in receipt of the proposals from two countries who are ready to organize
the 2010 candidates tournament.
The proposal of Resch was for both this tournament and the match in one
We will be perfectly ok if these are not interconnected. The market is very
active now and we have no doubts that both these events will find perfect hosts.
Initially the dates for the Anand-Topalov match were not later than April
2010? How is it going now?
We have the situation completely under control. I have met with the Prime Minister
of Bulgaria and will shortly attend the closing of the MTel Masters in Sofia,
where I will meet the Prime Minister again for a more detailed conversation.
Besides, India has also expressed its interest, as well as two neutral countries,
including Russia. We announced a bidding procedure for this event and are to
decide by September.
In his interview to Bulgarian media Topalov’s manager Silvio Danailov
said that he thinks that the prize fund of Anand-Topalov match should be not
less than three million Euros. What is your opinion on this issue?
There are official conditions for the bidders, which say that the prize fund
should not be lower than a certain amount. If it is higher, you are welcome
– we will be even happier, FIDE’s share will be higher.
If the negotiations with Resch are not resumed, will you find the amount
offered by the [Russian-] German businessman?
The money is not the issue. I recently returned from Azerbaijan, where I was
head of the World Team that was playing against local grandmasters. At the start
of the match the President of the country, Heydar Aliev, prepared a wonderful
present – signed a decree on a state programme for chess development.
They will construct a chess palace! The financing of our sport is included into
the budget of the country. Have you seen this elsewhere?
Besides, Azerbaijan organized the first stage of the FIDE Grand Prix in 2008
wonderfully. During the match I was asked what is the next top FIDE event. They
became very interested in the Candidates Tournament. They have young Teimour
Radjabov, so people in Baku have their favourite. So they are working on a proposal
When is the deadline for bids?
By the dates of the FIDE Presidential Board, which will be taking place in
mid June in Poland.
Kirsan Nikolayevich, the last question is not regarding this topic. Recently
we had information that there had been a court hearing in Lausanne, which
agreed with the complaint of the Turkish Chess Federation against the European
Chess Union. According to the court’s decision the results of the European
Championships will be annulled. As FIDE President, what do you think of this?
In Sofia I am to meet with Ali Nihat Yazici, President of the Turkish Chess
Federation and Boris Kutin, the ECU Prsident. I think we will find a reasonable
compromise. Moreover, FIDE has awarded quite a few tournaments to Turkey, and
I think they have nothing to be bitter about in this matter. As for the annulment
of the European Championships, this is at least a strong exaggeration. No one
can annul the results of the past tournaments.
In the meantime both interviews have been published side-by-side in the
printed edition of Sport Express