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Your Questions for Bessel Kok

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Bessel Kok and Ali Nihat Yazici are the "Right Move Team" for the 2006 FIDE presidential election. Their website covers some positions and policy, if not heavy on the specifics. They agreed to an interview that will run here and at ChessBase and I thought I would open up the floor. The best questions will be added to mine and submitted next week, with publication likely to come in January. Please read their website materials, including their bios, to avoid too much redundancy.

Before you ask, I'll be happy to extend the same questions to the current FIDE administration. It would be a positive step if they showed any sort of openness, even if it is only brought on by this first serious challenge to Ilyumzhinov's power. Speaking of, Anatoly Karpov apparently gave an interview in Russia a few days ago confirming that he was running. Having another well-known candidate in the race could have serious strategic consequences. Everyone seems to assume that Ilyumzhinov has already bought off X number of smaller federation votes, though this general assumption of corruption is rarely backed up with anything approaching evidence.


The current issue is: With Ilyumzhinov's current hold on the Fide presidencial office, how do you expect to un-seat him?

Imagine this for the next FIDE election: every GM get's one vote and the candidate who get's the most votes wins.

Ok, it was just a thought experiment, back to earth, but do you think Ilyumzhinov would get re-elected? I certainly don't, and if he did, the GM's would only have themselves to blame, no more room for hypocrisy.

Can the FIDE presidency be won by a plurality of votes, or must the election be won by a majority (after a run-off, if necessary)? If Ilyumzhinov needs only to obtain more votes than anyone else, he could win in a tight race by getting only, say, 30% of the vote. But if he must win with at least 50% of the vote (and there is a run-off system in case no one gets > 50% on the first ballot), then Karpov's entry can't hurt the opposition. In fact, it might help by peeling away a few votes from Ilyumzhinov within the former Soviet bloc.

Which world-wide sports (or hobby) federation do you feel is currently closest to the way you envision FIDE under your leadership?

(Also, can we get rid of the French acronym, and start calling it the ICF?)

If you suggest renaming FIDE, you are sure to unleash an unholy tidal wave of Gaullic outrage over American "cultural imperialism." And for once, they'd probably be right.

Unholy tidal wave of gaullic outrage over american cultural imperialism? Laughable. FIDE has been created by french federation, wether you like it or not. And the Olympic games are a french (modern) creation as well, and as long as they will be a french creation, you'll have to cope with FIDE acronym, and with french speakers at Olympic games. (Shall I add that with Mr Lafayette, we, the french, also took a great part in the creation of the USA?)

I have no problems with english or american words in french. But creating a word, an idea or an acronym gives you a certain amount of historic rights.

Let's go back to the topic. I have strictly no questions to Mr Kok, as I'm 200% convinced that he'd do a great job. As Karpov said, anybody can do better than Kirsan, but Bessel Kok is much better than "anybody", he's the perfect man for the job.

Actually, everyone can also read an exclusive interview on WCN:

Approximately one month ago, November 14th, Mr. Bessel Kok and Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici announced their "new and serious bid" for the Presidency of FIDE at the forthcoming elections in Turin, May 2006. You can read more about the campaign at WCN.

We have, with great help from Mr Geoffrey Borg, arranged an interview with Mr.Bessel Kok.


Question #1:

If you are elected FIDE president how will you attract corporate sponsorship to chess?

Question #2:

Which should be a greater priority for FIDE, improving conditions and prizes for players in the top 20 on the rating list, or improving the lives of the players outside the absolute elite?

Note to just: A few years ago, I wrote that I thought Ilyumzhinov DOES indeed have a large constituency among GMs, in particular among GMs in Russia and (some of) the other former republics of the USSR who are suffering financially from the withdrawal of government support of chess and who are desperate to believe in any scheme that might bring in some money, whether it is "FIDE Commerce" or "copyrighting chess games" or "getting chess in the Olympics" or just the money that Kirsan is able to supply out of the resources of the Kalmykian political economy.

Mostly these schemes have not actually brought in any money, and so maybe there is some disillusionment with Kirsan. Also I suspect there might be less of this among the younger post-Soviet GMs, and none at all among those professionals who have emigrated to the US and Western Europe. But I do think these two things:

(a) No FIDE regime can survive without at least the tacit consent of the majority of the grandmaster base. Since Kirsan has survived, that means he has it. Or has had it.

(b) No attempt to materially change the FIDE regime can succeed without the support of a large minority, and the tacit consent of the majority, of that base. And that means appealing to GMs in the region between Warsaw, Alma-Ata, and Vladivostok.

Therefore, the question I would pose to Bessel Kok, and for that matter to GM Karpov and to Ilyumzhinov, is: "How will your election put more money in the pockets of, or make life better for, the GMs and other top players in the former USSR, the former Warsaw Pact, and the former Yugoslavia?"


I'm interested in Iljumzhinov's bizarre requirement, disseminated on Chessbase.com, that candidates for FIDE president put up US$ 1 million. Is this for real? Does the "Right Move Team" take this seriously, and do they intend to pay the $1 million?

Addendum: with the above considerations in mind, you can see why staging a World Cup with a large field in Khantiy-Mansiysk was a sharp political move. Will Bessel Kok do as much for the Base?


There are many questions I would like to ask all the candidates. Here are some of them.

Do you believe that donating personal money to FIDE is a necessary qualification for holding the office of President? Why do feel this way?

What do propose to help the chess amateurs around the world? Do you have different plans for different parts of the world? Germany, for instance, has a strong league system. Would you try to establish something like this in other countries? How would you go about it? Is there some other plan that you have in mind for the majority of the world’s chess players?

What would you do about establishing a unified, viable and consistent system for choosing a World Chess Champion?

Professional chess would be popular and bring in money for the players and FIDE if it can a) be adapted for TV and possibly also TV on the internet and b) Some type of fan base can be established by having the players be more open to the public through interviews, simuls and autograph sessions. These would be available to them if they had sponsors from multi-national companies such as Coke and Pepsi. Do you have any plans that could accomplish this?

Thanks, Mig, for giving us this opportunity to suggest questions.

1) How should future world chess championships look like? (Match or tournament, candidates?)

2) What's your opinion about the "FIDE time control"?

3) Are you considering rule changes in order to fight "gm draws"?

Do you believe in 'pre-emptive warfare'?


What happened to the business plan that you were supposed to present 90 business days after the Prague agreement?

like so many others i am mostly interested in unification and organising of world championship cycles.

Totally off-topic but BBC series "Russian Godfathers" last night featured several snippets
from Garry the Great. Final episode is next Thursday....


" shall I add that with mr Lafayette, we, the French took a great part in the creation of the USA? "

And here I am blaming the English for the mess in the usa today. well thanks for reminding me I was wrong.

Maybe you have some French suggestions on how to straighten out things here in good old USA seeing as how you seem to want to lay claim to helping to start this mess.

and tell Bessel Kok I support him 100%. I hope that Karpov will decide to throw his support to you. that should help.

I like the idea presented here of having all the GMs have a vote. that is very democratic and would help dispell the complaining. Maybe Bessel likes the idea also. the present system of allowing the federations to vote is not working.

Recently the Massachusetts Chess Association changed from having officers vote for new officers to having the membership vote. it works out very well.

and Bessel if you ever have a problem just let everyone here know about it. I am sure we can come up with some suggestions. Mig is very good as I am sure you already know.

Bessel I hope you are the Messiah of Chess. We have wandered in the desert for too long.

Peace and Love


Mig, if FIDE won't accept answering your (as always sharp and objective) questions, maybe our friend Giannis will oblige ??

I certainly didn't mean to critisize France When I suggested Calling FIDE "ICF" (which isn't a name change by the way, just an acronym translation). French is no longer the lingua franca of the world, English is. In order to attract International corporate sponsors, the governing body of our game shouldn't appear to be a 19th century remnant. That's all.

(Yes, I am a (North) American, so bash away! :)


And I thought Unix was the lingua franca of the world.

In the meantime, if we're changing the ancient and venerable acronym of FIDE, I also vote we change the word 'Olympics' as well - the hegemonic intrusion of Greek into American language must be fought!

Thanks for the history lesson, but I'm well aware of France's role in early US history. I was joking more than anything, although it must be admitted that the expected wave of outrage has materialized.

FIFA (the governing body of fútbol) is a French acronym, and does just fine attracting international corporate sponsors.

In fact, they turned a nice profit last year, about 120 million dollars (up about 12% from the previous year).


FIDE has many issues to work on, but I don't think changing the acronym should be among the top priorities.


The light bulb finally went off in my head.

Now I finally understand the insanity of why FIDE plays games making off there is a chance to get into the Olympics. Both of those organizations are French. so there must be French pressure in smoke filled rooms that has caused all this. something is not koscher here.

Forget drug testing of chess players. forget the olympics. Chess must learn to be Chess. to love itself. not to do what other people want us to do.

damn the torpedos. full steam ahead. lets have Chess for Chess and forget all the nonsense about drug testing and the olympics. when chess makes itself so popular that everyone is playing chess then the olympics will come to us begging us to join with them.

the French Olympics has no right to control French Chess. we demand an independent and free French Chess. Liberty and Fraternity for all chess players. I think that is the rally cry.

I wonder if Bessel Kok will free Chess away from the Olympic insanity. we need to work on our own issues. we need to help out all GM's and help get chess into all the schools of the world. It is going to be a long slow growth process. and I believe Bessel Kok is the man to lead Chess into a new Era.

--I'm interested in the answer to edu's question re the business plan mentioned in the Prague agreement.

--In what manner (tournament? long match?) should a world chess champion be determined?

The BK interview referenced above ( http://tinyurl.com/dndq2 ) is very interesting. Among the specifics discussed there; format for a world champoinship, and how he envisions the chess in schools program working.

Hmmm...that link didn't work, it must be a frames issue or something. Anyway, click on NEWS and you'll see the interview link.

"FIFA (the governing body of fútbol) is a French acronym, and does just fine attracting international corporate sponsors."

All right, all right. Forget I mentioned it! Your right Duif, it's no big deal.

(Boy, for a short [literally] parenthetical remark, it sure has drummed up some heat!)

I still would like to pass on my original question about other sports/hobby federations to emulate. Maybe FIFA is one?


Who needs Karpov? All he's going to do is draw votes from Kok. He should stay out of the way.


The Olympic commitee still organizes the most popular competitions ever. Everything is said and wrote first in french, second in english. Do you mean that french language has been a bareer to build the most popular sport event on earth? As somebody said, the same remark is valid with FIFA, and after the Olympic games the World Cup is the 2nd most popular sport event.

Furthermore, I'm sorry to say that chess is NOT an US or english game. Amongst the 100 strongest players, at least 70 have russian as their first language, and 15 more have russian notions.

Matt, you probably never went in USSR or in Russia, but I can tell you one major difference between USA and Russia : in USA a 2100 USCF player is an isolated genius in his town, while in Russia a 2200 fide level is not enough to be rated. In Russia, even if you're IM, you don't need to enter a chess club to loose games, you can loose a game almost anywhere in the street, in a bar, in an hospital ...

Changing the FIDE name wouldn't change anything about its effectiveness. Reunifying the title would do a lot to attract money. Which is the first goal of Bessel Kok (who tried to fix the situation in 2002 in Prague already).

Right now, on FIDE homepage, you can see Mr Illumjinov exactly 3 times. Avoiding such stalinian methods would certainly bring much more credibility to the FIDE. And again, Bessel Kok talks about serving chess, not getting advantage of the FIDE like if it were a personal toy.

Trying to develop chess in schools, promoting such players like Susa Polgar (who are doing a lot to promote chess), again, all this is Bessel Kok program.

I have no questions to Mr Kok, just high hopes that he can reach his goal and bring to us, the international chess community, the efficient, modest and discreet leader that we all deserve.

It would also be interesting to see all the other candidates (Leo Battesti, Anatoly Karpov, maybe Joel Lautier) forgetting their personnal interests and goals and bring full support to Bessel Kok, who is obviously and by far the best candidate for FIDE presidential chair.

Once again, I retract all I said about French, English, FIDE, ICF, etc. I was wrong. I'm sorry.

Let's get back to fixing FIDE (and I don't mean the name :) )



I thought your question about which other sports/hobby federation Mr. Kok believes is closest to where he would like FIDE to be was a really excellent one--I hope he will answer it.


Since I detect a widespread feeling ( which I do not share ) that this is going to be an interesting election, I hope betsson.com will list it.

Chris' idea is brilliant. Instant run-off voting needs to be implemented in FIDE. It would also be wonderful for the United States to get some alternative parties more involved.

Questions for Mr. Kok:

1) "In a recent interview on http://chesslodge.blogspot.com/2005/12/exclusive-interview-mrbessel-kok.html, you are quoted:

"So, in summary I believe that FIDE should act as a body that serves the sport not dominates it. We should listen, decide and implement. Not decide, implement and then listen afterwards to the complaints!"

Which structural changes in the FIDE decision making department do you envision? (I personally wonder how, in the last decade, many fundamental decisions concerning the WC have been made without consulting the FIDE congress. One recalls the historical vote on whether Fischer's match demands should be met).

2) Is a fundamental change in attitude of FIDE desirable? If yes, in what manner?

3) Would you consider it a great failure of your hypothetical FIDE precidency if you do not manage to unify the classical WC title with the FIDE WC title?

4) How do you value/regard the legacy of the classical WC title, both in context of improving the financial possibilities of the chess world, and in the context of satisfying the wishes of the population of the chess world (in other words, the chess fans)?

Firstly, thank you everybody for the great feedback and questions. I am sure that Bessel and Ali Nihat will be delighted with the summary that Mig will be drawing up soon.

Regarding the $1 million we have already answered on 5th December on our website :


I would also point the contributors on this forum to the recent interview that Bessel gave to World Chess Network :


If anyone requires a pdf version of this interview just email me at gdb@nextgen.net.mt

Geoffrey D Borg, Campaign Director
The Right Move ... For a Bona FIDE

The main questions are those related to the WC title:

1) Are they willing to unify both titles? If yes how and when.

2) Will they change the qualification cycle to a proper one like we had before Kirsan? if yes what will happen to the current 2005-2007 cycle??

Please ask him about the World championship format. Follow up follow up follow up. Does he think the format is important for chess in the long term or is he thinking whatever brings the in the most short term money is necessarilly the best? If he thinks the format is important for chess in the long run what format is best for chess in the long run?

Does he think chess is hurt when the FIDE world champions are no longer even close to recognizable outside inner chess circles? Or does he think this doesn't really matter? What does he think are some of the biggest chess events in the history of the game?

I really want to knwo how committed he is to having WC match play reinstated.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 15, 2005 12:40 PM.

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