Saturday, February 08, 2014
Bitter battles for FIDE Presidency
Intrigue and Conspiracies as Colorful Rivals Vie to Head Chess Federation
By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN
FEB. 8, 2014
The election campaign has plot elements worthy of a Le Carré novel: double-crosses and allegations of stolen secret documents and self-dealing.
At stake is not the leadership of some powerful country but the presidency of a fairly obscure organization that presides over a small corner of the gaming world, the World Chess Federation. The body oversees international chess championships and controls tournaments and sponsorship deals worth millions of dollars and championships that are the grail of nationalistic aspirations.
The principal characters also seem drawn from fiction. There is a former world chess champion, now a Russian opposition leader; a former president of an obscure Russian republic who believes that he was abducted by extraterrestrials in yellow suits who invented the game of chess; and an ex-fashion photographer turned chess official who would like the first two candidates to be disqualified so that he can take over the federation.
The latest intrigue revolves around corruption allegations by the two candidates for the federation’s presidency, Garry Kasparov, the former champion and Russian opposition figure, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the incumbent president and self-described space-alien abductee.
Such charges would normally hardly raise an eyebrow in the world of organized chess, which has been rife with rumors of corruption for decades. What has rocked even the jaded chess world this time are signed contracts posted online that each candidate contends proves dirty dealing by the other. And each candidate, while not denying his signature on the contract in question, claims his contract has been maliciously misinterpreted.
Even the Icelandic grandmaster Fridrik Olafsson, an éminence grise of the chess world and former federation president, could only shake his head.
“Things are not as they should be,” he said. “There are too many problems that have nothing to do with chess.”
Full article here.