Columns | October 02, 2010 0:16

FIDE elections: a friendly aftermath

OlympiadKirsan Ilyumzhinov has invited Anatoly Karpov to become FIDE Vice President and accepted his opponent's suggestion to increase the number of games in World Championship matches. Silvio Danailov not only got elected ECU President, but FIDE Vice President as well. What exactly this job involves even a newly elected Vice President doesn't know.

There they were, sitting at the bar, drinking a vodka together. It was like two old friends catching up after not having seen each other for years. "So can you make those matches a bit longer please?" "Well, I guess we can do that. But why don't you join us and become a Vice President?" "Hm, yeah, sounds good, but I gotta think about that one."

Right after the vote count had yielded Kirsan Ilyumzhinov a devastating 95-55 victory over challenger Anatoly Karpov, the FIDE President invited his opponent for a drink: "Let's forget all these pre-election attacks and as a sign of reconciliation, let's go for the Russian custom and drink vodka!" Karpov accepted, and they went to a restaurant, drank vodka and had supper, as Ilyumzhinov told Sport Express.

It would be too easy to describe this as the next good move of a smart politician - friends should be kept close, and enemies even closer, right? But are Ilyumzhinov and Karpov really enemies? Were they ever? Wasn't it Anatoly Karpov himself who asked "Kirsan Nikolayevich" to run for FIDE President in November 1995 at the FIDE Congress in Paris?

A few weeks before the FIDE elections we heard the rumour that Karpov had lost motivation to run for president, and disliked the fierce campaign battle. Garry Kasparov was supposed to be the man who kept him on track. From what we've seen on the Europe-Echecs videos, it does look like Kasparov was pulling the strings, taking over the speech of Karpov at his final campaign press conference before the elections, and dominating the General Assembly meeting prior to the actual voting.

OlympiadThe elections are over and Ilyumzhinov has been chosen to rule the chess world for four more years. There's one man who doesn't seem to have problems at all with being on friendly terms with him: Anatoly Karpov. At a joint press conference on Thursday in Khanty-Mansiysk, the two former rivals smiled, shook hands and joyfully congratulated each other. Was it just sportsmanship? We tend to believe this friendliness between the winner and the loser of a political battle was genuine - for a change.

Karpov listed a number of items from his campaign that Ilyumzhinov had already accepted (over dinner?) to include into his plans for the coming years. "There will be no more fees for FIDE International titles. Kirsan Nikolaevich agreed to accept the fact that the World Chess Championship Match will include 14 or 16 games. The final decision will be taken by the best chess players of the world. The number of games of the final match, semifinals and quarterfinals will depend on it. (...)"

At the press conference Karpov also confirmed that he was invited by Ilyumzhinov to become FIDE Vice President. To the question what he would decide, Karpov answered: "I'm not in time trouble." No wonder he couldn't decide yet: it's not very clear what this job involves, is it? What on earth does a FIDE Vice President do?

The newly elected Vice President D.V. Sundar from India doesn't have a clue either. “I don’t know yet what it means to be Vice President in such a mamooth [sic] organisation, I am sure it will bring a lot of reponsibility [sic] as well as I hope it will help the growth of chess in our country”, he was quoted by the All Indian Chess Federation's website soon after getting elected. "Interestingly, Mr. Sundar had filed his nomination just a day before the elections," the report adds, and really, we don't want to assume any correlation with one other sentence from the same report: "It may be mentioned here that Mr. Sundar had pledged the support of All India Chess Federation to the election campaign of Mr. Ilyumzhinov a few weeks before FIDE elections."

Still, the above sort of calmed us down in a way, in that democracy does play a role within FIDE. Vice Presidents don't just get appointed by Kirsan over dinner, right? There need to be elections, right?

According to a Bulgarian press release, Silvio Danailov was also elected Vice President - yes, barely two days after he was elected President of the European Chess Union.


The other Vice Presidents mentioned in the press release are Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nehyan (United Arab Emirates) - Continental President of Asia, Mr. Jorge Vega (Mexico) - Continental President for Americas and Mr. Lakdar Mazus (Algeria)- Continental President for Africa. Note that Mr Sundar isn't mentioned, but don't ask us.

Although we don't exactly know what they do, we know that one Vice President won't be doing it anymore: GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili. Apparently he lost to a Mr Nizar Ali Elhaj from Libya, who received 60 votes, as opposed to 56 votes for Azmai.

At the post-elections press conference Ilyumzhinov's attempt to make new friends wasn't limited to Karpov. He spoke of a 'council of World Champions' to be founded, and said he would like to have Kasparov in it. Let us suggest a chairman for this council: Zurab Azmaiparashvili. OK, he's not a World Champion, but does have some spare time now, and this way it will be a council full of old friends...

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Pedro's picture

I have a odd feeling, dont know... maybe i am in a pessimistic day. But one thing i am sure, I see a dark cloud on the horizon.

Mark Crowther's picture

Kirsan always offers places to the losing team. Look at Bessel and Geoffrey Borg last time. If you accept (which I do) that splitting FIDE is also not worth it then you have a real decision to make. Kirsan is going to be there for a very long time. Even in Kalmykia latest analysis suggests that real control still remains with Kirsan with Orlov being a puppet, something somewhat confirmed with Orlov turning up for the FIDE elections.

Once you spend two or three weeks researching Kirsan as I did for an article you can't really go back, he just isn't a fit person to be head of FIDE. But he is politically just killing everyone else in chess.

So what to do? If you want to affect anything you have to deal with FIDE. So perhaps it is time for Realpolitik, something I didn't a couple of days ago. If Karpov can sort out the World Championship Cycle which is still a mess then perhaps that might help. And somebody is going to have to watch over what happens with Chess Lane.

If you believe it extremely likely that Kirsan will be there for a very long time, which I pretty much do now you have a decision to make. The opposition made two runs, one nice, one nasty, same result. If you want any chance of succeeding you need a lot of money to campaign with any hope of success, and your chances are probably low.

If you want to know who I think will be the next head of FIDE is, then I think it will be Silvio Danailov, but he will probably have silver hair by then too. Right now Garry Kasparov is probably the only guy who could afford to run, I think that unlikely. If you try and construct a list of people who might run it might include Ali Nihat Yazici but he couldn't beat Danailov and supports Kirsan. You also might think of Makro if Ilyumzhinov decides to take an honorary position and get out of the day to day. Honestly I think that's your lot.

The only thing that could change is if Kirsan falls afoul of the Russian Government but with their choices in Kalmykia this seems unlikely in the short term.

Back to reporting the chess I guess.

Grant's picture

Nice picture at the top of the article ... Kirsan is smiling, Karpov looks kind of shell-shocked :o.

As to FIDE VP, I like to think of them as Kirsan’s fellow passengers on the Orient Express (c.f. the Agatha Christie novel).

CAL|Daniel's picture

I don't it ... while its not clear what FIDE Vice President does... shouldn't there be just one position for this? Not 10?

Steve Giddins's picture

In our interview, Karpov assured me that he has no intention of accepting Kirsan's job offer.

inoki's picture

great first picture

George's picture


Septimus's picture

Offering positions in lieu of support is nothing new in politics. As much as Danilov is crass in behavior, he does do well in pulling in sponsors for chess. Not sure about the other people. Perhaps they will do their bit in their respective zones?

Jon's picture

Excellent Peter! It's hard to choose but I think this understatement is my favourite:

"Still, the above sort of calmed us down in a way, in that democracy does play a role within FIDE. Vice Presidents don’t just get appointed by Kirsan over dinner, right? There need to be elections, right?"

Jon's picture

Did Kremlin tell Kirsan to make certain steps/decisions after the election? Even inviting Kasparov into the worldchamp council would make sense, less time for Garry to spend on politics! Well, not sure about that one, but inviting Karpov to join as a vice-precident?

vladimirOo's picture

How did Kasparov react?

test's picture

What did Bessel Kok achieve as vice president?

This is just disgusting and if Karpov accepts (and it looks like he will) he will lose all credibility in my eyes.

And so the circus continues...

Rob Brown's picture

The aliens have prevailed.

noyb's picture

Small wonder the rest of the world thinks chess players are odd and crazy. This proves it...

Bootvis's picture

If FIDE continues in this manner the FIDE elections are a better spectator sport than chess itself ;')

ebutaljib's picture

FIDE Vice President is just a title without any function or power. FIDE has 4 or 5 Vice Presidents.

2nd man in charge after Ilyumzhinov is Deputy President Georgios Makropolous.

I never understood what's the difference between Vice and Deputy President, but in FIDE one is just the title, and other is the real man in charge, after Ilyumzhinov of course.

Frits Fritschy's picture

What strikes me in the Karpov campaign is that history so easily can repeat itself. You can expect the elections to be rigged, it just happens the way you could expect, even with about the same voting ratio, and you could even wait for being invited to the wolf's dinner. If you are a sheep. I'm astounded by the lack of creativity. Why does Karpov have to think this over? He should have had his answer ready.
If the wise men don't know what to do, let an idiot like me take over.
Breaking away from FIDE may be a painfull affair. By giving up your membership of FIDE, you take a leap in the dark. But what about starting a shadow organization? Is there anything in the FIDE rules that prevents this?
Just get a few national organizations together, let them find a team of persons with good contacts to run the affair, find some cash (hey, we we're supposed to do that better then Kirsan, right?) and think about what a good international chess organization should be like.
Find a way that any member can have his say, without being vulnerable to manipulation. Find a decent way to define who's the best player of your club. Find a few decent players who don't mind putting a bit of a strain to their contacts with FIDE; shouldn't be too hard. For that part, mind that FIDE was a shadow organization itself, before WW II. First champion: Mattison, than Bobuljubow (both times outdoing Euwe, if I'm correct). May be a bit easier now.
FIDE doesn't help beginning chess federations, it helps beginning chess delegates. Not too hard to turn that around. Make a good plan; for instance get a bit of travelling cash to a few older grandmasters with communication skills and they will be eager to help out.
And what can FIDE do? As long as you just ignore them, stay a member and pay your dues, you might construct just anything to slowly replace it.
Is this a worse idea then, let's say, Seirawan putting all his energy and other people's money in a 94-56 loss in 4 years time?

Stefan's picture

Great to have those guys from Iran (Mohammad Jafar Kambuzia) and Libya (Nizar Ali Elhaj) as Vice Presidents. Okay, I have never heard their names before, and I'm not even sure that they know how the chess pieces move. But they are experienced democrats, for sure. And by the way, the German news magazine "Die Zeit" has lifted a little secret: The price for a vote at the presidential election was 25.000 Euros.

Alexander's picture

Anatoly does sound a little like Anakin, doesn't it?

Gilgamesh James's picture

Dear Mr. Karpov.
I don´t know if you read this or not. By my point of view if changes has to happen it must begging from the inside line. You must acept the Vice-President invitation and try to begging inpose some ideas from the inside line. People must understand that this situation will not change so soon. Kirsan still very young and he REALLY KNOWS HOW TO WIN FIDE ELECTIONS.

So, PLEASE, as soon as you acept it sooner changes can be made.


chandler's picture

pretty sure danny's gonna be the next FIDE prez whenever that happens.

mishanp's picture

On Danailov - I don't know if this was based on inside knowledge or a little joke - but Kevin Spraggett (the Ilyumzhinov campaign's most ardent English-language supporter) "revealed" that Danailov had been planning to run for FIDE President this time round. It's plausible, as both Ilyumzhinov and Makropoulos said they were expecting a third candidate right up until the deadline, and Makro specified it would be a European.

reality check's picture

@Grant in the above photo of a "shell- shocked" karpov and the "smiling" [buddah] illyumzhinov also appears to stand almost a head above Karpov. Is Kirsan really taller than Anatoli?

mishanp's picture

The aftermath's getting ever friendlier... Karpov's been appointed a life-time FIDE ambassador, Ravi Abhyankar, who wrote Karpov's marketing plan: (perhaps the least hyped document in history), is a marketing consultant, Weizsäcker is an advisor to the Executive Committee (or something similar) - and Ilya Levitov not only came from nowhere to be in charge of the Russian Chess Federation but now becomes a FIDE VP as well (and Kosteniuk got a position to do with women's chess for good measure). That's all on the Olympiad site: (not translated into English yet).

Zeblakov's picture

@Gilgamesh James;

I agree with you. For me if Karpov accepts the offer then this mean that his aim is to work no matter his position is: president, vice-president, vice-vice- president ...

NoClue's picture

Call it oligarchy or Democracy, it has always been buying been about buying and selling of votes. It splits all ways too, so don't hang it on ??????????.

Steve Giddins's picture

Great minds think alike, Peter! See the first entry on my new chess blog:

Steve Giddins's picture

I have just updated my blog with the results of a 30-minute telephone interview with Karpov last night. Let's say it makes interesting reading! See

test's picture

Just read your article. Mindboggling. How some people are still able to defend Kirsan is beyond me.

Arne Moll's picture

If Karpov accepts Kirsan's offer then in retrospect his whole campaign was just a joke. Could that really be possible?

mishanp's picture

I mentioned this yesterday but my comment was flagged as spam... Karpov did accept a position, but only as a FIDE Representative, which I suppose means next to nothing: There are some other curiosities - e.g. it's not enough the Ilya Levitov came from nowhere to run the Russian Chess Federation, he's now a FIDE VP as well...

Peter Doggers's picture

Sorry about that; I was offline for most of the day yesterday.

Sterling's picture

Thanks Campomanes, hope the bucks were worth it... you've left FIDE with a real charmer...

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