Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Karpov for FIDE President

A report on Chessvibes that Karpov is seriously considering standing for the FIDE President post. The last time the FIDE Presidency was occupied by a real chess player was when the Icelandic grandmaster Friðrik Ólafsson held the post from 1978 to 1982.

The FIDE elections are due to be held during the General Assembly of the FIDE Congress which will be held during the 39th Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk in September 2010. Not everyone can simply stand for president. You have to be nominated by your chess federation. As of writing, the Russian Chess Federation have not yet nominated Karpov.

I believe a person of his stature can garner the necessary support to take on the incumbent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov who has held the post since 1995. Karpov may be way past his prime as a chessplayer but he is still very much a respected person. When his long time rival, Gary Kasparov was imprisoned for his anti-Putin protests, Karpov surprised everyone by using his political connection to visit Kasparov in prison. Even though I believe it is partly a public relations gimmick, you got to give it to the man. Appearing to side with a government opposition figure, even indirectly, is not something you do in a country such as Russia. Consider the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the Russian oligarchs, who at one time was worth billions. He was imprisoned in 2003 on tax fraud but it is commonly acknowledged that the real reason was his financial support of several political parties. While Kasparov was released after five days, Khodorkovsky is still in prison today.

So between Kirsan and Karpov, I'll take Karpov any day.


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