FIDE Presidential Elections

Quality Chess do not have a political affiliation and inside the company we have a lot of different opinions. Thus I am not in any way going to state an opinion on which person would be the best FIDE president.

I am not really surprised that most people on an English speaking blog will come out in favour of Kasparov. However, I want to make a few observations about the great man.

First of all, Kasparov is still the greatest in my opinion. His chess was second to none and his advocacy for chess after he has retired is unsurpassed.

I am also deeply impressed on his fight for democracy in his adopted home country.

But his track record in power is not great.

He founded the GMA and left it when it did not go with him on important decisions, after which it failed.

He created a sponsorship with Intel and blamed hostile newspaper articles in Switzerland for this falling apart more than his match with Deep Blue (IBM).

His PCA never got off the ground and he did not manage to organise a World Championship match in 1998 or 1999, as he should have, according to his own words.

He wanted a match with Anand or Kramnik and when Shirov won the match against Kramnik, he ended up organising a match with Kramnik anyway. Yes, there are details, but in the end Shirov was very unhappy with the outcome.

He refused to play in Dortmund 2002, thinking Kramnik should give him a return match without the need for him qualifying. You can understand why he would think that Kramnik owed him one, but still it was not pretty.

In recent years he had two big fiascos with working with Carlsen and Nakamura. In both cases he was effectively fired after not that long cooperation.

Finally, not many strong players have come out on the side of Kasparov. Sure, a lot of them are hedging their bets, but the absence of support is still surprising to me.

On the other hand, there is a great displeasure with FIDE organising tournaments in remote areas of dodgy countries, looking for international credibility. Ilyumzhinov’s friendship with dictators and aliens is an embarrassment, though I am not sure to what extent the first has more to do with Russian interests; after all, Kirsan works for Putin and has done so loyally for more than a decade, which is an embarrassment too. Finally, as I recall, two of his aides were convicted of murdering a critical journalist in the 1990s. All bad.

Neither candidate is what we would hope for, in my opinion. I don’t have a vote and if I had one, I would probably seek a lot of advice on what to do. If the question was, which person do I admire and like the most, it would be Kasparov by far. If he is elected FIDE president, I hope he will be a great success for chess. After all, Lincoln’s life was a long list of failures before he became president – but so was George W. Bush…

52 thoughts on “FIDE Presidential Elections”

  1. > But his track record in power is not great.
    compared to whom ?! for sure, he cannot help out as many journalists and delegates as Kirsan

  2. I am not a member of FIDE, so have no skin in this game, but if I did…

    Kasparov for “king”, as a symbolic leader of the chess world, befitting his record and ability.

    Somebody else, not Kirsan or anyone with thuggish ties, as “Prime Minister” to do the actual work.

    As for the comments on Bush… He was not our best president. But give him his due. Before the White House, he did get an MBA from Harvard, and get elected as Governor of Texas twice, the second time with a record 69% of the vote. You know, as opposed to really bigtime stuff, like writing books on games…

  3. @John Cox
    I think as a lawyer you would want a bit more proof than this. Surely not all presidents are responsible for every transgression their people do. But yes, it is bad from all angles.

  4. @The Lurker
    I do no aspire for any form of higher office; partly because I would be entirely incompetent. This does not rob me the right of an opinion.

    But yes, parts of Bush’s record was good on paper, with the exception of the drug use, the alcoholism, the running someone over and killing them, the dodging of military service. I am sure that Lincoln had some successes that are not usually brought forward. I seem to remember that he killed a lot of vampires :-).

  5. @The Lurker
    Kasparov wants to be Boss more than anything. You can see this from his actions over 30 years. I think he was one of the greatest gift to chess as a player and as an ambassador we have ever had. I also think he is a great gift to Russia and that his fight for freedoms there is a worthy and honourable fight beyond all usual comprehension.

    His record for running organisations and bringing people together is not as inspiring.

    But as said, I prefer not to have a choice, as I do not feel it is an easy choice. Neither candidate is what I would like.

  6. As a man of my word, I am not touching matters political. I do think the poll struck a true note that Kaspy would be better, but I agree with GM Aagaard that that does not make him ideal, or a panacea. What is really needed is someone with an incorruptible sense of the rule of law who does not want to set up an institution run by a strong man. As we saw on the candidates selection thread the chess world really is in need of rational institution building (by debate and consensus), and a cleaning of the Augian stables which would eradicate even the slightest appearance of a “chess mafia.” Who this person would be I haven’t the foggiest idea. It looks like the FIDE will stagger on from one bickering crisis to another with everyone feeling vaguely dissatisfied, or worse.

  7. Perhaps the dilemma will be solved by different means, such as, for example, Kasparov withdrawing before the elections…

  8. An aside—I am not sure where to post this. But the latest poll is probably asking “who do you think will win now that we are at round 6??” I voted for my “favorite”—I have been won over by Svidler’s demeanor—though I think he is still a long-ish shot to win. Kramnik (my vote in poll 1) & Aronian still seem safe bets with Anand & Svid next. I will launch a pre-emptive strike EVEN if Svidler wins that does not mean the host pick is justified. Some things cannot be justified by the consequences—they are wrong per se—so if 90% of the world’s population would be better off if 10% of it were enslaved this betterment instantiated would not make the enslavement justified.

  9. Stefan Rosenbrand

    personally I can’t understand why Caruana isn’t in the candidates. But ah well he’s still young so he’ll get his shot at it. I would vote Kasp for shore. His record with this type of thing might not be great but still. He’s a great speecher and has great idea’s in general. Also with all the resent stuff happening I just can’t even think about anyone that has something to do with Putin becoming FIDE president.

  10. @Ray
    Not at all. Euwe really damaged Larsen and from what I know, handled him unfairly. Both are dead now, so maybe we should let it rest…

  11. @Jacob Aagaard
    I haven’t heard this one, and really would be interested to know from a historical perspective.

    Is it because he let Fischer into the 1970 Interzonal, so Fischer got the chance to beat Larsen 6-0?
    Or is it because Euwe split the Interzonal into two Interzonals in 1973 (with only half as many qualifying places in each); the strength of each was badly lopsided; Larsen was put in MUCH the stronger one [he complained about this, justifiably in my opinion], and failed to qualify from it.
    Or something else?

  12. @Jacob Aagaard
    Ah, Jeez, guess I’ll never be able to judge whether Euwe was a good FIDE President or not…!?

    I always had the feeling that Larsen was permanently damaged by that 6-0 loss to Fischer; he was never the same force afterwards. It’s hard to think of anything else that damaged him as much as this.

  13. larsen crack after denver was a kasparov statement in My great predecessors vol 4 but i think that was a poetic license to start the fischer chapter

  14. @Mario
    It was my feeling well before Kasparov wrote his books.
    Larsen had a fantastic result here, but had some truly awful ones around the same time. Therefore his rating did not rise.

  15. @Maxwell Smart
    The thing is with Larsen; his greatest period was 1966-69 for sure. The loss to Fischer was serious. He always took a lot of chances and it did serve him less well in the 1970s, as he grew older. But his peak level was still awfully high. And he was generally good at hitting the peak level at the right moment. The main issue was in the mid 1970s.

  16. @Jacob Aagaard
    🙂 I don’t believe in hell anyway, but that’s another story. Maybe we need to widen our scope and look more for role models outside the chess world. E.g. FIFA and the IOC seem to have a history of competent presidents :-). They have a knack of organising world championships and olympic games in corrupt countries with dictatorial regimes. We could criticise that, but at least there’s money on the table, and we should always separate sports from politics. So I was thinking of Sepp Blatter for preseident.

  17. @Jacob Aagaard
    I agree.

    I am still puzzled as to how Clarin 1979 relates to a Euwe Presidency of 1970-1978(??)
    I am also still in the dark as to what the issue was. Generally, I liked Larsen and think it would be a pity if a historical injustice done to him was largely unknown. However, if you prefer not to reveal what the issue was, that is of course your perogative.

  18. @Ray
    Good one 🙂

    Let’s not forget that on this planet there are still more countries where corruption is a common occurence than other ones. So in a world-wide organization corruption is kind of normal.

  19. @Jacob Aagaard
    The only thing I can think of is when you replied to me “the latter”, I thought you meant “Or something else”, but that you did indeed mean the 1973 Interzonal.
    If this is not the case, your reply is an enigma to me, perhaps someone like Ray can tell me what I’m missing.

  20. @Maxwell Smart
    No, sorry – I don’t have a clue which incident Jacob is hinting at! But to be honest, chess history is not my strongest point – though I do have the complete ‘My great predecessors’ series nicely lined up on my book shelf 🙂

  21. @Jacob Aagaard
    It would seem we had different interpretations.
    I mentioned 3 possibilities and took “latter” to be as it says in my dictionary “last mentioned of three or more”.

    So 1973 Interzonal, now it all makes sense. Euwe certainly was at fault here.
    However he did many good things as well such as saving the Fischer-Spassky match. We can imagine how far that would have got if Ilyumzhinov or Campomanes had been in charge.

    There is a good chance that Larsen would have qualified had the Interzonals been of equal strength. However would he then have been able to compete with the likes of Karpov and Korchnoi? I doubt that he would have been able to beat Spassky or Petrosian in a match at that time either.
    Larsen did qualify from a 1976 Interzonal. But he then immediately lost his quarterfinal match to Portisch in 1977.

    [I think it was also faulty to split the Interzonal into two in the first place as this is exactly the sort of thing that can happen. The reason for doing it was to allow more places for top players, which increased the numbers. But a way should have been found to restrict the number of weaker players getting in, so as to keep the numbers down to a level that could be accommodated in one tournament.]

  22. @Maxwell Smart
    I did say: As a Dane. I did not claim objectivity. I am not sure that the chess world would not have been better off without Fischer as a World Champion. I see him as a sad destructive force in the history of chess more than anything else.

  23. @Jacob Aagaard
    I can’t wait to hear what our American friends have to say about that :-). As for the splitting of the interzonal: it seems a bit like the Olympic Games. E.g., The Netherlands are quite strong at speed skating, but since there are a limited number of ‘tickets’ per country to also allow the weaker countries to participate, some strong players couldn’t qualify. The same with athletics sprint etc. Maybe for the shorter term it seems unfair to the stronger countries but on the longer run it may help increase the strength of the weaker countries. Just a thought, but I agree it didn’t work out well for Larsen.

  24. @Jacob Aagaard
    In that case, to say “Euwe really damaged Larsen” is to perhaps overstate it a bit. Larsen was already 38 by this time and past his best.

    As a young person not knowing much of the history, I was a fan of Fischer up to the 1972 match. His absolutely abominable behaviour in that match really shocked me and I was no fan of his afterwards. “Bobby Fischer? Baby Fischer is more like it!” was one letter someone wrote to the magazine ‘CHESS’.
    However, I think the intrigue of whether Fischer could beat Spassky (and the Soviet machine) was so great that this was something that “had to happen” if it could. I think the chess world would always have been in regret if this match had not taken place. For this I will always be grateful to Euwe.

  25. Larsen’s problem with Euwe started with that Fischer match. Euwe tried to do everything to make Fischer play – even at the cost of not being entirely fair to the other contenders. Larsen had immense problems playing in Denver, 1600m above sea level, not the best place for a Dane.

  26. @Ray
    Hi Ray, that’s the sort of issue my qualification system given on the ‘Candidates’ thread was designed to address.
    I suggested a 15-player Candidates qualifier tournament with 9 places seeded from rating lists etc; plus 6 qualifiers to come from something like a 100 player Swiss Interzonal (with say 50 strong players seeded to this).
    This way all the strongest players are in the qualifier, or have a chance to qualify; while there are still plenty of places left in the Swiss for players from weaker countries.
    I still believe this is the best system for now, and would have been in 1973, too.
    Had this system been operating in 1973, Larsen would have been an automatic seed into the 15 player qualifier and thus have had an entirely fair chance to qualify for the Candidates.

  27. @Thomas
    I don’t remember any particular problems making Fischer play in the Candidates [just the World Championship itself where Spassky was obliged to put up with Fischer’s ridiculous behaviour] or that his opponents were unfairly disadvantaged, what’s your evidence for this?
    Larsen’s main problem in Denver was that a heat wave happened at the time of the match – Euwe can hardly be blamed for that.

  28. The summer heat in July wasn’t such a surprise, as was the altitude.
    Larsen complained about both.
    There where also discussions about Buenos Aires as the place of the Fischer-Petrosjan match.

  29. @Thomas
    Yes, but were there offers from alternative venues to Denver? In other words, did Euwe deliberately pick Denver over some other venue to favour Fischer? I have not heard such. You need to supply evidence like this to back up the claim you made.

    There was an alternative to Buenos Aires for the Petrosian match. I believe it was decided on the toss of a coin; Fischer won the toss. So how is this Euwe favourtism of Fischer?

  30. To me Kasparov would be a dreadful President- he ruined both the GMA and PCA with his ego and greed (and FIDE as well in the process). And it gets better – as I understand it he cannot travel to Russia, the most powerful chess nation in the world. Presumably no Russian organiser would touch a FIDE event with a barge pole. Some of his campaign tactics leave a lot to be desired too.

    Kirsan obviously by no means perfect, but you know FIDE will still be around at the end of his term.

  31. @Shurlock Ventriloquist
    Maybe it is true, but of what i have experienced lately chess has made progress all around the world. It has entered schools, it has grown in popularity, it has gathered the media’s attention and we are seeing much better tournaments etc. Don’t misunderstand me as a Kirsan fun, but as a chess player i am enjoying the chess events much more than say 8-9 years ago. From my perspective, there is a progress.

  32. I tend to think the progress chess is making is in spite of, not because of, Kirsan.

    One guy believes in Aliens, the other has already run a world chess organization into the ground.

    Difficult choice, but I’d go with Garry.

  33. @Seth
    I think the mood is the same with all of us: the choice is not what we would wish for.

    My choice would be that Kasparov was still playing chess, but sadly, this is not an option.

  34. “..Bush’s record ..running someone over and killing them

    A quick search turns up the Bush family has run over and killed several people but I couldn’t find George running anyone over…unless you’re assuming he ran over the babysitter – the lady who was run over by her own car in the Bush driveway!?

    Lincoln hung a big group of Dakota Indians. Nero killed both his mother AND his brother. The state killed Socrates. Having power and killing people is a time-tested way of slapping ideas in the face.

  35. When I first heard that Kasparov will canditate for FIDE -President my first thought was great, a good Chance for chess.
    Unfortunatly I am not shure anymore. While I admire Garry not only for his chess but for his fight for Democracy in his Country, I donot think he can be both, a politician with outspoken views and a FIDE -President, especially against Russia.
    Unfortunatly the world and also the chess world is not only black and White. In my opinion you have to be more diplomatic to be a good president. Basically it is a pity that in the relative small world of chess People cannot work together for the interest of chess but basically fight for there own interest. ( For example there are several “chess in School ” programms, Garrys and FIDEs) .
    So the choice is who is the lesser evil. I doubt Garry will have chances in the elections, especially due to the resent political developments.
    But it is a pity these guys cannot work together, as chess is currently quite “in” and there is some potential.

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