FIDE Elections Yerevan 1996

Mark Crowther reports


It was very difficult to make sense of yet another complicated FIDE Presidential election. Further stories and accounts are now available. Also the women's round 6 games and corrections will appear in next week's issue of the TWIC. Last week I criticised Phil Haley on the basis of a reported comment he didn't make, below he talks a little about his impressions of the FIDE elections. FIDE delegate Soeren Bech Hansen gives his account of the elections in Yerevan.

Willy Icklicki gives an interesting account of some of the behind the schenes negotiations on http://www.chessweb.com. His final comment about not understanding what political game Steven Doyle was playing seems a Universal one.

Last week the most detailed source available was that of Carol Jarecki. I added a lot of material to that from people who were also there. She quoted Phil Haley as saying something like, " I didn't vote for you but you won fair and square". With Phil Haley's previously very strong views about corruption in FIDE I found this a puzzling remark. The answer is that he never said any such thing. In a letter to me he has clarified what was said in this exchange.

"I absolutely did not say "but you won fair and square" . I congratulated Kirsan and added that I did not vote for you but I wish you success. She [Carol Jarecki] also said that Haley and others who fought for reform were happy that things ended up in the way they did. This is pure fiction."

Phil Haley in fact was one of the most tireless supporters of Sunye Neto and one of the few who challenged what was going on. He made it very clear in at least two addresses to the General Assembly that he found it "disgraceful that for the third year in a row secret discussions were going on well into the night." He tried hard to get motion introducing a system of voting for each individual position and although this got a majority it did not get the 2/3rds required to pass.

He adds:
"In spite of what seems like a large majority win for Iljumzhinov I believe that it was quite possible for Sunje-Neto to have won with a concerted effort by all who took part in the Utrecht meeting as each vote that changed sides has an impact of two votes on the final result. In defense of David Jarrett, he is capable, independent and intelligent and he sought my input before making his own decision as did Pedro Barrera. I believe that if we had to lose then we at least [should] have an honest and capable person as treasurer On the other hand I was shocked to hear President Iljumzhinov announce the appointment of Steven Doyle as vice-president as I would have expected him to have told me in advance... I had observed that Doyle was being uncharacteristically quiet at the General Assembly."

Phil Haley is Canada's Zone President and FIDE delegate and will be writing a full report upon the Yerevan elections.

Kasparov vs Karpov the re-match?

Last weekend saw the start of the Spanish Team Championships (which should have concluded on Thursday or Friday of this week). Ian Rogers drew with Anatoly Karpov on the first day, Karpov just played a couple of games over the first weekend. Before Karpov left for the Fontys International Tournament in Tilburg Ian asked Karpov about the document Andrei Makarov was waving about during the General Assembly in Yerevan. [See TWIC 100]

"Karpov said the document Makarov presented in Yerevan was an edited version of a private, not-for-publication agreement he had signed directly with Kasparov. Karpov said that it was his signature on the second page of the agreement but that it had been altered by Makarov; in particular with regard to him being 'only' FIDE Champion and Kasparov being the World Champion."

In addition Ian Rogers learned that

" Karpov has so far been paid only a tiny part of his prize from Elista. He had a call from Illumzhinov on Monday to assure him that everything was now in order and he can expect the money soon(!) Karpov now believes that the Elista organisers simply did not have the money when the match was being held."

Out of interest Ian said he was asking on TWIC's behalf. Karpov had never heard of TWIC. So I guess I can say what I like about Karpov......

The FIDE Congress in Erevan - by Soren Bech Hansen

I arrived in Erevan with some enthusiasm. I was going to represent Denmark as a FIDE-delegate at the FIDE congress. Furthermore, I was looking forward to be a spectator at the chess olympiad, should I have the time. I was also a little nervous as I have had some bad travelling experiences in the past - east of the iron curtain before it fell.

It did not begin so badly. I arrived in Erevan together with a Danish Grandmaster when the olympiad was six rounds old. The Grand Master had one of his legs in a plaster cast which had made the journey a little difficult but we were picked up in the airport by the Danish team captain and taken to hotel "Ani", where all the vikings from Denmark resided.

The election in Armenia held on the 24th of September resulted in big trouble in the capital. Citizens were demonstrating in the streets and they were shot at by the authorities. Some chessplayers heard the shots in the night, some saw fresh blood in the streets. Asking an Armenian soldier about what was going on I was told that everything was quiet in Armenia. In the days that followed the election, we were accompanied by three heavily armed soldiers in the buses that took us from the hotel to the playing site and back. Later on, this was throttled down to one soldier for each bus, but the Armenian authorities definately did take good care of us. The Armenian capital was crowded with tanks and soldiers.

The meetings of the various committees within FIDE developed well and piecefully. The Danish title applications were all approved and at the interesting meetings of the Rules Commission the new version of the laws of chess was thoroughly discussed - it will come into effect from the 1st of July 1997.

Almost every Dane became sick during the stay in Erevan. I had one and a half day where I could not keep food or water within me for long and an entire week with stomach problems.

The meetings of the FIDE Central Committee were surprisingly pieceful. It opened with a serious half-day clash between Florencio Campomanes and Steven Doyle (the US FIDE delegate) concerning the world famous ex-gratia payments. Apart from this, the agenda for the General Assembly almost had the full attention of the meeting - very appropriate.

A lot of unofficial meetings concerning the FIDE elections were held due to the coming elections at the FIDE General Assembly. Denmark supported the Brazilian candidate for FIDE president, Jaime Sunye Neto, and we did so all the way from the Utrecht meeting in April 1996 to the end of the congress in Erevan. I took part in some of these meetings myself, mostly in the night. Possible compromises between the various coalitions were discussed, and in the start a compromise between president Iljumzhinov and Sunye Neto seemed likely - a compromise where Sunye Neto would get the major influence, Iljumzhinov the title of president, and the people on Sunye's list the positions in the Presidential Board. Nobody seemed to care a lot about FIDE statutes or the agenda - the common attitude is that with a two thirds majority at the FIDE General Assembly you can do whatever you please.

The original list of Sunye Neto had eight names as candidates for the FIDE Presidential Board as a team. This list was smashed. Shortly before the congress, a very nasty letter from Nigerian Emmanuel Omuku was distributed in which he strongly opposed the Sunye Neto list. Mr. Omuku was on the Sunye list himself and he had had no objections to it at the meeting in Amsterdam held in July 1996, where the list of Sunye Neto was put together and Mr. Omuku was present. I wonder what made Omuku change his mind in the way he did. Russian Andrei Makarov was also on Sunye's list, and he suddenly left it during the congress in Erevan. Thereby, the original list of Sunye Neto was dead as only one name is allowed to be changed. The other list with French Bachar Kouatly as presidential candidate was also smashed. Hence we had chaos. As in Paris one year ago the new leadership of FIDE would have to be born out of negotiations behind closed doors, chaos, evil rumours and sudden surprising elections.

Besides the elections for the FIDE leadership, item 7 on the agenda, there were approximately 50 other items on the agenda. These were given very low priority by the chairman of the meeting. Two and a half days out of the total three days at the FIDE General Assembly were used on the election process and did therefore not deal with real chess matters.

As I experienced it, several times, president Iljumzhinov tried to be re-elected in a few seconds. An example of this was when Andrei Makarov suddenly read aloud a contract, apparently signed by both Karpov and Kasparov, claiming that a match between these two K's should be played for the world championship title. Andrei Makarov ended his speech by saying that only Iljumzhinov could make this happen and that he (Makarov) hoped for a re-election. This speech was immediately followed by the following comment from the FIDE President, chairing the meeting: "Any other suggestions for FIDE President?". I had the impression that the delegates had to be very quick to prevent this kind of "blitz elections". Actually, Florencio Campomanes was elected a full member of the Presidential Board in exactly this way. It was suggested by Professor Kurt Jungwirth, the European continental president, and followed by a "Comments? No, next one!" from the chairman of the meeting. I believe it took less than five seconds from the time of the suggestion to when Campo was elected. By the way, it was later reported that FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov had not signed the contract read loud by Makarov - I still do not know if this is true.

In the evening on the second day of the FIDE General Assembly, a FIDE- delegate apparently disappeared, namely Ignatious Leong from Singapore. There was a rumour that he had been approached by two of Iljumzhinov's bodyguards and that he had signed documents moving four proxies. Bachar Kouatly made a lot of noise about this at the meeting while Campomanes (chairing the meeting at that time) tried to stop him. This resulted in a razor-sharp speech from FIDE president Iljumzhinov in which he stated that this was an insult against his people and that he was willing to abdicate(!) if he was not wanted in FIDE. After this speech, the FIDE President declared the meeting adjourned until the next morning and left the room. As the lights went out and the micro- phones stopped working, the meeting in fact did adjourn. That night, various FIDE delegates did not sleep in their own hotel rooms. It seemed evident to me that over the night president Iljumzhinov would put together a new ticket and find the needed support among the delegates. That night, two tickets were made, one with Iljumzhinov as presidential candidate and one with Sunye Neto as presidential candidate. As the General Assembly had decided that only five names should be on the tickets, amongst others Einar S. Einarsson (the Nordic zonal president from Iceland) was no longer on Sunye Neto's list.

The next day, Ignatious Leong showed up again. I was told that the four proxies had been moved back to where they were and that the US Embassy in Erevan took care of Leong's protection.

That morning, I discovered that the British FIDE delegate was on Iljumzhinov's ticket. I consider this inappropriate as the British Chess Federation was present both at the meeting in Utrecht (and voted for the resolutions) and at the meeting in Amsterdam in July when Sunye Neto's original ticket was confirmed. I had the feeling that the USCF also changed attitude to the advantage of Iljumzhinov.

We finally had the election which was convingly won by the Iljumzhinov ticket that received 87 votes against the 46 votes for the Sunye Neto ticket.

Hence, Kirsan Iljumzhinov continues to be FIDE President with a leadership that looks as follows:



FIDE President           Kirsan Iljumzhinov            Russia

Deputy President         Georgios Makropoulos          Greece

Vice President           P.T. Ummer Koya               India

General Secretary        Noureddine Tabbane            Tunisia

Treasurer                David Jarrett                 England

After the election, Iljumzhinov proclaimed the following four FIDE Vice Presidents:



Vice President           Pedro Barreras                El Salvador

Vice President           Steven Doyle                  U.S.A.

Vice President           Andrei Makarov                Russia

Vice President           David Jarrett                 England

One of the first acts of the re-elected FIDE president after the elections was to announce the postponement of the World Championship Knock-out tournament with a 5.000.000 USD prize fund originally scheduled for december 1996. Iljumzhinov mentioned december 1997 as a possible time for the tournament. This resulted in quite a few questions from the delegates that represent countries that expected to organize zonal tournaments in 1997 - Denmark is one of these countries. Considering the current state of the FIDE World Championship, Denmark will not organise a new zonal tournament in the near future. Those who qualified in the zonal tournament held in Reykjavik in February 1995 still do not know what to do with their qualification. The World Championship of FIDE seems like a total mess to me.

Most likely, Kirsan Iljumzhinov will remain FIDE President for quite some time. He has been elected for two years and the next election in 1998 (for four years) will be in Elista, the capital of his own country. Iljumzhinov is very good at financial promises which a lot of the FIDE member countries like. It seems to me as if only parts of Western Europe and parts of America have problems trusting him. I believe FIDE will continue to exist as a whole, as Russia, England and presumably U.S.A. chose to support Iljumzhinov in Erevan. As I see it, the critical opinion of Denmark is mainly shared by Germany, Iceland, Sweden and Holland.

We will have to see what the future brings. If the newly elected FIDE leadership works well, things will definately improve.

Søren Bech Hansen (President of the Danish Chess Federation).