Election 06: Scandal in the US Chess Federation?

5/23/2006 – The Kirsan Campaign has published a letter written by an Executive Board Member of the USCF, Beatriz Marinello, who says that "the more fanatical supporters" were trying to prevent her from taking a neutral position in the upcoming election. Chess Fidelity speaks of a "shocking campaigning methods" of the US Federation. Another lesson in democracy and elections.

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Summary

The Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Campaign seit, Chess Fidelity; has published a letter written by USCF Executive Board Member Beatriz Marinello that, according to Chess Fidelity reveals that "the campaigning methods of those supporting the other team are shocking for the whole Chess community, and reveals how the democratic idea of elections can be turned into persecution and personal attacks."

Beatriz Marinello writes that the USCF board voted to support the candidacy of Bessel Kok for FIDE President. She had, however, subsequently stated that no matter who won the FIDE presidential election, she would work with them for the betterment of chess. She also said that she was maintaining a neutral position and did not believe that the USCF position is to obligate people to actively campaign for a particular candidate.

According to Marinello this "did not sit well with the more fanatical Kok supporters". The USCF board stated that its FIDE representatives are required to support USCF positions on FIDE issues. "We believe that in a democracy, supporting the best qualified candidate in an election is appropriate and does not constitute a refusal or inability to work with a different candidate, should the one we are supporting fail to be elected." Advocating a neutral position in discussions with representatives of other federations would undermine the USCF's support for the candidacy of Bessel Kok.

Therefore the board asked Beatriz Marinello to affirmatively advocate the candidacy of Kok, to the best of her ability, in any election discussions she may have with the representatives of other federations, or to withdraw her offer to represent USCF at the upcoming Turin FIDE meeting. Board member Don Schulz said "Why is the press so silent and seemingly indifferent on the FIDE elections? Why no words on the Israeli Chess Federation's endorsement of Ilyumzhinov, a man who is a friend of Saddam Hussein, who in turn launched missiles against Israel and is also responsible for the deaths of many Americans."

Marinello said she was "deeply offended by the personal attacks, and the fanatical and irrational comments made by my fellow board members... These are comments coming from fanatic extremists who do not understand world politics nor are willing to engage in a democratic and clean campaigning to advance their political agendas."

Bill Goichberg, President, US Chess Federation, wrote a letter to Chess Fidelity stating that no member of our Board had ever objected to working with the winner of the FIDE election and that indeed the Board had expressedly stated that it would work with the winner of the FIDE election. Chess Fidelity had published Marinello's open letter with the headline "Scandal in the US Chess Federation."

Goichberg writes: "For the President of FIDE to declare that a scandal exists in a member federation is inappropriate to begin with, and to do so based on a statement by one member of a five person Executive Board, without considering or reporting the views of the entire Board, is truly outrageous." The USCF requests that Chess Fidelity post a retraction of the article.

USCF Vice President Don Schulz stated that the Chess Fidelity campaigners had "jumped at an opportunity to discredit a FIDE member nation simply because that country was actively campaigning against Kirsan's reelection as president of FIDE. Shouting scandal and failing to check the accuracy of what they based their statements, never even called the USCF for comment, they denigrated the US Chess Federation." Schulz added that the Board felt that those whom they send to FIDE meetings to represent the USCF should actively voice the USCF position.

Mikhail Korenman, Member of the US Scholastic Council, wrote a letter to Beatriz Marinello explaining general electoral principles. "We can argue, criticize our government, support new legislation, demonstrate in the streets, boycott, etc. However, if one is not willing to support our government's policy, he or she should not expect or demand from that same government an appointment to a position as its representative. The US Ambassador to the UN supports the policies of the US government, not his or her own views. "

Korenman notes that Marinello's open letter is now being used by the Ilyumzhinov campaign to help its efforts to defeat the candidate endorsed by USCF. The Executive Board member was appealing to other nations in FIDE to overrule the decision of her own federation, which was very improper. "I believe that you should immediately resign from the USCF Executive Board," writes Korenman. "Then you will be free to appropriately express your personal opinions about FIDE anywhere you wish."


Original documents

Scandal in the US Chess Federation!

The letter of Beatriz Marinello

The Chess Fidelity site writes: "Today we are publishing a letter sent by Beatriz Marinello (USCF Executive Board Member, USCF Past President and General Secretary de FIDE Américas). The facts that one can learn from this letter about the campaigning methods of those supporting the other team, are shocking for the whole Chess community. The author reveals how the democratic idea of elections can be turned into persecution and personal attacks."

May 12, 2006

My friends:

I am sorry to have to report disturbing news regarding the recent actions of the United States Chess Federation Executive Board regarding the upcoming FIDE Presidential elections.

That Board, of which I am a member, voted early to support the candidacy of Bessel Kok for FIDE President. That is the right of the national federation. But things took an ugly turn recently.

My position has always been that FIDE's motto, gens una sumus, we are one family, should guide us in our promotion of the game we all love. Following that principle, I recently stated that no matter who won the FIDE presidential election, I would work with them for the betterment of chess.

That statement did not sit well with the more fanatical Kok supporters on the U.S. Chess Federation, who demanded that I retract it. Unless I did so, they threatened punitive actions.

The President of the board submitted the following motion:

06-064 — Goichberg — Whereas:

  1. The USCF Executive Board unanimously endorsed the candidacy of Bessel Kok for FIDE President, and we feel that his election is very important for the promotion of chess in the USA and the world.

  2. The Executive Board subsequently, at its February meeting, endorsed the candidacy of Beatriz Marinello for FIDE General Secretary of the Americas.

  3. Beatriz Marinello had voted for the Board endorsement of Bessel Kok. However, on April 4, she wrote to the Board about the FIDE election, "I will remain neutral and willing to work with the administration that wins." On April 6, she wrote, "I view my position as someone who is acting in the best interest of the organization. Maintaining a neutral position, in my opinion does not affect the votes of other federations." On April 9 she wrote, "I do not believe that the USCF position is to obligate people to actively campaign for a particular candidate."

  4. USCF policy, as recently reaffirmed by the Executive Board, is that our FIDE representatives are required to support USCF positions on FIDE issues.

  5. We believe that in a democracy, supporting the best qualified candidate in an election is appropriate and does not constitute a refusal or inability to work with a different candidate, should the one we are supporting fail to be elected.

  6. We believe that to have a USCF representative advocating a neutral position in discussions with representatives of other federations will undermine our support for the candidacy of Bessel Kok.

Therefore, we ask Beatriz Marinello to consider accepting one of the following two positions:

A) She agrees to affirmatively advocate the candidacy of Bessel Kok, to the best of her ability, in any election discussions she may have with the representatives of other federations.

B) She withdraws her offer to represent USCF at the upcoming Turin FIDE meeting and her candidacy for General Secretary of the Americas. In the event she chooses not to attend these meetings, USCF will reimburse her for any nonrefundable travel expenses.

If Beatriz does not endorse one of these positions within three days of the passage of this motion, the USCF endorsement of her candidacy for General Secretary of the Americas is hereby rescinded, and FIDE shall be notified that we oppose her nomination.

After extensive discussion the motion PASSED 3-0-2 with Beatriz Marinello and Robert Tanner abstaining.

During the discussion Joel Channing, one of the members of the board called me a "piece of crap" and he compared me with North Korea, because I said that I will not change my position.

Lately in other Internet postings Mr. Schultz, another board member said as following:

"Why is the press so silent and seemingly indifferent on the FIDE elections? Why no words on the Israeli Chess Federation's endorsement of Ilyumzhinov, a man who is a friend of Saddam Hussein, who in turn launched missles (correction "missiles") against Israel and is also responsible for the deaths of many Americans — Don Schultz "

I am deeply offended by the personal attacks, and the fanatical and irrational comments made by my fellow board members. These statements speak for themselves. Please do not think that this mentality reflects the thinking of the USCF members, these are comments coming from fanatic extremists who do not understand world politics nor are willing to engage in a democratic and clean campaigning to advance their political agendas. Furthermore, If the USCF Executive Board moves forward to cancel my nomination as General Secretary of FIDE Americas, I will appeal this decision to the General Assembly.

Yours for Chess,

Beatriz Marinello
USCF Executive Board Member
USCF Past President
General Secretary de FIDE Americas


Letter from the President of the US Chess Federation

To ChessFidelity:

The United States Chess Federation strongly objects to unethical campaigning and interference in its internal affairs by the campaign of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

USCF has five Executive Board members who manage the affairs of the Federation between annual meetings of the Board of Delegates. They are as follows:

  • Bill Goichberg, President
  • Don Schultz, Vice President
  • Joel Channing, Vice President for Finance
  • Robert Tanner, Secretary
  • Beatriz Marinello, Member at Large

On Jan. 31, 2006, our Executive Board, including Beatriz Marinello, voted unanimously to endorse the candidacy of Bessel Kok for FIDE President.

On May 12, 2006, Beatriz Marinello posted an "open letter" on the internet. In this post she said, "I recently stated that no matter who won the FIDE presidential election, I would work with them for the betterment of chess. That statement did not sit well with the more fanatical Kok supporters on the U.S. Chess Federation, who demanded that I retract it. Unless I did so, they threatened punitive actions."

The USCF Executive Board considers the above claim by Beatriz Marinello to be grossly incorrect. No member of our Board has ever objected to working with the winner of the FIDE election and indeed, when Beatriz Marinello expressed concern about this in Board discussion, the only opinions expressed by other Board members on this topic were that we will work with the winner of the FIDE election.

About May 17, the campaign website of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, chessfidelity.com, posted the open letter by Beatriz Marinello, adding a headline, "Scandal in the US Chess Federation." For the President of FIDE to declare that a scandal exists in a member federation is inappropriate to begin with, and to do so based on a statement by one member of a five person Executive Board, without considering or reporting the views of the entire Board, is truly outrageous.

The United States Chess Federation requests that chessfidelity.com post a retraction of its "Scandal in the US Chess Federation" post. This retraction should include the following points:

  1. Beatriz Marinello is one member of the five person USCF Executive Board, and all other members of the Board believe that her "open letter" is substantially inaccurate.

  2. It is inappropriate for the President of FIDE or his representatives to take sides in an internal dispute of a member federation.

  3. There is no evidence of a scandal in the US Chess Federation, and chessfidelity apologizes for suggesting otherwise.

Bill Goichberg
President, US Chess Federation


Statement on the Beatriz Marinello Letter

By Don Schultz

Israel Gelfer made the following accusation against the US Chess Federation: “The totalitarian way of the US Chess Federation treating its former President Mrs. Beatriz Marinello, just because she wished to remain neutral in the FIDE elections!” Gelfer is referring to an OPEN letter from Beatriz Marinello that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov published on his campaign web site. Both Israel and Kirsan jumped at an opportunity to discredit a FIDE member nation simply because that country was actively campaigning against Kirsan's reelection as president of FIDE. Shouting scandal and failing to check the accuracy of what they based their statements, never even called the USCF for comment, they denigrated the US Chess Federation.

What is the scandal? Yes, there is a difference of opinion in how the USCF interprets the role of its representatives to FIDE. But that is no scandal.

Beatriz felt that as a candidate for the position of the General Secretary Americas, she had an obligation to take a position of neutrality involving campaigning in FIDE elections. The Board felt that those whom they send to FIDE meetings to represent the USCF should actively voice the USCF position.

Beatriz also said that if Kirsan wins, we need to have someone who will be able to work with him and thus get more consideration in the future from FIDE. Apparently, on this point, I think more highly of Kirsan than Beatriz. In Kirsan’s tenure at the helm of FIDE, I have never seen him refuse to work with his critics. And if he wins the election, the USCF will continue to work with him for the good of chess. Statements to the contrary are incorrect and baseless.

Beatriz claimed in very strong terms, that the USCF Board threatened punitive action against her if she did not follow the policy of the USCF regarding the responsibilities of whom they send to FIDE meetings. Punitive Action? Perhaps she is referring to the Board’s intent to follow USCF Policy and not send nor endorse USCF candidates for positions in FIDE or send anyone to a FIDE meeting who would not actively voice support USCF positions on issues and elections. That is adherence to policy not punitive action.

We are trying to reach a middle ground with Beatriz. But both Kirsan and Israel, by jumping to conclusions and meddling in the internal affairs of the USCF, have made that task far tougher.


May 21, 2006

To Beatriz Marinello the USCF Executive Board members:

Beatriz,

You and I have something in common. We were both born and grew up in a different country and then immigrated to the United States. I was looking to America as a country of freedom and opportunity. I wanted my kids to grow up to understand democracy, be well educated, and be successful in their life. I hope I would be too.

Both Russia and Chile are different from the United States. Both countries have good features, but have been misruled by dictators in the recent past. Not knowing your home county well enough to say more about it, I can only say that a big difference between the United States and Russia is that people in the US, in most cases, are following the law. That makes this country strong. Not everyone agrees with all the rules, nor do I, but most of us agree that it is a good thing for society that our rules are generally obeyed.

This is how it has worked from generation to generation. And this doesn't mean we can't object to the way things work – we can argue, criticize our government, support new legislation, demonstrate in the streets, boycott, etc.

However, if one is not willing to support our government's policy, he or she should not expect or demand from that same government an appointment to a position as its representative. The US Ambassador to the UN supports the policies of the US government, not his or her own views. Likewise, in non-profit associations such as USCF, we have the freedom of speech to disagree with the group's policies, but should not do so while also pushing for appointment as a representative of the group and the payment of expenses to attend meetings.

A fundamental rule in our country, in government, business, and non-profit associations, is that the minority of the group must accept the decision of the majority. If this was not the case, America would not be as great as it is now.

With your recent open letter, which is now being used by the Ilyumzhinov campaign to help its efforts to defeat the candidate endorsed by USCF, you clearly violated the above principles. We all respect your right to have a personal opinion of the FIDE election. But as an Executive Board member, when you decided you could not support the candidate unanimously endorsed by the Executive Board (including yourself), you should have offered to withdraw your candidacy for the FIDE position for which the Board had endorsed you. Instead you are appealing to other nations in FIDE to overrule the decision of your own federation. This is very improper.

I believe that you should immediately resign from the USCF Executive Board. Then you will be free to appropriately express your personal opinions about FIDE anywhere you wish.

Thank you and good luck with your personal chess achievements.

Mikhail Korenman
Member of the US Scholastic Council

Mikhail "Misha" Korenman has organized many spectacular chess events in America, including two "Battle of the Genders" matches between Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar, "Chess for Peace" with former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, a "Chess for Peace Russia tour", and many others. He transformed Lindsborg, Kansas, a quiet Midwestern small town into a chess Mecca.


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