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FIDE Mud Wrestling

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International chess politics has gotten even uglier lately. Anatoly Karpov has been considering a run for the FIDE presidency, which I tipped back in March. His occasionally scurrilous interview set the bar very low, but FIDE looks up to the challenge with replies from Azmaiparashvili and Makropoulos. Both FIDE honchos have histories of browbeating and double-dealing, while Karpov has rarely seen a back he wouldn't stick a knife into, several times switching sides so quickly it was hard to tell who he betrayed first.

Then we have Ilyumzhinov, an autocrat's autocrat, who, it must be said, seems to have finally come around to a classical cycle after eight years of trying to destroy 100 years of tradition, assuaged somewhat by plowing millions of dollars into the game himself. Quite a merry crew, although I think Ilyumzhinov means well, albeit in a kill-the-patient sort of way. I'm so happy about San Luis and the proposed cycle to follow that I could head-butt a cop or two myself.

Karpov is a chess legend and is a big enough name to make a dent in Ilyumzhinov's lock on power in FIDE, if only because he'd almost certainly have the support of the Russian federation. Karpov has been on every side of the world championship discussion over the years, changing as it suited him best. It sounds like he'd make a deal with Kramnik as FIDE prez.

The miracle would be to hear a concrete platform from anyone instead of everyone waiting for a deal to come along. On the other hand, Ilyumzhinov had ideas, just bad ones. The Daily Dirt platform: WCh cycle with long match final, a more dynamic rating formula, elimination of drug testing (national federations can do as they like; some need it for funding), classical time control for Olympiads and other FIDE events, fiscal transparency and active development of regional and global corporate sponsorship (priority to title sponsors for the WCh and the rating list), raising the rating requirement for the GM title to 2600, elimination of women's titles, trial adoption of a version of the Corsica/Sofia rules against short draws, health care and/or retirement fund for lifelong professional players, free beer and pizza for the press at all events. What did I leave out?


What matters to me here is this, honestly: How does Kasparov feel about the possibility of Karpov becoming FIDE president? Would Kasparov support such a move? I would like to know what Kasparov thinks should be done.

As Frederic Friedel of ChessBase admitted, the English translation of Karpov's words was incorrect. In actual fact Karpov did not use profane language.

Slightly off topic:
I hope a new president of Fide will try to correct the title inflation caused by Campo and Kirsan. A new title of EGM (Elite Grand Master) for the top 50 or 100 could be a good idea.

As for the Daily Dirt platform idea, I think the GM title requirement should not be tied to Fide rating but Fide ranking. That way ratings inflation would never lead to title inflation. Just award the GM (or EGM) title to players who reach the top 100 and stay there for a certain number of games, while playing a required number of other top 100 players with a performance rating of over the rating of the current top 100 player.

Oh ! I like the last statement: "... free beer and pizza for the press at all event" :)

About Daily Dirt platform:

Dingding is absolutely right about GM title.

But it is time to officially add the two new titles commonly used by chess press:
1) SGM
2) CL
Please try to guess what they means, I've got a beautiful prize for the winner.

About female title, despite I know this is not the right blog for this very discussed subject, I really do not understand what's wrong, what disturbs, in WGM and WIM title...
Who of you does not agree or does not like to see women playing chess or needs to read carefully a good book about psychologic.

The idea of free bear and pizza is quite good despite I would add a choose for vine and pasta...

"What did I leave out?" - Mig

Only open swiss upto cat-12. Roung Robin banned

Why doesn't Kasparov become prez of FIDE. It would a) be one last triumph over Karpov, b) give Kasparov some more political leverage--rather than being a rogue leader, and c) get him back in chess; he could even d) arrange for himself to participate in a title match

Heh, those all sound like good reasons for Kasparov NOT to be FIDE president.

I thought about having the title requirement be based on ranking instead of rating, but with a more dynamic rating formula people can pop up and down a lot. That will also affect rating, but you could more easily track it, saying you have to maintain it for six months, that sort of thing. Ranking also makes it a constantly moving target, which is both hard to track and potentially incredibly frustrating.

Eliminating women's titles does not prevent women from playing chess or people from watching them play chess. If someone wants to organize a women-only event of course they can do so.

I can't decide which contribution to the "debate" that was lowest and most unworthy -- Karpov's original interview, filled with lies and grave baseless accusations, or Azmai's response. Probably the former, but still:

"Unfortunately for Karpov, his history is well-known and published everywhere. The match he never played against Fischer, the way he beat Korchnoi, the involvement of the Soviet mechanism in his first match against Kasparov, his becoming World Champion in 93 after having lost to Short in the semifinals etc."

Of course, regardless of what you think of all this, nothing of it was Karpov's fault. What Soviet mechanism? The USSR Chess Federation called for the match to be suspended for three months, but instead it was stopped altogether robbing Karpov of a 5-3 lead. And "the way he beat Korchnoi"?! By playing better chess, that is?

I think raising the requirement to 2600 for the GM title is the most unlikely of your suggestions. It's the equivalent of FIDE giving money away and reducing world wide recognition of the sport on purpose.

Acirce -- I think he was referring to the Soviet Union holding Korchnoi's family hostage. That being said, I think it's ridiculous to blame Karpov for that or his obtaining the FIDE title after losing to Short (given that Short withdrew from FIDE). Karpov may have benefited from external influences in his world championship matches, but I've never heard credible evidence that Karpov created those conditions.

In any case "holding Korchnoi's family hostage" is an interesting way of overdramatizing something that was, well, nothing special. What exactly does it mean? That they couldn't leave the USSR? Could Karpov? Why was that so horrible for Korchnoi? As for his son being a draft dodger, obviously that was not Karpov's fault either.

The other issue with doing FIDE titles based on ranking (or basically rating right?) is that it is well known that there are european players who essentially buy rating points, I guess they could also do it with norms, but it's a lot easier for a player to buy 1 game than it is to buy 6. If you force norm tournaments to have a certain percentage of foreign players, it becomes difficult to do the same thing.

Acirce -- Are you being sincere? Korchnoi was a highly public defector. The Soviet Union would not allow his family to leave the country to join him. Korchnoi had every reason to fear what would be done to his family in retaliation for his success over the board (or simply for defecting in the first place). Ever heard of forced labor camps? Siberia? All sorts of bad things could reasonably happen to his family. If the fear of harm to his family wasn't enough, surely being separated from his family for years was a horrible situation for Korchnoi. Again, I fail to see how Karpov is at fault for any of this.

Acirce, would you care to explain how after setting so many questions about the Karpov - Korchnoi match and thus demonstrating total ignorance of the well-known events, you arrive at the conclusion that "nothing of it was Karpov's fault"?

Incidentally, any news of police brutality in Stockholm?


I like your wish list, but some things, as you are probably aware yourself are impractical.

FIDE is not particularly awash in funds. Their only cash cow is title applications. And you want to make the GM title harder to get, not to mention all women's titles? Fat chance of that happening. Hey, FIDE will even award title to journos like yourself for a lil green (master scribe, international scribe, grand scribe?). I expect title proliferation, not contraction. As such, maybe the title of SGM (super grand master) is more practical.

Regular Chess Cycle and long final are things we cant really criticize, but where is the money? I remember you were arguing Kirsan wanted Kasparov back because of his ability to attract big bucks, but was Kasparov really able to do that? And if the great Kasparov cant attract bucks for a long match, what chance do others have? Maybe if Anand, Polgar or Topalov win, there may be interest in a match with Kramnik, but what happens after that?

Ditto for health care / retirement fund. You cant even pay salaries and you want a retirement fund?

And why do you want to avoid drug testing? If drugs are harmful and chess players are guilty of using them to enhance performance (regardless of whether they enhance or not), why not ask for more drug testing. Last thing we need is a bunch of 10 year olds taking drugs to improve performance.

Finally, can you extend the beer / pizza to the time-wasting audience too?


those titles would have to be Senior Grand Master and Chess Legend.

Buttmonkey, as far as Karpov's culpability is concerned, it is difficult to prove or disprove it. True, the "credible evidence" is hard to come by, we only can hope that some archive materials will turn up one day.

However, one thing can be concluded with a fair degree of certainty. Karpov was always a willing participant in the vicious campaign the communist Russian authorities mounted against Korchnoi. He (Karpov) was always in a position to say: "Stop all that business, we will play and let the better player win" - like Spassky did in Reykjavik, for example. Instead Karpov chose to be a happy beneficiary of the generous gift. In my view, that makes him at least partially responsible, even if he was not the one who incarcerated Igor Korchnoi himself.

The titles I believe are Super Grand Master and Chess Loser... but now I have a question: can one person hold both?

"Stop all that business, we will play and let the better player win" - like Spassky did in Reykjavik, for example. Posted by dz

Yes, but not everyone is willing to risk having to leave his comfortable position and run to another country in case of a loss.

"Yes, but not everyone is willing to risk having to leave his comfortable position and run to another country in case of a loss."

True, and Karpov made his preferences abundantly clear.

"Sexy Grand Master" & "Chess Lover" :p

Fewer than 1500 women hold gender-restricted FIDE titles at any level (WFM, WIM, WGM). By way of comparison, there are over 5,000 FMs and over 3,000 IMs (some of whom, of course, are women).

Since the minimum rating for the WFM title is 2100, if the concern in eliminating gender-restricted titles is about lost revenue, FIDE could solve this problem simply by awarding a FIDE Superior Amateur title (open to both men and women) with a minimum rating of 2000. There are currently over 45,000 players with ratings between 2000 and 2299.


As long as the word "amateur" is in the actual title, it shouldn't dilute the value or honour of the existing titles. And it should more then make up for any lost title application fees for gender-restricted titles. ;)


Buttmonkey, OK, a lot of talk about "fear" and what "could" happen. True, him "fearing" this and that doesn't strike me as implausible, especially since obviously he also believed in parapsychology and stuff. But I agree, a lot of things "could" happen in any country. Now, what did actually happen? His family got arrested and tortured or what? Well, his son got arrested for dodging the draft, but regardless of what you may think about that, it's not a law they made up just for him.

"If the fear of harm to his family wasn't enough, surely being separated from his family for years was a horrible situation for Korchnoi." Okay, why did he defect in the first place then? "Oops, my family, I knew there was something I forgot."

I don't see how you can blame anyone except Korchnoi for this.

dz, "would you care to explain how after setting so many questions about the Karpov - Korchnoi match and thus demonstrating total ignorance of the well-known events, you arrive at the conclusion that "nothing of it was Karpov's fault"?"

Good point. "Nobody has shown any evidence that it would be Karpov's fault", then.

sgm=super grand master
cl=chess legend

acirce -- Whether Korchnoi voluntarily chose to defect without his family is irrelevant. How can you possibly fail to acknowledge it would be horrible to be separated from his family under those circumstances? No matter whose "fault" it was, that separation had to be painful. And while his family was fortunate that they didn't suffer severe reprisals, it is terribly unreasonable to act like Korchnoi had no reason to fear such reprisals. If I put a gun to your head, but don't pull the trigger, can I then say it's silly for you to complain about the unrealized "fear" I caused?

And given the fact that Korchnoi was willing to defect without his family, does that suggest something about the living conditions in the former Soviet Union? Maybe the right conclusion isn't that Korchnoi didn't value his family, but that the situation was so awful that separating from his family was the lesser of two evils.

While Korchnoi may have been a paranoid, superstitious nut (i.e., belief in parapsychology), that doesn't mean he was incapable of suffering. Even if Korchnoi isn't/wasn't your hero, you can still try to show a little compassion.

I'm not saying Korchnoi didn't suffer (although I don't know how much he really cared about his family) I'm just saying it was his own fault. I know you for one aren't blaming Karpov but quite a few people are blaming the Soviet authorities.

"If I put a gun to your head, but don't pull the trigger" But there was no gun. Can you tell me about any occasion where the Soviet authorities did anything equivalent to putting a gun to someone's head in this story? Did they make any explicit threats? Or was it all just a figment of someone's imaginations?

I am unaware of any specific threats against Korchnoi's family, but then again, I haven't really made a study of the situation. I think you are being willfully ignorant of the practices of the Soviet system.

I cannot speak specifically to the situation of any individuals mentioned above, but it was quite common at that time for those with some celebrity status (musicians, athletes, etc) to be required to travel without their family.

And there were a number of cases where, having previously discussed it with the family, the decision was made that the person allowed to travel WOULD defect, and then try to bring pressure to allow the family to join them.

As late as 1996 at the Olympics in Atlanta, for example, 5 athletes defected without their families, and then sought to have their families join them. (3 Cubans, an Iraqi, and an Afghani.)

And in an even more recent example, Yankees baseball pitcher Jose Ariel Contreras had to wait two years after he defected before he could get his wife and two young daughters out of Cuba.

Opportunties to defect are limited, and opportunities to defect while travelling with one's families are even rarer.

Come to think of it, I think you're right. Karpov had to play under extreme pressure, since if he lost to a defector, he would almost inevitably be thrown into a labour camp and tortured. Korchnoi on the other hand had a huge advantage over him, since he had managed to escape to the Free World, where such things don't happen, while Karpov was stuck inside the Evil Empire with all its evil practices. Makes sense when you start thinking about it and don't play ignorant.

Sarcasm aside - I just don't share your basic premises about the Soviet Union. Since you're unaware of specific threats it seems hard to discuss it further in a constructive way.

With regard to military service, Korchnoi's son had had his application to emigrate in place for over a year prior to being called for military service.

Again, I can't speak to any specifics of that case, but it was not uncommon at that time for those with emigration requests pending to decline military service for three reasons:

a) some felt that they had already transferred allegiance to their new country and did not want to be in a situation which might be against its interests

b) many feared that a new country would refuse them if they had recently been in military service elsewhere

c) there had been some cases where emigration requests had been denied to those who had been in military service on the ground that they knew "state secrets."

It would not be surprising if one or more of these applied in the Korchnoi case, but again I don't know if any specific reasons were given.

It's interesting how Azmai stops at 1993 and leaves out the enormous advantage Karpov received by Kirsan's FIDE in the 1998 WC, getting to take on an exhausted challenger.

"I am unaware of any specific threats against Korchnoi's family"

Buttmonkey, what are you talking about? Korchnoi's son Igor was arrested and jailed after he applied for a visa to leave Russia, got his application turned down, was driven out of college he was attending and lost his draft deferment as a result. No one was making any pretenses about all that being anything but payback at his father. It could fool no one, with a possible exception of our esteemed friend acirce.

Igor Korchnoi was allowed to leave for Switzerland soon after the Merano match, when his father was deemed no longer dangerous to the system's darling Anatoly.

Btw, for those who know Russian, there is an amazing text available on the web: http://lib.sportedu.ru/press/szr/1999N3/p60-63.htm

It is an interview (taken in 1999, obviously) titled: "12 questions the 12th world champion has never been asked before." In there, Karpov makes a number of statements incredible beyond belief - at least to people who had a chance to observe events as they were unfolding.

For instance, when asked about the reason the 1985 match was interrupted, Karpov says no one knows it except Campomanes and then goes on to assert that it was instigated by Aliev (the Azeri party boss) who was acting as Kasparov's proxy.

Similarly, the subject of Korchnoi matches is covered in great detail. Karpov claims that he was a good friend of Igor Korchnoi's and interceded on his behalf trying to get him out of jail, but, alas, the Politburo old men in Moscow disagreed.

There are many more amazing revelations in the article. Given the unsurpassed cynicism displayed by the chess maestro, I suppose, he would indeed make an excellent poltician.

Ok gansy wins the prize...

New FIDE title SGM means SuperGrandMaster and CL means ChessLegend.

Sorry dingding you were wrong but your SeniorGrandMaster indeed can be another good idea.

Seth Hama, you were wrong too, FIDE title ChessLoser cannot be acceptable...FIDE is a serious organization you know.

HoreyHush I like a lot your idea SGM as SexyGrandMaster and CL as ChessLoser but it does not work for the same reason, FIDE is too serious for this.

Ah, gansy, for your prize, you have to come in Italy were a free bear with pizza is waiting for you.


In case you have a wife and children, I hope that someday you'll experience the joy of not being able to bring back your family together. Let's say you left for business and because someone said nobody can leave or come to the country where you are for an unknown duration. Would you enjoy the experience?

Sadly for you we could all say it was your fault because you left. ;-)

How can you pretend not knowing was happening in Germany and other countries from the East block those days????! Are you blind? What they were doing was as silly as what we north americans did in Central and South America. Period!!!!


I hope I'll never have a good friend that will say something about me like Karpov did. With da kinda friends ain't ennemies required. ;-)


I will give you shout when we take our roman holiday:)

free pizza. yes
free beer. yes
free bear. no thank you


This thread has shown how difficult elucidating these moral and political isues can be. Also, it seems we are left with no viable candidates and only the partially accepted DD platform. We could try attacking the problem from a different direction: I propose eliminating all (living) chess celebrities that have been involved in physical violence. At least, this is a more or less clear criterion. According to reports I have seen on the net, this criterion would eliminate Korchnoi, who engaged in below the table kicking against Petrosian during their 1978 match. Benko and Fischer would also be eliminated because they had a short fist fight during Curazao (1962?). My idol, Kasparov would be eliminated for throwing the chair after his loss to the machine. His excellency, the FIDE guy one who beaned the policeman would be out of the list too. Short was recently involved in a minor car accident...

Which past classical cycle placed the defending champion in the semi-final of the new cycle? If Karpov wins the championship, I expect two things: Kasparov never returning to chess and a very, how shall I put it, flexible in principles organization.

As for Korchnoi-Karpov. Well, the truth is, that Karpov beat Korchnoi in his prime twice, using superior chess. He beat him before Korchnoi immigrated, when he couldn't have been worrying about son and wife. He beat him after he immigrated, but while Viktor won 5 games against him, which means that Viktor was not so concerned about his family as to let Andrei win. What about the conspiracy theories? Well, there is no evidence proving most of them, such as effectiveness of psychologist or yogurt as a strategy, and Korchnoi's behavior is far from above reproach as well. I think the truth is that a lot of their warfare was psychological. And Korchnoi didn't have what it takes to win it. He was crushed, which led to Merano.

As for Korchnoi's children and wife, just because they were left in USSR, doesn't mean they would have been killed and/or sent to Siberia. As it turns out, they weren't. It is informative that cooked up as the charge against his son might have been, it still took the form of an introduction of a legal charge, and an accurate one at that, as opposed to say an overnight disappearance. But that's not really here or there. If Korchnoi was that concerned about them, he should have not immigrated or waited till he could defect with them. That is just simple fact. We can all appreciate Viktor's sacrifices but he knew what he was getting into.

And calling into question his living conditions is rather overexaggerating things. Being a WGM, he was living better than most Soviet citizens, probably on the level slightly below middle-class American. Korchnoi's reasons for immigration had nothing to do with welfare or freedom of speech. While it was justified and justifiable, it was a career move.

According to a January 1982 New York Times article written just after the Merano match, Korchnoi's son was in fact sent to a labor camp in Siberia. The article included an interview with Mrs. Korchnoi herself.

"Mrs. Korchnoi packed her bags and headed off to Kurgan, a remote Siberian railway town 1,000 miles east of Moscow, where her son Igor, aged 22, is serving a 30-month sentence in a labor camp for refusing military service...At the Kurgan camp, where he is allowed to see his mother twice a year for up to three days at a time, Igor has come in for his share of harassment over his father."

Yep, NYTimes has nothing to do with western propaganda to be sure. Evil Russia vs. Good USA! i also believe everything they write about Fischer.

"I'm so happy about San Luis and the proposed cycle to follow that I could head-butt a cop or two myself."

May be totally irrelevant, but that really made me laugh

Well, that's why I gave the source, which was the only one I could find at the moment.

But since someone had said Korchnoi's son was never in any danger of being sent to Siberia, an odd statement since he WAS in fact sent to a labor camp in Kurgan, it just seemed to be a question of geography, not its significance. And the New York Times is usually quite good on geography.



So you agree that restricting peoples from emigrating form USSR was the best way to prove that the system was the best one?! And as you might have read I know that us on the west side of the steel curtain were not behaving more smartly with our paranoļa.

Let's say it was a career move, so keeping him away from his family was the appropriate reaction. Right?

Again! I just hope some of you will experience the joy of being unable to bring your family together when you'd like to do so.

If you think Mr Korcnoi wasn't caring about his family maybe you should say it! And why not saying it while chatting with Mr Korchnoi. It wouldn't be hard to guess what would be his reply. Did one of you saying such dubious things ever met Mr Korchnoi? Some of my friends did and I'm sorry for you saying that what he experienced back then was not so hard is pure bullsh**!

Friends, this thread should not be about Korchnoi or his family. Things were much more complicated and difficult for them than what has been already suggested here, and we must respect their feelings. I am sure they would much rather have us discussing something else.

That's a good point!

Agreed--let's start talking about San Luis instead of Korchnoi. His family and him have suffered enough.

Anand will be the great favorite. He is more solid and stable and he already has all the recognition. He could hold on to the title for many years and this is one of the reasons why he perhaps will not be interested in a match against Kramnik. Curiously, Kasparov's departure made Kramnik's crown less valuable because Kasparov was the one that wanted it the most for several reasons, and he was also the one that somehow could come up with a good prize fund.

Korchnoi and his family are no doubt reading this column and are deeply offended by our discussion of what is after all a family matter.

Let us suppress all debate to avoid any possibility of offending any parties involved.

On second thought, macuga may be right: let's go back to digging in the old news reports to see what juicy details we can find... we can talk behind their backs all we want... the debate must go on...

The point is, those who want to debate can. It does no harm whatsoever. If you are not interested, then you can save valuable eyeball time by doing something else.

Hey, buttmonkey is a great nick. Are you an Angels fan?

Yermo -- "Buttmonkey" comes from an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." One of the characters, Xander, is frustrated at always getting screwed, and the following scene occurred (as recapped by Television Without Pity): At that moment Xander runs into the room, torch in hand, wanting to know, "Where's the creep that turned me into a spider-eating man-bitch?" Buffy replies that he's gone, and Xander says that he's "sick of this crap. I'm sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment. It's over. I'm sick of being everybody's butt-monkey."

dz -- I think you mixed me up with Acirce.

dz -- Whoops. You did quote me, but I think you assumed I shared acirce's viewpoint. I was merely saying I wasn't aware of specific threats (because I wasn't -- I don't know all the details of Korchnoi's past), but I definitely believe the danger/threat was there for him.

"dz -- I think you mixed me up with Acirce"

I think I quoted you accurately, didn't I? In any case, did not mean to offend you, sorry for misunderstanding.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 28, 2005 11:03 PM.

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