SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”—ALICE IN WONDERLAND
I was following the recent tour of former world champion Anatoly Karpov to Argentina this past week, curious to see how the maestro would try to turn this highly publicized visit to his advantage at this critical stage of the FIDE election campaign. Karpov , while a superstar-celebrity in his own right, is fighting a seemingly lost cause for the FIDE presidency. You would think that this would be the perfect time for a change of strategy.
Karpov with his right hand man, Conn, in Argentina
The incumbent president, Ilyumzhinov, has a huge lead in the polls over his more famous rival. Something like 85 votes to 25 (officially). And what is more curious, Karpov does not have the support of his national federation (Russia). Nor the support of the Argentine federation, which has completely ignored his visit! Nor the support of the vast majority of the world’s grandmasters, nor even the public support of the current World Champion (Anand) , nor the support of Anand’s closest rivals (Kramnik, Topalov etc). Karpov is slated to attend a summit in Africa in a few weeks, but the word is that most of African chess will not attend.
And my Canadian readers know only too well that , despite the open calls of support for Karpov from icons such as yours truly and long-time FIDE representative Phil Haley, the Canadian chess federation has tried to bury from public view (and embarrassement) that it too… will eventually vote for Iluymzhinov.
Ilyumzhinov vs Karpov: Reality vs showmanship?
Something has obviously gone seriously wrong with Karpov’s campaign. Even Kasparov has avoided any public displays of support in recent times. And what is worse, Karpov has resorted to doing that he thought he would never have to do: offer millions of dollars of incentives for votes.
I don’t know how to explain why it has been so difficult for Karpov to get support for his candidacy for the FIDE presidency. I find it hard to understand myself! It very much seems as though Karpov has pushed away those whose votes he needs…
While at a press conference in Buenos Aires, Karpov said this: ”The past 4 days I have been in Buenos Aires, and while my presence has been acknowledged by all the media (press, television and the internet), not once has the president of the Argentine chess federation (or any of his executive) been in contact with me. My visit is not even mentioned on the official federation website. They should have done something: I am a candidate for the FIDE presidency.”
(rough translation of a chessbase article, August 12: http://www.chessbase.com/espanola/newsdetail2.asp?id=8631
Perhaps somewhere in these words the truth for Karpov can be found: could it be that it is Karpov himself who has not reached out to the chess world and its federations? That instead he has been waiting for them to go to him because he is Karpov: superstar, celebrity, legend?
Be that as it may, clearly Karpov –the superstar– has not been enough to convince the chess world….
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS