March 19, 2012 16:15

Silvio Danailov: "Our lawyers are studying the case"

Silvio Danailov: "Our lawyers are studying the case"

Silvio Danailov is still considering to take FIDE to court for the way they treated the Bulgarian bid to host the 2012 Candidates Tournament. "Our lawyers are studying the case and preparing the report," says the President of the European Chess Union.

Silvio Danailov

Last Friday we posted an opinion article on the recent Andrew Paulson interview by Raymond Keene, and pointed out that many questions are still left to be answered about the new cooperation between FIDE and Agon. Another person who likes to know more about all this is Silvio Danailov, President of the European Chess Union (ECU) but also FIDE Presidential Board member.

On February 26th we reported that Danailov had reacted strongly to the recent developments around FIDE and the World Championship cycle. At Chessdom, he threatened to take FIDE to court for the way they treated the Bulgarian bid to host the 2012 Candidates Tournament:

I will not allow such a mockery. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have made their bid on time, while London does not have such. As a member of the FIDE Presidential board no one has informed me about any contracts. Ilyumzhinov can talk what he wants. When I see on paper the contract with Agon, with lawyers we will go to the CAS Sports Court in Lausanne. The Bulgarian Chess Federation worked long on this bid, we have talked to sponsors, ministers, and even the Prime Minister.

Now that everything seems to be official, and the Candidates Tournament is going to be held in London from October 24th till November 12th, we asked Silvio Danailov whether he's still thinking about suing FIDE. He sent us the following document, which entails the questions he raised at the recent 1st quarter FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Al Ain, UAE about the newly created company Agon. (We've corrected obvious spelling errors.)

Dear all,

My lawyers have checked the Agon Ltd company on the public register in Jersey and informed me the following:

1. Agon Ltd was founded and registered officially on January 12th 2012(!). We received the draft of the contract in December last year. That’s mean that the draft was prepared about a month before the company was founded. This is a bit strange for me.

2. Nobody knows who is the beneficent owner or the share holders of Agon Ltd. According to the papers the share holders are two companies, Ogier Nominees (Jersey) Limited and Reigo Nominees (Jersey) Limited. The name of Mr. Andrew Paulsen [sic] doesn’t appear anywhere.

If I am FIDE I would like to know who is the owner of the company I am signing contract with. Also FIDE is signing with just founded company without any activity so far (!?)

On the contract its self there is some controversial and unclear moments. Let me mention some of them.

A: Point 3.1 . Agon Ltd is sole and exclusive organiser of the most important and commercial FIDE events. In my opinion it’s a bit risky to give this rights to the completely unknown company without any activity.

B: About the Interface team. This team is of 4 members, two from FIDE and two from Agon. What will happen if 2-2 votes, who’ll have majority ?

C: The two FIDE members of the IT will have too much power, where is the role of the FIDE PB on this case? The Presidential Board will be out of any important decisions in the future. Where is the logic here ?

D: FIDE start’s to receive royalties on 2016. Why so late? Also is absolutely unclear when FIDE will receive those royalties? There isn't any maturity specified in that contract. There is nothing concrete or penalty in case of delay of the payments on the contract about this matter.

Hope my remarks can be useful.

Best regards,


Danailov's questions seem to be right on the spot. Agon was founded very recently, and only after FIDE and Andrew Paulson had been making plans for months already. Hence, a company without any history or track record, and whose owners are not known, is given the right to organise two World Championship cycles. It is also unclear who exactly will be (legally) responsible for running the whole thing, and how the decision making process will take place.

Danailov told us that thus far he hasn't received a clear answer. He said that he got the following reaction from a FIDE official about the issue of Agon's shareholders:

They told me literally: 'Don't worry, when FIDE signs the contract with Agon, they will tell us know who are the shareholders!' This was an explanation for kindergarten. Imagine a serious world organisation like FIFA or other signing a contract for commercial rights of their most important events with an offshore company with unknown share holders? Come on, give me a break!

We also asked Danailov something else. In the Keene interview, Andrew Paulson stated:

But finally in December the agreement was circulated to the FIDE Presidential Board which approved it unanimously at its meeting in February in the United Arab Emirates.

Since Danailov is a member of the Presidential Board, we asked him whether this was correct. Danailov denied this:

The agreement was not approved unanimously because there was no voting.

According to Danailov the bidding process didn't go 100% according to the regulations:

I don't really care if FIDE wants to sign contract with Agon or somebody else. They have won the elections, they are the government and this is their business and their responsibility. What I care about is to respect the bidding procedure and the regulations. Till the official deadline of January 31st there were two bids, from Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. There was no bid from London and the contract with Agon was not signed. So, logically the Candidates Tournament can be only in Bulgaria or Azerbaijan. Agon can organise everything else after the Candidates.

Does this mean that Mr Danailov is still thinking about taking FIDE to court? To this question, he replied to us:

Our lawyers are studying the case and are preparing the report. We have time, because so far the Bulgarian Chess Federation didn't received any official information either from FIDE or from Agon when and where will be the Candidates Tournament. The information published on their website is not relevant for the lawyers.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Standardbenutzter's picture

Is GM Polzin again Mr Danailov's lawyer ( or is he going to take this time a rain making law company? ;-)
I think the bulgarian tax payers should be grateful to FIDE, for not wasting bulgarian taxes.

bayde's picture

"They told me literally: 'Don't worry, when FIDE signs the contract with Agon, they will tell us know who are the shareholders!'"

Hm, OK, now that everything is all official and signed, then who *are* the shareholders?

I would bet every penny I have that it's Kirsan. He tried the very same trick ten years ago with Tarasov. If this whole thing flies then there won't be even the faintest hope of removing Kirsan from FIDE by vote someday, because he will quite literally own world chess through Agon.

Henk de Jager's picture

This man should find a cave and stay there. World chess has had its share of corrupt, incompetent leaches.

Septimus's picture

What do the players say about this?

middlewave's picture

The shareholders are A.Paulson and business associates, unrelated to FIDE.

bayde's picture

...and you know this how?

Anonymous's picture

Let the lawyers handle Danailov. They are suited to the task.

noyb's picture

I've said it for over 25 years and I'll say for another if necessary. DUMP FIDE! What the hell is wrong with professional players that they won't simply abandon a completely corrupt and incompetent organization?!

bhabatosh's picture

I must admit that I agree with Silvio this time , i dont think it will happen again :-) . If he can screw FIDE we the chess fans will be really glad , want to see these jokers gets busted once ..... enough is enough is Kirsan ...

Anonymous's picture

Sounds like a clear compelling argument from Mr. Dainalov, these are questions that demand answers if the Fide x Agony agreement is to have any creditibility. Enough of these shady dealings from FIDE, if these allegations are true, the time has come for a larger governing body of sports to remove Kirsan from office by force by law.

Yetispotter's picture


Thomas's picture

What is necessarily wrong with a company specifically founded for this task, and only after negotiations with FIDE had been underway and turned out to be promising (from Paulson's perspective)? A company that exists and has been registered is legally responsible for its activities, and can be sued if something should go wrong, or not? To me it's also understandable that Paulson keeps his future chess activities formally separate from his other businesses.

IMO, no track record is preferable to a Bulgarian track record. FIDE's deal with Paulson may be risky, but the risks are unspecified and hypothetical. Accepting the Bulgarian bid would entail clear risks: they don't like at least one of the participants, maybe all Russian ones - and if things shouldn't go well for Topalov something ugly could happen. Danailov's multiple role (Topalov's manager, involved in the match organization, now also ECU president) is also dubious for me.

Once again: I would give Paulson (but not Bulgaria) the benefit of doubt, and find it a bit odd that he is greeted with such a lot of skepticism.

Ashish's picture

> IMO, no track record is preferable to a Bulgarian track record.

Sad but true.

Anonymous's picture

I agree with you. In the last championship match, the Bulgarians didn't want to delay the match for even a single day after Anand's flight was unexpectedly cancelled.

redivivo's picture

It isn't all that often Danailov is right on the spot, but this time it's hard to disagree with him.

Zeblakob's picture

For me Dainalov is wrong even if he is right.

Xeno's picture

FIDE's best bet to get popular support is to irritate the right people, the most popular FIDE has been the last decades was when they introduced the knockout and Carlsen withdrew, there were literally hundreds of posts here supporting FIDE and criticizing Carlsen. Being criticized by Danailov will probably not make FIDE lose any sympathies either

Jeremy Bernstein's picture

There was a bidding process, right? As I understand it, Agon/London didn't submit a bid before the deadline, but were approved in back-room negotiations outside of the official process. Maybe Agon's bid is "better for chess", whatever that means, but FIDE's decision is clearly against their own rules, and FIDE should be sued by those who spent time, money and effort for what turned out to be a sham. Dainalov is a horrible messenger, but the message is pretty right on.

Thomas's picture

Another version or interpretation would be that the bid from Azerbaijan was accepted for everything but the venue which was impossible for Aronian. This actually seems to be the Azeri version, I don't hear Azerbaijan complaining. In that case, Danailov would just be a sore loser - like he was (they were) after Topalov's matches against Kramnik and Anand. The only complaint might be that he wasn't told why the Bulgarian bid didn't make it, but would he have a right to know? As I hinted before, IMO there are plausible reasons ... which aren't mentioned in public as they might still give him ammunition in court.

But even if both bids were rejected as being problematic (for Aronian and Kramnik, respectively): Imagine if the only official bids had been from some chess-crazy warlords in Afghanistan and Somalia, would FIDE have been obliged to accept one of these bids? Or would they have the right, even the duty to look further? Things would have been easier if there had been other less problematic bids - e.g. USA for Nakamura, Ukraine for Ponomariov, Russia for Karjakin, even Netherlands for Giri or Italy for Caruana. In that case the deal with Paulson might still have happened, but might have started with the next WCh cycle.

redivivo's picture

Paulson himself clearly states that the bids from Azerbaijan and Bulgaria were rejected. Wouldn't it be weird if the guy FIDE makes the deal with hasn't even understood what happened? Bulgarians and Azeris won bids in the past so there's no reason to see them as less valid than a not submitted bid from an unknown soon-to-be formed company (or see them as crazy warlords it's FIDE's duty to find an alternative to). FIDE didn't even pretend that the deadline had been extended.

If Paulson won the bidding as he states, why would he pick Radjabov? He's an American based in Russia. Has anyone even asked him why Radjabov was picked or by whom? My guess is that FIDE knew they broke their own rules in such an obvious way that they didn't dare to tell the Azeris that the best legal bid was ignored, so they told them that Radjabov would get the wild card and Paulson that he wasn't allowed to pick any wild card, and maybe everyone were happy. Maybe it isn't even much to complain about, but it's all just so obscure when the rules are ignored time and again and no explanation comes concerning what happened.

Thomas's picture

As I wrote before, in a way it's a matter of semantics whether the Azeri bid was accepted or rejected: It was accepted as far as wildcard (Radjabov) and money is concerned (apparently Azerbaijan still pays for the event); it was rejected as far as the venue is concerned. So Paulson is neither all wrong nor completely right. In a way FIDE (again) avoided taking one side in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict: fully accepting the Azeri bid would insult Armenia and hurt Aronian, fully rejecting it (for that reason) might be unfair to Azerbaijan. A pragmatic solution even if it isn't an elegant one!?

If things have gone as you described, Danailov would have a point - but not the one he makes, rather "why Radjabov and not Topalov"?

My warlord comparison was an exaggeration for the sake of argument, however: Azerbaijan is in a state of war with Armenia, and chessic Bulgaria is engaged in psychological warfare against Kramnik and +- Russia. The fact that Bulgaria and Azerbaijan (what? one of the Grand Prix tournaments!?) won bids in the past has limited bearing for the future: one could argue "not again" and, in Bulgaria's case, that there were incidents during earlier events and the organizers weren't exactly neutral.

redivivo's picture

"Azerbaijan (what? one of the Grand Prix tournaments!?)"

The latest Candidates, that's why Mamedyarov was the wild card. Then too FIDE had a bidding system, followed by one bid being publicly stated to be the winner. Afterwards the event was moved to Kazan since Aronian refused to participate otherwise, but the Azeris won the bidding and picked the wild card.

This time Paulson and Danailov claim that FIDE rejected the two existing bids and gave the Candidates to Paulson. If so, it would be interesting if someone asked Paulson why he decided to pick Radjabov, since the winner of the bidding gets to pick the wild card and he claims to be the winner. But maybe FIDE said to Paulson that he would get the Candidates only if his right to pick a wild card was sold to the Azeris.

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