'Our only aim is to contribute to the development of chess'

7/17/2010 – The Ukrainian chess community is waiting for changes, reforms and new projects. All these expectations are connected with the personality of Viktor Kapustin, a banker and international economics expert, who in April 2010 was elected the President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation. He is also on the Karpov ticket for the position of FIDE Treasurer. Interview by Olena Boytsun.

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Viktor Kapustin: Our only aim is to contribute to the development of chess

By Olena Boytsun

In his first exclusive interview Viktor Kapustin shares his views on the FIDE management system, the future of chess in Ukraine, fundraising for chess projects – and calls on the international community to brainstorm for the benefit of chess.

Why did you decide to run for the President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation?

I have been fond of the game of chess since the childhood and always followed major chess events. My career wasn’t connected with chess, but I tried to support chess development in Ukraine, including financial support of chess events, for example, Ukrainian Championships. In April 2010 there were going to be elections of the President of the federation. When at the beginning of 2010 representatives of the Ukrainian chess community contacted me and suggested they would nominate me for President, I analyzed the situation in the chess world and decided that I could contribute. On the 24th of April 2010 I was elected by delegates and since that day my concern has been to consolidate the position of chess in Ukraine and the position of Ukrainian chess in the world.

It is said that this year Ukraine will have one of the strongest Olympic teams since 2004. You have already met the members of the team. What are your impressions from the meetings?

Very good. All chess players, especially top-players, are strong personalities and work hard for success. The task of a federation is to provide all-round support for professionals. Chess players should believe that the federation will do everything possible for them. One can be sure that there will be fair approach from the side of the Ukrainian federation, and I hope that from the side of players there will be the same positive approach.


Viktor Kapustin (right) in conversation with Vassily Ivanchuk and Vladimir Tukmakov
(trainer of the Men's Olympic team) in Odessa in May 2010

There are some things that are beyond the limits so far, but we will try to widen the scope every time. Forward movement is very important. I hope that grandmasters will believe that the development trend in the Ukrainian Chess Federation is positive. This refers to the positions on the international level as well.

Ukraine wasn’t very active in the management processes of FIDE or ECU so far.

Ukraine is an important chess country, and therefore the Ukrainian Chess Federation should play an active role in all chess processes. We should understand all topical issues and define our position accordingly. I am not only the President of the federation, but also a Zonal President. I have obligations to be a member of the FIDE Executive Board and am going to take my obligations seriously, and to use all my experience and resources for the benefit of chess.


Kapustin visits the training camp of the Ukrainian women Olympic team


The camp took place in Koncha-Zaspa (near Kiev) in June 2010

For example, the Ukrainian Chess Federation already prepared several propositions for the upcoming General Assembly in September 2010, and they were registered for the agenda. Before the General Assembly we are interested in getting expertise on several propositions from the members of the FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Tromso in July 2010 as well. The representative of the Ukrainian Chess Federation will attend the meetings in order to get the feedback on the propositions. We are open to any cooperation and our only aim is to contribute to the development of chess.

What kind of propositions will be under discussion at the Presidential Board meeting in Tromsø?

In my opinion, the popularization of chess should be one of the main tasks for the chess community. That is why the Ukrainian Chess Federation suggests implementing a special award that will be an acknowledgment from chess professionals to a non-chess people who contributed to the popularization of the game of chess. Some candidates for the award are well-known; for example, no one can deny that Joanne Rowling with her books contributed a lot to the popularity of chess among children. Some names are probably not well-known, and so the aim of the award is to define such people and to thank them. The award is to be annual and if FIDE agrees to implement such an international award, than the Ukrainian Chess Federation will take all administrative costs and full organization for it.

The second proposition refers to the electoral regulations of FIDE and the following change is suggested: “No person can be elected to the position of the FIDE President for more than two consecutive terms”.

The third proposition refers to the open letter of GM Michal Krasenkow, where he expressed concern about the implementation of the individual money prizes at the 2010 Olympiad. After the analysis and the consultation with players we decided to support his concern and to submit to the Presidential Board the letter with the ask to kindly review once again the situation with prize fund at the Olympiad in order to avoid possible situations, when the individual interest will contradict the one of the team.


At press-conference with GM Alexander Moiseenko

We are also very much interested in the feedback from the chess community on all these propositions. To understand the positions of chess professionals and the chess public on such important issues as the popularization of the game as well as increasing the management efficiency of the World Chess Federation is absolutely central.

So, one of the propositions from the Ukrainian Chess Federation is that no person can be elected to the position of the FIDE President for more than two consecutive terms. Why do you think that it is important and should be implemented?

I believe that it is reasonable. First of all, such restriction provides the possibility for the rotation of human resources, and therefore stimulates development of new decisions and action plans. Otherwise any organization that is managed by irremovable persons for a rather long term becomes too conservative and inflexible in providing both inner and external policies. The stimulus for development disappears. And new candidates for positions are not motivated as well, because there are no manageable goals that they can achieve, no possibilities to work in top-level management positions. Therefore, the restriction for two consecutive terms for the position of FIDE President is logical from any point of view, especially taking into account that such a restriction exists in the majority of political structures of the world.

Why did you decide to accept the invitation of Anatoly Karpov and to join his Presidential ticket?

The decision is the logical continuation of the proposition to restrict the term of the presidential mandate for two electoral periods. It is natural that if I hold such a view, than I must act accordingly. Anatoly Karpov is a respectable candidate. I have neither personal nor any other complaint against Kirsan Iljumzhinov; however, the renewal of any structure is the prerequisite requirement for its development. That is why I believe that Mr. Karpov as the FIDE President will stimulate the process for changes and development of the World Chess Organization as well as for popularization of chess in the world.

You are nominated for the position of FIDE Treasurer. Why exactly this post?

Well, I am not a professional chess player, but a professional treasurer. In my opinion, the best is to complete those tasks that one can complete professionally. The material basis for chess, as well as for any other human activities, is the key issue, and without stable material welfare it is unlikely we can expect the development or growing popularity of the game of chess.

What do you think about the connection chess and business?

It is essential.

What is the best way for fundraising in chess – to look for state or private financial support?

There should be state financing, but the best variant is the state-private partnership. Of course, a state should support chess, but no state can satisfy all needs and desires. It doesn’t matter what is the size of a state budget, it will never be sufficient. Moreover, for recipients of state financing in many cases it is “free” money and this can spoil things. A state should participate in financing to some extent, but very important is also the moral role of the state. The state should appreciate citizens who achieve outstanding success on the international scene, bringing additional glory for the state. No material benefits can be a substitute for such moral gratitude.


Breakfast in the Adlon – Prof. Robert von Weizsäcker (President of the German Chess Federation, Candidate for President of the ECU), Anatoly Karpov (Candidate for FIDE presidency), Viktor Kapustin, Horst Metzing (Secretary of the German Chess Federation and Garry Kasparov in an early morning discussion.


Dr. Yuri Kaplun, who is on the von Weizsäcker team for the ECU, Garry Kasparov and Viktor Kapustin wrap things up at the Berlin hotel, where they attended the announcement of the ECU candidacy.


A business-oriented Ukrainian team: Viktor Kapustin, Yuri Kaplun

Business should play important role for chess, and interaction should exist in different aspects. Business – or better to say well-managed business – has many good features, including economy and effective allocation of resources. State resources can sometimes be used in not the most effective way, but business is as a rule cautious about spending funds that were earned by toil. That is why business can also act as s supervisor and discipline to use material resources efficiently. The volume of investments cannot guarantee the result.

That is why the best variant is dual partnership. From one side, the state provides what it can, including moral support, from the other side, business acts as a sponsor and some kind of supervisor.

Viktor Vladimirovich, thank you for the insightful conversation. My last question would be the following: what would be your three associations with the word “chess”?

As the first I would say “aesthetics”. There are both material (black and white board, pieces) and immaterial (intellectual process, thinking) aesthetics in the game. There is harmony in everything. Than it is “intellect” and simultaneously “result”, “action”, “victory”. All these concepts are important for human society as well.

Photos by Olena Boytsun, Boris Bukhman, Frederic Friedel

If you would like to share your view on the issues of chess popularization (including implementation of a special award for non-chess professionals or suggestion of new projects) as well as on the issue of changes in the electoral process for FIDE, please, address them to the Marketing Director of the Ukrainian Chess Federation Olena Boytsun olena@marketingchess.com. All feedback opinions will be provided for the attention of Viktor Kapustin.


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