SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Fortunately, temporary insanity is ….temporary. (Or we can hope so…) Like most chess fans, at this point in time I am pretty much fed up with the FIDE presidential elections that officially began some 6 long and painful months ago, when former world champion Anatoli Karpov decided to run against the popular incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
It was not clear to me then why Karpov would want to run against a president who is at the height of his popularity–and is viewed by much of the chess world as the saviour of world chess–but I had always been a fan of Karpov as an uncompromising fighter and a man of great personal integrity. I thought that he knew what he was doing…
But when he chose Kasparov and some unknown –to the chess world–New York businessmen as his campaign team, I began to ask myself if Karpov was really serious about winning. After the circus in Moscow at some improvised Russian Chess Federation meeting that was later ruled unconstitutional– and led to security guards being posted at the federation’s offices to prevent a recurrence–I began to question that maybe Karpov was just in it for the fun, the adrenaline rush and media spotlight.
Everything I have seen since has just re-inforced this doubt. If the reader takes a look at what has come of Karpov’s official campaign website (http://www.karpov2010.org/
) , then he would quickly realize that if this was a US presidential election then Karpov would be spending more time trying to stay out of jail– for utter disregard of laws concerning slander and libel — than in actual campaigning. Can you imagine McCain calling Obama a crook or accusing him of being behind a murder?
It took about 2 months for Karpov to realize that the election was lost. There has to be some limit that you don’t want to go beyond once you realize that dialogue and debate fail to be enough to win over people. Campaigning should be about doing your best to prove your worthiness as a candidate, establishing your dignity, and not destroying yourself and disappointing your life-long fans in the process. Karpov had to accept that he was a big underdog when he entered the campaign…but apparently he did not. He is still in denial.
In my opinion–and in the opinion of many others–Karpov (and Kasparov) have gone beyond this point and much farther. They have lost sight of their primary objective (to improve the chess world) and have become a law unto themselves. I ask the readers to take a look at a very objective analysis of this year’s FIDE election (‘Not everyone likes the 2 Ks’
) at http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/not-everyone-likes-the-two-ks/#more-29646
, which reproduces an article from Streatham and Brixton Chess Blog
that appeared last week.
Fortunately, when this whole farce is over ( that is what Karpov’s election campaign has become) Ilyumzhiinov will not exile Karpov, but will offer him an olive branch. Today on Kirsan’s official campaign site (http://www.onefide.com/
) Ilyumzhinov is quoted as saying in a recent radio interview: ”Finally, on my opponent. I have chosen not to make any comments on some of his statements, including the one at this Radio station. If the 12th World Champion insulted anyone, he insulted himself. On the contrary – I feel sorry for Anatoly and even feel pity for him. Such a waste of talent and destruction of his own reputation!
Without going into any details, I do know that he (Karpov) must find himself in a very uneasy situation now and there is nobody to blame but himself. Karpov did cross some lines in terms of what is generally accepted in proper societies.
But he is a chess player, not a politician, so, in the end he is not to be blamed for having such bad advisers. The elections will be over, the boom around them will also eventually subside, and I will be ready, as on many previous occasions, to help him.”
Later this week the Lausanne Court of Arbitration is supposed to make its decision regarding a complaint lodged by Karpov’s campaign. Many believe that Karpov’s lawyers have tried to use the court as a political weapon to discredit Ilyumzhinov and FIDE. On Wednesday we will know the decision, and I think that the whole chess world will be watching.
It is important to understand that the court is neither on Karpov’s side nor on Ilyumzhinov’s side: the court is impartial and takes its duties seriously. The court will not decide if the Russian Chess Federation actually supports Karpov or Ilyumzhinov. The court is not a pawn in a political battle. What the court will try to do is establish the facts, as much as is possible. Both Karpov and Ilyumzhinov contradict each other, and often…
Perhaps it is here that the chess world will lose what little credibilty that it still has: will the court refuse to become invovled in what is clearly a bitter and controversial battle of personalities? Will the court simply spank both presidential candidates? That is what my money is on…
One of the enlightening things to have emerged from this election campaign is just how much the Canadian Chess Federation has slipped into disrepute in recent times. I can not remember any previous FIDE election where Canada was not one of the first countries to declare its intention to vote for one candidate or the other.
Instead, what we find is that Hal Bond–presently the FIDE representative and president of the Canadian zone–is living up to his reputation for caring only about his own self interests. At the recently concluded CFC annual meeting the controversial Mr. Bond explained that he felt he was in a position of conflict of interest (his own personal interests vs that of the responsibilities of representing Canada in FIDE).
You might think that this is being pretty above board and proper. But think again! An excuse was found for not taking a democratic vote on which candidate to support, and then the next thing we members knew is that the matter was referred to the CFC Executive for further discussion: Mr. Bond is an influential member of this same executive! Everything was to be decided behind closed doors!
What ever the outcome, it now appears that Canada’s reputation has been harmed in the chess world. The work of several generations of respectable Canadian representatives to FIDE has been undermined and tainted. What ever ambitions Mr. Bond had of landing some prestigious roles as an arbiter have likely disappeared. While this election has been very divisive in the FIDE family, there will not be much sympathy for those who try to play both sides to their own advantage.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS