Chess Courts Controversy

Chess Courts Controversy

| 19 | Chess Politics

Silvio_Danialov.JPGWith the sort of press coverage that our royal game gets from popular newswires, you could forgive the average man in the street for thinking, like Sherlock Holmes, that all chess players have a scheming mind.

Recent developments will do nothing to change this view, with two significant but separate legal actions being mooted, both having profound implications for the future of chess.

Firstly, Veselin Topalov's controversial manager Silvio Danailov (pictured) has initiated legal proceedings against the German company Chessbase over their live coverage of the recent world chess championships.

Live coverage of the event was restricted to the official website, with other sites having to request permission, or provide delayed coverage.  Chessbase violated this prohibition, says Danailov, and therefore is guilty of "violating copyright rules".

Arguments about whether chess games can be copyrighted have a long history, but all attempts to copyright individual moves or games have failed.  Players and event organisers have tried to claim rights to games, but the consensus view is that the moves themselves are reportable facts, like the score of a football game. Only added value extras such as commentary and analysis are covered by copyright.

It is hard to see how the action can succeed, but Chessbase are clearly prepared to fight their corner in the courts if necessary.

Secondly, the incumbent FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is reportedly set to sue his challenger Anatoly Karpov for defamation.  Part of Karpov's stated aim is to rid FIDE of corruption, the existence of which Ilyumzhinov denies.  The FIDE president is effectively challenging Karpov to provide evidence of such corruption, or retract the allegation.

The back-story here is, of course, the on-going battle for the nomination of Russian Chess Federation in the FIDE presidential election in September.  Karpov won the backing of the majority of members, but Ilyumzhinov and his allies attempted to declare the vote invalid, and then sent in some private security guards to sieze the offices of the Russian Chess Federation.

Karpov's response was beautifully apt: "Knocking the pieces off the board when you lose does not change the result".

See you in court!

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