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Kasparov Replies: “Whom Will You Support?”

Garry Kasparov: “To my colleagues: whom will you support?”

An answer to the June 4, 2014 statement from ex-world champions Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze.

Having read this letter, signed by two of my most admirable fellow Grandmasters, I have to say, I cannot hide my disappointment. It is, to me, unthinkable for great chess players to serve as mere messengers.

Their claim of “Garry Kasparov opposes Georgia’s hosting of the 2018 Chess Olympiad” distorts my position on the matter. The subsequent text is reminiscent of the propaganda of our youth, when we were just becoming world champions. Of course, I fondly remember my longstanding ties with Georgian chess players. But the benefits were mutual, while the letter gives the impression that I am indebted to Georgia for virtually my entire chess career.


Lucerne, 1982. Chess Olympiad. Left to right: Chiburdanidze, Ioseliani, Gipslis, Gaprindashvili, Alexandria, Kasparov, Gufeld. Analyzying the famous game Korchnoi-Kasparov.

Recently I “dared” to support the hosting of the 2018 Chess Olympiad in Cape Town, South Africa. For this I have compelling reasons. Every Olympiad is very much an international affair. But since Manila in 1992 not one has been held far from Europe, and never has a single Olympiad been held in Africa! Furthermore, the Olympiad in Cape Town would coincide with the ceremonies for the 100-year anniversary of Nelson Mandela, a celebration not just for South Africa, but for the entire continent.

Perhaps, colleagues, you have some sort of principled objection to this endorsement? I remind you that the 2016 Olympiad will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan. Do you think it fair for the chess world to hold two Olympiads in a row in the Transcaucasian region? Currently FIDE unites 181 countries, and we need to be working to spread the popularity of chess around the world. If I am elected to the presidency of FIDE, I will work tirelessly to achieve the realization of the organization’s motto: Gens una sumus.

Therefore, with all due respect to their excellent efforts to promote chess in Georgia, I would recommend that my colleagues in that country submit an application for the 2020 Olympiad.

But let us set aside for now the dispute over the location of the 2018 Olympiad and spend some time talking about the future of chess itself. I would like to ask you, Nona and Maia, a couple of questions that are of great concern to me. Are you aware that the Georgian chess federation fiercely supports the candidacy of Mr. Ilyumzhinov for president of FIDE? Do you believe that Ilyumzhinov can bring about a bright future for chess, and that I cannot?

Your opinions are important to me. My point of view is well-known: 19 years under Mr. Ilyumzhinov has put chess on the brink of collapse. The situation is such that, without drastic changes, without the attraction of sponsors, the game of chess will be in grave danger. You are well informed of my plan to develop chess worldwide, as well as the enormous energy I continue to devote to this plan. I leave the question to you – whom do you support?