SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
I am certainly no fan of the current FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Not that I think he is such a bad leader, but instead I think that 15 years of anybody is time enough. Especially in the chess world. The game finds itself resisting the new world spirit of embracing change and challenging our long held views on just about everything. As a result, you can not find chess on TV, sponsorship has all but disappeared and not even the world championship match between Anand and Topalov was carried by the major media.
So of course I welcomed the news that Anatoly Karpov had decided to run for FIDE president! I have always been a big fan of Karpov, I have met him on a number of occasions and I have the highest opinion of his integrity and professionalism. I think that he would make a wonderful FIDE president, and is probably the right man at the right time to lead an old and tired organization like FIDE.
But the question is how to win an election against a popular leader at the prime of his life? Ilyumzhinov is at the height of his political popularity. He is also a truly remarkable figure…his critics argue that he is a relic of the past, dictatorial and ruthless. I think that they got it wrong. It is the chess world, and FIDE in particular, that has long ago sold out its values and principles, and in the process tarnished its image. Ilyumzhinov is a very modern representative of the new world order who simply grabbed opportunity when it arose and has since demonstrated extraordinary talent to persevere and flourish.
Clearly Karpov’s chances of unseating Ilyumzhinov were very small when he entered the race, and he must have known it. So what was he hoping for? Karpov was never the kind of chessplayer to believe in miracles, on the board or off of it. Karpov is , if anything, a pragmatic realist.
My original guess was that Karpov hoped to jump on the band wagon resulting from the fall-out of the disasterous performance of the Russian athletes in the Vancouver Winter Games . Russian president Medvedev called for a complete re-structuring of sports federations so that the disaster would not repeat itself at the Sochi Winter Games (2014). He demanded the resignations of key individuals in the Olympic sports federation. He promised to clean house and get rid of the corruption in the system.
I thought that Karpov had viewed this as an opportunity to promote his ”It is time for change” campaign to the Kremlin leaders, who might also be tired of 15 years of the same Ilyumzhinov in FIDE. After all, chess is one of the great sports in Russia!
I thought that if the Kremlin leaders could be convinced that Karpov was the right man, that then they could help Karpov get votes in 3rd world countries–Ilyumzhinov’s power base. Kirsan has been able to snub his nose at the western chess world (Europe and the Americas) by playing on the enormous influence of the developing nations in FIDE that Campomanes developed since the 1980’s. FIDE is run by the 3rd world.
Dvorkovich is chief economic adviser to Russian president Medvedev
Things seemed to be moving in the right direction: Arkady Dvorkovich –a top aide to Russian president Medvedev and whose father is an international chess arbiter–is personally overseeing the re-structuring of the Russian Chess Federation. This process started in February (soon after the Vancouver debacle) and is to soon be completed.
Zhukov and Dvorkovich. A winning team connecting chess with real political power. Talk about having the right people at the right place at the right time!
…these past 2 or 3 weeks have shown that Karpov is not the great strategist off the board that he is on the board. He has all but destroyed himself. Instead of getting the Kremlin’s support, he has only succeeded in pissing them off. Arkady Dvorkovich said earlier this week in a Russian interview that he considered Karpov to be unethical and unscrupulous, and that he categorically refuses to work with Karpov in any capacity.
Kasparov, Karpov and Bakh at last week’s failed ”palace coup”
Furthermore, Dvorkovich has called for Bakh’s
resignation for his role in last Friday’s fraudulent
meeting of the Russian Chess Federation held at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. As well as all those who supported Bakh’s decision. And he has even threatened to hold a Congress to deal with the crisis and to elect an entirely new board, should that be necessary.
How did Karpov manage to handle this opportunity so badly? Part of the answer undoubtedly is that not only has he associated himself with Kasparov–a very vocal anti-establishment critic (especially of Putin)–but that he has accepted his advice and counsel. Kasparov is well known to only promote his own self-interests, and has used his association with the Karpov campaign to run down Putin and Medvedev, and to further his own personal agenda.
Outspoken, intelligent and charismatic, while Kasparov is enormously popular outside of Russia, he is at the same time one of the most despised public figures in Russia today
At last Monday’s VIP gala in New York (offically kicking off the Karpov campaign) Kasparov told a journalist “It’s fighting the corrupt international body (FIDE)…Creating new rules for engagement for chess, it will be helpful as well for bringing democracy to my country….It’s too long for my country ( of Putin’s tenure in office) but it will not be as long as everyone believes. I know we can bring change to the government…We have a joke in Russia … there are two political parties, the problem is Medvedev doesn’t know which party he belongs to.”
Then there is Karpov’s association with other controversial figures. The Bulgarian super-organizer is widely thought of as the most unpopular figure in the chess world. No doubt Karpov has lost potential votes with this aliance.
Finally , the last part of how Karpov has found himself in such an awkward position so quickly is that he underestimated the incumbent FIDE president, who is a proven master of political survival. Possibly seen as some sort of an asset by the Kremlin leaders, especially given that there will be elections in the republic of Kalmykia in the near future, Ilyumzhinov’s style is apparently more palatable than Karpov. The tragedy is that rather than be seen to be representing real change, Karpov and his campaign is seen by the Kremlin to represent more of the corrupt ways of the past.
A master of political survival.
It is not clear where the Karpov campaign goes from here…but there is no doubt that Karpov will not survive another black week like this. Perhaps it is time for him to start believing in miracles…
Medvedev, Sarkozy may discuss warship deal at St. Petersburg forum
Russia has negotiated the purchase of at least one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, worth 400-500 million euros (around $540-$675 million) and plans to build three more vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS. France insists on selling two vessels and building another two in Russia.
Medvedev and Sarkozy will deliver speeches, hold bilateral talks and take part in Russian-French business discussions during the forum, which will bring together Russian and international economists, politicians and officials.
Arkady Dvorkovich said the helicopter carrier deal “may be touched upon” at the forum.
The head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation said in late April that Russia and France would sign the agreement on the purchase of a Mistral-class ship by the end of the year.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.
Support for Dvorkovich by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Kosteniuk, female World Champion is an enormously popular figure in the chess world
On the popular chess site Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/
) was reproduced an open letter by Kosteniuk, in which the female World Champion cleverly refused
to take sides in the FIDE election battle between Karpov and Ilyumzhinov but insisted
to make clear that she fully supported
Dvorkovich’s attempts to clean house in the Russian Chess Federation.
Zhukov and Kosteniuk. Cleaning up the Russian Chess Federation.
Kosteniuk alludes to ‘interference’ in the running of the affairs of the Russian Chess Federation by Karpov and Kasparov for the purpose of trying to gain some advantage in the upcoming FIDE elections. She concludes her letter with. ”Therefore, I would like to support the position Arkady V. Dvorkovich and encourage people who are not indifferent to the future of chess in Russia, to soberly assess the situation, try to find compromises, and not to destroy what there is by building castles in the air.”
The full text of the letter can be found at the link below:http://reports.chessdom.com/news-2010/kosteniuk-supports-dvorkovich
As an aside. Kosteniuk’s letter has been (purposely ?) mis-interpreted in the english chess media as a letter of support for Ilyumzhinov in the coming elections. I am not certain how anyone can draw that conclusion by carefully reading the letter. Kosteniuk focuses only on the internal problems of the Russian Chess Federation and on the structural changes that Dvorkovich is carrying out in compliance with the wishes of Medvedev.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS