Florencio Campomanes dies at 83

Florencio Campomanes

The Honorable Florencio Campomanes has passed away after suffering from cancer. He had become an icon in the Karpov-Korchnoi match in Baguio, Philippines and for initiating reforms in FIDE when he took office in 1982. He officiated over the five Kasparov-Karpov championship matches including the historic 1984-85 match which lasted 48 games.

He will be known for helping to build the chess community in the Philippines into one of the most promising federations. Campomanes was also endeared amongst the smaller federations for trying to be more inclusive. He was widely respected and revered in Asia, Africa and Latin America for trying to live up to FIDE’s motto of “GENS UNA SUMUS”. This was a marked change from previous leaders’ orientation toward the more powerful federations.

The chess world in deeply indebted for his service and his love for the game of chess. Deepest condolences are extended to the Campomanes family and it is our hope that you celebrate his wonderful life and continue to draw inspiration from his deeds.

Casto Abundo presented the following statement:

Florencio Campomanes, FIDE President from 1982 to 1995, passed away 1:30 pm today, 3rd May in Baguio City, Philippines after a bout with cancer. He was 83. FIDE joins together in sending condolences to his family and to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said by phone “I thank him many many many times for all he has done for chess. Please send my condolence to his family.”

Campo’s family is in Baguio City for the cremation services as he willed and they said “Whatever memorials federations around the world will do in Campo’s memory will be much appreciated. After his February 2007 accident in Turkey, his recovery was a miracle, and the additional years he had with us was a gift from God.”

I wrote an article about Campo’s life in chess which can be downloaded from the FIDE site:


After his recovery from from his 2007 car accident, he continued to be active in FIDE, Asian and Philippine chess until his bout with cancer reached terminal stage four last year. He was still strong and hearty on his 83rd birthday last February 22nd but his health quickly deteriorated. I was at his bedside at the Notre Dame Hospital in Baguio City on 1st May. As I thanked him for all our chess years together, he smiled and said “We had fun.”


  1. I have one personal memory of Campomanes. It only lasted for a few seconds, but I have reflected on its symbolism.

    While at the 2004 Calvia Olympiad, I was leaving the General Assembly and was readying myself for my day of covering the event. Campomanes looked at me and offered me a ride to the playing venue. I doubt if he had any idea who I was or where I was from, but I took the gesture as genuine. I politely declined since I had to make an intermediary stop.

    It was my one experience with “Campo,” but those few seconds told me quite a bit. I believe I thanked him for his gesture, but I did not get a chance to thank him for all he has done in chess. If my memory fails me, I’d like to say, “Thanks Campo for your service… and for offering me a ride.” 😀

    My last experience with him was his attendance at the African Continental Assembly at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. It was impressive to me that he thought that African federations were important enough to participate in the deliberations. This is not the general sentiment around the world… unless it is to garner votes.

    Florencio Campomanes at the African Continental assembly at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Florencio Campomanes speaking at the African Continental assembly at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

  2. I am mistaken. The moment above was not my last personal memory. It was the picture I took of he and his wife at the closing ceremonies in Dresden.

    Honorary FIDE President Florencio Campomanes and wife Lace.

    Honorary FIDE President Florencio Campomanes and wife Lace.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

  3. Hello Daaim,
    It is with great sadness that i have learnt the demise of Florencio Campomanes.Familiarly known as “Campo” to his friends and supporters he was held in high esteem by the third-world federations in Africa,Asia,Middle-East and South America as many feel indebted to him in various ways.He did his best to offer chess sets/clocks to poor federations through CACDEC and sometimes even found financial support for some federations to participate in Olympiads.His influence during the FIDE presidential elections is not to be underestimated as an endorsment from Campo could sway 30-40 countries in your favour.
    One of his biggest achievement was holding the Chess Olympiad in 1992,all teams were indiscriminately lodged at 5 stars hotels,were offered free city tours,invited to the independence day dinner at the plush Manila Hotel and played at the superb PICC Convention centre.It was one of the best olympiad that i have ever played.
    Although i have met Campo regularly in the olympiads the last vivid memory i have of him was in Turin 2006.Mauritius was playing the Philippines and i saw Campo coming near the 4th board and scribbling the moves of the then 2200 rated flipino boy.When we asked him why he was paying such attention to this kid,Campo told us that the boy will be a future Grand Master,it was Wesley So today’s top-rated filipino G.M.
    Daaim if you wondered why Campo was at the African Continental meeting in Dresden i am sure that this was due to the problems that FIDE had with african federations which had their accounts in arrears and were nearly barred from participating in the olympiads after receiving threatening letters from the Fide treasurer.Campo had to face this same situation during his presidency and he was always flexible to let the small federations come to the olympiads,allowing them to pay their dues at the venue.He embodied the true FIDE spirit” GENS UNA SUMUS”.
    My sincerest condolences to his family.

  4. Quite beautiful Patrick!

    I remember the problems leading up to the Dresden Olympiad and I had some tense e-mail exchanges with Nigel Freeman. He primarily put the onus on the African federations for their visa and FIDE problems. I felt he was making generalizations. I was also in the meeting where Kebadu Belachew was strongly voicing his discontent about how the African federations were treated. He cited his own Ethiopia as a case.

    Kebadu and I had several lengthy phone conversations about this before the Olympiad. I also had exchanged e-mail with Nigerians who were accused of being in arrears despite an official producing a receipt of payment! I had suggested that Freeman to allow African nations to pay their dues at in Dresden or they will not be paired. He rejected the notion.

    In the African Assembly, Freeman made comparisons between Bermuda (60,000 people, but very wealthy and a British protectorate) and African federations. He talked about their 35 FIDE-rated players, yet the country holds a Bermuda Open each year that attacts Grandmasters from around the world with a handsome prize fund. Comparing Bermuda to any African federation is dubious. Campo was not in the room during this initial discussion, but no doubt would have had something to say about it.

    When Campo came in, he had a different posture and it was clear that he was revered. He said a few words which amounted to motivating the delegates and sharing the story that Asia has risen because of “hard work”. Of course there are many differences between the two regions, but I did appreciate his presence.

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