SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
”Karpov would be best choice as FIDE chief”– Kasparov
MOSCOW. March 15 (Interfax) – On Monday former world chess champion Garry Kasparov expressed support for an initiative to nominate Anatoly Karpov, another world chess champion, for president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and argued that Karpov would be the best person for the job if general interest in chess were to be revived.
“Currently it’s quite obvious that the FIDE administration is on the sidelines and any attempt to bring chess back to its former status must be linked to the name of someone who has a serious prestige and knows everything. In my view, Karpov might try to essentially change the situation, and I hope that he does have such a chance,” Kasparov told Interfax.
The next election for FIDE president is scheduled for September 2010.
Kasparov said he had talked to Karpov a lot when the two famous grandmasters were playing a match in Seville, Spain marking the 25th anniversary of their first contest for the title of world champion. “Karpov’s principles and views had a very positive impression on me,” Kasparov said.
Earlier, Karpov told reporters that nominating him for FIDE president was at the initiative of the French chess federation that was backed by Spain, Germany and Switzerland.
Who will be the last man standing?
He said he had not yet consented to his nomination as he hoped Russia would put him forward as well.
“Russia may find itself in a strange situation” at the election, Karpov said, if he runs on behalf of Western countries. Russia could put forward incumbent FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia and has headed FIDE since 1995.
Kasparov, in comments on a possible situation of this kind, said: “Choosing between Karpov and Ilyumzhinov would be artificial, to say the least.”
“It will be very disappointing if administrative intrigues get the upper hand when the candidate for Russia is being chosen. And that’s putting it too mildly as well,” Kasparov said.
According to the French press today, Alexander Bakh –President of the powerful Russian Chess Federation–was taken by surprise when he learned that the French Chess Federation put forth Karpov’s candidacy for the Fide presidency. Whom the Russian Federation will support in the upcoming election will be decided at a meeting at the end of this month.
Alexander Bakh is an extremely popular personality inside Russian chess, and has close ties with the Kremlin and Putin. A very efficient administrator, he is ‘apolitical’ and is not expected to pose any difficulties should the powers that be decide that they want Karpov or his adversary to head the international chess federation (FIDE).
That France has put forth Karpov’s candidacy is no real surprise, for France has always wanted to see Karpov seek the FIDE presidency. In 2006 a significant effort was made in this direction, but in the end Karpov decided not to move forward. He felt that circumstances were too favourable for Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
What has changed that now gives Karpov the confidence to go head to head against the popular Kalmykian president? As explained on Saturday’s blog entry, 2 important factors might have convinced Karpov that he has chances to defeat the incumbent president: (1) Karpov is no longer intimidated by Kirsan’s wealth and he could even outspend Kirsan in the campaign , should he wish. (2) It is quite possible that the Kremlin will want to see a change in FIDE leadership, especially after the political decision by Medvedev to reform and houseclean the major sports structures in Russia.
After the disaster in Vancouver, the Russian president (Medvedev) had publically called for the resignations of the heads of the major sports organizations. With the Winter Games in Sochi just 4 years away, Russia will not accept the possibility of another embarrassement. With heads rolling and a spirit of change not seen for some time now in the Kremlin, it is entirely possible that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will lose much of his political support in the Kremlin.
Medvedev awards Olympic athletes, threatens sporting officials
The Russian Olympians who produced successful performances in Vancouver have been greeted by President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting in the Kremlin.
“You did terrifically because you managed to achieve victories in very difficult conditions. Your results will never suffer from corrosion; they have nothing to do with the organization of the preparatory process and the omissions, for which the sporting chiefs must be held accountable. You competed and did everything that was in your power,” he said
The head of the state also pointed out that the results of Vancouver prove that Russia’s Olympic team has “high potential”.
Dmitry Medvedev paid special attention to Russia’s unexpected success in such disciplines as snowboard and skeleton.
“This is very important for us. It was proven by snowboarder Yekaterina Ilyukhina, who won Russia’s first ever silver Olympic medal in this kind of sport, and Alexander Tretyakov, who grabbed the bronze medal in the skeleton,” Medvedev said.
The President explained that the decree was signed on an operational basis in an effort to break away from a tradition which saw the 2008 Beijing Olympics team receive their well-deserved awards only after almost a year’s delay.
“The memories of your success are still fresh; all your emotions are deep within your souls and hearts – this is the perfect background to reward you for your achievements,” he said.
But Medvedev’s stock of warm words ran out when he started speaking about the country’s sporting officials, with the President promising more reshuffles for them.
“We are analyzing the results of the Olympics, both objectively and subjectively. We’ve already came up with a number of personnel decisions. And those decisions aren’t final. I am holding a meeting of the Sports Council under the President of the Russian Federation shortly; it is apparent that some decision will be taken there as well, concerning the federations first of all,” he said.
”But the most important thing now is not the search for mistakes and those to blame, which is also important, but the most important thing is to set a working mood for the future Olympics. Because we have a very good potential,” he added.
The Kremlin was appalled by Russia’s “dismal” performance in Vancouver and called on officials responsible for the preparation of Russia’s Olympic team to quit.
Russia’s Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachev was the first to lose his job after the Games, resigning on March 3.
The Order of Friendship was awarded to skiers Nikita Kryukov, Evgeny Ustyugov and biathletes Svetlana Sleptsova, Anna Bogaliy-Titovets, Olga Medvedtseva and Olga Zaitseva, who grabbed the gold medals. Zaitseva also won silver in Biathlon women’s 12.5 km mass start.
The Order of Merit for the Motherland was awarded to silver-winning figure skater Evgeni Plushenko, speed skater Ivan Skobrev, who took silver and bronze, and biathlete Ivan Cherezov, who grabbed the Olympic bronze.
The Order of Merit for the Fatherland, second class, was awarded to the bobsleigh pair of Alexei Voevoda and Alexander Zubkov, who won bronze medals, figure skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, who took bronze, silver-winning snowboarder Yekaterina Ilyukhina, skiers Irina Khazova, Natalia Korosteleva, who grabbed the bronze, skiers Nikolay Morilov and Alexei Petukhov, who also took bronze medals, skier Alexander Panzhinsky, who won the silver medal, Alexander Tretyakov, who won bronze in skeleton, and biathletes Maxim Chudov and Anton Shipulin, who grabbed the Olympic bronze in the men’s 4×7.5km biathlon relay together with Ivan Cherezov and Evgeny Ustyugov.
Medvedev signed the decree awarding state decorations to Russian athletes shortly after the end of the Olympics, in an effort to break away from tradition which saw the 2008 Beijing Olympics team receive their well-deserved awards only after almost a year delay.
“You went out and you did your best,” he added, addressing the athletes.
The Russian government will pay the medalists a ruble equivalent of 100,000 euros for every gold medal, 60,000 euros for every silver medal, and 40,000 euros for every bronze medal. Each medalist will also receive an Audi car and Omega watch
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS