Stormy elec­tion

The power of in­cum­bency was demon­strated at the re­cent Fide pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LEISURE - QUAH SENG SUN

LONG be­fore the World Chess Fed­er­a­tion’s (Fide) pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was held at the re­cently con­cluded Chess Olympiad in Khanty Man­siysk, Rus­sia, the writ­ing was al­ready on the wall that Kir­san Ilyumzhi­nov was des­tined to be re-elected as Fide pres­i­dent.

Months be­fore the elec­tion, both Ilyumzhi­nov and his ri­val, the for­mer world chess cham­pion Ana­toly Kar­pov, had been criss-cross­ing the globe to drum up sup­port for their re­spec­tive can­di­da­cies from among the far-flung na­tional chess fed­er­a­tions that make up the global chess fam­ily.

Kar­pov’s strat­egy was sim­ple enough. Though ev­ery nation knew him as the 12th world chess cham­pion, he still needed to visit them and con­vince peo­ple in those chess fed­er­a­tions that he was a vi­able can­di­date to lead Fide for the next four years.

He cam­paigned on a plat­form to bring in re­form and make chess more vis­i­ble to com­mer­cial spon­sors.

Ilyumzhi­nov, on the other hand, had lit­tle ne­ces­sity to con­vince peo­ple at all. With the power of in­cum­bency, he could make im­promptu de­ci­sions on Fide’s be­half. Nev­er­the­less, he took no chances and vis­ited Fide mem­ber coun­tries, of­ten al­most shad­ow­ing Kar­pov’s move­ments.

Ilyumzhi­nov also had a pow­er­ful card up his sleeve. Wher­ever he trav­elled, he ex­tracted letters of sup­port from mem­ber na­tions which he proudly pro­claimed on his cam­paign web­site.

On the other hand, Kar­pov pre­ferred to keep his sup­port un­der wraps right un­til the end of the cam­paign, pos­si­bly to keep up an Ilyumzhi­nov guess­ing game.

Whether or not Kar­pov had adopted the right tac­tic is de­bat­able, but ev­ery­one who fol­lowed the elec­tion in­trigues on the two can­di­dates’ cam­paign web­sites didn’t need great skill to see that the num­ber of coun­tries that sup­ported Ilyumzhi­nov far out­num­bered Kar­pov’s.

Nev­er­the­less, Kar­pov was still hope­ful for the num­bers to re­verse them­selves in the run-up to the Fide elec­tion. A let­ter of sup­port, he rea­soned, may not nec­es­sar­ily trans­late into a firm com­mit­ment as long as the vote had not been cast.

More­over, he was hop­ing for a mir­a­cle

Up next

UPSI open: Univer­siti Pen­didikan Sul­tan Idris is or­gan­is­ing a tour­na­ment at its cam­pus in Tan­jung Malim, Perak, this week­end. Seven rounds, one-hour time con­trol games. De­tails from Mohd Huzairi (013-595 9350 / mo­hd­huzai ri89@ya­hoo. com) or Izza Has­rina (012-741 2326). Gi­ant Ku­lai open: The Jo­hor Baru Chess As­so­ci­a­tion, Rakan Muda Jo­hor Baru and the Gi­ant Ku­lai Hyper­mar­ket are jointly or­gan­is­ing the Gi­ant Ku­lai open chess tour­na­ment at the hyper­mar­ket in Ku­lai, Jo­hor, on Oct 31. Seven rounds, 25-minute time con­trol games. En­tries close on Oct 29. De­tails from Narayanan Kr­ish­nan (013-771 7525, jb_chess_as­so­ci­a­tion@ya­hoo.com). MSSM-Master­skill chess: Pol­gar Chess Asia is or­gan­is­ing the MSSM-Master­skill na­tional scholas­tics chess cham­pi­onship at the Master­skill Uni­ver­sity Col­lege cam­pus in Ipoh, Perak, from Nov 8-12 in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, Ma­jlis de­ci­sion from the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sports in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land. There, five chess fed­er­a­tions had ap­plied to the court to dis­qual­ify Ilyumzhi­nov’s team be­cause of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

This, the court re­fused to rule on, pre­fer­ring in­stead to let the sta­tus quo re­main. Nat­u­rally, this was a big set­back for the Kar­pov team be­cause a lot of op­ti­mism had been placed on the court to agree with them.

When this didn’t ma­te­ri­alise, it was al­ready too close to the elec­tion date. With just a week to go, the only al­ter­na­tive left for Kar­pov was to plunge head-on into the elec­tion and face Ilyumzhi­nov in a do-or-die bat­tle.

It seemed that right un­til the day of the elec­tion, Kar­pov and his team were still qui­etly con­fi­dent of win­ning but Ilyumzhi­nov’s in­cum­bency meant that he held the win­ning card.

Among them was the power to show that he was in charge when mak­ing de­ci­sions, and there were de­ci­sions made that were re­port­edly not at all favourable to his ri­val. Re­ports from Khanty-Man­siysk sug­gested that at times when the meet­ing turned stormy, the mi­cro­phones were turned off to leave Kar­pov and his team with­out a voice.

There was also the is­sue of the con­tentious but im­por­tant proxy votes from del­e­gates who had passed their cast­ing votes to Ilyumzhi­nov. In the end, with Ilyumzhi­nov win­ning 95 votes com­pared to Kar­pov’s 55 (and three ab­sen­tions), it still proved im­pos­si­ble for a chal­lenger to dis­lodge an in­cum­bent.

So Ilyumzhi­nov, who had held the Fide pres­i­dent’s post for the past 15 years, will con­tinue in this po­si­tion for the next four years.

In the days fol­low­ing the elec­tion, there were at­tempts to close ranks with Kar­pov, who was of­fered a role as the Fide Am­bas­sador for Life, but Kar­pov turned it down. The strug­gle against Ilyumzhi­nov, it seems, con­tin­ues. Sukan Seko­lah-Seko­lah Malaysia and the Malaysian Chess Fed­er­a­tion.

There will be six age group events – the un­der-13 open and girls sec­tions, un­der-11 open and girls sec­tions, and un­der-9 open and girls sec­tions. Each state, through its re­spec­tive schools’ sports coun­cils, may en­ter one player for each sec­tion. In­di­vid­ual non-of­fi­cial en­tries are also ac­cepted with a RM100 en­try fee.

The win­ners will rep­re­sent Malaysia at the Asian schools chess cham­pi­onship in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from Dec 16-23. De­tails from Peter Long (pe­ter­long@aol. asia) or Gre­gory Lau (greglau64@gmail. com). SJKC Jln Davidson open: SJKC Jalan Davidson in Kuala Lumpur will or­gan­ise an open chess tour­na­ment for un­der-16 play­ers at the school on Nov 14. Six rounds, 30minute time con­trol games. En­tries close on Nov 12. De­tails from Collin Mad­haven (016-212 3578) and Bob Yap (012-287 8378).

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