ACP elects new, larger, governing board

by Macauley Peterson
3/14/2019 – The Association of Chess Professionals recently enacted changes to its statutes in advance of new board member elections. All the results are in and the newly expanded eleven-person board has a mix of members, including eight new ones, from across the chess world. ACP Chairman Yuri Garrett says the larger board should serve as a "think tank" for chess and avoid conflicts of interest with FIDE despite some overlapping responsibilities among its board members.

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An ACP in transition

A week before the voting for the new members of the eleven-member board which governs the Association of Chess Professionals, the organisation voted to amend its statutes. A simple majority of the 158 "standard" and "premium" members was needed to approve the changes. Both proposals passed. The first modification expanded the board from nine to eleven members, each serving a four-year term. The second removed a prohibition on any board member holding another post in an international chess federation (i.e. FIDE).

"Members already holding another post in an international chess federation cannot be elected to the Board"

Of the 158 eligible voters, 42 cast a ballot with 29 voting to expand the board and 23 further voting to delete the statutory sentence barring board members from serving concurrently in some capacity for FIDE.

ACP election results as pie graphs

Left: Vote to expand the board | Right: Vote to remove prohibition on serving in FIDE

The rationale for the change was that the original wording of the statutes, written in French, had been vague on what exactly would constitute a "post", and rather than try to define it more specifically, the board opted to ask the voting membership whether it would be better to do away with this limitation altogether. This cleared the way for the candidacy of Pavel Tregubov, who accepted an appointment to be Secretary of FIDE's Global Strategy Commission (GSC), Laurent Freyd (Chairman of the Arbiters' Commission), Yuri Garrett (Secretary of the Fair Play Commission — formerly called the Anti-Cheating Commission), Aleksandar Colovic (a Councillor on the Fair Play Commission), and potentially others in the future.

The new board

The full eleven-member board, which will take office on March 15h, was announced earlier this week after a brief delay to resolve a question about the votes received by Jesus Garcia Valer, a Spanish International Arbiter. The final count was:

Aleksandar Colovic - 47 votes
Pavel Tregubov - 45 votes
Laurent Freyd - 39 votes
Maria Emelianova - 38 votes
Iván Salgado López - 37 votes
Gunnar Björnsson - 37 votes
Aleksandra Dimitrijević - 36 votes
Yuri Garrett - 35 votes
Beatriz Marinello - 31 votes
Sergey Beshukov - 23 votes
Jesus Garcia Valer - 23 votes

Garcia Valer's vote tally was originally recorded as 22, which would have forced a run-off election for the final board spot with Gerhard Bertagnolli, and Italian IA. But on March 11th, the ACP released a statement to clarify the matter:

In the past days we received 3 complaints about the validity of votes that had been cast, mainly revolving around the eligibility to vote of the complainant.

While the complaints are not anonymous, ACP feels it is most proper not to disclose the name of the complainants so as to protect inasmuch as possible the privacy of their votes.

After carefully checking the facts, we accepted 1 and rejected 2 complaints.

"It was just a mistake," explains Yuri Garrett, the current ACP Board Chairman. A member who should have been eligible had his or her vote invalidated by mistake.

Expanding the board to eleven members should help spread the workload and minimise potential governance issues arising from having some board members associated with FIDE, Garrett says.

"In theory conflicts of interest may happen, but in actual practice, they never happen." He points out that only Tregubov has significant political post, and only Freyd and Garrett receive a "small token fee" for their extensive time commitment to their respective FIDE Comissions, serving in technical not executive positions.

A "think tank" not a "guardian"

The ACP has had, as a tagline of sorts, the phrase "injustice done to one is a threat to all", and its main purpose, according to the organisation's About page, is "the protection of chess professionals' rights and the practice and promotion of chess worldwide".

"ACP has a solid tradition of being, so to speak, a guardian," explains Garrett. For many years, in addition to organising events and special prizes for its members, the organisation functioned a bit like a watchdog group, according to Garrett, with the animating idea, "we're not against FIDE, but we evaluate what FIDE has done."

"I think the last board was ACP's most effective board ever," says Garrett, who was himself re-elected to the board but is not planning to vie for the post of ACP President, which is being vacated by Emil Sutovsky, who stepped down after accepting work as FIDE's Director General — a new staff position in FIDE.

"ACP needs to renew, not only in the membership but in the way it thinks. It should not only react to wrong-doing but also to act", says Garrett, who envisions the organisation's role as akin to a "think tank" for chess, as opposed to "guardians", proposing new ideas and laying out a roadmap for chess.

The first board meeting, within the next week or two, should elect a President. Either Tregubov (as the longest-serving member) or Garrett (as current chair) will head the meeting. Generally, the President is selected by a sort of general consensus but in one way or another there's a vote.

"I think it's the first time that nobody has a clue about who will be president", Garrett adds. "We have to meet and I think it will be very, very interesting."

Update — March 20: The ACP board elected the following officers:
President – Alex Colovic (MKD)
Board director / Deputy President – Yuri Garrett 
General Secretary – Beatriz Marinello (USA)
Treasurer – Laurent Freyd (FRA)
ACP Tour Director – Pavel Tregubov (RUS)


Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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Mikhail Golubev Mikhail Golubev 3/17/2019 03:55
It's already not clear where ACP ends and FIDE begins.
I'm very glad that left the ACP a few years ago.
fons3 fons3 3/16/2019 11:50
@ psamant: good point.

The ACP has _never_ been very relevant. Unfortunately. In its inception it was supposed to act as a kind of union, but the problem is that they have no leverage. A union for a factory has leverage: they can go on strike, FIDE however can just ignore them.

You could say that they have now accepted this fate by discarding the provision that board members cannot also have a post in FIDE, which would make no sense if you intend to act as a union.

Political "think tanks" tend to be sponsored by corporations or branches of government, so they are more like lobbyists or propagandists pushing a certain agenda. The term "think tank" is just newspeak to hide that fact.

The ACP in this current makeover would act more as a think thank in the true sense of the word, which is all fine and dandy, but the question of relevance remains.
psamant psamant 3/15/2019 06:09
China is perhaps the fastest growing nation in the chess world... and there is no Chinese representation? India is the second fastest? Again no representation. Most of the members are from the "old" Soviet and East European bloc. Will it be a truly representative body... the expanded board was an opportunity the take on sections on board and look towards the future. I think the ACP missed the bus to try and become more relevant.
IntensityInsanity IntensityInsanity 3/14/2019 08:15
Thank you. Nice article.