Three important FIDE issues will be settled at the U.S. Open in
Hawaii. The first is whether to boycott the Elista Olympiad in protest
against human rights outrages committed by FIDE President Kirsan "the
Khan" Ilyumzhinov. The second is who the United States ought to support
for FIDE president. The third is what concrete initiatives for change
ought our FIDE "team" to undertake at the FIDE Congress in September.
1. THE BOYCOTT ISSUE
The debate over whether to boycott the Elista Olympiad will
probably be framed as a question of professional freedom versus
political interference in the lives of our grandmasters. That is
a valid part of the story, but there is a good deal more.
First, conceding that our players should be free to play where they
wish, do they have a claim on the money of dues-paying USCF members who
strenuously object to the Federation financing trips to Khan Kirsan's
Kalmykia? Ought the Federation to undertake a private fund-raising
effort to pay expenses for the United States team? If that fails, why
can't the USCF denominate a team and tell our professionals that they
will be playing for the "honor" of representing the good ol USofA?
Secondly, ought the professionals who decide to attend the Olympiad
be regarded as honorable sportsmen or as semi-hoods who are knowingly
dealing in goods stolen by the Khan from the Kalmykian people?
Thirdly, if it is political interference to deny professionals the
opportunity to play in an Olympiad, is it also political interference to
finance their participation by using the money of dues-paying members
who object to sending a team?
Fourthly, is it true that the Khan would have confiscated child
support allowances for other projects if he had not chosen chess? If
so, then does failing to send a team make any difference whatsoever to
the Kalmykian people? On the other hand, does sending a team allow the
Khan's state-controlled press to claim legitimacy by pointing to our
presence as apparent American approbation for his regime?
2. WHOM SHOULD WE SUPPORT?
Our FIDE "team" will tell the Policy Board and Delegates that the
United States has no choice except to support the Khan for reelection or to
abstain from voting. The argument will be that the Khan has no opponent
(his speciality is to run unopposed in elections) and that we could
endanger our precious FIDE vice presidential post by failing to smile
benevolently on the Khan.
The counter-argument will be that if the United States finds the
Khan acceptable as FIDE president then we no longer have the right to
protest against future outrages. Many questions arise. If the Khan is
acceptable, then what is unacceptable? Is there anything that FIDE can
do that will rouse the United States to action? ANYTHING?
Those persons favoring a proactive FIDE policy will argue that we
are selling ourselves and international chess down the river for a
mess -- and a small mess at that -- of pottage. They argue that the
United States has to start somewhere at some time.
One idea would be for the USCF to cast a loud public vote for
Canada's ailing Phil Haley, one of the half dozen or so men in FIDE who
have conducted themselves honorably over the years.
3. WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
Our FIDE "team" will argue that the United States, in spite of
their inspired "team" leadership for some 15 years, can do very little.
We ought to keep our share of the FIDE vice presidency and work
devotedly on bylaw revisions. It will be the umpteenth revision.
Critics say that the time has come for the United States to rid
ourselves of the albatross of our FIDE "team" of Tim-Don-Arnie-Carol and
bring in new men to do the job. This job will include undertaking
vigorous diplomatic spadework to form a rule-of-law caucus within FIDE.
The common estimate is that there are between 30 and 50 countries
prepared to follow an American lead. The purpose of the caucus will be
to push for totally decisive radical reforms or, within a year or so, to
begin the process of founding a new world chess federation.
If the caucus initiative depends on the eventual response of other
countries, a second initiative depends only on the courage of our Policy
Board and its appointed international representatives. I refer to
sending an American delegation to Elista with the express purpose of
bringing the dictatorship of Khan Kirsan to a timely end.
What is to be done?
No American should shake hands with the Khan or conduct even
pourparlers with the man. Quickly, the word will spread around Elista
that the Americans do not regard the Khan as a legitimate president of
FIDE and, by extension, as a legitimate leader of Kalmykia. Further,
our representatives should meet publicly with the democrats opposing the
Khan in his own country.
It is true that the USCF lacks the power to elect a city councilman
in Elista. It is equally true that to imagine otherwise is to indulge
in folie de grandeur. Finally, it is indisputably true that the only
persons who can bring change to Kalmykia are the Kalmykians themselves.
Having said that, the influence of official American
organizations of all kinds in the post Cold War world is immense. In
the case of the Khan, our potential influence is great because HE IS
STAKING HIS LEGITIMACY ON SHOWING KALMYKIANS THAT HE CAN BRING THE
"WORLD" TO THEIR TINY LAND.
If we Americans upstage his act, the Khan will be undermined
fundamentally. That's the way the politics of legitimacy work. That's
why Khrushchev and Bulganin disgorged Vienna in exchange for the famous
photographs of them with Eisenhower at the Geneva Summit of 1955.
That's why Ronald Reagan's much-derided "evil empire" comment caused an
upheaval in the Soviet Union. The USCF is not the U.S. government, but
neither is Kalmykia the Soviet Union.
My view is that when the Khan sees his legitimacy being UNDERMINED
by chess, he will bail out of FIDE.
I mentioned courage. If our FIDE delegation opposes the Khan on
his home turf, it must expect trouble. It would be difficult for the
Khan to arrange for several Americans to disappear, but he will employ
other devices. One such -- a time tested trick of dictators -- is to
"summon" members of our team"for disorienting talks at 4 a.m. in the
morning. Another trick is to arrange social occasions in which it
will prove difficult to snub him. (Photographers will be nearby to snap
pictures "disproving" what will be by then widespread rumors that the
Khan does not have the support of the Americans. These photos will then
be run in newspapers to convince disaffected Kalmykians that opposition
to the Khan is futile.)
Finally, the United States should make an unconditional demand for
complete financial transparency in FIDE. The origin of every dollar
coming to FIDE must be absolutely clear. There must be strict and open
accounting of every dollar spent. These demands must be non-negotiable.
If the demands are not met, then the United States should undertake
immediate efforts to form a new world chess organization.
Campomanes discredited FIDE as the guardian of the world
championship. The Khan will discredit the game of chess itself if we
content ourselves with what our FIDE team calls inspired "committee work."
4. WHAT WILL BE DONE?
Based on past performances, our FIDE "team" will lick the Khan's
boots. The Khan exerts an undeniable power chic on some of our chess
politicians. The murder of journalist Larisa Yudina and the sight of
well-muscled goons patrolling the streets of Elista are pulse-pounding
stuff. The Khan is exciting, virile and feral. New FIDE representative
Tim Redman seems completely unequipped to deal with such a man.
Expect, then, a Soviet-style blackout in Chess Life of the Yudina
murder. Expect a blackout in Chess Life of the major Human Rights
Appeal that recently appeared. Expect instead photographs of our FIDE
"team" schmoozing with the new dictator of world chess. There may even
be a photo of our "team" eating caviar and drinking champagne.
Remember, though, whence comes the money to pay for the caviar and
champagne. Some of it, quite literally, comes from forced exactions of
allowances meant to feed children.
On Wed, 29 Jul 1998 19:37:28 -0400, Larry Parr
> <<Larry Evans makes no apologies for travelling to Havana,
> and says his opinion on playing chess in Cuba today is no
> different than it was in 1964. "FIDE's charter says there
> should be no political interference in chess. Chess is a
> universal language.
When I read anything about chess, one of the first things I do is look
up the rating of the author (assuming that I do not know it already.)
As far as I can determine, Mr. Pleasenospam has a rating of zero.
Therefore, his opinions are entitled to zero respect.
>When I read anything about chess, one of the first things I do is look
>up the rating of the author (assuming that I do not know it already.)
>As far as I can determine, Mr. Pleasenospam has a rating of zero.
>Therefore, his opinions are entitled to zero respect.
The vast majority of chessplayers are untitled (e.g. class level or
[*gasp*] unrated). By your reasoning, these people are unworthy of
Do you still wonder why you lost the election?
-- Steve Lopez
That's a bit astonishing Sam, even against an anon. He has
made some interesting points here, and would be taken more
seriously if he had a name.
I would say that his opinions are entitled to the respect that
he pays us in sharing his name, and also upon his wit, wisdom
Besides (aside) there is someone I am paying a great deal of
respect to just now, without asking their rating. Based,
almost entirely, upon their interesting qualities.
And, after all, often the most considerable people of any
group, are those with the least to say. Phil