Garry Kasparov on the threat to Tromsø

7/17/2014 – "Unfortunately the Organizing Committee [of the Tromsø Olympiad] is influenced by people who are working for Garry Kasparov. They are using it for their election purposes." That was what FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer said in a much-publicised video interview yesterday. After debating the subject with Kasparov after midnight, this morning he sent us the following statement.

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Garry Kasparov on the threat to Tromsø

Why must it be that chessplayers always suffer for the errors and arrogance of officials and bureaucrats? It is a shame for any team to miss out on the Olympiad for technical reasons out of the players’ control. I am a candidate to be a president of FIDE who represents all the federations, not only potential medal winners from powerful federations. But of course the Russian women’s team is not just any team. The Olympic champions! So of course all the attention is on their exclusion, because it is a tragedy not only for the players, but also for the organizers and the fans.

I cannot explain the bizarre statements of FIDE vice-president Israel Gelfer. What would I or the Norwegian organizers have to gain from excluding the celebrated Russian women’s team? And he wants to cancel the Olympiad in retaliation? Punish 175 teams for the mistakes of one? Such absurd arrogance! This matter does not involve me or my campaign for FIDE president. This is a transparent attempt to look for excuses and scapegoats for a self-inflicted disaster. The Russian Federation’s statement doesn’t address the obvious question of why they didn’t submit their women’s team on time, as they did with the men’s team. It’s obvious they were waiting for Lagno’s transfer to strengthen their team and intentionally allowed the registration deadline to pass to do so. Would permitting this devious maneuver be fair to all the other teams that followed the rules and registered on time?

Back in September 2006 Garry Kasparov did an hour-long analysis session with the then
16-year-old Kateryna Lagno. His diagnosis: this girl will go to the top of women's chess.

I’m sure the Russian Federation believed, and had been told, that FIDE would let them violate the rules and receive an exception. As the Norwegians’ open letter to Freeman attests, FIDE tried this by citing the President’s “nuclear option” of statute 6.1, the magic rule that says no other rules matter and that the President can do whatever he wishes, regardless of contracts or partnerships. (For me this brings back sour memories of 1985, when FIDE president Florencio Campomanes used the equivalent rule 6.11 to terminate my first world championship match with Karpov.)

That’s the real danger here, the real threat to the global chess community. Either we have rules and accountability and professionalism or we do not. Either we have consistency and transparency or we have instability and prejudice. I have often criticized the FIDE “zero tolerance” rule that forfeits a player for even a moment’s delay in reaching the board. But allowing for common sense and dignity is not the same as intentionally violating the rules. The Russian Federation is neither ignorant nor innocent in this case. The have sacrificed their players by seeking unfair advantage and FIDE attempted to bully the Norwegian organizers into allowing it.

I have nothing but sympathy for all of the players on all of the teams excluded due to the incompetence or misconduct of their federations. All lovers of chess share their disappointment and outrage. It is very tempting to chant “Let them play!” at the organizers, deadlines and regulations be damned. It is correct to be outraged! But we must focus our frustration on those who break the rules, not on those who respect them.


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trombonbom trombonbom 8/8/2014 01:43
I think, Garry Kasparov is mentally not very healthy. Look at his photos 7/18/2014 10:03
> VGerber 7/17/2014 09:07
> Is Garry Kasparov the lesser evil? A good article on the subject can be found here:

In case it's not obvious, this post comes from a site maintained by a bizarre person who appears to be stalking Hou Yifan. She has nothing to do with it.
maxiboi maxiboi 7/17/2014 11:52
What possible deadlines are there to talk about, if it was only decided on 5. of June that Olympiad actually will take place?
Stormbreaker Stormbreaker 7/17/2014 10:41
Kasparov tore the chess world apart in the past. Now he is building up a new "Berlin Wall" and waging his personal war against Russia on the back of the chess community. The hardliner Kasparov will only harm the chess community by his politically very biased actions.
VGerber VGerber 7/17/2014 09:07
Is Garry Kasparov the lesser evil? A good article on the subject can be found here:
thunderknight thunderknight 7/17/2014 08:41
Simply put, Kasparov is the former Chess World Champion. His entire life is dedicated to chess. He live, eat and breathe chess. No one in this entire universe knows chess better than Kasparov.
Kasparov for the win!!!
jim macneil jim macneil 7/17/2014 07:10
The Chess Olympiad has always been the embodiment of the FIDE motto. "Gens Una Sumus", We are one people, but apparently not this year. There is plenty of blame to go around. Mainly the various FIDE chess federation not securing visa's for their players, or maybe the Tromso organizers for not simplifying this process for Olympic players. The visa problem has arose before, <> and maybe should have been a lesson learned. But the Russian federation trying a trick to strengthen the women's team and then FIDE threatening to cancel the Olympics takes the cake. FIDE trying to put it all on Kasparov is kinda funny, but do we want the world chess federation to be funny?
Wallace Howard Wallace Howard 7/17/2014 04:14
It's really funny that Israel Gelfer would try to somehow blame this on Kasparov. He is not on the Olympic Committee, the Russian Federation, or involved in any way with the many teams that were excluded. Here in the US, you hear people blame President Obama for just about anything that goes wrong. Apparently, at FIDE you just blame Kasparov.
notyetagm notyetagm 7/17/2014 03:52
When I first saw the story yesterday, I was outraged at the organizers for not letting the Russian Women's team play, thinking that someone *ACCIDENTALLY* forgetting to fill in some required paperwork by some bureaucratic deadline should not mean that the Russian female players have to suffer.

But now I know where to place my outrage: at the Russian Chess Federation. They tried to game the system to get Lagno on their team. They could have been ethical and said, "Lagno's transfer is too late to help us this time, but she will play for us in the 2016 Olympiad".

Instead they *INTENTIONALLY* did not submit their lineup by the June 1 deadline in a weasel attempt to get Lagno on the team for the 2014 Olympiad, screwing over all of their other top female players (Gunina, Kosteniuk, Girya, etc.) in the process. 7/17/2014 02:57
It's not just about the Russian women's team. Garry does not mention the other teams (maybe they were only listed after his comments were made) excluded: Cambodia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Oman, Pakistan, Senegal & Afghanistan (W). Also no mention of article 3.7.2., so (3.7.1) federations must notify team details, BUT (3.7.2) 'Late notification of team particulars shall be accepted up to 20 hours before the start of Round 1 (PB '98), but subject to a late submission fee of 100 euros per name.' So, how can the Norwegians possibly justify excluding the Russian team (I don't know details of the others) since, apparently, the Russian Federation received an invoice (which they paid) relating to said team...?
Treize Treize 7/17/2014 02:49
There are winds of scandals blown from East over the Olympiad for various incredible reasons :
- We had the biometric visa story
- Now we have this exclusion

In both cases, it looks like the fabrication of a casus belli...In each situation there are clear laws or regulations and some people seem to think there is an override mode always ...
malazan malazan 7/17/2014 02:01
A person with common sense