08 February 2014

Who Needs FIDE?

My previous post, It's Not About Short Draws, made me think about the FIDE presidential election, where Garry Kasparov has decided to go up against incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Let's say Kasparov wins. What impact would this have on the acceptance of chess960 within the traditional chess community? The same question applies to an Ilyumzhinov victory.

The Kasparov quotes in the 'Short Draws' post make it clear what the 13th World Champion thinks. If chess960 has any future with him in charge, it will be a watered down version with one or two new start positions 'authorized' by FIDE. As for Ilyumzhinov, nothing has happened under his leadership since my post titled Chess960 Rules Formalized by FIDE, almost five years ago. Chess960 is not on his radar.

A few days ago, on my main blog, I posted Chess Leaks Like a Sieve, with links to various resources that document contractual shenanigans on both sides of the election. The business of FIDE is chess and it's possible to put a price on the number of delegate votes necessary to remain in charge of FIDE.

One of the resources I studied for the 'Leaks' post was an interview with Bessel Kok, Ilyumzhinov's opponent in the 2006 FIDE election: Bessel Kok: "The normal way to win Ilyumzhinov impossible and now". The original page is in Russian and Google Translate is far from perfect, but Kok's thoughts shine through the translation.

[FIDE] is a very dense structure, the main role played by the environment in which the incumbent president. Many people in the federation are serving on committees or commissions, they have a little money, they are touring the tournaments ... That's their life. A little travel, organize meetings completely senseless.

This does not mean that they are directly corrupt, profit can be anything: contributions to the tournaments, the judges, the hotel is lo ... very advanced system. And why would they take and give up now? Do they return to their wives and will sit at home? These little bureaucrats? For them, the meaning of life. It is very important to understand. Many people think that there is some big conspiracy.

Kok's professional career was spent at the head of several important telecom companies, so I'm willing to wager that he knows a thing or two about bureaucratic structures. Since chess960 isn't important to Kasparov, Ilyumzhinov, or FIDE's 'little bureaucrats', why should FIDE be important to chess960? One answer might be 'to have access to the national federations', since FIDE's power is based solely on its usefulness to those federations. Under FIDE election rules, it's one country, one vote.

Speaking realistically, is there any reason to believe that interest in chess960 by the national federations is any greater than interest by FIDE? I suspect there is little interest and that talk about chess960 is just an annoyance for them, like flies buzzing around the room at one of their meetings.

If the chess960 community is serious about the future of their game, they should not rely on FIDE or on any other traditional chess federation, just as they should not rely on the chess publishing industry to advance interest in chess960. The entrenched chess interests have too much at stake to humor the upstart. What can be done to make independent progress? I have some ideas that I'll save for a future post. In the meantime I would love to hear what other chess960 fans think.


HarryO said...

Warning, I've had an idea...


GeneM and GarryK if you are here, are you really sure that only one extra position is a good idea? Doesn't technology destroy it?

Imagine what would happen. The players who will do best in the new position will be the ones that can afford the subscription to the ChessBase LiveBook and have the best memory recall.

Isn't chess already technology and memory intensive enough????

I hope that Chessbase do not bribe Kasparov into promoting the one extra position idea, I don't trust Kasparov and certainly not Chessbase who have a monopoly in that technology.

All the best.

Mark Weeks said...

See also the 'Not About Short Draws' post, linked in the first paragraph, for comments related to this post.