“Bipolar” politics brewing in 2018 FIDE Election

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

Things are heating up as we move closer to the FIDE election to be held October 3rd in Batumi, Georgia. This campaign has been about as hotly-contested as we’ve had in the past 20 years. There have been many invectives tossed particularly against Georgios Makropoulos, the current Deputy President. In fact, FIDE candidates Arkady Dvorkovich and Nigel Short seemed to have come up with an entente and were pictured agreeing on a shared vision.

This could spell trouble for Makropoulos since any coalition would bring together enough votes to make the race competitive. The last two elections were won by large margins. It’s unclear of the voting distribution, but both Makropoulos and Dvorkovich have made claims to have a mountain of support by a wide variety of federations.

In breaking news chess.com released a story that Makropoulos has filed a grievance with the FIDE Commission on Ethics accusing Dvorkovich of corruption. The charges stem from a couple of instances where federations were allegedly offered favors for votes. The statement provides examples of “gift-giving” and listed both Serbia and Israel as targets of these overtures. As a result,

  1. Mr. Makropoulos has submitted an official complaint to the FIDE Ethics Commission on 8 September with evidence regarding the actions of Mr. Dvorkovich, his team and the delegates and officials who have collaborated in attempts to influence the outcome of the elections via such questionable practices.
  2. Mr. Makropoulos and Mr. Pein have submitted jointly a formal letter to the Ethics and Compliance office of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, on 11 September, informing the IOC of all the above.
  3. “FIDE Forward” has requested its legal team to apply for the assistance of Interpol, the Swiss and Georgian authorities, in tracking down illegal transactions, the persons involved, and to provide all the evidence that we have gathered. (link)

This race seems to have turned into a bipolar situation with those “against Kirsan legacy” and those “forging a new forward path.” All three have denounced the previous administration, but Makropoulos has been trying (with difficulty) to distance himself from the previous regime.

Nigel Short has been relentless in tying Makropoulos firmly to the Kirsan Ilyumzhinov camp and there was a lot said about how the British Grandmaster seems to have no ill words for the Russian candidate. Perhaps a coalition had been brewing for months.

To add another twist, an anonymous letter signed “a group of chess players – Central Greece” was sent to a number of news organizations basically impugning Greek citizen Makropoulos.

After all, we are surprised to read about the “anti-corruption policy” and the creation of a “transparency committee” by the outgoing FIDE administration. It must be clear to those who know about G. Makropoulos’ ways of managing, what are going to be the criteria for selecting the members to serve the Transparency Committee. To approve, among others, the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on pre-election travel expenses and development-type federal subsidies, while we sadly see the outdated practices of “approaching” African, Asian and other federations, again. Methods and tactics that impede the movement towards a new and better world.

Who are these Greek players? Since Short lives in Greece one may get an impression that his supporters may have picked up the cause. However, they acknowledge agreement with the Association of Chess Professionals who have already backed Dvorkovich. Is Short now a defacto supporter of Dvorkovich to thwart Makropoulos? It is an interesting turn of events. In fact Makropoulos seized on that development swiftly after his African visit.

From the large numbers of comments and tweets regarding Short’s decision to cooperate with Dvorkovich, everyone can understand that the majority of chess fans – even Nigel Short ex- supporters – wonder now how clean are the hands of the campaigning team “clean_hands4fide” and also, how empty! (link)

Short would not be dissuaded:

The filing of the ethics complaint by Makropoulos could loom large if in fact, Dvorkovich is disqualified for violations. Makropoulos is on the attack two weeks before the vote to draw a clear line to victory. He has pledged an effort “in tracking down illegal transactions” and other violations of ethical code.

Dvorkovich has openly replied to the complaint stating,

I reject all accusations and hope that the FIDE Ethics commission will take a fair decision. I expect a fair decision – the one that will not prevent members of my ticket and me from participating in the upcoming FIDE elections. This eligibility is granted to us by the federations nominating our team and the electoral commission confirming this right. Of course, the best way to prove one’s case at the approaching elections does not lie in dishonest bureaucratic games, but in getting a support for your vision from the national federations all over the globe. (link)

The truth of the matter is that we may not know the validity of the vote projections until the votes are counted. All of these claims of preliminary vote counts are simply unreliable measures to claim an advantage. None of the regions are united in their choices and while the world is focused on Africa and Asia, other nations are being lobbied just as aggressively.

It will be a very interesting atmosphere in Batumi, Georgia as each campaign will lay out a strategy to close ranks. Competition for votes will be fierce and the Congresses may be even more volatile than Tromso Olympiad in 2014. That election literally tore federations apart and some still have not recovered.

It is unclear what the ruling will be in the complaint to the FIDE Ethics Commission, but what is clear is that we will entire a new era in FIDE… for better or for worse.

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

3 Comments

  1. Makropoulos is trying to tie Dvorkovich and Short with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Now that is a bold plan!

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