BREAKING: Kasparov Announces Candidacy for FIDE President

BREAKING: Kasparov Announces Candidacy for FIDE President

| 71 | Chess Politics

On Monday night in Tallinn (Estonia) Garry Kasparov announced his candidacy for the 2014 FIDE Presidential Elections. The 13th World Champion aims to "revitalize FIDE with a focus on serving the national federations and raising the commercial profile of chess worldwide." Among Kasparov's team members are the current FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong, and chess patron Rex Sinquefield of St Louis.

Photo tweeted by Kasparov

Garry Kasparov announced his candidacy for FIDE President on Monday night at a special reception in the ballroom of the Swissôtel Tallinn, in Estonia's capital, where the 84th FIDE Congress is currently taking place. In front of over a hundred delegates and (FIDE) officials, Kasparov proudly presented his team which consists of members from the USA, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 

In his speech, Kasparov said he made the decision to "return to chess" to try to

“...elevate our game back to the very high level in the public mind, where I think it belongs.”

Kasparov showed lots of images from films and artwork to make clear how much the royal game is embedded in our culture. He said:

“We have to bring the chess world and the outside world together. I feel I can do it. We have to create an interface, and this interface is the World Chess Federation.”

Kasparov called his team members a "dream team" (more info below), and had all of them giving a speech as well (Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Hamed and Rex Sinquefield via a pre-recorded video). Afrika Msimang of South Africa, who is the President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa, made a strong impression with the start of her speech, directed at FIDE.

“Imagine for a moment... I think it was about four years ago, around this time, when Africa was promised to be the continent that would be given a chance to develop its chess program. Africa was promised that it would be given about 400,000 Euros annually for the next four years for chess development. The patient continent of Africa is still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.”

The whole room was silent.


Afrika Msimang

Earlier on Monday, at the start of the FIDE Executive Board meeting, reigning FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov gave an opening speech that lasted over an hour. As usual, he took the opportunity to include a few personal remarks and this time they were all related to next year's FIDE elections. For example:

“I was not sure if I wanted to run for president again.”


The FIDE Executive Board on Monday in Tallinn, Estonia

Ilyumzhinov stressed that among the people who supported him in 1994 to become the leader of FIDE were Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. He also mentioned that he spent millions of dollars of his own money on chess, "without regretting anything". Ilyumzhinov said he wasn't looking forward to having to spend money on campaigning, and he seemed to be against the whole idea of having elections in the first place.

“It's not good for the stability of chess. And this money should go to chess in schools programs.”

He added:

“I am happy to sign a check of one million for Chess in Schools right now.”


Ilyumzhinov giving his speech, Kasparov in the audience (as delegate for Croatia)

Until the end of his speech, Ilyumzhinov remained vague about his candidacy. But right after he finished, he was asked by FIDE Honorary Vice-President Vanik Zakarian whether he was running for President again, "yes or no". After some smiles and jokes, Ilyumzhinov eventually said:

“The answer is yes.”

The FIDE President then welcomed Kasparov, and subtly repeated that the 13th World Champion was among his supporters in 1994.

Below you can see Ilyumzhinov's speech in full, filmed by Sevan Muradian:

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been the head of FIDE since 1995. His reign has always been controversial; the way he was described in a recent Economist (!) article says enough:

Its boss since 1995 has been Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who also ran Kalmykia, one of Russia’s poorest regions, until 2010. That year Mr Ilyumzhinov said he was once contacted by aliens; in 2011 he played chess with Muammar Qaddafi.

Three years ago, in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia he defeated Anatoly Karpov convincingly with a 95 to 55 vote. Four years earlier, in 2006 in Torino, Italy Ilyumzhinov beat Bessel Kok 96-54. Before that, Ilyumzhinov also defeated GM Jaime Sunye Neto of Brazil with a 87-46 score.

Below you can find more information about Kasparov's Candidacy provided to us by the Kasparov2014 campaign team.

The Kasparov 2014 Team

Garry Kasparov (Soviet Union, 1963)

Born on April 13, 1963 in Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR

World Junior Chess Champion in 1980.

Crowned 13th World Chess Champion in 1985.

Was the #1-rated player in the world for 20 consecutive years, until his retirement from professional chess in 2005.

Winner of eight Chess Olympiads.

Winner of 11 Chess Oscars.

Played first elite match of rapid chess in 1987, which was televised live.

First to perform sessions of timed simultaneous play against entire national Olympiad teams, with a record of 11-0 in these matches.

Played two world-famous “Man vs. Machine” matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997, which set a record for online viewing.

First to play and win a match of computer-assisted Advanced Chess in 1998.

Won the first-ever internet mass-participation game “Kasparov vs. the World” in 1999, organized with Microsoft and lasting four months with 3 million viewers and over 58,000 participants from 75 countries.

He is the author of over 20 popular chess books. Among them, “The Test of Time”, “Unlimited Challenge”, the five-volume series “My Great Predecessors”, and the three-volume autobiographical series “Kasparov on Kasparov”.

In the past several years Kasparov has given more than 100 lectures and seminars on leadership, strategy, and innovation to hosts including Google, IBM, Facebook, General Electric and Fujitsu. His 2007 bestselling book on decision-making, “How Life Imitates Chess”, has been translated into over 20 languages.

Since 2002, Kasparov has actively promoted the introduction of chess into education systems worldwide through the rapidly expanding network of the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

In 2007, Garry Kasparov was named to the list of ‘100 Living Geniuses’, as compiled by the international consulting company Creators Synectics, and to the ‘TIME 100 Most Influential People’ list.

Jan Callewaert (1956, Belgium)

Jan Callewaert is the co-founder and President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe and a driving force. An avid chess player, Jan is passionate about bringing the numerous benefits of chess to as many people as possible by using new technologies and by introducing business management principles to

He is the founder of Option NV, a global player in the wireless industry. He was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2005 and is considered a role model for young entrepreneurs. Jan has extensive business experience, a global network of contacts and is a born team leader and motivator.
He graduated in engineering and philosophy from the University of Leuven (KUL, Belgium – his Alma Mater), travels extensively and speaks several languages including English, French, German and Dutch.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Hamed (1959, United Arab Emirates)

Sheikh Mohammed’s broad educational and military background prepared him for an extraordinary career in business and investing. He graduated from the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy and received degrees from the Jordanian and British Command and Staff Colleges before acquiring his Master’s in Administrative and Military Sciences. He held command positions in the Presidential Guard Brigade Command, Ground Forces Command, Special Operations Forces, and General Command before retiring as a Staff Colonel.

Sheikh Mohammed is a prominent businessman who owns many companies that specialize in trade and general transport. He also represents international companies focusing on oil, trade, defense, and aviation. He has business and investments in the industrial, real estate, and tourism sectors. He owns the five-star hotels Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Hotel Dubai, Sheraton Khalidiya Hotel Abu Dhabi, and Sheraton Hotel in Al Ain and a number of malls, including the Al Ain Mall. He has extensive real estate projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohammed has a long-standing passion for chess and his Educational Foundation promotes and conducts chess programs in numerous Abu Dhabi schools.

Ignatius Leong (1956, Singapore)

Awarded the titles of International Arbiter (1979), International Organiser (1995) and FIDE Senior Trainer (2004).

President, Singapore Chess Federation (2007-2015) and Founding President, ASEAN Chess Confederation (2000-2015). FIDE Vice President (2002-2006), FIDE General Secretary (2005- 2014).

Currently the FIDE Calendar Administrator, Chairman of the FIDE Central Board of Commissions and Chairman of the FIDE Qualification Commission.

Chief Arbiter in numerous competitions; e. g., Chess Olympiad 2004 & 2008, World Cup 2000 & 2013.

Afrika Msimang (1969, Republic of South Africa)

President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa.

As a social activist and a policy analyst, Ms Afrika Msimang engages with industry, communities and government to ensure sustainable community development. She is zealous in her efforts

to remove dependency from donors and create in communities ownership of development initiatives. Afrika has also served as a development officer for CHESSA in the Free State province. She has served as a trustee member of Moves for Life, a chess organization that enjoys the patronage of South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma.

Afrika also enjoyed a teaching post as a political science lecturer at the University of Pretoria. She has served as a civil servant in several spheres of government, including a position as a strategic advisor to the mayor of the country's capital city.

Afrika is also the chairperson of the South African Air Force Spouses Forum. She works for Anglo American Inyosi Coal as a stakeholder relations and community development executive. Afrika holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

Rex Sinquefield (1944, USA)

Rex was raised in an orphanage, Saint Vincent Home for Children in Saint Louis. He graduated from Saint Louis University with a business degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Rex formed Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) in 1981 along with associate David Booth, which today oversees more than $300 billion in assets worldwide.

In 2008, Rex founded the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL). In September 2011, Rex funded the relocation of the World Chess Hall of Fame to Saint Louis.

Sponsor for U.S. Chess since the CCSCSL opened: U.S. Championships and U.S. Women’s Championships at CCSCSL (2009–2013), U.S. Junior Closed Championships at CCSCSL (2010–2013).

Sponsored the U.S. teams for numerous international events: World Team Championships (2009 and 2011), World Chess Olympiad (2010), Pan-American Team Championship (2013) and the Sinquefield Cup Super Tournament (2013).

Recipient of the United States Chess Federation’s Gold Koltanowski award that is given to the person who does the most to further chess in the United States (2009–2013).

Inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for Chess (2011).


Team Kasparov – Global Leadership

Why Team Kasparov?

Garry Kasparov:

Throughout my chess career I sought out new challenges to bring the game of chess to new heights around the world. My mission remains the same as I aim for the presidency of FIDE, the International Chess Federation. My team and I will revitalize FIDE with a focus on serving the national federations and raising the commercial profile of chess worldwide. We will lead with the same energy and fighting spirit I had at the board.

I am honored to be joined by a remarkable team. Several members have dedicated their lives to chess and are without a doubt some of the most experienced and respected individuals in our sport. Others have entered the chess world to share the expertise and resources they acquired while achieving great success in other fields. It is an ideal combination of perspectives, knowledge, and passion.

Six Winning Moves

1. FIDE will be transparent – FIDE will be a transparent organiza- tion that serves and supports the national federations. There will be an increase in communication and information shared between FIDE and the federations in order to make the FIDE Secretariat more effective and responsive. There will be consistency in the bidding processes for FIDE events.

2. FIDE will be supportive – The national federations will prosper as FIDE prospers. FIDE should provide for its members instead of being supported by them.

  • Reduce membership fees by 50% immediately.
  • 25% reduction per year of all other fees.

3. FIDE will be well-funded – FIDE finances greatly undervalue the global potential of chess. This will change:

  • Increase the FIDE budget by 100% in the next two years via corporate sponsorship.
  • Increase revenue through commercial sponsorship by reorganizing FIDE with a professional marketing approach that will make chess and the FIDE brand attractive to corporate and public sponsors.

4. FIDE will develop – A universal rating system is a vital core of an international sports federation. In this FIDE is far behind other sports. FIDE will address this and also expand online services:

  • A universal rating system will include every game of chess played on the planet, from world championship matches to online blitz. It will serve as the portal to unite tens of millions of players and will become an attractive advertising and sponsorship asset.
  • FIDE must provide benefits to the huge base of chessplayers, not just serve the elite. It can do this by offering services to the federa- tions such as online news and training, a social media platform, direct support for organizers and journalists, and assistance with fundraising and finding sponsorship.

5.FIDE will educate – The power of chess in education is immense and FIDE will become the natural hub of chess in education:

  • Develop the next generation of chessplayers around the world by promoting and establishing chess-in-education programs. FIDE will work to have chess included in school curricula worldwide to build a strong foundation for the global development of our sport and improve education standards across the globe.
  • Create and encourage programs and research on chess-in-education at every grade and into adulthood. The many positive benefits of chess, especially for kids and seniors, should be documented and promoted.
  • The experience of the Kasparov Chess Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars for chess-in-education programs worldwide, has demonstrated the enthusiasm for these programs at both public and private institutions. This expertise will be at the service of FIDE and the international chess federation will take the lead in bringing chess into every classroom.

6. FIDE will regulate – FIDE will review the regulations to protect the integrity of chess:

  • Collaborate with players and organizers on a common-sense implementation of the zero-tolerance rule that will preserve dignity and professionalism.
  • Take immediate steps to develop, test, and implement strong anti-cheating measures, including severe penalties for violators.
  • Adopt anti-short-draw rules to preserve the integrity of the game and to improve the image of chess as a sport worthy of greater media attention and commercial sponsorship.

You can find more info about Kasparov's campaign on

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