Garry Kasparov: Open Letter to the General Assembly

5/31/2006 – He does not have any personal interest in the crucial FIDE elections that will be held this week. But: "I write from a deep love for the game of chess and out of concern for its future." In an open letter to the delegates of the General Assembly of the 77th FIDE Congress in Turin Garry Kasparov says: 'Just make the right move.'

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Tuesday, May 31, 2006

Garry Kasparov

Open Letter to the General Assembly of the 77th FIDE Congress

Greetings to every FIDE official, delegate, and player, to every participant of the 77th FIDE Congress. Let me first assure you that this letter does not indicate any plan on my part to return to an active role in the world of chess. I have no personal interests at stake in the crucial matters in your care this week. I write from a deep love for the game of chess and out of concern for its future.

I have known both Presidential candidates Bessel Kok and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for many years, meeting Bessel in 1986 and Kirsan in 1990. I had good days and bad days with both of them. But, despite our disagreements I always knew that Bessel and I shared the same vision of making chess into a professional sport. On the other hand, while Kirsan’s passion and his generous contributions to chess are undeniable, there is no future without professionalism, and he is not prepared to go in this direction. The failure to implement the Prague agreement showed me that even during a time of peace FIDE was either unwilling to seek or incapable of attracting commercial sponsorship.

Vladmir, Bessel Kok, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in Prague, 2002, where the famous Prague agreement was signed

The current crisis in the leadership of FIDE has many parallels in my new political fight in Russia. The same universal principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability are under assault. Those who are loyal to the leaders are rewarded while those in opposition are ignored and discarded. Decisions are made by very few people behind closed doors, and democracy is often heard but seldom seen. Personal political deals take precedence over open commerce and the greater good.

FIDE’s recent announcements regarding the World Championship cannot be left unmentioned. In the 1990s I was criticized – at times justly – for leaving FIDE, for getting things wrong and damaging the title I held for so many years. Now FIDE itself is destroying the very foundation of its creation, erasing the principles that elevated the long line of World Champions to which I am proud to belong. Brought in to protect and exalt the title in 1947, FIDE now desecrates it with a price tag that goes against the principles of open and fair competition.

The image of chess must be repaired. Every chess federation, every chessplayer, will benefit under leadership with the confidence and skills to at last transform chess into a modern sport. Here in Russia we are not fighting to win elections, but for the right to have elections. You have the ballot and with it the opportunity to make history, to move chess into a professional future. Just make the right move.

Wishing you courage and success,

Garry Kasparov
Moscow, Russia



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