Setting the Record Straight
October 4, 2010
The 2010 FIDE presidential election was a tough fight from start to finish. Anatoly Karpov had a very late start and made a tremendous personal effort to make the election competitive. His efforts were matched by our entire team, especially, and to many, surprisingly, his former great rival, Garry Kasparov. The 12th and 13th World Champions were a formidable force on the campaign trail and their travels also promoted the game to an unprecedented degree around the globe. In the end, five months was not enough time to break down the formidable built-in advantages of a 15-year-incumbent who capably used the powers of his office to influence the election.
After five months of immersion into the world of FIDE and federation politics, Anatoly Karpov, his ticket, our team, and our supporters remain more convinced than ever that the chess world is in dire need of a major transformation. A lifelong ambassador of the game, Mr. Karpov does not wish for acrimony to exist in any corner. Mr. Karpov, Mr. Kasparov, and everyone else who put their hearts into this campaign will continue to fight hard for improvements in the chess world.
Before moving forward, we would like to look back long enough to set the record straight on several issues about which Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s accounting is still in opposition to the truth. The sentence of repeating the past has already been carried out this year, but a proper understanding of the facts may help next time.
The lawsuit brought against Ilyumzhinov’s FIDE is being grossly misrepresented in several respects. This was no frivolous distraction, but a serious matter brought by five major federations. It was an attempt to enforce FIDE’s own rules in an effort to prevent, or at least minimize, Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s ability to abuse FIDE powers to affect the election. If you read the Court’s decision instead of FIDE press releases, you will learn the following:
1) The Court did not investigate the claims of legitimacy regarding valid federation membership for Mr. Ilyumzhinov and his ticket from their nominating federations, (nor of Mr. Karpov and his). The Court instead found that, because of vague wording in the FIDE regulations, valid membership in the nominating federation was not required, rendering most of the claimants’ arguments irrelevant. The Court decided that membership in ANY federation was valid for nomination from ANY federation.
“9.7.9: This finding is confirmed by the language of Section 4, first paragraph of the EL, which provides that eligibility requires the candidate to “belong” (not: “to be a member”) to “a” federation (not: “the nominating federation”). As a result, the Panel considers that it is sufficient for a candidate for a Presidential ticket to be a member of any of the FIDE members.” [Emphasis in original.]
This was clearly not the intent of the regulations, and it meant that the dubious nature of Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s nominations from Mexico and Russia (the Argentine nomination was withdrawn) or Ms. Marinello’s from Chile and Brazil, were never examined. What this means is that FIDE’s rules are a joke in their current state. A serious organization cannot be run without strict rules to apply.
2) The Court did not decide who was nominated by the Russian Chess Federation. Because of the above-mentioned loophole created by the vague and incorrect FIDE regulations, all that was required for Mr. Ilyumzhinov to be nominated was membership in any federation and a nomination from any federation. So his nomination from Mexico, which was not disputed, was sufficient when combined with his membership in the Russian Federation.
“188.8.131.52: …the Panel does not have to make a final determination whether Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s nomination by the RCF was valid and whether and to what extent it would have been proper for the FIDE Secretariat to make further enquiries on Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s nomination by the RCF.”
Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s claim that the Court declared he was the nominee from Russia is completely false.
3) FIDE dedicated most of its legal efforts – and therefore money – to fighting against the Court’s jurisdiction instead the merits of the case. In an attempt to avoid being held accountable by the Court, FIDE raised three arguments against the Court’s authority. All three arguments were rejected by the Court but the amount of time and effort FIDE put into these efforts extended the time and cost of the case substantially. It was an expensive and time-consuming ordeal for both sides, and we agree it is a great shame that so much FIDE money has gone into defending Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s practices over the last 15 years.
“8.10: …in the present case, the Claimants (except for Karpov 2010, Inc.) are directly affected in their rights to have FIDE respect its own regulation in connection with the forthcoming elections for which the Claimants/federations have submitted a candidate, and to have FIDE timely verify the validity of all candidatures. CAS has jurisdiction for this type of dispute.”
(The Karpov2010 campaign was removed as one of the claimants at the start of the proceedings on the grounds that only the federations can bring such an action against FIDE.)
4) The Court ruled that, going forward at the election in Khanty-Mansiysk, any FIDE officials with a conflict of interest should be excluded from election-related roles. Mr. Ilyumzhinov and other officials disregarded this ruling entirely and used their authority to dominate the election proceedings. The General Assembly, which is the ruling authority during the Congress, ceded its power to Mr. Ilyumzhinov and bears responsibility for allowing the Assembly to be turned into a spectacle. Instead of respecting the law, they bowed down to the President.
“9.6.11: As has been explained above, the Presidential Board members who have a conflict must excuse themselves from the decision-making…”
5) Not specified in the Court’s decision, but relevant, there was an agreement between the legal counsel of FIDE and the legal counsel of the Karpov2010 Campaign that so-called counselors would be allowed to speak at the General Assembly. The GA is comprised of delegates and these counselors and the rules say nothing about a delegates counselors not being allowed to address the Assembly. Therefore the demands by some FIDE officials and FIDE allies for only delegates to speak were unfounded and offensive.
For FIDE to become a serious sporting entity it requires strict laws and a willingness by its members to enforce them. The regulations must be reformed to be clear and legally valid. If FIDE wishes to avoid future lawsuits it must begin to act with a level of transparency that will allow for public debate and make violations obvious – and therefore undesirable – and legal action unnecessary. The federations must fight for these changes or FIDE will continue to be called to answer in court.
We once again thank all of our supporters. We hope the passion for chess they expressed through our campaign will find other outlets to improve the state of our game. There are countless ways to make a positive impact and the first step is simply to become involved.
- Source: Karpov 2010 Campaign site
An offer he couldn't refuse?
By Steve Giddins
I spoke with Anatoly Karpov for about 30 minutes last night. Karpov was in his Moscow apartment, I on the other end of a phone line in England. Karpov detailed at some length the shenanigans, which had led to the loss of the vote in Khanty-Mansisk. A crucial turning point, he alleges, was the defection of 12 Arab states, following a last-minute deal with Kirsan the night before the vote. Karpov also fiercely criticises several federation delegates by name, accusing them of defying the mandates they received from their federations, and voting for Kirsan, even though instructed to support Karpov. I am still in the process of attempting to contact some of the accused, for their response, so for the time being, it is "no names, no pack drill".
As for his public rapprochement and friendliness towards Illumzhinov after the vote, Karpov claims that this was something he felt forced to do, to protect his supporters from personal reprisals, with which they were threatened by Illumzhinov cronies. He claims that many of his supporters were threatened with personal lawsuits, for allegedly defaming FIDE during the election campaign. In the end, Karpov did a deal with Kirsan, under which he agreed to end crtiticism of the latter and to appear with him at the press conference the following day, in return for an end to legal actions against his supporters.
One particularly drastic story, which I am still following up, concerns Robert von Weizacker, President of the German Chess Federation and Karpov supporter. He apparently ended up in hospital with a suspected heart attack, in the immediate aftermath of being threatened with legal action by a prominent FIDE board member. Once again, I am seeking further information on this disturbing story, but the fact of von Weizacker's collapse in the meeting hall has already been confirmed to me by two witnesses.
The full interview will appear in the November BCM, so if you are not already a subscriber, now is the time to become one and reserve your copy. For now, though, I think I will get out the DVD of The Godfather Part 2. Anyone remember the scene near the end, when Tom Hagen visits Frank Pantangeli on his witness protection military base, and persuades him to commit suicide, Roman style? Hagen: "When a plot against the emperor failed, the conspirators were always given a chance to commit suicide". Pantangeli: "Yeah, but their families were always protected".
And I bet you thought The Godfather was just fiction?
Steve Giddins is a FIDE Master from England and a experienced chess author and journalist. He has recently taken over as Editor of The British Chess Magazine, the world's oldest surviving chess publication (founded in 1881). The issue with the Karpov interview will be the November issue, and will appear around the start of November. – Steve Giddins' BCM Blog