SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
From my read on developments, it appears that incumbent FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is playing a game of cat and mouse with the Karpov/Kasparov campaign effort. In the 2006 FIDE election Kirsan reached more than enough votes to secure re-election months before the campaign even ended. His challenger, Bessel Kok, had no idea that his last months of campaigning would be in vain.
This time it appears that Kirsan wants to profit from the hollywood-style glitz of the Karpov/Kasparov duo! By personally showing up in Cuba this past weekend –while Karpov himself was campaigning there–the Kalmyki superstar has succeeded in showing to the rest of the doubting-world that he is indeed a modern leader who knows how to run a democratic-looking campaign!
The expressions on their faces says it all!
But let there be no doubt: Ilyumzhinov has already won the election before the Cuba visit! In the coming months the incumbent President will try to profit from Karpov’s campaign by using the publicity generated by Kasparov’s presence to his own advantage. Only in late August will the reality of his inevitable defeat become apparent to the Karpov team: then Ilyumzhinov will welcome Karpov with wide open arms to join him to make an even better FIDE!
If this scenario sounds familiar, then that is because it is! Bessel Kok joined Ilymzhinov’s team …only to never be heard of again.
While in Cuba, Anatoly Karpov took back seat to the incumbent FIDE president. To seal matters, Ilyumzhinov opened his wallet and created 2 new , fully financed Latin American championships, worth a total of 500,000 dollars in the next 5 years.
”These competitions will be named – Caribbean Cup and Latin America Cup. The first tournament is aimed primarily as support of the chess talents and countries of the Caribbean region which belong to the CACDEC list.
The second championship takes into the account the increased popularity of chess in the Latin American continent where there is a serious lack of top class international tournaments with generous prize funds. The Continental President Jorge Vega is assigned with further detailed implementation and preparation of the respective regulations for the tournaments.”–From the FIDE website today.
Can we assume that Cuba will vote for Kirsan?
Never the less, the Karpov2010 campaign is proceeding like he still believes in his chances. A press release today indicated that Karpov will visit a number of countries in the Americas in coming days. The group will make stops throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Peru, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, and Honduras to meet with regional FIDE representatives. It is unlikely that Karpov will visit Canada.
“We encourage all the presidents, delegates and representatives of chess federations to join us to discuss how we can further the advancement of chess throughout the Latin American region,” said Anatoly Karpov. “We are committed to furthering unity and open communication between all the chess federations and this tour is an important step in promoting and popularizing chess through out the world.”
What went wrong with Karpov’s campaign?
Readers who have been following the election since rumours of Karpov’s candidacy in February of this year should know that I have always been a Karpov supporter. But I made it clear from the beginning that Karpov was a big underdog in this race: Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is at the height of his popularity in the chess world!
Despite the black marks on his performance (the ‘zero tolerance’ rule and the ever faster time controls), the fact is that the top players in the world are making more money than ever–despite the lack of corporate sponsors. And virtually none of these players have come out and paid more than lip service to Karpov’s campaign. Why should FIDE country members be in a hurry to change this?
As pointed out in my first blog entries, the key question is why Karpov entered the race in the first place? ( In 2006 he resisted entering the race because he felt that Kirsan was unbeatable.) The answer, I believe, is that Karpov hoped that the Kremlin’s reaction to the poor performance of the Russian delegation at the Vancouver Winter Games might translate into momentum against incumbent FIDE president Ilyumzhinov.
Instead, after a series of widely publicized disasters by Karpov’s campaign–in the western media portrayed as success–the Kremlin has all but washed its hands of Karpov.
The failed palace coup in mid May in Moscow brought much embarrassment to the Kremlin, who wasted little time in putting the Russian Chess Federation under lock and key, awaiting a housecleaning and new elections of its board. Bakh has been forced out.
Arkady Dvorkovich, a key aide to Russian president Medvedev, has come out and said that he refuses to work with Karpov in any way. Furthermore, most Russian grandmasters support Dvorkovich’s strong stand against Karpov and Kasparov.
As things stand now, Karpov will not get much of the Americas’ vote, and only about 75% of Europe’s votes. Probably Karpov’s campaign is in worse shape than Bessel Kok’s failed attempt in 2006. The only question for Karpov’s team is how to salvage a lost campaign and come out not looking like losers.
Canada is a minor player in the FIDE world, but never the less 1-vote. Who will the CFC support: Karpov or Ilyumzhinov? Curiously, the Canadian FIDE rep (Hal Bond) has been very tight-lipped about his preferance. In 2006–before Bond’s time–the CFC made public many months before the election that they would vote for Bessel Kok.
Can this silence be interpretted that the CFC has not yet decided who to support, or that Bond does not want to embarrass himself and wants to see who is going to win before deciding? As an international arbiter with ambitions to work within FIDE, Bond might be in a conflict of interest here.
But I suppose we will have to wait for the AGM in Toronto before anyone asks the question that begs to be asked.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS