FIDE Elections: Karpov in Puerto Rico, Bahamas

7/9/2010 – Yesterday we went through the Ilyumzhinov election site, today we look at recent Karpov2010 campaign efforts – in the Caribbean. There is some remarkable video of a vote being taken in Puerto Rico to support the challenger's ticket. We also learn that Presidential candidate Karpov is taking up his opponent's challenge with a $100,000 sponsorship package to promote chess in Central America.

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Democracy in Action: Puerto Rico Adelante!

It was a wonderful sight in Puerto Rico last weekend, as people power worked for the future of chess in beautiful Puerto Rico. When the Federation’s leadership balked at an open debate over whom to support for FIDE president, an Extraordinary Assembly was called. As the remarkable videos show, well over 100 members came out to vote! The result was a clear win to support the ticket of Anatoly Karpov, and the Assembly also supported the candidacy of Puerto Rico’s own chess dynamo, Rafael Ortiz Bonilla, for General Secretary on the Continental Americas ticket of Marvin Guevara, along with Francisco Guadalupe, which is supported by the Karpov2010 campaign.

Here’s the vote count in action progress. The voters didn’t fit into the meeting hall so the Assembly had to go outside the building! Our thanks and congratulations to Rafael Ortiz and Federation president Omar Añeses for this heartening display of democracy in action.


Here's a full YouTube page of videos on the proceedings of the Extraordinary
Assembly of the Puerto Rican Chess Federation

The vote took place just weeks after the visit of Garry Kasparov to Puerto Rico, where he was very well received. Kasparov was impressed with the passion for chess on the island and especially by the Casa del Ajedrez, an amazing institution that the Karpov campaign has pledged to turn into a Latin American / Caribbean operations center. As Rafael Ortiz puts it, “it makes perfect sense because Puerto Rico is the e4 square on a board that spans Argentina to Canada!” And who knows better than Karpov about controlling the center of the board?

Source: Karpov2010 campaign site

We are told that the vote count was 76 to endorse Karpov immediately and 59 not to endorse immediately. 45 of the 59 "no" voters said they also supported Karpov, but wanted to hear more from Ilyumzhinov first. Sr. Ortiz's answer was, "Kirsan has had 15 years not just to say something, but to do something!"


Four, five, six or seven continents? It all depends on how you count them [see Wikipedia]

A tangential word to our readers about the Continental elections, of the American continent in this case. On most of the planet, every child's schoolbook says there are five continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, America. Note, for example, the five Olympic rings. In other places, Antarctica has been added to the list to make six. Then there are the few that want more and where America is chopped into two continents, North and South. We have found in our extensive travels that "how many continents are there?" is a seemingly innocent question that can lead to passionate arguments about imperialism, education, and plate tectonics.


Karpov's visit to The Bahamas

Near the end of June, Anatoly Karpov paid a two-day visit to the city of Nassau, the capital of the island nation of The Bahamas, where they are just beginning to develop a serious chess presence. Karpov’s arrival coincided with the launch of the Sub Zonal 2.3 tournament, the first time it has been hosted in the Bahamas. Representatives of Barbados, Venezuela, Jamaica, and many more regional federations made up the field. In the end, the winner was Jomo Pitterson of Jamaica.


Karpov at the opening ceremony of the Sub Zonal with several promising local players.
In the center, wearing a tie, is Education Minister Desmond Bannister.


Bahamian chess federation president Kean Smith alongside Bahamian Minister of
Tourism Vernice Walkine, who makes the first move.


Several federation presidents also participated in the event. Octavio Croes (right) leads Aruba.


The eventual winner, Jomo Pitterson, on the left in the orange shirt, shares a joke
with the "Caribbean Tal," Barbados' Philip Corbin, on the right, before round two.


Aruban representatives Jasel and Juste Lopez. "We never get to play anyone strong
at home," lamented Juste. Unless you are a veteran of the region it can be a little
startling to hear Dutch being spoken around you.

The stresses of organizing this international tournament, and, sadly, of politics, created a strange atmosphere for the arrival of the 12th World Champion. There was no media prepared for his appearance, though meetings with the Ministers of Tourism and Sport were arranged at the last second, and he met Desmond Bannister, Acting Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture and Minister of Education, briefly at the opening ceremony of the tournament.

In the above picture we see Kean Smith, President of the Bahamas Chess Federation; Anatoly Karpov, Minister Vanderpool-Wallace, Ms Walkine, Nicole Campbell, Permanent Secretary of Youth, Sport and Culture, and Tyrone Sawyer, Director of Sports Tourism. Image by courtesy of the Bahamas Tourism Today web site, which also has a report.


Errol Tiwari is the president of the Guyana chess federation and he also played in the Sub Zonal. Karpov was interested to learn that some of the world's best rums come from Guyana and even more impressed to receive a bottle. Traditionally, though, the candidates are the ones giving gifts to the delegates?!

The attendance at the event of Mr. Jorge Vega, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s Continental President, seemed to create an unfortunate tension. Instead of uniting to promote chess and to take advantage of the presence of a former world champion, a negative spirit of competition was instead present. Karpov’s attempts to host an open discussion with the regional federation heads in attendance and the executives of the Bahamian federation about how to advance chess in the Caribbean were actively fought. Even an invitation to have dinner with the world champion was challenged by Mr. Vega. And while we understand the difficult situation these intimidation tactics can create for the representatives, we insist that it is possible to promote chess for the benefit of all and hold a political campaign at the same time. The Bahamian chess community and the entire region were cheated of a unique opportunity.

English GM David Norwood, who resided for some time in The Bahamas, was one of the major sponsors of the Sub Zonal tournament. He expressed his disappointment:

“When I heard that Karpov would be attending the Caribbean Sub-Zonal I was obviously delighted. Whatever one’s politics, I thought this was a fantastic opportunity for Bahamas chess and incredible publicity for the tournament. However, I was horrified to hear that while in Nassau he had been snubbed to the point of rudeness. It’s no way to promote chess and it’s no way to treat one of the game’s greatest players. That will be the last of my money going into Bahamian chess until they decide to put chess before politics.”

In February this year Norwood played a chess simul and made a major donation to the Bahamas Chess Federation, as Kean Smith reported.

David Robert Norwood, 41, is a grandmaster, writer and businessman who joined the city investment bank Banker's Trust in 1991 and became the director of Special Projects at IP Group plc. He earned his IM title in 1985 and became a full grandmaster in 1989.

In addition to being an Oxford graduate, David is the author of two chess books and is a former chess columnist at the Daily Telegraph.

Today he lives on an island far away from the mainstream of chess, business, or in fact society in general.


National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. There are more pictures from Karpov's visit
in the Caribbean Chess Sub Zonal 2010 report on the FIDE web site.


See also the Chess Drum report on Karpov campaigning in Bahamas


Karpov Campaign announces $100,000 for Central America

The Karpov2010 website has published this letter from software CEO (and strong chessplayer – a former World Open winner) Alan Trefler. In it, he expresses his interest in the future of commercial chess sponsorship for his company, but says "the current environment at FIDE is inappropriate for us." Along with the letter, the Karpov campaign announced they have secured $100,000 to promote chess in Central America over the next four years – presumably under a Karpov FIDE administration. Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras were early supporters of Karpov's campaign. The release continues, "Similar projects are coming next to the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and then Africa as soon as the appropriate partnerships and entities are finalized. Localized arrangements in Europe and the Middle East will also be announced. In the next ten days you will hear the details of several more major sponsorship packages, on a region-by-region basis."


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