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Some interesting items from Ilyumzhinov's latest interview with Sport Express. (Russian original.) There is a recap of some details of the Kramnik-Topalov world championship match: (all quotes sic)

Both teams agreed to come to Elista from Moscow with the same flight – on the 16th of September. The opening ceremony and drawing of lots is on the 21st September and the first game is on the 23rd. The first move will be made at 15.00 hrs, Moscow time. All 12 games of the match will start at the same time. The match schedule is as follows: 2 days of play, then a rest day. The match will last until 10th of October, when the 12th game will be played. If the 12 games do not provide a winner, then there is a tiebreak on the 12th of October. The closing ceremony is on the 13th.

It's so crushing that this match will only be 12 games that I try not to think about it. The Candidates matches – remember them? – were also mentioned. Anyone want to provide more information about the American interest Ilyumzhinov mentions?

By the way, wouldn`t the Turkish like to undertake the organization of the Candidates` matches?

You read my thoughts. The President of the Turkish Chess Federation informed during our meeting that there is a very serious sponsor, who is ready to undertake the organization of the candidates` matches. In this connection, I am going to visit the United States soon. The USCF representatives in Turin expressed their interest in this organization, but after that we haven`t heard much from them. I would like to clarify the situation in site, whether they lost all the interest to this project or not. Anyway, during the Presidential Board meeting in Elista, during the Topalov-Kramnik match, the issue will be finalized.

This reference to chess appearing as an exhibition sport at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was picked up by a few other sources, including ESPN's Spanish website.

Could you say a few words about your meeting with the President of the Organising Committee of the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

The meeting with Mr. Liu Peng turned out to be very fruitful. The Organising Committee Chairman very enthusiastically reacted to our proposal to include chess into the Beijing Olympics as an exhibition sport. There is a real chess boom now in China. Especially remarkable are the achievements of the Chinese women players who for a number of years keep the leading position in the world. And now their men started to win the medals at the World Championships and Chess Olympiads. The Chinese are in love with chess and they firmly promised to support our proposal at the meeting with the leadership of the IOC.

Let`s assume we will really see chess players at the Games in Beijing in 2008. What kind of a tournament will it be?

The Sydney Games showed that a lot depends on the support from the Organisers. And I repeat that the Chinese Organisers support us 100%. If the leadership of the IOC, in its turn, will support the initiative of the Chinese, then it will most likely to be a rapid chess knockout tournament. But this is just my forecast. We will be considering proposals from National Federations and then the issue will be discussed at the Elista Presidential Board meeting.

(In Sydney 2000, Shirov and Anand played a few rapid games at the Olympic Village, but it wasn't an exhibition sport.) It's been increasingly clear that the Chinese government sees chess as an accessible sport showcase. I have trouble imagining this is part of a "chess boom" in the country on the whole, however. Every comment I've heard, including a few from Chinese players, says it's far less popular than Chinese chess and other endemic and regional games. But the successes of the Chinese women players has led to conjecture about the possibility of an appearance for chess in Beijing for quite a while, even before they were awarded the Games. A success for them at the Olympic Games might create a real boom there.

That would be fun, although the IOC has already made it very clear that chess and other mind games will never become Olympic sports, which makes sense to me. Choosing the players for the Beijing event will be tricky. Will the Chinese organizers foot the bill? Will the top players go if there aren't big cash prizes? Should it be limited to amateurs (juniors)? Wouldn't it be humiliating to have separate women's and men's events on an mainstream stage? (The sound you hear is a billion people asking, "why are there separate events?" at the same time.) But having a women's event would guarantee success for the hosts.

knight-tour, who lives in China, posts this below: "Yes the Chinese are getting very good at training their select people to play chess. But to say China is falling in love with chess is ludicrous. I have lived in Beijing for more than two years and I have yet to be able to play a game of chess here. There are no open tournaments and no clubs outside of universities or grade schools. No FIDE events except specialty events where they invite VIPs every once in awhile."

By the way, the video gamers have been campaigning mightily for a Beijing exhibition slot, but it doesn't look good. Cute article with a chess mention on the topic here.


Missing Div tag?

"Wouldn't it be humiliating to have separate women's and men's events on an mainstream stage?"

This is a very odd comment. ALL Olympic events are strictly gender-segregated, no matter if there is a performance difference between men and women or not.

Equestrian (gender of rider, not horse), blind-folded 3-meter air pistol shooting. ALL events.

This was a major problem in FIDE negotiations with IOC. IOC would have liked all chess events to be segregated (by gender) to fit the IOC ideal, if there was to have been any progress to make chess an Olympic event.

[1] USCF Executive Board members Bill Goichberg and Don Schultz have responded about Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's recently stated plan of traveling to the USA, and Kiran's mention of USCF candidates' match interests.

Bill and Don agree they have no practical interest in hosting any candidates' match, because there are no sponsors.
Kirsan has not contacted the USCF to say Kirsan is coming to the USA. This whole thing seems little more than some loose comments made by Kirsan. Who knows if Kirsan is even coming to the USA, and whether his trip will involve chess in any way?

[2] Kirsan probably hates these candidates' matches. With chess sponsors being in such short supply, FIDE has an arduous task trying to stage these matches.
It is so much less work just to have a San Luis type tournament. Less prestigious, but less work for FIDE.

There are the X-games, why not the "Mind Games"? It could include many card and board games, etc.

Only if Natrol is a sponsor...

But seriously, Blitz Scrabble, Blitz Chess, Checkers , blitz Go... An event like that would be pretty fun to play in.

As pointed out in a previous item, there IS a Mind Sports Olympiad: http://www.msoworld.com/

gg, not true. In Olympic equestrian men and women compete equally. See:


And there are movements to desegregate shooting, which, interestingly, used to be mixed. They've also gone to great lengths to change the distances and targets to make sure their scores can't be compared directly because if they were the same the segregation would be exposed as silly and demeaning (regardless of how the women did).

The IOC competition committee ruled out chess along with all other mind games in 2004. As I gave in the column linked to above:

"While there is no global definition of what constitutes a sport, and what the difference between a sport and a game is, the most commonly accepted element of a sport is physical exertion in the conduct of competition. In this regard, 'mind sports' could be considered as sports where the physical elements are not necessarily performed by the player in the conduct of the competition.

The Commission therefore makes the following recommendation in relation to 'mind sports' and the Olympic Programme: 1) that 'mind sports' be defined as being sports where the physical elements are not necessarily performed by the player in the conduct of the competition. 2) that 'mind sports' should not be eligible for admission to the Olympic Programme 3) the recommended interpretation be incorporated in the text of Rule 52 of the Olympic Charter."

Of course FIDE hates the candidate matches. They don't have any structure to find and work with corporate sponsors. They ignored the matches, tried to pass them off to the federations (and that half-heartedly) and if things continue this way they will say, "see, nobody wants them, we'll just have KO events." They have demeaned the title so much they have nothing to sell and no one to sell it. I had faint hopes of a serious unification event restoring some of these hopes, but with Kirsan's reelection and a match in Elista, I'm more skeptical than ever.

The Mexicans have big plans for 2007. If they put enough behind that we might have a product, albeit just a tournament. But FIDE has no signs of learning to become a professional organization.

Yes the Chinese are getting very good at training their select people to play chess. But to say China is falling in love with chess is ludicrous. I have lived in Beijing for more than two years and I have yet to be able to play a game of chess here. There are no open tournaments and no clubs outside of universities or grade schools. No FIDE events except specialty events where they invite VIPs every once in awhile.

Instead of the terms 'physical' versus 'mind' sports, I prefer the terms 'analog' versus 'digital'.

Chess is a 'digital' sport in the sense that it matters not whether you place your knight nicely in the center of square f3 or in sloppily touching the edge of f4. Chess is not a game of inches or millimeters.

Digital sports have the potential to have far more lasting value to spectators than analog sports seem to.

When we replay or "spectate" an old chess game won by Capablanca in 1924 we are able to see *exactly* what the two players saw in digital terms. This makes chess a great spectator sport, in ways that analog sports like baseball or soccer cannot equal.

Even with good camera work or a seat in the first row at the stadium, no soccer spectator can see exactly what any player sees. Besides, soccer fans do not want to rewatch a soccer game played ten years ago, totally boring. But chess players routinely enjoy spectating (replaying) a ten year old chess game.

In a narrow but important sense, chess is arguably the greatest spectator sport humans have yet invented.

Gene Milener

How much $ would it take to sponsor candidates matches? Would the old standards apply for qualification and match play? Would the winner only get to play the FIDE champion? Or would Kirsan change the rules at the last minute and declare a new tournament cycle process?

I mean would the CM winner get to play the FIDE champ at all! 'not only'

Let's look for reasons to be enthusiastic about Kramnik-Topalov, now less than a month away:

Better a 12-game WCC match after a two year wait (Kirsan)
--than a 16-game match after a five-year wait (Kasparov)
--or a 14-game match after a four-year wait (Kramnik).

Although what's-his-name organized the 1936 Munich Olympics, we allowed ourselves to get excited about Jesse Owens' races. Although Kirsan organized Kramnik-Topalov, maybe we could allow ourselves to get excited about this match.

And then there's the forlorn and delusional hope that Kirsan is delaying the Candidates match announcements because he's going to reconstitute them into a traditional WCC match structure.

Everyone sits around and waits to see what Kirsan is going to do. there is no initiative from anyone in the world. We all sit here and speculate what Kirsan will do.

do you understand the disfunctionality of what is happening with chess and the leadership in chess.

No one seems to know what is happening in chess next month or certainly 6 months out. everyone simply talks about wondering what Kirsan will do.

It is sort of like living in a house with an Alcoholic. no one makes any plans. no one knows what tomorrow or even tonight will be like. will it be nice or bad. what will the alcoholic decide to do. will he be good natured or drunk tonight. Very Very Disfunctional. Chess is like this Dysfunctional family with Kirsan at the controls.

What I really dont understand is that there are so many intelligent good people involved in chess. How come someone does not walk out of the dysfunctional family life and start up a new life.

Frank H.,

Remember how awful things were in 1993 when a few "intelligent" and "good" chess players walked out and tried to start up a new life? A dozen years later those "awful" days look pretty good, and the walkaway folks wish they hadn't.

It's easy and tempting to think that life in chess would be better if Kirsan were deposed, or life in Russia better if Putin deposed, or life in France better if Louis XVI deposed. But history teaches that no matter how bad things appear, they can always get worse, and that kicking out the top honcho doesn't automatically make things better.

so let's all do nothing because if we do something it will only make it worse. Yes, that's the way to get things done. Anything to take a sideways swipe at Kasparov.

Update for all

Kirsan, Kirsan, Kirsan.

We should be talking about Kramnik and Topalov. I cannot remember a time when the discussion in chess was so far away from the board.

I am rooting for Kramnik. I think he is in top form and will make this match memorable, regardless of the conditions, restrictions, length or whatever other political slant/problem is perceived.

Kirsan has so watered down the WCC to the point where we, as players, will take ANYTHING he tosses our way, be it a crumb of a match, a morsel of candidates, a RR of blitz, whatever.

Chess is in a desperate state.

We can thank no-one but our fine delegates for that.

Good Job, Y'all!

Greg Koster,

well after the break back in 1993 things were looking super great. Intel came in to sponsor chess in a very professional way. but the dysfunctional person who left, told the sponsor to shove it. and Intel did.

After leaving one must conduct oneself in a non-dysfunctional manner. Are you saying that Chess is so dysfunctional that we can not conduct ourself in a healthy functional manner?

By your accounts you are saying no matter how dysfunctional the family environment becomes one should always stay in that environment.

Greg staying in a sick environment is not the path to a healthy lifestyle. the definition of insanity is keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

Chess keeps doing the same thing and everyone talks like they expect different results. You propose it as the solution, I say it meets the definition of Insanity.


I do NOT look to the USCF for a solution either. They seem more dysfunctional than fide. At USCF it seems to be a problem with the Group welcoming in people like Marinello and Sloan. They seem to hold their meetings at the hospital ward for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.

for those not familiar with the 1975 film you can get some info at http://www.filmsite.org/onef.html

Frank H.,

I'm not anywhere near close enough to the situation to recommend what good and intelligent chess folk should do. I just don't believe that if you get rid of the bad-guy-in-charge everything will somehow automatically get better.

Blame the idiots who voted in Sloan.

Makes you wonder whether the whole one-member-one-vote idea was worse than electing delegates to vote for you...at least the delegates were smart enough never to elect him.

I would have thought it was completely obvious that one-member one-vote was an insane way to run a chess federation. That's not really what the USCF does, is it?

i dont know if you get rid of the bad-guy-in-charge everything will automatically be better but it certainly wouldn't be worse!

RDH, OMOV is indeed how the USCF does business now.

And Giles? It can ALWAYS get worse.

Yes; the USCF Executive Board is indeed elected directly by the membership. However, there is an age requirement--I think only members of age 16 and older are allowed to vote.

Otherwise, the scholastic organizers would have a field day...

I'd like to know if the clairvoyants need to have knowledge about chess or not?!

They may want to ask Steintz about that. ;o

He's already on my case about forgetting the "i" in his name. My apologies Mr Steinitz.

I just read the article on chessbase about Kirsan and the clairvoyant. I like the part where it says "Vanga" gave him (Kirsan) "a sort of guarantee for the position of FIDE President."

Kirsan: Oh all wise and knowing Vanga, can you please give me an answer to whether or not I will win the Fide Presidency.

Vanga: Yes I can your Hind... er ah Heinous ah Highness. The answer is maybe...maybe not.

Kirsen. Oh thank you most reasurring one. Now I must be off to help make the lives of the peasant delegates better before the voting begins.

One-man one-vote is an insane way to run a country too.

don't know of any country that is "one-man, one-vote."


Wikipedia to your rescue:

OMOV, an acronym standing for "one man, one vote" or "one member, one vote", is a term used to support wider and more equal participation in political systems.

Where voting is restricted, it is the slogan of those looking to achieve universal suffrage, and with the broadening of the electoral base to include women is better described as "one person, one vote". It is also used to oppose second votes for some individuals, for example those associated with a university constituency.

Within representative systems, it is a slogan calling for more direct democracy. In particular, many political parties moved to OMOV systems to choose their leaders.

In United States politics and jurisprudence, it can be shorthand for various reapportionment cases decided by the Supreme Court, culminating up to the Wesberry v. Sanders, Reynolds v. Sims and Baker v. Carr decisions which ruled that legislative districts for the House of Representatives had to be roughly equal in population. The Senate is not elected based on equal population [1]. The cases concerning the House of Representatives ended the pattern of gross rural overrespresentation and urban underrepresentation in this legislature, but state legislatures still today sometimes try to overpopulate the opposing parties strongholds.

chesstraveler, your Kirsan spoof is very, very apt and hilarious too. You should post it broadly on the net.

Am I the only one who is a bit worried that their is no information on having the games published live?

Kramnik-Leko had a nice special website up months before the match. San Luis had a site atleast one month in advance.

I understand that I will probably find the games on Playchess.com or ICC or wherever. But I still fear that the lack on info on this from the arrangers bodes ill.

Kirsan is just the latest in the series of FIDE leaders who have:

A--eliminated classic "beat the champion" system in favor of knockout tournament

B--reduced time controls and allowed lightning, blitz and super blitz to be the key to determination of future champion

C--failed negotiations for two chess championship matches which would have led to reunification of the chess world

Oh, wait, he is not.

Hmm, well, I am sure the ethical and fan-popular manner in which he led FIDE over the past eleven years more than make up for it. Those of us who are familiar with history based on more than anecdotal evidence know that while change in leadership has not always led to an improvement, improvement has rarely if ever happened when a undoubtedly corrupt ineffective and poor leadership was kept in power.

One conspiracy theorem that I have not read yet is that one reason why Putin is interested in advancing Kramnik is to also undermine Kasparov. Or has that been posted somewhere?

Thanks Ian. My point was that I know of no country that counts individual votes collectively to reach a democratic decision. Any secondary representation (e.g. electoral college system) nullifies any OMOV definition as a strict count can give different results when the population is polled as a singular system. Also, any system that restricts voting, whether it be by gender, religion, education, or age, also cannot be considered a true OMOV system (unless we drag up the age-old question of when a person is really a person).

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 23, 2006 11:50 AM.

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