Reports | August 31, 2012 0:14

Proposed changes FIDE Statutes analyzed by White & Case

Proposed changes FIDE Statutes analyzed by White & Case

The Bulgarian, English and American chess federations have hired the prestigious law firm White & Case to analyze the proposed changes to the FIDE Statutes which will be discussed at the upcoming FIDE Congress. An open letter was sent to all federations on Thursday with White & Case's findings.

Although the main event is of course the Olympiad itself, another very important event is about to start in Istanbul: the 83rd FIDE Congress. For nine days (1-9 September) FIDE officials, special committees and delegates from federations will attend meetings. For example, there will be sessions with the Rules & Tournament Regulations Committee, the Swiss Pairings Programs Committee, the Trainers Commission, the Chess in Schools Commission and the Ethics Commission, to name a few.

On the last three days there's the meeting of the General Assembly. As the highest authority of FIDE the GA exercises the legislative and executive power. It supervises the activities of the Executive Board, the Presidential Board, the President and also the other FIDE officials and organizations. It approves the FIDE budget, elects the Presidential Board, Ethics Committee, Verification and Constitutional Committees and determines the schedule of FIDE activities.

We mentioned the FIDE Congress at the end of July when it became clear that Ali Nihat Yazici, the President of the Turkish Chess Federation, has proposed to "suspend from FIDE" the seven chess federations that started two court cases against the World Chess Federation recently. This controversial proposal was put on the agenda of the FIDE Congress, which was published by FIDE together with the Annexes. (You can download the full schedule of the FIDE Congress here.)

On August 2, FIDE published proposed changes of the Commissions, the Electoral Regulations, the FIDE Statutes, the Financial Regulations and the Official Languages. Arguably the most important are the proposed changes of the FIDE Statues.

White & Case analysis

Today we received an open letter written by the President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, Silvio Danailov. It was sent to all chess federations, who were notified that the federations of Bulgaria, England and the USA hired the prestigious law firm White & Case to analyze the proposed changes to the FIDE Statutes. The results of the analysis have in fact been submitted for inclusion in the General Assembly’s agenda, along with an Executive Summary of the most important provisions. (They can be found on the FIDE website in PDF here.) To make sure that the federations wouldn't miss this topic, they all received it again in PDF (here for download) in their inboxes today.

In the document it is said although FIDE has adopted at least half of the many important proposals made by White & Case, it

still fails to address some of the most important issues that have led to problems. Also, many proposals remain in bad English or contradict other provisions in the rules.

While there will be much more to be discussed at the FIDE Congress, the White & Case document mentions the following issues (summarized by us):

Unlimited Vice-Presidential Nominations

The Statutes currently allow the FIDE President to appoint two Vice Presidents before the General Assembly then votes on three additional Vice Presidents – so a total of five Vice Presidents. FIDE proposes to delete this provision, and instead to include a provision in the Electoral Regulations giving the FIDE President the right to appoint an unlimited number of Vice Presidents. White & Case thinks this is bad because it is destabilizing to have the number of voting Vice Presidents and members of the Presidential Board change every four years. Besides, a too high number reduces the prestige of the office and is a financial burden on the organization. They also see a danger of political favoritism and corruption during the Presidential elections. White & Case advices to keep the current rule in the Statutes unchanged.


FIDE removes the entire Proxy section from the Statutes into the Electoral Regulations and provides only minimal procedural clarifications. White & Case thinks this is bad because the proxy provisions are relevant also in non-election years as a federation may want to give a proxy for a General Assembly meeting in a non-election year. "FIDE has historically suffered tensions and problems in resolving confusing proxy issues (...)" White & Case proposes that the proxy provisions should remain in the Statutes. They have several other suggestions about the proxies procedure, starting with that they suggest that a neutral professional entity verifies the proxies, establishes the final list of those eligible to vote, ensures that this information is publicly available in advance of the General Assembly meeting, and reports on it at the beginning of the meeting before the roll call.

Denial of Jurisdiction at Court of Arbitration for Sport

FIDE proposes to send disputes relating to all matters other than the “playing of chess” to the courts of Lausanne in Switzerland, rather than the English-speaking Olympic court. White & Case thinks this is bad because FIDE is being self-serving in this proposal, at the expense of access to justice for member federations. The federations would be forced to hire Swiss lawyers to handle their cases, instead of using familiar counsel. Besides, much of the communication would be in French, the Olympic aspirations would be damaged and the experience of CAS would be missed.

Unfair advantage to incumbents running for reelection

FIDE retains the speeches of the incumbent President and Treasurer before the elections take place. White & Case thinks this is bad because having these speeches before the election denies a fair playing field by giving the incumbents an unfair advantage by allowing them to speak and influence the federations immediately before votes are to be cast.

Individual presidents, not federations, nominate candidates

FIDE proposes stripping from federations the power to nominate candidates, and requiring the vote of five federation presidents to nominate. White & Case says that the power to nominate someone to run for FIDE office should remain in federations, and not be vested in individuals.

At the end of its document White & Case refers to some other FIDE proposals "that you should watch out for in Istanbul", and emphasizes that they have focused their attention "only on the principal issues that arise from FIDE’s drafts".

We recommend that in due course the FIDE Statutes and Electoral Regulations undergo a more comprehensive substantive and linguistic review, to ensure that other problems not addressed at this time are corrected. In the meantime, making the changes proposed in the White & Case memo are the bare minimum required to bring about a more transparent, well-governed and harmonious FIDE.

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.


PP (nl)'s picture

Zucht... I should not have read this. What an organisation. I'm going to have a drink.

Ed Dean's picture

Does anyone know if similar organizations like the Int'l. Go Federation and World Bridge Federation are as messed up as FIDE always seems to be, or is the chess world just special in this regard?

Arne Moll's picture

Decent recommendations, but I'm afraid in the end nothing will come of it, like always. As long as countries choose to continue supporting FIDE by participating in their events - Bulgaria, England and USA are all playing in Istanbul- Kirsan and his allies can continue to do whatever they like.

Anonymous's picture

I am hopeful that the hiring of this big law firm by these federations is a way of starting a paper trail while openly giving FIDE plenty of opportunity to reform. If not, then I think these three federations will start a rival world chess organization and see which national federations follow suit.

Olli's picture

Great idea, a new world chess organisation. Would make Iljumshinov, Yacizi and those folks irrelevant, if enough of the "big" chess nations follow.

graba bpawnavich's picture

Vote with the feet
so what should the new federation be called ?

World chess federation

Barone's picture

Still no mention about giving each federation a voting power wighted in proportion to their number of anlisted players!
To me, it looks again as if their proposal is just another try to consolidate the present despotical and incoherent situation, when all major changes seem to give yet more power to the presindent's crew, as if it wasn't already more than too much.

Anonymous's picture

Did the big shot lawyers miss the part where only IOC members can become new members of fide? The IOC is not the Association of national olympic committees, it is ca 100 individuals like Prince Albert of Monaco. Also fun is that the international chess fed will become the world cf, to include aliens of course.

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