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Go Karpov!

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And take Ilyumzhinov with you! This Spanish article in Marca talks with Anatoly Karpov about chess politics and the world championship. Some excerpts edited for brevity:

Chess needs to return to the past, to go back 40 years to be reborn today. We need to recover the image of chess, which has been ruined by the terrible management of FIDE, the organization presided over by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who has driven away sponsors and devalued the importance of the world championship title.

I'm seriously considering a run for the FIDE presidency. There are two other possible candidates apart from the current president, one of whom is Dutch millionaire Bessel Kok (former president of the Grandmaster Association (GMA)), with whom I share the idea that we must radically change both professional and amateur chess.

The first change that needs to be made is to create a system of competition in which all the best players always participate. Sponsors want big names like Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov... Do you think anyone outside of the chess world knows the names of the players who have won the last few world championships? I think not. The latest systems used to determine the title have been catastrophic and the professional players are paying the consequences: fewer tournaments, worse prizes, etc.

Regarding Topalov: It's hard to know what the best system is to find the champion. The double round-robin with eight players is better than what we had before. Topalov was a deserving winner in San Luis because he had the ambition that the others lacked, he played to win from the start, and he also had a bit of luck in his first game against Peter Leko.

All sounds good, but what about action? I suppose it's too much to ask for concrete proposals when he hasn't formally tossed his hat into the ring yet. But I spend too much time on non-chess politics to have much patience for people who just talk about how the other guy ruined things and how he'd make it all better.


Well there you go Mig. Karpov let the cat out of the bag now. he mentioned Bessel Kok.

I dont know anyone but I get a feeling in my gut that I would like to see Bessel Kok get the FIDE Presidency.

It looked to me like he was responsible for raising about $3 for the Kasparov Anand match. so I like that. I have this feeling that Bessel will be able to get corporate sponsorship into chess.

Karpov is of course a great player. but that does not make him a good business man. a good business man understands the issues to gaining corporate sponsorship. so until I read more information I will be supporting Bessel Kok.

of course my support is not worth much. no one is interested in the opinions of the lowly player way down the list. but that is ok.

Karpov says he does not know the best system. well I would be more in support of the san luis type tournament to pick the challenger. then the winner of san luis plays the champion in a match. that seems simple and obvious. why do they never seem to mention that possibility. also Karpov was world champion and has spent his life at the top. he should have an opinion of how to pick the world champion especially if he wants to run for fide presidency. that he cops out on giving and opinion does not give me confidence in his leadership.


Oops. minor error.

Bessel Kok raised $3 million not $3. I hope everyone caught my typo error.

It kind of makes me laugh.


Thanks for the link, Mig.

Karpov doesn't have to say what his plans are. He has to meet individually with all the delegates and convince them to vote for him. Each delegate has his/her own agenda.

He has to do this starting now. That's why he announced he was thinking of running - to start people thinking.

And, if he is to be a good president of FIDE, then he should make any plans collaborative efforts- not formulate them himself, as the current dictator does.

Tommy, Don't sell yourself so short. Bessel Kok would be an outstanding choice for the FIDE Presidency. Karpov brings way too much baggage and, in my mind, would be another you can be first after me chairman.

Any discussion of change in FIDE's leadership *must* begin with an understanding of how politics are actually done in that organization. Too often, you see people railing at Ilyumzhinov without having the slightest understanding of what it would take to replace him.

Let's face it: the delegates have consistently voted for Kirsan. If he's that bad, why do they keep voting for him? Are there any factors we don't know about? Is FIDE in a severe financial crisis, to the extent that it'd go belly-up if Kirsan withdrew his financial support? Are there any vested interests? From what I've read, many of the national federations are delinquent on their membership dues (due to financial difficulties). If so, that'd make it easy for Kirsan to bribe them to vote for him.

We can argue the merits of individual candidates all day. Saying "Bessel Kok for president," "Lautier for president," or "Karpov for president" won't do a damn bit of good unless we are able to influence the electoral process, or at least understand it. Can anyone with an insider knowledge of FIDE politics shed some light on what it would take to get a well-connected, well-funded president such as KI replaced?

Wow, Mig!

Was it a concealed jab at Garry's "non-chess" political activity?

There's another point I'd like to make: the whole discussion of replacing Ilyumzhinov often begins with dissatisfaction over the world championship rules. But that's just one small facet of FIDE's responsibilities. FIDE has a host of other responsibilities, including ratings, titles, promoting chess, olympiads, junior events, women's events, regional championships, world cups, and so forth. On the whole, it seems to be doing a reasonably good job of it.

If you want to see an example of a failed organization, look at the USCF. They can't even organize a US championship on an annual basis. By comparison, FIDE is doing pretty well. Perhaps that's why the delegates keep voting for Ilyumzhinov. They may have the bigger picture on mind. We, as chess fans, tend to focus on a few high-profile events. In doing so, it's possible we ignore all of the things that FIDE does right.

Replacing Ilyumzhinov begins with moral conduct. But *that is* just one small facet of of FIDE's responsibilties...very small. The majority of delegates "keep voting for Ilyumzhinov" because he has deep pockets.

As far as I can tell, moral conduct hasn't a requirement for becoming FIDE prez in the last 20 years or so.

macuga, I never said it was a requirement, but your last statement solidifies my viewpoint. Thanks.

Yes, I'm sure it solidifies your viewpoint in some mysterious way that isn't apparent to anyone else. The reality is, Ilyumzhinov will not be replaced on moral conduct. It has to be something concrete.

Karpov mentions Bessel Kok. Wasn’t he supposed to be the one to present a business plan to FIDE to form a professional management sector of FIDE as decided in the Prague agreements? If he couldn’t manage that, how can he be counted on to do anything other than donate his money or raise it from his wealthy associates? Isn’t that the identical thing that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is doing?

Here is his mandate quoted from the Prague agreements:

“The professional chess world requires a professional management body to be constituted on the basis of a business plan, which will be submitted by Bessel Kok and to be discussed and agreed with the World Chess Foundation and the FIDE Presidential Board within 90 business days after May 6, 2002. on approval of the business plan, FIDE shall issue a license (excluding Einstein Group pre-unification events) to this body to manage professional chess as a profitable business.”

I think Karpov would be the best president of FIDE. I hope he has observed Kirsan well enough to learn how he should play this gambit.

Something concrete like the "bigger picture." Enough pontification, it may not be apparent to you and that's fine, but don't speak for everyone else. Unless of course, you really do believe we are all entitled to your opinion. Take care.

Even if FIDE did run everything else brilliantly (which they don't) and only messed up the world title, that is more than enough to condemn them. You have to understand that the world title is everything in global chess. Having the world title demeaned and worthless will cause untold thousands of potential new players to lose interest in chess over the years. Thus, messing up top-level chess will mess up the lower levels of chess too. Just because you don't see it yet does not mean it is not happening. Things take time.

Knight_tour -- I am actually neither condemning or condoning FIDE. My only intent was to try to understand why KI is still president, if things are supposedly so bad. This is not a rhetorical question; I honestly want to know, but don't have enough information.

The only two possibilities are that (a) the delegates know something we don't, or have other interests than the WC; or (b) we are right and they are wrong, despite their more extensive involvement in chess organization. The latter is certainly possible, but it's best to know more before claiming to know.

Michael: keep on spouting vague platitudes. After all, if you say nothing of substance, no one can refute your words.

macuga, You may want to ask youself why you need to refute? I was only expressing my humble opinion. By the way, knight-tour gets it.

I think the problem you are looking for is that the delegates from countries that don't really have much chess have far too much power relative to the countries that really do play lots of chess. Why should Uganda (to pick someplace randomly) have as much influence on the chess world as a Germany, Russia, or England? They obviously shouldn't (Yet! Give Uganda a few thousand years and maybe they will be a chess mecca). Ilyumzhinov is able to retain power by using his money and influence to buy off all these delegates from the so-far inconsequential chess playing countries. That is my opinion anyhow. It also doesn't help that some former Eastern Bloc countries' delegates would rather vote for a corrupt person, as long as he is one of theirs, rather than vote for a Westerner. Maybe this is an advantage for Karpov, since he is also from Russia. Bessel Kok may be the best choice of the lot we can see now, but he probably cannot buy enough votes.

Quote Karpov:

"Chess needs to return to the past, to go back 40 years to be reborn today"

"Sponsors want big names like Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov..."

Very modern approach indeed... What will Karpov suggest next? That we crown him eternal World Champion?

knight_tour: Yes, that sort of UN-like situation is what I suspected was going on with FIDE. That's a pity.

Given the recent dream-team nomination of Bessel Kok and Ali Nihat Yazici (both of whom have business and organizational experience and a solid track record of promoting chess causes), let's hope the delegates can put aside their differences for once and vote for someone who really can resolve the current mess in FIDE.

Can there be any doubt that the current FIDE leadership needs to be replaced?

Topalov turns down $1.4 million from Kramnik (apparently under pressure from FIDE)

Unbelievable, but not surprising. FIDE under its current chieftainship will only continue to stonewall any and all negotiations to unify the World Chess Championship. Ilyumzhinov and his henchmen once again prove that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." It's good to see Havel's endorsement of Kok.

Unbelievable, but not surprising. FIDE under its current chieftainship will only continue to stonewall any and all negotiations to unify the World Chess Championship. Ilyumzhinov and his henchmen once again prove that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." It's good to see Havel's endorsement of Kok.

Apologies for the double entry but supposedly there was a problem with the first.

"a dream team of Bessel Kok and Ali Nihat Yazici"??? Yeah right... Yazici is the man who forced the professional players to create the ACP after the scandalous European Championship in Turkey 2003! All the players were frustrated with his behaviour! Take a look: http://www.gmsquare.com/PressReleaseEngl4jul.html

For Respect to Mig and the other members, i can't write mi oppinion of Topalov decision. What a piece of €#@$&☼♪♥◄♣8♀♣§ you are Topalov !

Mr. Yazici never forced any professional player to create the ACP. That was the decision of an initiative group of players under their own volition. Also, many players complimented the orginizer's for their efforts. Personally, from what I've read and understood, I think that there is a lot of room for improvement and hopfully they have learned from this so-called fiasco.

mig are you ever going to post on the recent bid by Kramnik as posted on chessbase.com? :)

Why bother :) Didn't we all know it was coming anyhow? FIDE is desperate to destroy chess and will never do anything that might bring it back together again. Topalov, if he were smart, would admit that the FIDE title means nothing in reality, other than that it was a very nice tournament win, and play the classical championship match with Kramnik with or without FIDE's ok.

Thank you very much, Topalov. Kramnik finally comes out of his cave and you turn him down.

I'm starting to believe that only my grandsons will have a chance to watch unification.


before judging Topalov, you have to know the pressures which surround him. FIDE dictate a lot and I'm sure they are responsible to his negative reply.
Personally, I'd rather see a Topalov - Anand match then Kramnik (is he in the top 10?).

In any case, it's very good news for the chess world with Bessel Kok and Ali Nihat's ticket for presidency. Let's hope that all countries use this unique chance of giving chess what it deserves - a strong, fair and responsible leadership.


very good move by Topalov regardless of Fide's stand. No way does Kramnik deserve any kind of match. First he should play a few low rated tourneys and see whether he still remembers the rules. Unification? with what? Only interesting match now would be Topalov - Anand.

Probably comments like these show the sad lack of respect by the spectators. Unbelievable how arrogant the audience can be.
Chess can be very deillusionating sometimes.

The Kok-Yazici ticket has no chance at all. The maximum they can get is 15-20 European votes plus 5-10 from America. And that is from a total of 150 votes (100-105 of them loyal to Kirsan).

So don't get too excited, Kirsan has already won the elections and the other candidates are just receiving some free media exposure...

"...the Topalov side voiced FIDE reservations about a possible defeat of Mr. Topalov and possibly resulting consequences in chess politics." Chessbase News 11/15

Very amusing. A few weeks ago Topalovians thought Kramnik too weak to play a WCC match. Now, when the money's on the table and it's put up or shut up time, they're afraid of losing the match!

If the world's top active players, the San Luis 8, are barred by FIDE from playing a classical WCC match, then what can Kramnik do but challenge Kasparov?

What an interesting decision for Garry. If he wins, he avenges London 2000, the only blemish on his record. If he loses...

Isn't Garry now just about as old as Karpov was when the last Kasparov-Karpov match was played?

Greg Koster, you are just reproducing the Kramnik point of view.

Why should Topa play for the same amount as Leko did last year? It's obvious that if Kramnik raises the stakes Topa would agree...

Well Giannis,

Topalov just sat down in San Luis to play 14 games for a shot at the top prize of $300,000.

If he takes on the lowly Kramnik for 14 games (and obviously crushes him) he makes $500,000 guaranteed, PLUS the winner's share AND he'd retain the FIDE title.

Sounds like a good reason to me.

Greg, 500,000 to you may look cool, but Topa says he is worth 1,000,000. Since all of this "unification" bla-bla is completely unofficial, of course everyone can negotiate and demand anything. I don't blame Topa for that.

Mr Koster - when Topalov sat down in San Luis to play for a paltry 300K, he was not WC.

Now he is WC, so the price went up - a lot.

Ludicrous, the amount of money these people demand (more to the point, Toppy), considering that they are hardly same kind of chess geniuses as all the famous World Champions, nor anywhere close to being household names.
Just shows that playing chess is secondary on Toppy's agenda.

Dont be foolish giannis, topalov will NEVER get a better deal than this again in his wildest dreams. Now we know who is truly against unification.

The ChessBase article did seem very one-sided: it looks like they just reproduced the press release from some wannabe promoter without getting the other side of the story. Maybe that is why Mig hasn't posted on it yet - wanting to find out how accurate this information is. Give Topalov a chance to explain his position before you come down too hard on him.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 13, 2005 3:58 PM.

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