INTERVIEW BY BESSEL KOK, CANDIDATE FOR FIDE PRESIDENT
FOR WORLD CHESS NETWORK Tuesday, 13th December 2005
1. Greetings Mr. Kok. As a start, please tell us what were your motives to join the race for Presidency of FIDE.
For the following reasons:
ü The decreasing lack of success that FIDE has had to attract public interest and corporate sponsors to the Chess World.
ü To basically work again on a golden opportunity to reunify the Chess World after my efforts in Prague.
ü The growing frustration of several hard working FIDE delegates with the slow pace in the changes that FIDE needs to become a modern sports Federation.
ü The fact that I am semi-retired and have more time.
2. What will be your first step if you get elected?
To create a structure, based on meritocracy, which allows professional experienced people to work on worldwide corporate sponsorship programs.
3. Why are you the best candidate?
Because I have more than 20 years experience in the World of Chess, an excellent relationship with the leading Grandmasters, I have organized major tournaments and can combine all of this with vast business experience.
4. You already have the support of famous Grandmasters like Yasser Seirawan, Jan Timman and Judith Polgar. Do you expect more of them to take your side? What can you "offer" to the World's top players?
Yes, You will see over the next few months through our website and press releases, our full campaign support unfolding.
5. Can you tell us something about your relations with ACP (Association of Chess Professionals)?
The ACP was a courageous initiative. It is different from the GMA which had built its own professional chess cycle to justify its role at the time. (The GMA World Cup had GM Lubos Kavalek as its’ Director). Obviously the ACP was lacking funds to do the same and whilst it has successfully organised a number of events, its role has been different and aimed at trying to get the FIDE administration to communicate with top players. I respect what they achieved.
6. Now a few questions which are of the biggest interest for WorldChessNetwork members. One of your key objectives is "To achieve consistent, long-term success in the game through player development at every level, with particular focus on chess in schools". What is the best way to support and promote scholastic chess? How can you help National Federations to enlarge their players base?
The best way to promote scholastic chess is to combine two unique tools we have available today in the world of chess :
- Grandmasters and Professional trainers
- The Internet and chess training programs
I strongly believe that a commercially sponsored Chess in School program with Grandmasters or professional trainers as tutors, and managed by a competent Project Director, is a serious opportunity. It allows professional grandmasters to have a post-career activity, gives schools a new educational tool, and allows the national sponsor to have his brand name linked to a brain game without violence. One can see the massive success that my associate, Ali Nihat Yazici has achieved in such a short time in Turkey through hard work and perseverance.
7. "To actively support the continued development of chess through the internet as a broadcast medium and instructional platform". We already have the situation that thousands of people are following live internet broadcasts of the major events. Recent the US Chess League was played over the online server. Do you think it would be possible to play real tournaments with long time controls over the internet? What would be the reaction of sponsors?
I tried to launch a Worldwide Internet competition several years ago and was not successful. Although I had found sponsors, the critical mass was not big enough to fully satisfy them. Further more, the cheating problem had not yet been totally resolved. However we were probably a bit early and with the new technology today in place on several chess servers, I do believe this type of Chess could rapidly develop.
As bandwidth capacity continues to increase and become more affordable all over the world, we will have a mega revolution in the opportunities that internet will offer us. The team has a large number of ideas and the enthusiasm is certainly not lacking!
I think that sponsors would still be very interested in long time controls since there are so much value adding ideas one could have through the internet. What have we gained with a faster time control which brings an average game down to around four hours ? Has this made the game more attractive to sponsors ? The level of the game has declined; we have more errors and players making draws in the World Cup simply to play a rapid tie-break.
8. What do you think about the current World Championship Cycle? Should the format be changed?
To be honest, after the Prague agreement was not implemented, I feared the worst would happen in the chess world. However, taking this into account, the formula in San Luis was not bad. This tournament formula for a World Title is not new. John Nunn, who I respect a lot already, suggested something similar earlier this year, and even Botvinnik once recommended it to me, since he always fondly remembered his World Championship title in 1948.
Still my proposal would be to encourage the creation of a WCC Advisory Council, made up of GMs and other professional organisers, who would work out proposals for an acceptable format to be approved by a future FIDE General Assembly.
This working method was adopted also in the GMA and resulted in successful cycle and tournament rules being implemented. This is much in line also with the practices of professional associations such as the ATP.
9. Chess fans are arguing who is the current World Chess Champion. Can you unify the Title?
Let me make one thing clear. FIDE, and especially the FIDE president, has a clear responsibility to act as a facilitator to unify, once and for all, the world chess title and to give it back its undisputed credibility. In Prague I took the initiative together with members of my present team to facilitate the unification process. The Prague agreement, if really supported by the present FIDE presidency and bureau, could have easily led to the unification of the World title, which is so essential for the good of chess.
However matches between Kasparov and two different FIDE champions, which could have lead to a unification match with Kramnik, have consistently been undermined or cancelled. Even a match between Topalov and Kramnik is clearly, to say the least, not a priority for the present FIDE administration.
I will do everything I can within my power and capabilities to get us back on track. I am very confident that I will succeed to give the chess world one championship title and thus one sole champion thus reinstating its unique position, its credibility and thereby also the media attention and respect it fully deserves. In order to do that, I will listen again to all parties concerned and act taking into account the present situation, but keeping in mind in the broad positive spirit of the agreement reached in Prague 4 years ago.
So, in summary I believe that FIDE should act as a body that serves the sport not dominates it. We should listen, decide and implement. Not decide, implement and then listen afterwards to the complaints!