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Kasparov Letter: Matters of Reputation

During my campaign, my team and I have always focused on our ambitious plans to reform and transform FIDE. There’s no need for us to “go negative” when we have a much better team, a great platform and concrete plans for change, and real funding. I would be happy for the candidates to present their plans for the future of FIDE and chess and to let the federations decide on the merits of each plan. In fact, in Istanbul addressing the 2012 FIDE General Assembly I said the same, that the next election should be about who will do better in the future instead of arguing about the past.

As a reminder, our core initiatives:

Develop chess-in-education programs worldwide. It brings tremendous benefits to kids and schools and it also grows the base we need to support the sport and to attract public and private sponsorship.

Reduce and then eliminate all federation fees to FIDE. Federations keep and spend their own money. FIDE will aid and counsel the federations – not exploit them, not take from them.

Create an online network to connect all the world’s chessplayers, online and off. A FIDE membership of millions will be very attractive for commercial sponsors. All our administration will ask of the federations is to be active and provide us with more players.

Cultivate regional cooperation between federations and also create new commissions to bond federations by shared language, not merely geography. All official FIDE activities will be performed in multiple languages so every federation can participate equally and fairly.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ilyumzhinov has failed to provide any plan of his own and his entire campaign consists of myths, lies, and personal and legal attacks against me and my team, so I feel obliged to respond. My reputation is my life and I will fight to protect it. We may assume the Ilyumzhinov campaign platform is four more years of the same. Four more years of doing nothing in education. Four more years of doing nothing on the internet. Four more years without title sponsors. Four more years of federations going bankrupt while officials take money out of the sport instead of bringing it in.

After 19 years, everyone knows what Mr. Ilyumzhinov is and it is surprising that he wishes to fight a negative campaign considering his own deeply troubling history. Being accused of corruption by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is like being called greedy by King Midas himself! It is almost as if he creates new scandals simply to make people forget about the old ones. But Google never forgets and the chess world shouldn’t either.

Investors evaluate reputation and quality before investing and the same thing is true with potential FIDE sponsors. They look at Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s history and rate it “AAA”: Aliens, Assad, and Agon!

I will meet Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s baseless attacks in any courtroom and he and his accomplices will join me! Let us hear their statements under oath about their mismanagement of FIDE assets and their side deals exploiting their FIDE authority for personal profit like that with Agon, which is now under investigation by the FIDE Ethics Commission after a suit filed by member federations. Such conflicts of interest are business as usual in FIDE today, part of serving themselves and not the federations, not chess. But I would rather not waste so much time and money. Let us resolve our contest with the ballot box on August 11.

Ilyumzhinov’s attacks are directed not only at me, but especially against FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong. Ignatius joined my team after years of trying to work within Ilyumzhinov’s FIDE for reform and the promotion of chess in Asia. Frustrated, he was happy to join my ticket of sponsorship and transparency. For this he is being subjected to vicious personal attacks from Ilyumzhinov’s desperate gang. The chess world should be proud of his tireless work and his courage.

Various allegations have been made concerning the allocation of funds under agreements between me and Ignatius last September and October. These attempts to mischaracterize our agreements are typical propaganda, accusing an opponent of one’s own sins.

The first signed agreement clearly states that all money will go from the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia to the ASEAN Chess Academy, not to any individuals. It also clearly states all the money will be spent on chess programs and chess development in East Asia.

The related grant agreement from KCF also specifically says that the money goes only to the organization with the explicit purpose of “encouraging the study and play of chess in East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Region.”

The agreement even expressly prohibits activities that cannot be defined as charitable or educational and it prohibits transferring the money to other organizations or individuals. The created trust is under New York law with all the strict legal and financial duties for Ignatius and for our organizations. This is what transparently supporting chess development with private sponsorship looks like! Perhaps Mr. Ilyumzhinov, Mr. Markopoulos and the rest simply don’t recognize it and assume our agreement is as dishonest and self-serving as all of theirs are. We are willing and prepared to defend the merits and correctness of our agreements in any court of law in New York or Singapore.

I would prefer to continue my global campaign tour, where I am meeting thousands of chessplayers and fans, government and chess officials, and potential sponsors of every possible kind.

Just a few weeks ago I was in Gabon to speak at a huge and very impressive business and development forum in Libreville. After I spoke about the value of chess in education, the last question from the audience came from the front row. Gabon’s Minister of Education, Léon Nzouba, raised his hand and asked how to get these programs into schools! I was delighted to tell him afterward that I had signed an agreement there on the same day to begin the process immediately!

[ Watch the video of that segment from the NY Forum in Gabon. ]

That was a fortuitous moment, but it is not an unusual one. My team and I have assisted with sponsorship, tournaments, and education programs for dozens of federations during this campaign and it is only the beginning.

The support for chess is there. The money for chess is there. You only need to know where to look and how to ask and how to follow through. My team and I know – we have been proving it around the world since we launched our campaign in October.

The game of chess has a great history and a great reputation. FIDE also has a great history, as an organization that represented and supported its members instead of ruling them and taking money from them as it does today. A strong FIDE is a FIDE for the federations, not the other way around. My team and I will restore FIDE’s proper role and work with the federations to give chess the bright future our game deserves.

Garry Kasparov
June 11, 2014