Trump Organization Was Invited To Host 2016 Match
Carlsen vs Karjakin in 2016 in New York. | Photo: Mike Klein/

Trump Organization Was Invited To Host 2016 Match

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

Former FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov invited the Trump Organization to host the 2016 World Chess Championship at Trump Tower. This was revealed by Donald Trump himself in the Mueller report, where chess is playing a minor role and FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich is also mentioned.

The search term "chess" gives a few hits in the Mueller report, the United States investigation into the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Both the former and the current FIDE president are mentioned in the report, that was released on Thursday with limited redactions. Below you'll find the relevant parts.

Ilyumzhinov in the Mueller report

Former FIDE President Ilyumzhinov is not mentioned by name in the Mueller report, but does play a role when the 2016 world championship match in New York between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin is dealt with. As it turns out, Ilyumzhinov had invited the Trump Organization to host the 2016 World Chess Championship at Trump Tower.

The match was eventually held in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. It is known that at least one Russian government official attended: Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov. Apparently, investigator Robert Mueller suspected that the match might have served as a vehicle for contacts between members of the Trump team and Russian government officials. He asked Trump whether he was asked to attend the match and if so by whom and when.

In his reply, the U.S. President disclosed the information about hosting the match in Trump Tower:

I do not remember having been asked to attend the World Chess Champions hip gala, and I did not attend the event. During the course of preparing to respond to these questions , I have become aware of documents indicating that in March of 2016, the president of the World Chess Federation invited the Trump Organization to host, at Trump Tower, the 2016 World Chess Championship Match to be held in New York in November 2016. I have also become aware that in November 2016, there were press inquiries to my staff regarding whether I had plans to attend the tournament, which was not being held at Trump Tower. I understand these documents have already been provided to you.

The organizer of the match, Ilya Merenzon (on behalf of Agon/World Chess), told ABC News that Ilyumzhinov extended the invitation to Trump, not through official FIDE channels but rather "via his personal connections."

Ilyumzhinov Putin
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov with Vladimir Putin in Sochi in 2014. | Photo: Mike Klein/

In the same ABC News report, Ilyumzhinov's son David is quoted about his father's visits to dictators such as Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi and Bashar Assad—visits that have always been suspected to serve backdoor diplomacy rather than chess.

David Ilyumzhinov: "It's not a secret. He can go like he is just there for chess, for the chess tournament, but he can deliver a message. And the message won’t get screwed up."

Dvorkovich in the Mueller report

Current FIDE President Dvorkovich is also mentioned in the Mueller report, as he met twice with Carter Page, a former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump. Note that this was more than two years before Dvorkovich got involved with chess. At the time, he was Deputy Prime Minister in Russia's Cabinet.

First, in his role as board member of the New Economic School (NES) in Russia, Dvorkovich on July 8, 2016

spoke at the [opening] ceremony and stated that the sanctions the United States had imposed on Russia had hurt the NES. Page and Dvorkovich shook hands at the commencement ceremony, and Weber [Shlomo Weber, economics professor and rector at NES - PD] recalled that Dvorkovich made statements to Page about working together in the future.

A day after the aforementioned ceremony, Page said about Dvorkovich in an email:

In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to the vast range of current international problems.

Arkady Dvorkovich
Arkady Dvorkovich. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Later in the Mueller report it is mentioned that Dvorkovich and Page also met half a year later, shortly after Trump had been elected.

On December 9, 2016, Page went to dinner with NES employees Shlomo Weber and Andrej Krickovic. Weber had contacted Dvorkovich to let him know that Page was in town and to invite him to stop by the dinner if he wished to do so, and Dvorkovich came to the restaurant for a few minutes to meet with Page. Dvorkovich congratulated Page on Trump's election and expressed interest in starting a dialogue between the United States and Russia. Dvorkovich asked Page if he could facilitate connecting Dvorkovich with individuals involved in the transition to be in a discussion of future cooperation.

Dvorkovich remained part of Russia's government until May 7, 2018. He was the chairman of the local organizing committee of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and in October 2018 he was elected FIDE President.

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