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Kasparov to Fide head: time to go

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Garry Kasparov plays chess during his visit to T&T.

Former world chess champion GM Garry Kasparov told the T&T chess community on Sunday that 19 years was too long a period for any one man to remain at the helm of the world chess federation. 


Kasparov was referring to the Russian Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of FIDE since 1995, who he is campaigning to replace at the next elections at Tromso, Norway, in August. Kasparov spent Sunday afternoon answering questions from a gathering of T&T chess players, including many juniors, at Naparima Boys College, San Fernando, where the third national qualifying tournament is being played.


The chess icon pointed out that in all the year’s of Ilyumzhinov’s presidency FIDE has never sited a World Olympiad tournament outside of Europe. When he becomes head of the world chess body, Kasparov pledged, “I will bring change to the organisation, I will do more to support national federations, not the other way around.”


Regarded by many as the greatest chess player of all time, Kasparov also spoke about “the dramatic impact” the game could have as an educational tool. “Chess teaches kids patience, decision making, strategic thinking and taking responsibility for their decisions,” he said. Now in its tenth year of operation, the Kasparov Chess Foundation works with more 3,500 schools throughout the United States and many more around the world to promote the study of chess as a cognitive learning tool in curricular and after school programmes of elementary and secondary schools.


It was noted that the experience of the KCF, which has raised millions of dollars for chess in education programmes at both public and private institutions worldwide, would be at the service of FIDE which would be committed to bringing chess into every classroom. 


A message from the KCF chairman says: “We have designed a programme that encourages creativity, instills self-discipline and offers hope and a feeling of accomplishment to millions of children. But we can’t do it alone. With your help we can bring chess into the classroom where it belongs. We can turn our dream of a better education for tomorrow into a reality today.” 


Kasparov was accompanied by eminent Jamaican lawyer, Ian Wilkinson QC, who has joined the challenger’s executive team as vice president. Based on this primary objective, Kasparov could hardly have selected a more fitting campaign partner than the Jamaican attorney and chess organiser who is president of both the Jamaica Chess Federation and the Magnificent Chess Foundation which he established as a strategical instrument for turning Jamaica into a “nation of thinkers.”


In this connection, DR has no hesitation in expressing his full support for Kasparov’s bid to establish a new and progressive era for world chess. For one thing, he has convincingly demonstrated his sincerity about implementing one of the central objectives of his programme, both in the global achievements of his Foundation and in bringing aboard Wilkinson whose own Foundation is notably aiding the academic success of schools in Jamaica.


In addition, Kasparov offers an impressive manifesto for change, creating a transparent organisation “that serves and supports national federations.” Among other items, it calls for an immediate 50 per cent reduction in membership fees and a 25 per cent cut in all other fees. Through corporate sponsorship, it would increase the FIDE budget by 100 per cent in the next two years. Towards this end, the organisation would be reorganised “with a professional marketing approach that will make chess and the FIDE brand attractive to corporate and public sponsors.”


Apart from expansion of online services, Kasparov’s plan offers a universal rating system that would include every game of chess played on the planet from world champion matches to online blitz. 


It would also provide strong anti-cheating measures and anti-short-draws rules “to preserve the integrity of the sport and improve the image of chess.”


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