Reports | September 20, 2010 20:39

Karpov vs Kirsan at the CAS in Lausanne - silence before the storm?

Ilyumzhinov vs KarpovLast Wednesday a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland started that could have enormous consequences for the chess world. Anatoly Karpov has taken Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to court in an attempt to get his ticket at the upcoming FIDE Presidential elections invalidated. While there's deafening silence about the case in the media, the CAS is expected to make a ruling early this week.

Early July the Karpov2010 team issued a formal request from the international law firm White & Case to FIDE for “removal of false statements on FIDE website and disclosure of documents supporting nominations announced on website”. Karpov's attorneys pointed out a number of "discrepancies and contradictory positions" and illustrated "the conflict of interest and resulting abuse of FIDE powers already present in the campaign".

The request came down to:

  • Remove immediately from your website the conclusory and one-sided statements regarding the Russian Chess Federation’s nomination, as these statements provide an incorrect and biased picture that hurts our client’s campaign.
  • Provide us by close of business on Tuesday, July 6 with copies of the documentation supporting Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s nomination by Argentina and Mexico, Mrs. Beatriz Marinello’s nomination by Chile and Brazil, and all other nominations of individuals running on Presidential tickets and for the office of Continental President, so as to allow our clients to verify the timely submission and validity of these nominations in advance of the Presidential Board Meeting in Tromso, Norway on July 24-25, 2010, at which you have stated you plan to certify the nominations. Alternatively, we are prepared to send a representative to the FIDE Secretariat in Athens to review and copy the documents personally on Wednesday, July 7, 2010.


Questioning the validity of Ilyumzhinov's ticket, the Karpov team decided to take their opponent to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, where a hearing started last Wednesday, September 15th. In this case Karpov, backed by the chess federations of the United States, France, Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine, questions the validity of Ilyumzhinov’s claim to have been nominated by the Russian Chess Federation as their candidate for the FIDE presidential elections. Moreover, the validity of Ilyumzhinov’s nomination by Argentina and Mexico is also questioned, as is Mrs. Beatriz Marinello’s nomination by Chile and Brazil (relevant because a team must include a female delegate). In the meantime Argentina has made clear their support for Karpov.

According to this Kommersant article FIDE's representative tried to persuade CAS to postpone any decision, but the court took Karpov's side and the case should be completed at the beginning of this week. Other sources told us the ruling should be today, but this seems unlikely since today is a holiday in Lausanne.

Deafening silence

Remarkably, CAS in Lausanne doesn't mention the case in their list of hearings. We've tried to contact representatives from both camps, but so far almost no information was shared with us because the case has a high level of confidentiality. A spokesperson from FIDE said that even they didn't know when the ruling will be. Someone from the Karpov team only wanted to mention that "everyone is in Lausanne", but not more.

(By the way, we were also promised an interview with the number 2 on the Karpov ticket, Richard A. Conn Jr., similar to the one we did with FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman. We sent questions about a month ago, but then never heard anything from them. The Karpov team seems either too busy, or too afraid to damage their strategy, to seriously answer the media.)

No elections?

It's clear that very much is at stake: if Karpov won outright in Lausanne, there wouldn't be elections on the 29th of September in Khanty-Mansiysk, and Karpov would be annouced as new FIDE President in the absence of an opponent, just like he was announced World Champion in 1975 in the absence of Fischer. An unlikely, but not altogether impossible scenario.

Update: the above is not completely true. If Ilumzhinov's ticket was invalidated by CAS, Karpov's ticket could theoretically invalidated as well by the General Assembly in Khanty-Mansiysk.

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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.


Eloko's picture

Now that FIDE has become a state like presidential run with all its whimiscal and clowny acts I was wondering...


I mean at least a channel that can focus on interviews or reports of all important stuff... and maybe tourneys with an adequate time control to be comfortable viewed "live".

I have seen so stupid thegarbagethingchannel programming airing all over the world. This its not a crazy idea... oh and I'm not deiluminov.

Imagine doing a soap opera on the toilet gate???

or watching funny videos of chess by showing off chucky trashing the board...sad, angry and WTFIAD expressions...of top 10 players.

john's picture

oh imagine FIDE President by default...the Caissa loves a good chuckle lol

LMedemblik's picture

In the animal world the fight for power is a fight for the right to (check) mate.

Dragan's picture

Your last paragraph is not correct. The FIDE general assembly as the highest body can still decide that both tickets are invalidated. See item 3.2 in the agenda here:

Arne Moll's picture

You mean they can overturn the verdict of the court, Dragan? That would surely be interesting (and unprecedented), although I agree one shouldn't rule anything out as long as Kirsan is in charge of things.

Oscar's picture

I think Dragan means that the General Assembly can decide that the ticket of Karpov is invalid. They can't overturn the verdict of CAS. If CAS would decide that the ticket of Ilyumzhinov is invalid, the General Assembly might put the other ticket out of the race as well.

Calvin Amari's picture

What a rude awakening for Ilyumzhinov. His plan for winning, as in the past, was hinged on his firm view that he and his henchmen would be the sole arbiters of the election in which he himself was one of the candidates. As such, we not surprisingly have witnessed corner-cutting, corruption, and the hijacking of FIDE instrumentalities for Ilyumzhinov's own campaign purposes. Now the Court of Arbitration for Sport will be the neutral arbiter of one discrete set of major issues raised by five major national federations and the Karpov camp.

Regardless of how the Court rules, the important fact may be that the Court has accepted jurisdiction. It is important to note that the threshold pre-election issues that are subject to public scrutiny before the Court may not be the complete set of issues that could be brought. Federation officials, therefore, would be well advised to conduct themselves appropriately. Since further issues and challenges can still be brought to the Court, federation officials acting in accordance backroom election practices previously acceptable under Ilyumzhinov's wretched standards may well discover that more straightforward and transparent standards will apply this time.

Carlos A. Ilardo's picture

No entiendo muy bien lo que puede suceder ahora; según Kasparov en su visita a Buenos Aires, él aseguró que el resultado del tribunal suizo no será determinante, que incluso se podría hacer un gran daño al ajedrez, si el Sr. Ilyumzhinov convoca a una asamblea para desconocer ese fallo. No entiendo cómo entonces, el resultado del TAS puede dejar sin efecto la elección para presidente de la FIDE

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