Kasparov: The future of chess, not FIDE

9/17/2014 – He ran for FIDE President, but was defeated by the incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The conclusions Garry Kasparov draws from the painful loss are described in a closing essay on his campaign web site. In addition the former World Champion has been writing articles on the world situation in the Wall Street Journal and TIME, and can be seen in a remarkable interview on Fox News.

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The Future of Chess, Not FIDE

By Garry Kasparov

When I announced my campaign for FIDE president on October 7 in Tallinn, I stated that my goal was to elevate our game to the very high level in the public mind where I believe it belongs. On August 11 here in Tromsø, I lost the election for FIDE president, but my campaign did a tremendous amount of work around the world to elevate chess. In those 307 days, an incredible team came together, from my FIDE ticket to federation officials to staffers and volunteers around the world. I could not be prouder of their hard work and true passion for chess and for helping others.

If the result of this election threatens to make me lose my optimism for the future of the chess world, thoughts of all these capable and compassionate people will bring it back. I also want to express my appreciation to all the fans who did what they could, from writing to their federations to being active on social media. We may not have changed FIDE but we have changed the world of chess for the better and will continue to do so. My thanks also to my generous sponsors and donors who made this ambitious global campaign possible.

My campaign was about expanding the horizons of the chess and securing its future, our future, in a world with ever-increasing competition for our attention. My themes were bringing sponsorship, education initiatives, and new technology into the game and empowering the national federations. I do not for one moment believe that this election result indicates a problem with this platform, or with the exemplary individuals on my ticket, or with our many successful activities. The sad conclusion is that working hard and having big ideas and investing millions of dollars for the global development of chess all has very little to do with winning a FIDE election today. It was this disastrous situation that my team and I set out to change.

I was never naïve, of course. I knew from the beginning that chess politics, especially in FIDE, had been steadily taken over by people who have little interest in the success of chess and chess players, but only in expanding their own power. I hoped that there was still a chance for a coalition of reform-minded federation leaders and others tired of broken promises and stagnation to reach a winning number of votes. The fact is that we fell far short and the result demonstrates that the rot is even deeper and more widespread than I believed back in October, or even on the morning of the election.

I used my candidate’s speech to the General Assembly to present my vision of a FIDE that supports the federations so that they may grow strong. No one could doubt the sponsorship plans I spoke of were real because they had seen them in action during my campaign. Ilyumzhinov then used his speech to mock me and to mock everyone who cares for chess with outlandish promises everyone in the room knew were lies before his words stopped echoing in the auditorium. I knew at that moment that speeches didn’t matter in this election, just like the promotion of chess doesn’t matter to this FIDE administration. Ilyumzhinov could say anything at all and his supporters would cheer. Their votes had been decided long ago and the well-being of chess was never a significant part of this decision.

I immediately regretted my peaceable and reassuring speech – and that I had spoken before Ilyumzhinov. How I would like those 15 minutes back to instead condemn the corruption that has poisoned our sport for nearly two decades and to heap shame on the delegates who are so eager to vote for their own interests instead of the interests of the chess players in their nations. Such a speech would likely not have earned me any more votes, but it would have been more honest and I would have felt better then and now.

I faced three main challenges in this campaign. First was the FIDE machinery, the abuse of power that made votes disappear and turned commissions into puppets. This was not a surprise, but I believed at the start that I had enough resources to overcome it and I probably did. There were two other factors I badly underestimated. I anticipated the Kremlin’s involvement but couldn’t imagine its extent or how susceptible Europe would be to it. Nor did I anticipate how resistant even many of the biggest federations are to change. They saw it as a threat and looked for excuses to maintain the status quo.

These last two factors in particular eroded the base I thought I had at the start, a base of anti-Kirsan, anti-corruption, pro-growth federations with democratic traditions and substantial numbers of chess players with interests to protect. Perhaps that base still exists, but it is very small now and nearly every federation is eager to do a little business with Ilyumzhinov’s emissaries come election year. I guaranteed money in exchange for effort and sponsorship in exchange for activity and events. It’s clear that many prefer money with no responsibilities and no activities, regardless of what this means for chess.

While Europe is becoming a lost continent, during this campaign I truly discovered Africa. I was so impressed by the players and teachers and leaders I have met from Abuja to Zanzibar! They aren’t afraid of change; they seek it out and fight hard for it at every step. Hard work is never wasted and while we did not win the day here in Tromsø, their passion is already transforming chess in Africa and soon it will transform the world and I will be proud to play a part. Our fight is not over. As Nelson Mandela wrote, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Africa Rising!

It is fitting that the slogan on my posters here in Tromsø was “Kasparov: the future of chess” and not “the future of FIDE.” Eventually, growth and change in the chess world will change FIDE; it is clear that FIDE cannot change itself. More numbers and more effort will be needed at the grassroots level. Lovers of chess must become administrators of chess. I spoke often of building up the base of players to raise up the entire chess world and this is just as true in chess politics. More good people coming in will eventually push more bad people out. You can go and do it! Find a way to fight for chess! People must work in their chess communities and change their federations so that our great game has the representation it deserves.

My thanks again to all my team and supporters, and to our excellent hosts of the last two weeks here in Norway. The summer sun never sets in Tromsø and the sun will never set on the game of chess.

Fox News Sep. 14, 2014: Garry Kasparov's advice for taking on Putin

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ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 2/26/2015 02:15
garry....well one of the all time greats..... but see...... what he has done to pca ..... to GMA........now suddenly he finds interest in Fide....chess organization....... in small countries!!!!
vincero vincero 9/19/2014 12:55
kasparov is TOTALLY wrong regarding PUTIN.
I Wonder where and why he gets his information and views from.
there is NO QUESTION that usa and EU skullduggery is responsible for war in the Ukraine and no doubt Kasparov knows it too.
so i question his honer regarding matters such as that.

i do believe he would have brought positive change to chess but i admit little insight regarding his charges against the current FIDE.

perhaps if his intentions are truly honorable he might convince the chess professionals to join and or create a new chess federation that serves their interests better than FIDE.

that alone may be the only way of judging his charges.
Corinne Corinne 9/18/2014 10:26
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . he makes me sleep. Kasparov is so boring like a broken record player goes on and on about the same thing. He was a very good chess player yes, but chess is just a game. He is trying too hard to be a politician in the real world where he is not qualified . . . he should try to get some general higher education instead of trying to hide his NY chewish sponsors and true agenda.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 9/18/2014 06:37
kasparov should forget chess politics and should make a come back as a player in these exciting times!
ajedrezserio ajedrezserio 9/18/2014 04:35
Kasparov is absolutely right in everything he says about Putin and FIDE corruption
vandal vandal 9/18/2014 01:08
politic is dirty business
ashperov ashperov 9/18/2014 10:47
OK my 2cents worth!

Kasparovs "mistake" if you call it such, is that he speaks the truth. He sees things for what they are, nothing more nothing less. And the world of politics (be it chess politics or world politics) is not accustomed to this. They are accustomed to saying politcally correct things all the time. Being diplomatic no matter what. Even though we have a new little monster emerging in the form of Putin, we must be sweet and sugar coat things.

Personally i feel what he has done to Ukraine is disgusting and he should be charged for war crimes. This is the kind of environment he is creating, and we are not even talking about builiding a better Russia economically. We are talking about a man who has conquest in his sights.

WW1 split up most of Russias territories and granted them independance. This was two fold. To give minorities independance and the chance to rule themselves, and also to not allow Russia to be in a position where it could threaten world peace. So basically the world is making the same mistakes again by allowing Russia to start reclaiming territory (Germany 1930s rearmmament sund familiar?). All too concerend about their political careers rather than have the balls to actually do somthing. Sanctions will do nothing but p#@@ Putin and friends off.

Interesting this politics thing. A bit of history and analysing is all one requires, and Garry has that ability more than most politicians, so he is more than qualified to comment, and we are within our rights to analyse and comment on his comments. That is how knowledge and conclusions are formulated after all.

Maybe if I am lucky, the above makes sense to someone and it would be promoted to a 3 cents comment!
take care and enjoy your chess people!
daftarche daftarche 9/18/2014 10:23
guys do you bother to say why you think his speeches are empty or nonsense?
dhochee dhochee 9/18/2014 04:21
"Kasparov is wrong" that FIDE is corrupt and not interested in the best interests of world-wide chess?

I'm not well-informed on this topic, but I reviewed the notes from the Tromsø meeting and it was readily apparent to the casual observer that there was no interest in a reasonable discussion.

I don't know whether or not Kasparov is actually qualified to deliver on his rhetoric, but it sure seems there's a good basis for his primary arguments.
Felixtiza Felixtiza 9/18/2014 01:23
Indredible, a player like Kasparov seeing some of his best years go. I´m sure he had a good time while playing chess, but what about now trying to be a politician? He doesn´t know anything about that, his speeches are empty, he is too far from the true and principles. Why don´t he train somebody and do something productive ? How much does it take to a man to realise what he´s good at?. Unless this process is catalyzed, the last part of his life will be marked by failure and regret. And of course, he´s losing friends everyday. The only think I could add is: we´ll just won´t forget your chess games.
J Nayer J Nayer 9/18/2014 01:09
Kasparov is wrong. Spare us his neo-conservative nonsense.
I am very happy that he did not become president of FIDE. I hope he never will.