'I am ready to resume negotiations with FIDE'

by ChessBase
5/19/2009 – Josef Resch is the President of UEP, the company that organised the 2008 World Championship in Bonn, a successful businessman from Mukachevo in Western Ukraine. In recent months UEP was bidding for the organisation of the 2010-2011 cycle – with a four million Euro budget. But negotiations with FIDE broke down. Now Josef Resch explains why. Sport Express interview.

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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 Bonn-2008?

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, good-bye.

Geoffrey Borg, CEO of Global Chess, with FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos

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 the negotiations.

So this failure has a chance to turn itself into a positive situation, hasn’t it?

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.

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