Dvorkovich, Short Respond To Chess.com Questions
Arkady Dvorkovich & Nigel Short. | Photos: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Dvorkovich, Short Respond To Chess.com Questions

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Sep 22, 2018, 1:25 AM |
77 | Chess Politics

In 11 days from now, a new FIDE president will be elected in Batumi, Georgia. Today we're providing answers from Arkady Dvorkovich and Nigel Short to Chess.com questions sent to all three candidates. Sadly, Georgios Makropoulos declined to participate.

On Monday, September 3 Chess.com sent the same list of questions to all three candidates. Our goal was to get a clear view of the areas where they agree and disagree, and to learn more about which candidate has what kind of plans for the future of chess.

Two of the three candidates provided us with their answers. You can read them below.

What is the main reason why delegates should vote for you, and not the other candidates?

Arkady Dvorkovich (AD): I think the most important reason – the chess world needs this change. Unfortunately chess as a sport has missed a lot of opportunities, and it simply can not continue like that. I feel I'll be able to bring necessary changes. To make FIDE a much better, transparent, respectable organization, that knows how to earn money and how to promote chess. To work with corporate sponsors and international sport institutions. To help national federations, and not to suck all their money to enable the functioning of FIDE, as it happens now.
I believe that my strong management experience, in particular, in a non-commercial sector in combination with communicative skills, knowledge of international environment and modern technologies would allow me to contribute to the development of chess and FIDE in the best possible way.

Nigel Short (NS): I have an excellent team of clean and honest people and am more passionate about chess than either of the other candidates.

Why and how are you going to win this election?

AD: I just simply believe we have a better program. A better team. A better vision for the future of chess. All the members of our ticket are actively involved in the campaign, we are also supported by many grandmasters – and now, after meeting the representatives of over 100 federations, I know that we have all the necessary support to win the election on October 3. But of course, I will have more meetings in Batumi, talking to people, sharing our vision and specific plans.

NS: I am not the front-runner, but I do have a significant bedrock of support which is much larger than my detractors would have it. Realistically, I am only likely to win if Makropoulos succeeds in his contemptible efforts to subvert the democratic process by having Arkady Dvorkovich banned. That is not an outcome I either expect or wish for, but after decades in power in which practically all commissions have been infiltrated by supporters of the current regime, it is not impossible either. I will be ready to step up if it happens.

What will you do to grow the sport further, internationally?

AD: We will definitely cooperate with IOC and FIFA. As you know, I have already met the FIFA President, Mr. Infantino, and he was very positive about such a cooperation. FIDE also should become stronger from inside – and then it will be easier to work with sponsors and international partners. I also will move the FIDE headquarters physically to Switzerland, and that will make the cooperation with our partners easier. On top of that, there are a lot of things to do in order to promote chess – but doing it responsibly, avoiding populistic claims. For example, chess in schools is a great concept, but we need to have concrete measurable results there to ensure its efficiency, in particular, using chess as an instrument to improve the quality of education.

NS: 92% of FIDE's revenues currently come from federations, organisers, trainers, arbiters or players, rather than commercial sponsorship. "Makroeconomics" is thus a rent-seeking model that inhibits chess rather than promotes it. It is the exact opposite of how successful international sporting bodies are run. I will restore the badly-tarnished reputation of FIDE and bring in new commercial partners.

Arkady Dvorkovich Chess

Dvorkovich plans to move the FIDE headquarters to Switzerland. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

What will you do to support national chess federations?

AD: Of course, there is no single recipe for everyone. But there is a major principle – if the federations get stronger, FIDE gets stronger, chess gets stronger. National federations should not be FIDE donors as it is now. It is an absolutely wrong and unacceptable approach. On the opposite, I am committed to establish a net annual amount of support to the federations of at least 3 million euro.

NS: 1) Lower taxes. 2) Provide fair and equitable support to poorer federations via the Development Fund, which accounts for a huge chunk of the FIDE budget. This whole process must be transparent and not done on the basis of political favoritism. It will greatly facilitate planning if federations will know that they are guaranteed a certain budget over a four-year cycle.

What will you do to improve women’s chess?

AD: Women chess requires a lot of attention. We even don't have a proper Women's World Championship cycle now. It is modified and rescheduled all the time. Events get canceled. We need to reintroduce the Grand Prix series for women, to increase prizes, and to make sure our strongest chess ladies don't have to play some average open events – simply because they have no other choice.

NS: 1) Make the payment of Development Fund budgets conditional upon projects to develop women's chess. 2) Ensure this is also be a key component of chess in schools. 3) Ensure that no major FIDE international women's tournament takes place in countries where FIDE statutes on sexual and religious discrimination are flouted.

What will you do to improve chess in developing countries?

AD: First of all, chess should be accessible for all. Developing countries need sets and clocks, manuals and trainers, help with the tournaments. Also they should be recognized and respected by local authorities and sponsors. Strong FIDE should help weaker federations – once again, that will benefit all of us.

NS: Provide funds (as above), technical help and trainers.

What will you do to improve chess for kids?

AD: The emphasis shall be given to the progress of the educational chess project.

Besides, we should reduce the fees charged by FIDE and FIDE-friendly organizers today. Kids and their parents are systematically overcharged for playing & lodging during the official competitions, and that should stop – it harms the popularity of our game and it damages FIDE's reputation. In addition, we should stage free seminars for the best kids all around the globe. Serious seminars, where they can meet the world's top players. Such a practice proved to be very successful in Russia, and I see no reason not to expand it globally.

NS: Expand the FIDE chess in schools program, which is pitifully small. Currently most chess in schools programs worldwide are privately run. I don't consider this to be a bad thing by any means, but FIDE should be there to support the gaps in the market. 

Do you have plans to change the world championship cycle in any way?

AD: The current format shall remain intact, however it should be organized in a much better, much more transparent way. I keep wondering how it happened that the overall budget of the last title match was five times bigger than the actual prize fund. Do anybody have an answer? I can only guess why FIDE leaders allowed it. Anyways, the title match deserves much better – both in terms of funding, and in terms of promotion, and of course we will improve this situation.

NS: See below.

Do you intend to continue working with Agon/World Chess, and if so, do you intend to change aspects of this cooperation?

AD: I can just say that I am hugely disappointed with the quality of organization up to now. The whole framework shall be reviewed right after the London match, but before stating anything specifically, I'd listen to a legal opinion in that regard.

NS: I would terminate any agreements with Agon/World Chess immediately as Agon has been in breach of its agreement with FIDE since day one. I would also appoint some new auditors. 

Do you have plans to increase the prize money for FIDE events and if so, how?

AD: Of course. We will significantly increase it.
We will establish a proper two-year calendar of all the official events, and will stick to it, in order to avoid clashes with the organizers of traditional events
The events like the Grand Prix have unacceptably low prize funds, the Candidates tournament should be improved and the Title Match has the lowest prize fund since decades! We will improve the situation – and as you know I already have commitments from several companies to secure the sponsorship for the top official events.

NS: The Agon agreement artificially depresses the prize fund for major money-earning events like the World Championship. Indeed it is striking how much lower they are today even in nominal terms (and much more so in real terms) than they were 25 years ago when I played Garry Kasparov.

Do you have plans to further improve FIDE's accountability and transparency and if so, how?

AD: I am not sure what do you mean by saying “further improve”? It is awkwardly bad now. We will change it in every regard. The commissions work will be reshaped, and we will have a General Assembly meeting every year – that will allow us to hear the opinion of national federations, and also allow them to review our work throughout the year.

NS: This is a massive task. Huge chunks of FIDE expenditure are more or less unaccountable. Perusing the FIDE budget only gives the roughest idea of how money is spent. Even when we know what it has been spent on, money is often lavishly wasted. To give just a couple of examples: FIDE has spent six-figure sums for years on a Moscow office. Does anyone know what it did? Secondly, Kirsan's travel budget was exorbitant in the extreme for years. No real effort was made to curtail this abuse until Makropoulos fell out with his erstwhile master. Anyway, we need new auditors.

Nigel Short Magnus Carlsen

Short together with Magnus Carlsen, Norway Chess 2017. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

What is your plan to become a (more?) financially stable organisation?

AD: I am afraid I'll be repeating myself. But two key points are: making FIDE stronger and more respected from inside, and getting corporate sponsorship and partners. These are not just vague promises – I will come to Batumi with a concrete list of companies that promised their support.

NS: More sponsorship, less waste.

Could you name other areas of focus of your presidency?

AD: Chess in Schools is a very important project, and we will continue it, albeit demanding a change in the focus and measurable results to be provided. We are going to tackle several important issues in cooperation with the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) – that is an anti-cheating issue, which jeopardizes our game, and requires most serious attention and funding, and a program supporting chess veterans.

NS: I would like to expand FIDE, but only with federations that have statutes, accounts and elections. I would also like to improve the quality of arbiters.

To which countries have you travelled thus far for campaigning?

AD: I visited over 20 countries and had more than 100 meetings, traveling three times both to Africa and Asia, and twice to Americas, and that was one of the busiest periods of my life. But I met a lot of people who love chess and care about our game, and I am confident that together we can do a lot.

NS: Not a huge number on this campaign (less than 20) , but I have visited around 120 or so countries in my life - mostly for chess. I am at least well-known in the chess world. 

How has your campaigning been funded?

AD: These were my own funds and the funds of the companies that will actually become FIDE and regional sponsors after October 3.

NS: Some small contributions here and there. It has been a very cheap campaign.

Chess is perceived to have a "draw problem." Do you support any specific changes in rules or policies to address this?

AD: I don't think chess has a “draw problem.” It is only the very top events where most of the games are drawn. I agree it is a problem in a way. But then we have to remember, that chess is actually a game with a great tendency to be drawn. Anyways, I am not going to take any hasty decisions in this regard. All these things like formats of the tournaments, time controls, draw problem etc. must be carefully examined before any change is made. Polls to be conducted. Opinions to be heard. Unfortunately, it was not handled properly by the current FIDE leadership, but we are going to treat it with a proper care.

NS: The best way to ensure fewer draws is to invite fields with different standards of players.

Chess is becoming more accepted as an "e-sport" with major chess events now taking place exclusively online and often at faster time controls. How do you perceive this development, and what role should FIDE take in this new trend in chess?

AD: That is an important point. We got to change this situation. Chess is ideally suited for online promotion, trainings, tournaments. However, FIDE has missed this opportunity, and it is visibly stuck in the past. We plan to tackle this issue immediately. We will partner with the existing and most successful online platforms and also will launch a platform that will unite players, trainers, organizers, federations and other interested parties. A platform that will promote the game.

We can do it. We will do it.

NS: The biggest problem with online chess is cheating. That is why I would not encourage official online events, but rather take a laissez-faire approach at this point in time. However I may at a later stage be prepared to change my opinion in this (literally) fast-moving arena.

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