Reports | April 22, 2010 3:19

FIDE elections: 'Russian Chess Federation nominates Ilyumzhinov'

Ilyumzhinov vs KarpovAccording to Russian sources, the Russian Chess Federation has officially nominated Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as candidate for the upcoming FIDE presidential elections during the Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad in September. His rival candidate, Anatoly Karpov, was already nominated by the German Federation last week.

According to RIA Novosti, chairman of the supervisory board of the RCF, Arkady Dvorkovich, has announced that the letter with the official nomination is on its way to FIDE. Curiously, one of the reasons for nominating Ilyumzhinov was "that the RCF is hoping for a representative from Russia as head of FIDE." As far as we could find out, Anatoly Karpov is also a Russian citizen.

Chessdom adds that "Dvorkovich expressed the wish that Anatoly Karpov will continue working with the Russian Chess Federation, despite the fact that Ilyumzhinov was the endorsed candidate for FIDE President." Dvorkovich further said that

We looked at the chances of a number of candidates, and have consulted various federations, which showed the majority of federations is ready to support the candidacy of Ilyumzhinov.

Various commentators have pointed out that a nomination of the Russian Chess Federation is of major importance in deciding the ultimate winner of the elections. Mark Crowther has an interesting analysis up on The Week in Chess, in which he also refers to a more elabore article (in Russian) by Yuri Vasiliev, who quotes Dvorkovich saying the Russian Chess Federation respects Ilyumzhinov's work and the progress he's made to popularize chess.

Karpov has so far received the support of the USCF and some major European chess federations. Ilyumzhinov's candidacy is supported by the Turkish Chess Federation and now, crucially, the Russian Chess Federation as well. The big question remains, however, what all the less well-known countries will vote for. You can read more about the upcoming presidential elections and the candidates' support here.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also the president of the Republic of Kalmykia, has been president of FIDE since 1995. During the last FIDE presidential elections in Turin 2006, he beat businessman Bessel Kok in an election race which former president of the Dutch Chess Federation Herman Hamers described as "having little to do with democracy." In Khanty-Mansiysk, he will run against former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, whose campaign team just released its own website this week.

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Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll

Chess.com

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Mark Crowther's picture

By his Federation I mean you look up Karpov, you find his Federation in the rating list is Russia.

You look up Sergey Karjakin now you find his Federation is Russia, if you did that a couple of rating lists ago you'd find his Federation was Ukraine.

There is only one answer to the question, what is Karpov's Federation? It is Russia. Likewise there is only one answer to the question what is Ilyumzhinov's Federation? again it is Russia.

FIDE is an organisation of Federations, its rules and statutes are all based round this. You come to be appointed and act in FIDE through your national Federation.

This is why, when it seems that virtually the whole chess world wants change, it doesn't matter, all that matters are the individual federations and their delegates.

I've seen in the past where delegates have been given clear instructions by their membership (say vote against Campomanes) and have come back with a position on the board. This is how it works.

I'm just saying the rules are pretty clear, they may be not what one would want chess to be run, but that's how things are. You just have to play by those rules.

SXL's picture

@Zeblakov.

Thank you, and I agree. I should have written: "Some have claimed that the perfect chess game are drawn." And maybe even added draws that are hard fought.

But that's beyond the point, I was just trying to illustrate how complex chess is. And there is something in us that wants decisive outcomes, which is why we are more attracted to the games that have unbalanced outcomes.

I could have made a much shorter rant to David Kaplan:

Mr. Kaplan,

Poker is such a simple game that the players have to hide the cards.
Chess is such a complex game that you can show everything, all the time.

Paradoxically, this means that you can never popularize chess through the mass media.

mishanp's picture

"Curiously, one of the reasons for nominating Ilyumzhinov was “that the RCF is hoping for a represtative from Russia as head of FIDE."

What they mean is they don't think Karpov would win - so then they wouldn't have a Russian head of FIDE. It's not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence in Ilyumzhinov!

noyb's picture

Old-style Soviet thinking is still running things in "Russia". Kasparov can only say sadly, "I told you so".

One of these days the western, developed nations will be sick of associating themselves with third world beauracrats in FIDE who are sponging off of them for free meals, trips, etc. Until then, corruption rules the day.

Henk's picture

We can only hope that Karpov manages to bribe more third world chess officials than Ilyumzhinov.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Could anyone summarize shortly as to why the Russian federation support is very important. It contradicts the statement that however big the federation is it only gets one vote.

Arne Moll's picture

Harish, I imagine it has mostly to do with power and influence of russian businessmen and politicians, contracts and that sort of deals, which is all about lobbying. However, I agree it's not directly clear from the voting procedure.

Tony's picture

By lobbying you mean bribes of course....

Grégoire's picture

Looks like Cold War

Nonationalism's picture

This is all very strange. What has Ilyumzhinov ever done for Russia? Elista and Caucasian states, where all these tournaments were held, are a long way from Moscow. I just dont get it.

andorsm's picture

Well, FIDE president should be: 1) a manager who could develop chess and organise official chess events or 2) a celebrity who could attract attention (and money) and who is able to employ managers to develop chess.

Ilyumzhinov is a man with money and ambishions but rather bad reputation as Kalmykian president (corruption and etc.) and chess organiser. I wonder why RCF is for him, may be because RCF officials shows as good qualities as chess organisers as Ilyumzhinov?

For noyb: Don't listen to Kasparov's view , he is brilliant chess player but ridiculous politician.

Egalmoth's picture

It's absolutely ludicrous that someone can remain FIDE president for 20 years in a row, that there are no rules preventing this. Moreover that third-world countries are given equal weight in the voting is just a complete joke.

Chess is played by intelligent people and the irony is that such a corrupt figure like Ilyumzhinov can have anything to do with them. Chess desperately needs to free itself from the current FIDE administration.

Egalmoth's picture

I meant "15 years in a row"

h. white's picture

chess comrads! let's face it. as bad as the current fide president seems, more professional players are earning a decent living, more strong talent is sprouting up in third world countries and even obscure places like norway. also we'll soon witness our second world championship match, fourth if you count the two 8 player all play all championships in mexico and bulgaria (i do) in recent times under the current fide presidents reign.
things have changed for the better since the chess czar (kasparov) left the scence.
why change horses in mid-stream when there has been obvious change for the good?
and yes, we're very lucky to have such strong, mature personalities leading the way on the playing field like anand, topalov, kramnik, gelfand, leko, shirov, polgar carlson just to name a few; they represent the chess community with dignity, honour.
karpov is definitley no solution for the current problems facing the global chess community, professional or amateur!
by the way, the current world championship match between anand and topalov has drawn a record breaking prize fund!

SXL's picture

I'd like to rant a bit, hope that's OK. I see that David Kaplan, out of FIDE's office in Moscow, has some plans for chess.

1. Build large chess centres six major cities around the world - where there will be Grand Slam Chess Tournaments, "such as in tennis."

2. Promote chess in order to make it as popular as poker.

3. Build a "chess social network" "applying the World Wide Web" "the internet is everywhere. Billions of users."

4. "After all, chess is the simplest game, but the main thing - it's the only game in which initially both opponents are equal and chances to win the same. And most importantly, to understand how to play, and remember all the rules, the child's enough for 20 minutes. Adult - five."

5. To achieve the poker-like global popularity of chess, one will create a Chessline, where "a person has a Turns account."

The following is google translate, so help me make sense of it:
"On the day people must spend a minimum of three minutes for the virtual board, playing in his " box ". " Square "includes the players with the same rating, so that the parties are supposed to take place on an equal footing. Tournaments will be conducted, for winning the " squared "paid prize - $ 1 million"

6. Madonna and the Dalai Lama will help with the promotion, together with 300 other celebrities.

No. I'm not making this up.
http://www.gazeta.ru/sport/2010/04/a_3353067.shtml

===

Dear David Kaplan,

I'd like to point something out.

Tennis and poker, versus chess.

In tennis, a ball is either in our out.
The entire game takes place right in front of you, and is "transmitted" to you via your eyes and ears.
An encounter has a set dramatic structure, with many intermediate dramatic episodes (the Points in each Game), making up full Sets of achievement, resulting in a won Match when a given number of sets has been played.
There can be a little uncertainty as to when a ball is in or out, but you have umpires and line-radar to determine that.

In poker, it's a little bit more complicated. There is a stochastic distribution of "pieces", to use a chess analogy. You don't know what you'll get, but on the basis of what you get, you can make determinations of what can result.
Apart from that, Poker is fairly simple (just ask Grischuk): you have higher, lower and similar as the determining values. A hand is either higher, lower or similar, and there are ways of increasing the values of these variables, but it's learned fast.
In addition, there's an element of bluffing, because an incremental stake is involved.
A Hand is resolved in five minutes.

Tennis and poker are popular spectator sports because the audience can quickly figure out what is going on. To BBC's surprise, many years ago, they discovered that Snooker was a popular spectator sport, which has led to hundreds of thousands of hours of snooker being broadcast. Why? Because it has that attractive simplicity: the cue ball hits the object ball, the effect is instantly revealed.

Now, as a representative of FIDE you are supposed to know this, but in case you don't:

The chess board and pieces, at any stage in a game, are only a fixed representation of a near indeterminate number of possibilities that exist at the same time. The game of chess is not played on the board, it's played in the head - and what we see on the board is just a temporary expression of the permutations being evaluated by the player. The board represents a path picked, but the possibilities are in the head.

In tennis, the possibilities are resolved near-instantly. While there are many things a player can do with the ball, the audience does not have to wait long in order to have its expectations confirmed or overturned.
In poker, there is an unknown aspect which bears a faint similarity to chess, but which due to the fact that the hands are resolved quickly, does not tax the patience of the spectators - and the other elements involved in the game of poker contribute to its attraction as a spectator sport, with quite a few elements of pure limbic enjoyment thrown in: call it the Neanderthal instinct in us, if you will. We like to pound people on the head at times, and poker provides for that, through letting the audience see that "Yes, he did indeed have two pairs, and the other guy had just one."

Mr. Kaplan, I now come to the salient point in my rant. If you seek to change chess into poker, then I suggest that you abandon your post in FIDE and start up a poker tournament.
You have failed to accept the intrinsic nature of the game of chess, and you make a mistake common to failed politicians who express a wish for "better voters" when they experience defeat. You can not wish for a general public to understand chess as instantly and enjoyably as they understand tennis, snooker or even poker.

You should repeat to yourself the following mantra, a considerable number of times:

Chess is an inordinately difficult game, which is played in the head.

While repeating this, I counsel that you read Time's interview with Carlsen, where he was asked if he kept a set in the house. "Maybe, I don't think so," answered Carlsen.
Excellent chess doesn't actually need a physical representation, and the best chess is probably invisible, but I won't go into metaphysics. I will claim that the previous sentence should explain why it is so difficult to televise chess, as compared to poker or tennis, which both can be physically represented in a much more dramatic fashion than chess.

You claim that an adult can learn the rules of chess in five minutes. That may be true, but it's not the point. Learning how the pieces move has very little bearing on the potential excellence of their expression.
It is possible to get a beginner to connect a racket to a tennis ball after an hour's instruction, and have some expectation that the result will at least land somewhere in the vicinity of the court. But that result bears absolutely no relation to why Anand will appear to be sac'ing a Knight on d4 to Topalov's evident surprise in game 7 of the coming WCC. (An example, I'm not prescient.)
As little relationship as it does to Federer hiding the spin he puts on the ball to trick Nadal into a misstep in order to win a crucial game in set 3 of their encounter.

But while the tennis spectator can see that Nadal doesn't reach the ball, and quite a few of those spectators will understand what Federer did -- GMs in the analysis room in Sofia will have absolutely no idea what Anand can be thinking when he sac's his Knight on d4 against Topalov. So what do you think the general public will be thinking?

I believe it's about time that the bureaucrats of FIDE wake up to this fact, because your decisions are increasingly divorced from the actual nature of the game, as you pursue a popularity for it that is unattainable.

And by the way - you don't need to build chess centres in six major world cities to arrange Grand Slam Chess Tournaments. What are you thinking? We have the internet, which you clearly don't understand.

In conclusion, to fully demonstrate how complex chess is, and how absolutely incomprehensible it is to a general audience:

1. The perfect chess game is drawn. A won game means that a mistake was made.
2. With today's chess engines, we can instantly evaluate a position, and ascertain to what extent either side has failed to achieve a balanced state in the position.
3. Therefore, you could have chess matches where the players were rewarded as to their ability to balance the position with each move, defusing their opponent's possibilities move-by-move. And the winner would be the player whose accumulated position evaluations through the game deviated the least from 0.

Now, try to popularize that.

Best regards,

SXL

Arne Moll's picture

It's impossible to take this interview seriously, SXL. Then again, it has been rumoured for a long time that Madonna used to have an ICC account, so who knows? :-)

SXL's picture

I think we can look forward to continued experimentation with the rules and formats of chess, in order to make something that is quite incomprehensibly complex understandable. Eventually, we'll end up with an Othello version of the game, as divorced from classical chess as Othello is from Go.

Arne Moll's picture

@Mark, I'm not sure what your point is. Are you saying a candidate can only ever be nominated by the Federation of the country that he happens to have been born in? Or how else would you define being a 'member of a federation', if not by being a member of a club associated to a particular federation?

Arne Moll's picture

Mark, if I understand you correctly you're saying a person can't ever be a member of more than one federation at the same time. Is this confirmed by FIDE statutes? To make an analogy, someone can also have more than one nationality, right? The answer to the question 'what is his nationality' would then imply more than one country. Why should or could this not be the case for federations within FIDE?

Najjeev's picture

@Egalmoth : "Moreover that third-world countries are given equal weight in the voting is just a complete joke."

more precise is " Moreover that countries where chess is not popular (such as third-world countries, west european countries, ...) are given equal weight in the voting is just a complete joke."

Giving people the same weiht in voting is a problem inherited from democracy.

Mark Crowther's picture

>Could anyone summarize shortly as to why the Russian federation support is very >important. It contradicts the statement that however big the federation is it only >gets one vote.

In my view the regulations which say "To be elected, each candidate shall be nominated by his federation." are very clear. Unless this is a mistranslation of the regulations or that somewhere in another language they say something else both Ilyumzhinov and Karpov need the Russian Chess Federation to even stand. If this regulation is meaningless then why is it even in there? It is perfectly clear to me that saying Karpov is a member of a club in Germany doesn't make his Federation Germany.

I think it important because I believe the single best way of eventually removing Ilyumzhinov would be by this method, get the Russian Federation not to nominate him and then make this clear regulation stick, via the courts if necessary.

Zeblakob's picture

@SXL;
thanks a lot, a very interesting comment.
By reading your comment I understood the "political hypocrisy" behind the statment "making chess as popular as poker".
In my working area I observed that 1/100 of students plays chess during the break, and 99/100 play card. So I asked most of them "why you are not interested in chess"; they answered "the rules are very complicated ..."

Chess will be always played and followed by the "minority" and all the problems are inherited form that point.

By the way I do not agree on :
"1. The perfect chess game is drawn. A won game means that a mistake was made."

Because:
a/ this is an open question in game theory, no proof is established yet.
b/ How to define in a constructive (i.e. algorithmic) way the notion of "perfect game"? The answer is not obvious for me.

mishanp's picture

A couple of posts I made at chessninja:

The official statement from the Russian Chess Federation: http://russiachess.org/content/view/4654/411/
They point out that their support for Ilyumzhinov is conditional - the headquarters of FIDE should move to Moscow, the ruling officials in FIDE should be rotated and the championship cycle should be brought to order, though quite how isn't specified. They "welcome" competition from Karpov.

An Ilyumzhinov advisor, Berik Balgabaev, is quoted as saying: "The support of our home federation, perhaps, will add about 10-15 votes. But, believe me, they won't be decisive". He says this election will be less interesting than the last - and Karpov can't hope for more than 30 votes. http://www.kommersant.ru/doc-y.aspx?DocsID=1358037

Mark Crowther's picture

I'm pretty sure you can't be a member of more than one Chess Federation at the same time (I'm open to correction on this but I think it is clear).

FIDE recently instituted transfer fees for players who wanted to change Federations.

Also players rights to play in FIDE events almost all come via their Federations. In the past remember the Soviets weren't allowed more than a certain number of players in the Interzonals, so players participation in the World Championships came through their Federation too. Apart from the very elite you qualify for World Championships through Federation and Continental (again groups of Federations) events.

By the way the statutes also say that if Karpov were to change Federation he would have to be a member of that Federation for a year before standings for office.

As I say, almost every interaction with FIDE will be through your own national federation.

FIDE bend and break these rules all the time. I'm not saying I wouldn't even be in favour of of Karpov standing, but someone would have to explain to me the mechanism because I don't see it.

Arne Moll's picture

Thanks for the links, mishanp. Mr. Balgabaev's comments, however, should clearly be taken with a grain of salt. (How, for instance, is the ECU's support of Ilyumzhinov a "major influence" in Europe when virtually all European federations currently support Karpov?)

test's picture

Karjakin couldn't play for Russia in the Olympiad because he was still member of the Ukrainian federation. But to become FIDE president these rules are interpreted much more loosely to the point of losing any meaning.

But who is going to enforce stricter rules: FIDE. Who is in charge of FIDE: Ilyumzhinov. He's not going to do anything that will get him OUT of office.

In a properly functioning democracy these sort of things are not a problem, we just vote for somebody else, but clearly FIDE is not a properly functioning democracy.

Quote: "“The support of our home federation, perhaps, will add about 10-15 votes." I also don't understand why, what do other countries care who Russia likes as president, unless they are talking about bribes and other forms of corruption.

Alexander's picture

"Moreover that third-world countries are given equal weight in the voting is just a complete joke."

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Vietnam - three instances of "underdeveloped" countries - are chess-wise more important than economically successful Australia, Japan or Canada.
But the voting system should in fact be weighted. For example, a country should have a voting power equal to the number of its titled players, or equal to the ratio between titled players and total population.

mishanp's picture

"I also don’t understand why, what do other countries care who Russia likes as president, unless they are talking about bribes and other forms of corruption."

You could argue abstractly - if a candidate isn't even supported by his own federation then what sort of a candidate is he? But I think you're right it's more concrete than that. Maybe not bribes and corruption, but the Russian federation no doubt has ties with others federations. Plus if Ilyumzhinov didn't have Russian support then it would suggest his position in Kalmykia was weak and might impact on his support for chess - the best hope for a different FIDE President was if figures in the Kremlin gently suggested that Kirsan might like to focus more on his day job... In any case, this election isn't going to be an edifying spectacle.

Thomas's picture

@mishanp: Explicit Russian support may be both advantage and disadvantage for Ilyumzhinov, particularly because it's subject to conditions including moving the FIDE headquarters to Moscow. Some countries/federations have close ties to the Russian federation, others may rather not want too much Russian influence?

@Arne Moll: "virtually all European federations currently support Karpov". I know you are supporting Karpov's campaign, but shouldn't this be reduced to 'western European federations'? Turkey (Yaznici) openly supports Ilyumzhinov, Bulgaria (Danailov) is likely to do so - didn't Danailov say there's no need to run for FIDE president as he's perfectly happy with the current one? A bit ironic with regard to my first paragraph, as "the Bulgarians" keep brabbling about Russian influence ... .

Patrick's picture

I'm pretty sure you can't be a member of more than one Chess Federation at the same time (I'm open to correction on this but I think it is clear).

FIDE recently instituted transfer fees for players who wanted to change Federations.

Also players rights to play in FIDE events almost all come via their Federations. In the past remember the Soviets weren't allowed more than a certain number of players in the Interzonals, so players participation in the World Championships came through their Federation too. Apart from the very elite you qualify for World Championships through Federation and Continental (again groups of Federations) events.

By the way the statutes also say that if Karpov were to change Federation he would have to be a member of that Federation for a year before standings for office.

As I say, almost every interaction with FIDE will be through your own national federation.

FIDE bend and break these rules all the time. I'm not saying I wouldn't even be in favour of of Karpov standing, but someone would have to explain to me the mechanism because I don't see it.

Adam's picture

By his Federation I mean you look up Karpov, you find his Federation in the rating list is Russia.

You look up Sergey Karjakin now you find his Federation is Russia, if you did that a couple of rating lists ago you'd find his Federation was Ukraine.

There is only one answer to the question, what is Karpov's Federation? It is Russia. Likewise there is only one answer to the question what is Ilyumzhinov's Federation? again it is Russia.

FIDE is an organisation of Federations, its rules and statutes are all based round this. You come to be appointed and act in FIDE through your national Federation.

This is why, when it seems that virtually the whole chess world wants change, it doesn't matter, all that matters are the individual federations and their delegates.

I've seen in the past where delegates have been given clear instructions by their membership (say vote against Campomanes) and have come back with a position on the board. This is how it works.

I'm just saying the rules are pretty clear, they may be not what one would want chess to be run, but that's how things are. You just have to play by those rules.

Dave's picture

@mishanp: Explicit Russian support may be both advantage and disadvantage for Ilyumzhinov, particularly because it's subject to conditions including moving the FIDE headquarters to Moscow. Some countries/federations have close ties to the Russian federation, others may rather not want too much Russian influence?

@Arne Moll: "virtually all European federations currently support Karpov". I know you are supporting Karpov's campaign, but shouldn't this be reduced to 'western European federations'? Turkey (Yaznici) openly supports Ilyumzhinov, Bulgaria (Danailov) is likely to do so - didn't Danailov say there's no need to run for FIDE president as he's perfectly happy with the current one? A bit ironic with regard to my first paragraph, as "the Bulgarians" keep brabbling about Russian influence ... .

Simon's picture

By his Federation I mean you look up Karpov, you find his Federation in the rating list is Russia.

You look up Sergey Karjakin now you find his Federation is Russia, if you did that a couple of rating lists ago you'd find his Federation was Ukraine.

There is only one answer to the question, what is Karpov's Federation? It is Russia. Likewise there is only one answer to the question what is Ilyumzhinov's Federation? again it is Russia.

FIDE is an organisation of Federations, its rules and statutes are all based round this. You come to be appointed and act in FIDE through your national Federation.

This is why, when it seems that virtually the whole chess world wants change, it doesn't matter, all that matters are the individual federations and their delegates.

I've seen in the past where delegates have been given clear instructions by their membership (say vote against Campomanes) and have come back with a position on the board. This is how it works.

I'm just saying the rules are pretty clear, they may be not what one would want chess to be run, but that's how things are. You just have to play by those rules.

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