Reports | July 25, 2012 10:35

Nigel Short reponds to FIDE (case closed)

English & Georgian chess federations vs FIDE

Once more we'll return to the the case between the English & Georgian chess federations vs FIDE, which was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on July 3rd. Yesterday Nigel Short sent us a letter in which he responds to FIDE's reponse to his comments on how FIDE reported on the case on July 5th.

That last sentence already sounded a lot like "they said, then he said, then they said, then he said", and so with this letter by Short we'll consider the whole thing, as far as the publication of open letters is concerned, as "case closed". As always, FIDE, Short and others are welcome to continue the debate in the comments section.

Summary of the preceding developments:

The English Chess Federation and the Georgian Chess Federation joined forces against FIDE and went to the CAS court, arguing that the nomination of five Vice Presidents in October 2010 was illegal. On July 3rd the case was dismissed by CAS, and FIDE reported on July 5th that they had won the case. About a week later Nigel Short, who was closely involved in the CAS case, wrote that "FIDE simply escaped on a technicality and fails to mention that it was severely criticized by the CAS Panel in its decision." FIDE considered this "odd and surprising" and that there was "nothing Kafkaesque" about the CAS procedural rule that an appeal must be filed within 21 days.

Letter by Nigel Short

FIDE tries in vain to obscure the clear message from the recent CAS decision that FIDE’s Statutes and Electoral Regulations must be reformed and its leadership must behave in a more transparent and fair manner. Nigel Freeman’s recent letter shows once again that the FIDE leadership is principally concerned with its own power and not the best interests of chess. Here is a point-by-point reply to him:

1.     FIDE cannot get around the fact that the case was dismissed on a technicality. As it was unclear whether FIDE’s improper decision to appoint five and not two Vice Presidents was the President’s or the General Assembly’s, the English and Georgian Chess Federations formulated appeals for both scenarios to ensure that the matter would be addressed by the CAS, regardless of whose decision it was (early on FIDE had indicated that it would try to escape a CAS decision on the merits by making the technical argument that the wrong decision was being appealed). The judgment of the CAS confirms that the English and Georgian Chess Federations were right to bring appeals for both scenarios – the CAS Panel itself “acknowledges that a level of ambiguity exists.” (§ 73 of the CAS decision). Logically then, one of the two appeals had to be dismissed, because the decision was either the President’s or the General Assembly’s, but not both. FIDE implies that the “dismissal on the merits” of the appeal against the President’s decision somehow means that FIDE was justified in appointing too many Vice Presidents. This is not correct. Instead, it means that the CAS found that the decision was the General Assembly’s, and so the appeal of a decision by the President could not go forward. The CAS then found that the appeal against the General Assembly’s decision was brought too late. The question under consideration by the CAS in this second appeal – whether a decision that is null-and-void under Swiss law is subject to the 21-day deadline or can be appealed any time – had never before been addressed by a CAS tribunal and no one could know the answer before the ruling was handed down.

2.     FIDE is right to point out that there were serious “questions of interpretation” at play in the CAS case, which is exactly why two appeals were formulated. As FIDE tries to side-step the plain language of the CAS decision calling for reform, we repeat it here (emphasis added):

“102. The Panel has reviewed and duly considered both parties' pleadings on the merits, and notes that these at the very least raise a number of prima facie issues regarding the clarity of the FIDE Statutes and Electoral Regulations, and regarding the internal governance of FIDE. However, having decided that CAS 2011/A/2392 is inadmissible, the Panel will not address in this award the parties' pleadings on the merits, which have been outlined above in Section VIII.

103. Nevertheless, the Panel would encourage FIDE to assess critically its past practice in light of the texts of its statutes and regulations, so as to maintain an appropriate level of transparency in its decision-making process.”

“109. In light of the Respondent’s success in challenging both claims commenced by the Appellants, the Panel considers that a contribution by the Appellants to the Respondent’s costs is warranted. However, the Panel considers that the scope of such a contribution should be limited in light of the fact that the Respondent’s awkward disregard for constitutional formalities during the FIDE Congress, which – by amongst others creating a level of ambiguity as to the nature of the appointment of the Five Vice Presidents – should have been understood by FIDE as having a potential to create discord and lead to the commencement of claims.

When FIDE recently unveiled its proposed amendments to the Statutes and Electoral Regulations, it tried to make it seem as if these changes were no big deal and provided minimal explanations of what it was trying to do. In fact, FIDE’s amendments will only perpetuate the problems highlighted by the CAS Panel because FIDE’s proposals are unclear, contradictory, drafted in bad English, and self-serving – don’t forget the provision that would give the FIDE President the right to appoint an unlimited number of Vice Presidents! By contrast, the amendments proposed by White & Case that were distributed to all FIDE members reflect a serious effort to professionalize the FIDE rules. White & Case’s proposed amendments make clear, among many other things, who appoints who, when, and in what manner. They also are clear, consistent, in good English (fundamental to the drafting of any laws or regulations), and based on internationally accepted principles of good corporate governance (note that White & Case has advised that it has focused on the most important provisions and that an even more comprehensive effort is really required).

3.     As explained above, the question under consideration by the CAS – whether a decision that is null-and-void under Swiss law is subject to the 21-day deadline or can be appealed at any time – had never before been addressed by a CAS tribunal and no one could know the answer before the ruling was handed down. In any event, FIDE in its third paragraph again admits to ignoring its own rules, just as the CAS Panel warned. The challenged appointments took place on 2 October 2010, but as Nigel Freeman states, FIDE only published the General Assembly minutes recording this event on 8 February 2011. This was more than four months (129 days, to be exact) after the close of the General Assembly, whereas the rules call for the minutes to be published within three months (Statutes, Article 4.12). Mr. Freeman also misstates when the appeal was first filed, as the case was not started on 29 March 2011 but on 24 February 2011 (well within 21 days of the publication of the GA Minutes.) It is high time for FIDE to become a rules-based organization and not one whose leadership does what it pleases, when it pleases, how it pleases. The Statutes and Electoral Regulations must be amended in Istanbul to adopt the changes proposed in the White & Case memo.

Nigel Short
English Chess Federation Delegate


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.


Rodzjer's picture

Nigel, are you aware that a week ago there was a tournament Dortmund, and now there is something going on in Biel?


ejh's picture

It is extraordinary that Nigel Short is able to write long letters replying to Mr Freeman, but is not able to say anything to members of the English Chess Federation regarding their own concerns, principally the way in which information seems to have been kept from members and officials by parties to the case - including, and perhaps especially, Nigel Short.

When I say "information seems to have been kept from members and officials", I mean partly that members were not even informed that the case existed: neither generally, nor at their AGM. But I also mean that the case may actually have been secretly prior to ECF officials actually having been invited to vote on whether it should go ahead - and without their knowledge.

In other words, regardless of the merits of the case (on which I make no comment) it was undertaken in a secretive and deceptive manner, in conflict with any principles of democratic accountability and to very much to the discredit of the people who chose to proceed in that manner. Principally, the ECF Delegate to FIDE, who rather than serving the organisation which elected him, appears instead to have served his own political interests.

noyb's picture



Septimus's picture

Enough of this bullsh## lets get back to chess.

B L's picture

Fighting a losing battle. I believe that FIDE has lost the confidence of most super-GM's anyway, so perhaps starting the momentus task of creating (or re-creating) a new chess organisation has merit.

valg321's picture

whether right or wrong, or somewhere in the middle, Mr. Short sure is a piss poor loser

RealityCheck's picture


Dump Short and Kasparov!!

Roy Gerbile's picture


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