Reports | September 29, 2010 18:11

FIDE Presidential elections start in chaos, voting has begun (UPDATES)

Ilyumzhinov vs KarpovOn the first day of the 81st FIDE Congress the FIDE Presidential elections have immediately led to chaotic situations. The meeting in Khanty-Mansiysk started with protests about unfair procedures, an agitated Kasparov trying to make his point and two delegates from Peru who both claim to be the chairman of the chess federation. Then, in the middle of things, the incumbent President started his presidential speech.

The Russian news service Soviet Sport already reports:

"The meeting began with a roll call. According to the rules here should be attended by representatives of all countries, under the wing of the FIDE. Some delegates could not arrive at Khanty-Mansiysk, but sent an official letter of attorney, which gave his voice for that particular candidate. At the time of roll call, with strong statements made by the 13-time world champion Garry Kasparov (representing the team Karpov), there was shouting about the illegality of the vote and a demand for the adjournment of the meeting.

The meeting wasn't adjourned. According to our source in Khanty-Mansiysk the voting hasn't started yet. "It's a complete chaos. Representatives of the Karpov team aren't able to speak. There have been some protests already about unfair procedures, and at some point the FIDE guys decided that 'only the delegates are allowed to speak'. When one councellor said something after that, she was threatened to be kicked out of the room."

Then there was the case of Peru, one of the countries of which it is not clear on which candidate the delegate will vote for. "There were two different representatives, who both claimed to be the chairman of the chess federation. Then Ilyumzhinov went to the microphone and said he had been to Peru, and that the first who had spoken was the actual chairman, despite the fact that the second speaker had documents to proof his status. Needless to say, he supports Karpov."

"This led to more aproar, and more threats. And then, out of the blue, Kirsan started his presidential speech, telling what he had reached in 15 years of reign, for about 20 minutes. Then FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman spoke. At this point it's not clear when the actual voting will take place."

Update 11.29

Kasparov questioned the proxy list and procedures. TWIC's Mark Crowther writes:

In TWIC59 I reported on the overthrow of Campomanes. There was a report about his behaviour in the 1994 Moscow FIDE elections. "Also Kurt Jungwirth presented a "devastating" (according to one observer) report about election irregularities during the 1994 Moscow Olympiad. In one particularly glaring case Campomanes used the Philippine vote himself voted and the Brunei proxy (which was given to the Philippine delegate not Campomanes) he was not entitled to do either of these things. This, of course was enough for him to get through the crucial vote allowing him to stand."

However the abuse of these proxies has continued over the years and in some ways has practically guaranteed Kirsan Ilyumznhinov's re-election. For many years Campomanes remained on FIDE's payroll. His knowledge of the election process and contacts was probably the main reason.

Update 11:42

The proxy list includes 56 countries of sub-delegation of their voting power to representatives of other states. According to Utro Kasparov said: "The normal procedure was violated. We simply insist on respect for the law." The 13th World Champion also said that on the eve of the opening of FIDE Congress there were clear examples of fraud and cheating by the organizers of the event. "In recent days there has been a monstrous pressure on the delegates. I know that members of some African countries were sent home, after their proxy was taken."

Update 12.48

The actual voting has started. The delegates can choose between:

Presidential ticket Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
1. President - Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
2. Deputy President - Mr. Georgios Makropoulos
3. Vice President - Mr. Lewis Ncube
4. Vice President - Mrs. Beatriz Marinello
5. General Secretary - Mr. Ignatius Leong
6. Treasurer - Mr. Nigel Freeman

Presidential ticket of Mr. Anatoly Karpov
1. President - Mr. Anatoly Karpov
2. Deputy President - Mr. Richard Conn Jr
3. Vice President - Dr. Aguinaldo Jaime
4. Vice President - Prof. Dr. Alisa Maric
5. General Secretary - Mr. Abd Hamid Majid
6. Treasurer - Mr. Viktor Kapustin

Update 13.02

RIA Novosti reports that the procedure for the election began at around 16.00 local time (12.00 CET).

Voting booths open, the curtains drawn apart. Before entering the voting booth a delegate has to leave on the table at the counting commission all the photos and video, and mobile phones. Such a requirement is to prevent bribery of delegates who could fix his choice and then submit a "customer" photos as evidence. Before the elections, the delegates passed rigorous instruction - there was over 30 minutes of explaining the rules of filling the ballot. Presumably the voting will last about three hours, after which the counting commission will begin to count the votes. The composition of the counting commission included representatives of the British Virgin Islands, Barbados and Italy.

According to Soviet Sport two members of the counting commission were replaced at the last minute.

Update 13.20

Sportcom adds a few details from this morning:

The Congress was opened late, but from the very beginning we have observed a number of technical problems. As it turned out, the hall where the delegates gathered, was unable to accommodate all members of Congress. Then, because of broken microphones half of the delegates have not heard a report on proxy voting.

Update 13.29

Ugra Inform speaks of a 'scandal' at the elections, because there is

uncertainty among the participants of the legitimacy of the right to transfer the votes of some countries. Most discussions have been about proxies for Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, Sudan, Rwanda, Thailand, Ethiopia, Fiji, Laos, South Korea, Macau, Malawi, Myanmar, Solomon Islands and Cyprus.

In his speech Karpov mentioned that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has long departed from this practice, "because it is very scandalous and questionable".

Update 14.18

Meanwhile, the Ilyumzhinov campaign site claims the support of 'a staggering 102 national federations', and Kasparov is quoted by UkrInform:

We have many things in life apart from FIDE. But Ilyumzhinov has something to lose. Moreover, apart from the presidency he has nothing left. Delegates are intimidated almost all dance to the tune of Ilyumzhinov. We're trying everything possible, but apparently it's useless.

Update 14.46

Robert Fontaine and Gérard Demuydt of Europe-Echecs posted a video with footage of the General Assembly. It includes an agitated Garry Kasparov and Bachar Kouatly who demand a different procedure. At some point the GA had to be stopped for a while.

Update 14.54

Ilyumzhinov wins the elections - see our separate report.


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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.


bayde's picture

Of course you knew this was going to happen. Just like Moscow '95. Thanks for the updates!

Will stay tuned....

sdgsodbsbdga's picture

Jeebus christ what a freaking mess.

kees's picture

Excellent work Peter, hope you can keep us up to date and thank you so far!

Joe's picture

This sounds so interesting ;P

Martin's picture

If Ilyumzhinov is re-elected like this, I feel all western countries should just leave the FIDE and start a new federation with good regulations.

Jon's picture

Thanks Peter! Indespensable!

@Martin, Re-election is not a sufficient reason, but perhaps the way the election is conducted. Then comes the problem that Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China and other "Kirsan-country" are the homecountry of so manye strong players. However, East-europe and post-USSR countries are not so dominating as strong as they used to be. If only Ukraina could join the group of leaving countries, then...

bas1191's picture

It's about time we put an end to this ridiculous circus. Who wants to be member of FIDE when it even denies the identity and authenticity of the chairman of a national chess association?

Jon's picture

Who is England routing for?

Martin's picture

@Jon, please note the "like this" part.
But in any case, even if it was a 'democratic' vote, even then I would vote for leaving. It's completely absurd that big federations like Russia and Germany have the same number of votes (1!) as for example Cameroon or Aruba.
As long this isn't changed, you will always get shady, corrupted leader figures. Not to add that Ilyumzhinov is a complete nutcase as well (aliens etc).

Patrick Rasenberg's picture

Leaving FIDE is very tempting, but you have to consider the next step. Who will recognize the new federation? What will happen to titles and ratings? Confusion with the public and sponsors will increase even further. Will we have two Olympiads? Four World Champions? Two kind of GMs? The mess between 1993 and 2008 will be nothing compared to what will happen when FIDE itself will split into rival federations.

Daaim Shabazz's picture


You are deluded. What makes you think that Russia and Germany having more votes than anyone will not create a worse situation? It is not the poor nations who control FIDE... it is the larger ones. This is regardless of the voting structure. Small nations do not vote in a bloc anyway, but are divided whereas all the rich nations typically vote in a bloc. It would be a horrible thing to give Russia and Germany a disproportionate amount of votes based on a single factor like membership or number of Grandmasters. You would really have problems then. You think this election is bad? If you change the voting structure you'd have serious fights and certain disenfranchisement! Why should two countries control FIDE? Europe has been the problem with chess in the past 40 years, not Africa and the Caribbean. You should aim your complaints at the right parties!

Martin's picture

Agreed, it will be quite hard. So you must gain support from (close to) all important federations. That will be hard, but it will be worth it. Reason is that you get to compile new regulations. Everyone understands that it will be hard to change those now that all sorts of mini-federations having votes. Obviously they will not vote for any ruling minimizing their own power.

Mike's picture

That's the eternal fight between dominators and weak parties. Democracy also means that the weak ones should keep some minimum equal chances of representativeness, no matter how weak they are, otherwise the stronger parties (countries..), who in fact are not owners of the universe but just temporary users of its resources, would eventually dominate forever and sentence others to slavery...Let's dialogue and work on a better FIDE, and not take discretionary, unilateral and arrogant separatist measures...

Martin's picture

Daaaim, what are you talking about?
The obvious problem is corrupted leaders like Krisan buying votes from mini-nations, who have like 10 members and 1 rated player. They can be bribed by like donating 2 DGT clocks. And why on earth should they have the same number of votes as bigger federations? Did you see the reports illegal of proxy votes, or did you chose to ignore that?

By the way, I hope you understand I used RUssia and Germany as an example, because they are 2 of the biggest federations. But this will also mean Argentina, Holland, USA etc. Obviously this is the correct form of democracy. Of course this system isn't fool-proof either, but its a lot better.

And why has Europe been the problem with chess in the past 40 years?

Martin's picture

Mike, two things:
1) Democracy means majority decides, not the weak minority.
Of course you work on a system where any country has between 1 and 10 votes, but this is not a pure (indirect) democracy, but a deducted form. Also, these details are besides the point.
2) How do you propose to work on a better FIDE with the current de facto "FIDE elite" and the current regulations allowing them to stay in power like a despotism.

Arne Moll's picture

This is a total mess. Let's just hope nobody gets hurt.

Mike's picture

@martin: Not so simple...Sometimes majority is like a dictatorial populism, for example it was a majority who took Hitler and Peron to power, and caused decades of problems to their countries. Otherwise, the majority of people on Earth is poor, so, any system protecting poor counties, giving them equal value on votes, protect this majority, so, it's democratic. Want really change this situation..? So work on a better sustainable, educated and equal World, maybe with less wild irrational capitalism, and more cooperative, rational, and sustainable one. To work on a better FIDE, you must work on a better World.

Jon's picture

I agree with Martin, it's not a European problem.

On the other hand,
This is not only about 3rd world countries beeing pribed. The problems of the WC-cycle(s) has (also) to do with certain players claiming more than they deserve and being given that partly because they belong to some key-countries.

Martin's picture

@Jon, I see the leadership as the key problem and the WC-cycle issues as a 'derived' problem. It's certainly a situation that needs improvement and one that proves we need strong and widely accepted leadership.

bayde's picture

Martin, Daaim has a point. it's not *small* countries that are the problem. Presumably you like Luxembourg, because it votes the "right" way, yes?

Call it what it is--it's corruptibility. As Jon said, the big countries are as corruptible as the small ones. Russia, anyone? Have you not just seen the circus with Dvorkovich?

I'm not sure what the solution is, but removing Kirsan is a good start!

Jon's picture

I partly agree upon that, the WC-cycle being a derived problem. However, that does not take away the responsability of those players and those key-nations that Kirsan rely upon. Moreover, I expect a little bit more from some seemingly democratic 2nd world nations than some 3 world. Even candidate Karpov knew how to use FIDE to suit his own interests.

mishanp's picture

Peter/Arne, the last link doesn't go to the Kasparov quote!

In general, where are the independent election monitors when you need them... It's shabby all round - Ilyumzhinov simply declaring who the Peruvian delegate is - proxies just based on e-mails. It's all we'd come to expect, but depressing all the same.

Martin's picture

Bayde, you make a valid point. I agree that the root problem lies with corruptibility and that being small alone isn't a criterion for being a 'badguy'. Unfortunately, corruptibility isn't easly to measure. Therefor I am using size as a proxy criterion for it.

Of course, big countries are corruptible as well. However, I'm assuming that most of these big countries will revolt from the inside if that happens. Even in an unsettled democracy like Russia signs of this have been reported if I interpreted the "Dvorkovich" issue correctly.. (I didnt read all about this, but didnt they somehow support Karpov in the end?)

The problem with the very tiny federations is that they have virtually no members to revolt when the federation goes against their will or intrerests. Also they are normally very poor countries, so their financial (or infrastructural) situation makes them easily bribed. All in all, since they have the same weight in the vote, they are easy votes to buy.

MP's picture

According to the russian sport site Kirsan secured his president position with 96 votes from 160.

sporty's picture
mishanp's picture

At least some black humour from Chessdom: "As with every important election worldwide, a scandal is normal to take place. "

bayde's picture

A sad, sad, sad, day for FIDE.

This is what it is like to live in the third world.


ap's picture

funny, bayde.. you think things are different in the "first" world ? :) 2 words: hanging chads.

ChessGirl's picture

This just confirms my suspition that, once again, Kirsan will get elected. I very, very much hope that I´m wrong, but Kasparov´s words are not encouraging at all.

Anastasia's picture

i knew he'd win with all those aliens supporting him

Aslan's picture

Kirsan has extended a hand to Karpov to join his team which is a smart political move as you would rather have your enemy closer to you than your friends! Having said that since Karpov has some standing he should seriously take up the offer and put across his ideas to FIDE and get it implemented. His platform is to change the way FIDE deals with the federations including curtailing the fees federations pay and increasing corporate sponsorship. What better way to show that he can deliver if he takes up the position and delivers. Then instead of dividing the chess world, Karpov would prove that he is not just all talk with no action but will deliver on what he has promised. It becomes a win-win situation as Kirsan remains President and Karpov can deliver on his promises and who knows at the next election Kirsan can be given an honorary position and Karpov can take over (provided Karpov delivers of course).

Will's picture

Reading all these comments, it's hard for me to understand how these people were at the same assembly where I sat for eight hours yesterday. Karpov was allowed to speak as much as he liked, although he had little to say. It is hard to say whether Kasparov was permitted to speak, since whenever he had something to say he followed his normal practice of just shouting over whomever was speaking at the time. Their American lawyers were not permitted to speak, and nor should they have been, they add nothing to a chess meeting and we would still be there now - once those people start, they never stop.
There was nothing improper about the way the proxies were handled, as the lawyers accepted when, after twenty minutes of shouting, they were finally persuaded to listen as Nigel Freemen read out the appropriate statute. In the end I believe there were only two votes against accepting the proxies, both cast by the same delegate since he had a proxy! Peru could have been handled better, but was hardly a scandal. I chatted to their "losing" delegate afterwards and he accepted that FIDE's own rules had been followed in a very complicated case.
The business with the vote scrutineers was strange. Kirsan announced three names and asked Karpov whether he objected. Everyone assumed he would, but he did not. Later, his lawyer asked that one of the three be replaced by the chairman of the Ethics Commission, which was of course fine.

Ralph Alt's picture

Karpov was allowed to speak as much as he liked??? Each candidate had 15 minutes.
Kasparov was permitted to speak??? He was no delegate and no president; so he was not allowed to speak.
Chairman of the assembly was going from point 0.2 of the agenda (report on the legality of proxies) to the next one without saying that after the roll call it will return to point 0.2 of the agenda = approving on legality of proxies. On the protests the chairman only said it wlll be discussed about the proxies, but not that it will be returned to point 0.2 of the agendan and it will be DECIDED about the lagality of the proxies. Maybe it was by mistake not to clarify that. But thus the suspicion existed that the chairman of the assembly would not return from point 0.3 to point 0.2
There were more than 2 votes against accepting the proxies that were not regarding the written rules of FIDE. In other matters the FIDE followed in a very strong manner the formal rules.

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