June 25, 2012 14:07

Ali Nihat Yazici: "I wanted to shake the chess world"

Ali Nihat Yazici

On June 7th we reported that the organizers of the upcoming Olympiad in Istanbul, the Turkish Chess Federation, will not accept arbiters from seven chess federations. A few days later these federations issued a formal protest to FIDE. More criticism followed, from the Association of Chess Professionals, the European Chess Union, the Russian Chess Federation and GM Suat Atalik. TCF President Ali Nihat Yazici: "To call this a ‘ban’ is not correct. What we have done was absolutely legal." 

Ali Nihat Yazici | Photo by Anastasia Karlovich

Update 14:38 CET: shortly after we published this article, Yazici distributed a statement in which he resigns as FIDE Vice President. See below this article.

Early June, the Olympiad arbiters controversy started with an article on the FIDE website. It became clear that arbiters from England, France, Georgia, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine and USA are not welcome at this year's Chess Olympiad, which takes place from August 27th tlll September 10th in Istanbul, Turkey. The organizers, the Turkish Chess Federation, announced that they will not accept arbiters from federations that "launched or supported court cases against FIDE and thus created financial problems for FIDE and a loss of distributable income for worldwide chess development."

As we explained in our report, Yazici's action is a repercussion for two court cases that took place during and after the last FIDE Presidential elections. The TCF President argues that as a result of these cases, FIDE has spent huge amounts of money on lawyers, money that could have been spent on the development of chess.

We predicted that the decision by the Turkish Chess Federation would meet strong criticism, and it didn't take long. A few days later, the federations issued a formal protest to FIDE, stating that the measure by the TCF is in breach with both the FIDE Statutes and the FIDE Code of Ethics. Shortly after, the Association of Chess Professionals also reacted negatively to the arbiters ban.

European Chess Union

On June 13th, ECU President Silvio Danailov sent a letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov which was included in #79 of the ECU Newsletter (PDF here). Danailov points out that six out of ten arbiters recommended by the European Chess Union were not accepted. Four of these six are members of national federations which have had court cases against FIDE in CAS. Danailov:

(...) having a court case in CAS is stated in the FIDE Statutes as a completely accepted part of legal procedure. Therefore, national federations which are part of that procedure cannot be responsible on any grounds which are not legal. Even if they are responsible, certainly Arbiters are not the first and only who should take responsibility on behalf of their national federations. By the way, it is well known that the Turkish Chess Federation is suing the ECU. Does this mean that the ECU should boycott all the Turkish Arbiters in future?


Russian Chess Federation

One day later, on June 14th, the Russian Chess Federation also reacted strongly against Yazici. In a statement (in both Russian and English) on their website, the RCF follows ECU in defending the universal right to take legal action.

Defending a principal position in court is the right of any person as well as of any chess federation – member of FIDE. It is the basis of democracy and a guarantee of development of any organization. Moreover, the right to submit lawsuits is stipulated in FIDE’s Charter. Consequently, Anatoly Karpov and the federations which have appealed to court followed the civil norms and rights of any civilized society.

However, the statement and the intentions of Ali Nihat Yazici cannot be considered as such. His announcement sounds as if political differences are to intrude into the Game, not to mention the fact that the referees would lose their only source of income which is unfair play.


The Russian Chess Federation then appeals to Kirsan Ilumzhinov for a clarification whether the statement is an official position of FIDE or Mr. Yazici’s personal initiative. 

(...) the Russian Chess Federation strongly believes that the only acceptable course of action for FIDE would be to disavow the above statement, offer the job to the excluded referees and summon up the courage to apologize for the notorious statement to the chess federations and all chess fans across the world.

Ali Nihat Yazici

After all the criticism, we asked Yazici to clarify his decision a bit more. Did he expect this criticism?

Yes, I was expecting this criticism from those seven federations, plus some others. I was expecting even more reaction to tell you the truth! But this was my target; I wanted to shake the chess world. I succeeded partly in that and I hope that in the FIDE General Assembly in Istanbul we will have a more serious discussion about this issue.

Yazici say that other FIDE officials were insisting on having these arbiters, suggesting a certain level of disagreement on this matter at the top of the World Chess Federation. However, he persisted.

As organizers, we pushed for our proposal to reject those federations’ arbiters, as it was our legal right to do. Keep in mind that according to the regulations, there are no legal rights of the federations for the arbiters’ appointments. We have got more than 120 proposals for arbiter positions, and only 65 places to fill. We could easily make our selection without any statement, but we did not want to do that. Please check my statement again, we clearly mention there what we were aiming at.

Despite all the criticism, Yazici is not intending to reconsider the ban of the arbiters.

First, let me explain to you that this is not a ban. Seven federations have sued FIDE with two different cases, playing a political game which is pushed by Garry Kasparov. He even guaranteed their court costs! After the nominations of the FIDE Vice-Presidents in Khanty-Mansiysk, we had a second attempt to sue FIDE again.

It is clear in the case of the Vice-Presidents that there was no damage done at all. On the contrary, FIDE had a great benefit by getting more volunteers to work. In both cases Garry Kasparov guaranteed to the suing federations that their court expenses will be covered by his side.

Ali Nihat Yazici: "It was our legal right to do."

The main point made by the federations, the ECU and the RCF was that the decision by the TCF is in fact against the FIDE Statutes. There, equal rights are proclaimed, and "it rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of gender." How does Yazici justify his decision?

If they think so, they can go to the FIDE Ethics Committee. But I don't agree. The FIDE Statutes don't say which federations should send arbiters and which not. It's not discrimination. We have the right to choose or not.

The main target of these actions wasn’t justice, but to create problems for FIDE and, if possible, cause it to collapse financially. In my opinion this is unethical. So, my action is not a ban against the federations simply because they supported Garry Kasparov in the court cases, but a matter of principle. These federations, for purely political reasons, have sued FIDE before the last election, trying to postpone it.

What was the reason? It is obvious that this is a political game and the Turkish Chess Federation cannot accept that FIDE loses so much money in court cases instead of helping many federations, instead of supporting the development of chess and the FIDE Commissions.

This is a stupid political game of Garry Kasparov. He tries to present himself as a potential candidate for the FIDE presidency and he believes that if he burns the house down, it will be easy to take it as a ruin. We have to give a strong message to the chess world, that this unethical game should be stopped. Therefore, to call this a ‘ban’ (as you and many other people do) is not correct. What we have done was absolutely legal. 

It was a matter of choice, our choice – we were not obliged to specify any particular arbiters from any particular federation or federations. I should also point out, in case your readers do not know this, that the Turkish Chess Federation not only appoints the arbiters, it is we who pay for their accommodation and even a stipend.

For me the case is closed. There is no chance of changing this. All those unethical actions of the seven federations should stop. Of course, any individual can expect a typical warm Turkish welcome at the Olympiad, including all the would-be arbiters we have chosen not to select.

We also asked Yazici to respond to the letters (see above) from Silvio Danailov (representing the European Chess Union) and Ilya Levitov (representing the Russian Chess Federation). 

Danailov’s main election motto was "I know". Until now he proved that he knows nothing – He says that he is still learning and needs much more time to learn. We hope that in a certain moment he will eventually learn that there is no place for those dirty games in our chess world. Today he plays with Garry Kasparov; tomorrow, who knows...

In the last General Assembly of the ECU in Porto Carras, Danailov declared that they had found €100,000 of sponsorship for chess in schools. However, that money never reached the ECU accounts; it went directly to the Kasparov foundation! We hope that this is not the money used to sue FIDE! But it is already a scandal that this money went somewhere else – Danailov sees no problem… Those guys, they do not have any idea about chess management. Danailov and Kasparov are in the elementary grade for that subject.

When we come to the open letter of the Russian Chess Federation... my dear friend and colleague in the FIDE Presidential Board, Ilya Levitov, has his own agenda for the future, and he plays his own game with Garry Kasparov. In the last FIDE World Championship in Moscow, I have seen this with my own eyes. I am sure that Mr. A.Dvorkovich knows nothing about it – Levitov is behaving today as if he was the Russian Chess Federation!  He plays his own game, but we have recorded it in our notebook...

We hope that our excellent relations with the Russian Chess Federation will not be affected negatively due to this issue. But I am fully convinced that Ilya has arrangements with Garry.

I would like to ask him: does he agree with those court cases against FIDE? Isn’t it unethical what G.Kasparov is doing? What is his opinion? It would be nice to hear...

GM Suat Atalik

Meanwhile, we also received an open letter written by GM Suat Atalik (PDF here). The Turkish grandmaster, a long-time enemy of Ali Nihat Yazici, says he was "not surprised" about the exclusion of the arbiters from seven federations. 

Around the same time he asked for my exclusion from the 1st Grand European Open which took place in Golden Sands Bulgaria. His reason [is] that I am the only Turkish chess player who refused to sign an undertaking with the federation nor to ask permission to play in abroad.

The Turkish Chess Federation requests all of its members to ask permission to play abroad. Besides, a player has to sign an undertaking (PDF here) in which he states that he is responsible for all financial consequences of his participation in a tournament abroad, that he will "act in accordance with the responsibilities of a national athlete" and that he won't commit "any activity against Turkish Republic".

Not only this whole requirement stands against the human rights, it proclaims the chess player a potential criminal.

says Atalik, who is the highest rated player in Turkey. He further points out that he was suspended from play by a disciplinary committee with 3 months in 2008, and with 15 months in 2012-2013. According to Atalik this was the result of his refusal to sign the undertaking.

GM Suat Atalik: "It proclaims the chess player a potential criminal."

Also on Friday, Atalik forwarded the email thread between the organizers of the Golden Sands tournament and Yazici. The TCP President tells the organizers that Atalik's suspension.

should be followed by FIDE and all member federations of FIDE. (...) We protest this situation. We want FIDE clarify the situation and intervene to exclude Mr. Atalik from Golden Sands Tournament. We keep all our legal rights to appeal in GA in Istanbul and in international sport courts and diplomacy.

However, Atalik (and his wife Ekaterina) did finish the tournament. Yazici:

We will react to this not only in sport court, but also in criminal court.

Update 14:38 CET: shortly after we published this article, Yazici distributed a statement (PDF here) in which he resigns as FIDE Vice President. He finishes the letter as follows:

Our decision is one of principle and I do not want people to think that I have done this because two federations have sued FIDE over the number of nominated FIDE Vice- Presidents. I declared in the Krakow Executive Board of FIDE that I was ready to resign in order to solve that court case on the condition of costs being covered by the appellant. I know that the court case will finish on 29 June 2012. To demonstrate that this action is nothing personal, that it has nothing to do with me being one of the Vice-Presidents concerned (it has been alleged that it does), I have decided to submit my resignation from the position of FIDE Vice-President to the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and I would like to thank him for the unlimited trust he has shown me all these years.

I personally don’t need any title in order to stick by my principles and to contribute to the chess world. And for the rest of my life I will continue my work in this direction.

For those who want to see more details about my views and the background of this story, they can follow my recent interview with ChessVibes.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anon's picture

The USA and the other six federations should boycott the Olympiad entirely. FIDE is a disgrace. USA should quit FIDE entirely.

hm's picture

Peter, why did you skip the most important, this Yazici resigns actually from FIDE VP position http://www.chessdom.com/ali-nihat-yazici-resigns-as-fide-vice-president/

hm's picture

So if he resigns why hide it? Are you defending him? Hm. hm....

Deep Mikey's picture

You should read more carefully.

Columbo's picture

yeap ! or simply go back to school and learn how to read !!!

Peter Doggers's picture

As explained in the article, Ali sent his resignation statement shortly after we published this, and we've added it as an update.

hm's picture

You did publish only after I mentioned... Being on Yazici side does not help you, keep your jjournalism impartial. You onesidedly skip valuable info, everyone knows that.

Peter Doggers's picture

According to the time stamp of your first comment, you posted it exactly one hour after the update was published.

And about "skipping info", I'd love to hear more about that!

Columbo's picture

+ 1

Anonymous's picture


get a life loser.

Deep Mikey's picture

Danailov at Twitter: "Finally some people start to pay for their arrogance and stupidity.Payback time!Their friends are coming soon.To be continued.."

noyb's picture

Hey, this "house" of FIDE's stinks so bad, I say BURN IT DOWN!

Septimus's picture

These guys sound like a bunch of teenage girls squabbling about makeup. FIDE needs to be broken up. No need for a central body that is so divisive.

sur's picture

An example for "collecting sponsorship for chess euro by euro" from Ali Nihat Yazici:

Branch: Dubai
Name of sender: Global Chess MFZE
Adress: Same as G. Borg's Malta
Payment to: TCF
Details of payment: Sponsorship for ECU election
Amount: 67.500 USD

Peter Doggers's picture

That's a pretty serious accusation. Please contact us.

ejh's picture

I can't follow Yazici's argument in his resignation statement at all. Obviously this may be a language problem, but has anybody a better idea than I have?

cip's picture

it is not clear if the word "action" in:

"To demonstrate that this action is nothing personal, that it has nothing to do with me"

is meant as "the action of resigning" or as "the court case against FIDE".

Thomas's picture

"this action" clearly refers to the exclusion of arbiters from the seven concerned federations - mentioned in the previous paragraph of Yazici's resignation letter (not quoted by Chessvibes as it would have been repetitive).

To me, Yazici's given reasons are pretty clear: While he did benefit from Kirsan's appointment of five vice presidents, he no longer does now that he resigned. Hence he claims that all this isn't about him personally. Whether this is really true is quite another story ... .

ejh's picture

Ah, OK. So your interpretation is something like "I stand by the exclusions, and to prove I'm doing it on principle and not in dfence of my VP posiiton, I resign that VP position"?

I'm still confused about "I do not want people to think that I have done this because two federations have sued FIDE over the number of nominated FIDE Vice- Presidents". I thought that was precisely why he'd done it.

Thomas's picture

Yazici does say "I have done this because seven federations have sued FIDE" (at two different occasions). But he claims that their reason for going to court, let alone the fact that he's part of the problem, didn't matter at all.

(Note that I merely "translate" his statements, without believing them)

Janis Nisii's picture

One of the banned Federations have sued FIDE for having appointed too many Vice President (I can't remember the number, but I suspect they are some 15...), which is against the FIDE regulations and causes (indirect) costs. By resigning Yazici tries to state that his decision has nothing to do that one of the cases involves him personally, as one of the (too many) FIDE Vice Presidents.

Janis Nisii's picture

Woops excuse my mistakes. One of them makes it difficult to understand so here the correction: 'has nothing to do with the fact that one of the cases involves him personally".

Niima's picture

Kudos to GM Suat Atalik for standing his ground.

Denis's picture

I just see that the TCF is discriminating on which federations have to pay the Euro 100-registration fee and the Euro 70- pocket money,he sholud have told this when submitting Istanbul bid and i am sure Montenegro would have won.It he continues to dictate new conditions for participation i will not be surprise to see more than 30 registered countries cancelled their participation.mark my words !!!

Aditya's picture

"I have seen this with my own eyes. I am sure that Mr. A.Dvorkovich knows nothing about it – Levitov is behaving today as if he was the Russian Chess Federation! He plays his own game, but we have recorded it in our notebook..."

I have seen 9 and 10 year olds argue in a more reasonable manner than this.

Janis Nisii's picture

I'm astonished to observe that Yacizi fails to understand that it's not up to him (or the TCF) to decide weather a court case has been raised on political and/or unethical reasons. This is one of the circumstances that the court has to ascertain.
It's quite worrysome that individuals or body have to face this retaliation only because they are taking actions garanteed and protected by the law. This should be (and probably is) against the law. No law can allow someone to virtually nullify legal rights with a ban (or choice as Yazici likes to call it) or any other form of retaliation.

Janis Nisii's picture


Anonymous's picture

It's o.k., it simply means that you think phonetically! ;-)

bayde's picture

Out of curiosity: I wonder if there is a chance that this is Kirsan throwing Yazici under the bus.

I doubt it, though, since he says he was ready to resign before (who knows if this is true however), and I can't see what benefit Kirsan would have by this. Eliminating troublemakers ahead of Paulson's taking over the reins of world chess, because he knows what an embarassment they are? Scarcely possible..

Aditya's picture

Perhaps just eliminating troublemakers who might have gone too far. I think Kirsan is finding it very difficult to defend Yazici's actions with so much of the chess world breathing fire at TCF. The dictatorship is not subtle this time and many of Kirsan's own supporters might have a problem with that.

randi's picture

I think this whole thing is very cool. Before every Olympiad, and actually afterwards as well, there's controversy. Kudos for Yazici, FIDE, Illyumzhinov, Kasparov, Levitov, Danailov for always making news about themselves, and their insignificance, in a game where none of them is actually moving a single piece. I think their statements and actions are really helping to include chess in the Olympic games, not to mention their commitment to fill the atmosphere with uncertainty, ambiguity through countless empty words. Above all, a big round of applause to Garry Kasparov, a name that appears almost in every major chess event. Sadly, he hasn't moved a single piece for the last 7 years and wants to make a name for himself in areas where diapers are needed at the earliest stage. Let's buy some for Garry.

RealityCheck's picture


What's Next?'s picture

Wanted: A good chess diplomat. Peace and Love.

Anonymous's picture

"I wanted to shake the chess world"

LOL. Honestly man if feel like shaking something, shake something, try a cocktail.

Nobody in the chess world needs you and the other guy, Kirsan. Get back to where you belong and don't mess up the royal game of chess with your meaningless self-adulations. Thank you.

sur's picture

In Turkish Chess Federation web site Ali Nihat Yazici says that "he shakes his belly" looking at the positon of the game played between Yifan - Ozturk at Woman GP. This game was one and only win for Ozturk where she stands last in the tourney. But the guy declares proud. This is true. The language of this man is such... So he likes shaking...

Sakis's picture

I keep asking my self the same question for years.How all these ridiculous persons have managed to rule a game like chess?

darkergreen1327's picture

Totally agreed. That is why chess can not rise up! Letting these useless and ignorant people to the top positions of the world chess. Yazici is happy with miserable results of Turkish chess players. The only chess player who is accepted world wide, Suat Atalik, and his wife Ekaterina Atalik can not find any help from TCF etc. As a Turkish citizen I totally support these teams to boycott Istanbul games; seriously, this guy and the ones like him should be removed from their positions in world chess. Including Topalov's manager and FIDE president. Reasonable people who really love and understand chess should take over the lead.

Septimus's picture

It is possible to do anything if you line the pockets of the right people.

mar's picture

this clown is yet another embarrassment to chess

PeterV's picture


Barone's picture

FIDE has been under a dictatorship for too long, demostrating once again how having one man as a totalitarian leader and ruler does nothing to guarantee stability and clarity in any kind of political organization.

These men, who are at une time burocrats AND politicians AND "patrons" (whose money seemingly appeared from thin air someday), are doing nothing but creating confusion among Chess professionals and Chess fans, and in the mean time they keep on moving money back and forth in a shell game where, as dealers, they're the only winners.
As it is impossible to remove them without some kind of golpe (or some other illegal action which eventually would only sit new dictators on the same old thrones), a counterpart should be organized, but within the FIDE structure this time: not in a separated competing organization like the one Kasparov made some years ago.
That's why I think there is a paramount urgency for (semi-)professional Chess players to form a Union, democratically managed in order to represent and defend those who in fact are directly subordinated to the decisions of FIDE, but who, with their work, really spin the wheels of the entire bandwagon of Chess.

Eiae's picture

I am extremely surprised and happy that the Russian Chess Federation is waking up and speaks about democracy etc. Now please help rid us of Kirsan and Danailov too.
I think the chair just got a little warmer under Kirsan; just a little...

Anonymous's picture

First of all, funny that ChessBase has not written a single line about this tragicomedy. No suprise here since TCF and ChessBase has a commercial relation.

It is amazing that Yazici can see himself as important enough to shake the chess world. He is the head of a federation with dismal results.

Olympics and sport in general try to foster good relations between the players. Of course 1976 Haifa was a failure in this and 2012 Turkey looks like a good candidate.

Yazici is not sincere because he only expelled the arbiters. If he was really believing his case he should have expelled the players from those 7 countries but that needs courage!

randi's picture

Chessbase approach is somewhat different. They usually take a few days to cover or respond anything big as this. Chessvibes for me has well-timed info and good updates, it gives a good spin on things and let´s everybody talk. I wouldn't read too much into that.
That said, i fully agree with the rest :)

Thomas's picture

Anti-Chessbase statements are at least as predictable as anti-Turkish statements.

On the second just a few thoughts: As a distant observer, I wouldn't say that the Turkish federation has a dismal record, taking into account from where they came. About five or ten years ago I wasn't aware of Turkey as a chess country. In the meantime they found sponsoring money and organized quite a few chess events - generally well (apparently not for the forthcoming Olympiad, as far as we can tell right now). So Yazici going wild doesn't mean "let's make noise, else people don't realize we exist"; it's rather a matter of being drunk from the successes he had? And he does represent Turkey ... . All that being said, still my thumbs down for sirschratz.

On Chessbase: They did publish a report on 9th June - the fact that some people didn't notice (neither did I) doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. This was two days later than Chessvibes, possibly because they included (and had waited for) the official response of the English chess federation supported by five other federations.
On German Chessbase, two reports are currently on the front page - and two "details" suggest that they aren't pro-Yazici:
- a statement that the lion's share of FIDE's expenses in the first court case was for expert opinions ("Gutachten" in German) requested by FIDE
- a link to the French federation page who threatens indirectly but not too subtly with an Olympiad boycot: "We invite the Turkish federation and the Istanbul Olympiad organizers to reconsider their decision very quickly. If not we reserve the right to take measures with respect to that competition, including the most extreme ones."

If one chess site is biased, it would be Chessdom - the tone of their coverage and the fact that they only let Yazici "speak his mind" but not the other side. My impression used to be that Chessdom is heavily pro-Danailov, publishing ANY of his interviews or press releases. Apparently they changed their mind?

sirschratz's picture

but who can seriously be surprised?
turkey is a country of the middle ages - it has got a testosterone driven approach to equal rights or even democracy...

those numerous turkish people who are in favour of democracy live all over europe and enjoy their life in liberty - those who are left to run the country in turkey itself are a disgrace for any democrat...

this turkish president is simply a case in point....
dump them, never give any tournament again to turkey and go on playing chess. the chess world doesn't need turkey as long as it lives in the 14th century....

it's as simple as that - why bother??

sulutas's picture

And finally arrives an Anti-Turk in the posts. We have been missing you.

The stupid actions of a federation (which probably 99% percent of the Turkish population is not aware that there is a federation for chess in Turkey) have nothing to do with the nation herself. The USCF have done a lot of stupid things and made many mistakes in their history and on the basis of that, you wouldn't call the US as belonging to the 14th century. Who cares about the chess federations anyway? Apparently there is a game of power at the top of FIDE and every one plays their own card before the next elections - that is it!

Indeed it is no less stupid that any mention of 'Turkey' in the news here is enough to attract some idiots who look for the shortest way to throw it out in this comments section. and I don't know which one is worse: whether living in the 14th century or being a racist like you in the 21st century and telling other people in which countries chess should be played. With that mindset, you are not better than a 14th century bigot.

randi's picture

Yes, the use of racism or discrimination of any description is the easiest and stupidest way to open one's mouth.

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