War of Words
My friend , and one of the game’s best respected and most popular Spanish journalist/TV-commentator Leontxo Garcia , has recently gotten himself into a war of words as a result of a chessbase article that he penned while travelling with Kasparov on his recent trip to México.
Apparently, Leontxo inadvertently opened old war-wounds amongst the Latin and South American chess leadership by not just questioning their conspicuous absence at the opening of the Mexican branch of the Kasparov Chess Foundation, but also speculating that a anti-Kasparov/pro-Ilyumzhinov conspiracy was behind it.
Kasparov is campaigning for the FIDE presidency and many have questioned a conflict of interest of the Kasparov Chess Federation as a direct campaign tool and potentially abusive vote-getting instrument.
Now the powerful president of FIDE AMERICA , Jorge Vega, is spear-heading a call by not less than two other south american chess federation presidents ( Darcy Lima of Brazil and Milton Iturry of Peru) for ChessBase to not just remove Leontxo’s chessbase article, but to publish an apology to all concerned. So far ChessBase has done nothing to comply. Vega had insinuated that legal action might follow…
Adding fuel to the fire, just yesterday one of Spain’s most widely read news outlets published a defiant OPEN LETTER by Leontxo to Vega, Lima and Iturry, refusing to apologize or retract anything that he had written…I will keep my readers on par with how things develop this week.
The FIDE election will take place during the up coming FIDE CONGRESS (11th August) in Tromso, Norway, during the 41st Olympiad. It is expected that 180 countries will participate in the vote. These votes are spread around the globe as such: Europe 54, Africa 41, Asia-Oceana 51 and the America’s 34. Last time around, in 2010, only 150 countries voted, result was 95-55 in Kirsan’s favour against the Karpov/Kasparov ticket.
This time around Kasparov has started his campaign earlier and is visiting virtually every member state that has a vote. Even so, it is widely expected that the America’s will vote for Kirsan by a 29–5 vote and there is little or nothing that Kasparov can do to change this. In 2010 the Karpov/Kasparov team ran a very negative and at times brutal campaign in the America’s, and it will be a long time before he is forgiven. Rather than build trust and unity in their campaign, the Karpov/Kasparov tandem tried to exploit existing polarizations in the chess world for their own benefits.
I wrote here on this blog my opinion of their actions on the 28th of September , 2010, an opinion shared by a great many in the chess world:
”… Karpov and Kasparov began a campaign of character assassination of internationally respected chess personalities who would not join or support their campaign; they systematically worked to undermine democratically elected chess officials in Peru and Argentina by using the tremendous influence that they wielded by way of their cult personalities, and celebrity status to gain easy access to political figures who were ignorant of chess affairs and of chess politics. These campaign tactics were nasty, abusive and unprecedented in FIDE’s long history.”
The 2014 Kasparov campaign has learned from the mistakes made 4 years ago and is now running a much more positive campaign, emphasizing youth-chess (schools) and the importance of change at the top. Never the less, Kasparov has made many enemies in recent times , and the reaction of the chess community in the America’s (South American and Latin America in particular) is very easy to understand. Few believe that Kasparov has changed stripes…It is into this reality that the backlash against Leontxo Garcia’s words can best be understood.