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Форум » Международный Шахматный Форум » Публицистика » Kasparov Faces Obstacles to Leading Chess Federation
Kasparov Faces Obstacles to Leading Chess Federation
geslДата: Вторник, 29.10.2013, 12:03 | Сообщение # 1
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Kasparov Faces Obstacles to Leading Chess FederationBy DYLAN LOEB McCLAINPublished: October 28, 2013 Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who retired in 2005, is
preparing to re-enter the chess arena, and his next opponent may be the
most formidable, and strangest, he has faced.

Mr. Kasparov, 50, announced recently that he would run for the presidency of the World Chess Federation, the game’s governing body, and try to unseat Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who
has led the federation since 1995. The election will be held during the
Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, next August. Mr. Kasparov would seem to have a number of advantages. He is
charismatic, famous in the chess world and beyond it, and in frequent
demand as a public speaker. Since he retired from competition, he has
also been a political gadfly in Russia, a leader of opposition political
groups and an outspoken critic of President Vladimir V. Putin. By contrast, Mr. Ilyumzhinov, 51, is a businessman who was born in
Kalmykia, an impoverished Russian republic on the Caspian Sea, and
amassed a fortune after the fall of the Soviet Union, though exactly
how, and how much, is something of a mystery. He was the president of
Kalmykia from 1993 to 2010, serving partly at Mr. Putin’s discretion.
Though he never won fame as a player, Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s devotion to
chess seems genuine — but so are his eccentricities. He has said that he
believes the game was invented by extraterrestrials, and he claims to
have been abducted by aliens in yellow spacesuits on the night of Sept.
17, 1997. He built Chess City, a huge glass dome surrounded by a housing
development, in Kalmykia’s obscure and inaccessible capital, Elista,
and had the federation hold championship tournaments there. In June 2011, at the height of the civil war in Libya, Mr. Ilyumzhinov
appeared in Tripoli to meet with an old friend, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi,
ostensibly to discuss opportunities for developing chess programs in
the country. The men played a game of chess for the cameras. It was the
last time Mr. Qaddafi was seen alive in public before he was captured
and killed four months later. In an interview, Mr. Kasparov blamed Mr. Ilyumzhinov for one of the
biggest shortcomings of the federation, known by its French acronym,
FIDE: its inability to attract big corporate sponsorships. “Anybody
Googling FIDE sees he is dealing with someone who is taken by aliens and
is playing chess with Qaddafi,” he said. Mr. Ilyumzhinov, who also visited President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in
August 2012, said in an interview that his trips were not intended to
make statements. “Chess is not political,” he said. “I am not communist,
I am not socialist, I am not a democrat. I am peaceful.” Despite Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s quirks, Mr. Kasparov faces an uphill battle to
get elected. Each member country of the federation has a single vote
regardless of size, so the tiny Republic of Palau in the western Pacific
Ocean has the same say as the United States. While Mr. Ilyumzhinov has had little support in most Western countries
during his tenure, he has marshaled the backing of many small countries
that are not at the forefront of chess, and has had no trouble retaining
power. When Anatoly Karpov, Mr. Kasparov’s old chess adversary, ran for
president of FIDE in 2010, Mr. Ilyumzhinov beat him handily, 95 votes
to 55. Mr. Kasparov said that while past elections were dogged by rumors of
fraud and bribery and “were not transparent,” this time around “those
issues have been resolved.” He added obliquely, “I have resources that
can help me to run a global campaign.” Those resources include the deep pockets of Rex Sinquefield, a retired
businessman from St. Louis who is Mr. Kasparov’s nominee to lead the
federation’s organization in the Western Hemisphere. Mr. Sinquefield has
become the biggest benefactor of chess in the United States in recent
years, and has sponsored the United States Championship. Mr. Ilyumzhinov defended his record, saying that he had invested a lot
of his own money to promote the game and had attracted some major
sponsors, including Rosneft, the giant Russian energy company, which is
underwriting a program to promote the teaching of chess in schools and
has sponsored some tournaments. In general, he said, chess is hard to sell to sponsors, compared with
“action” sports like tennis, football and basketball that are
“interesting for TV.” At a chess tournament, the audience remains quiet
and minutes may go by without anything appearing to happen. “You cannot
say, ‘Go! Go! Rah! Rah! Good move!’ ” he said. “People want some
emotion. Chess is an art and not a spectator sport.” Mr. Ilyumzhinov insisted that Mr. Kasparov could do no better than he
had on the sponsorship issue. He said Mr. Kasparov was a poor manager
and that groups he started, like the Professional Chess Association in
the 1990s, had failed. He also criticized Mr. Kasparov’s political
activities in Russia, including his opposition to Mr. Putin. Mr. Kasparov said that, though he still believed that Mr. Putin was
“destroying the future of my country,” he would give up his political
ambitions and devote himself wholeheartedly to FIDE if elected. That would not be a very great concession, it would seem. In 2009, Mr.
Kasparov and his wife, Daria, bought a $3.4 million condominium on West
76th Street in Manhattan, and his youngest daughter attends school in
New York. He has spent less and less time in Russia in recent years, and
even said last June that he would not go back, for fear of arrest.
So as a practical matter, he said, “I don’t see how much this will scale back my political activities.”

Форум » Международный Шахматный Форум » Публицистика » Kasparov Faces Obstacles to Leading Chess Federation
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