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Chess notes

The battle for leadership of the International Chess Federation

May 17, 2010

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The World Championship has now ended in a triumph by Viswanathan Anand. The score of the match was 6.5-5.5. As the World Championship closes, the US Championship meets us in St. Louis on May 14. This year’s event features 24 players and will be held through May 25.

While all this tournament drama is going on, the politics of chess has taken a curious climb to the headlines. Anatoly Karpov, former world champion and one of the greatest players in chess history, is trying to unseat Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as president of the International Chess Federation. Ilyumzhinov is the president of the tiny southern Russian republic of Kalmykia.

Karpov, who is said to be quite wealthy, has joined the battle in earnest and claimed initially that Ilyumzhinov has not yet received the support of any delegation and has run a corrupt administration. Ilyumzhinov responded through Ali Nihat Yazici, president of the Turkish Chess Federation, who stated that the Turkish delegation supports Ilyumzhinov. A few more nations have since joined the Turks in their support of Ilyumzhinov.

But before either Karpov or Ilyumzhinov can run for the FIDE presidency one of them has to be the official candidate of the Russian Chess Federation. It was thought at first that this was going to be Ilyumzhinov. Arkady Dvorkovich, chairman of the supervisory board of RCF, had declared Ilyumzhinov the candidate. Karpov disputed this in that Dvorkovich acted alone and in violation of RCF bylaws that require a vote by the entire 32-member board. This vote seemed to be scheduled for earlier this week.

German, French, and US delegations have announced support for Karpov. Retired former world champion Gary Kasparov and the current top-rated player Magnus Carlsen also support Karpov. They will be joining Karpov in a benefit for Karpov’s candidacy in New York today.

What adds an unquestionably delectable flavor to the campaign is a letter from Andre Lebedev, an MP in Russia, addressed to President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. The missive asks Medvedev to report on a statement made in April by Ilyumzhinov that aliens briefly abducted him in 1997. Ilyumzhinov said that there were witnesses. Lebedev’s letter is reported on ChessBase.com. Lebedev argues that Ilyumzhinov is either unfit to rule or has failed to report whether he yielded up state secrets to the alien visitors. Lebedev’s letter appears to be a ploy to unseat Ilyumzhinov or at least embarrass the existing Russian government.

We doubt that Medvedev will be interested in the scientific side of the tale. For the present, it gives a bizarre twist to the already confused politics of chess.

Brevity: C. Van den Berg vs. F. Gaarenstroom, 1946; 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.Nxe5 Nxe5 8.d4 Bb6 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.Qd5 (1-0)

Winners: Mass. G/60 Champ — 1st, GM Alexander Ivanov, 6-1; 2d-4th, Denys K. Shmelov, FM William Kelleher, Vadim Martirosov, all 5.5-1.5. Metrowest April Fools — 1st-2d, Igor Foygel, Denys Shmelov, 3.5; 3d-4th, Ilya Krasik, Lawyer Times, 3.0

Coming Events: May 29-31, 79th Mass Open, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, 99 Erdman Way, Leominster, www.massopeninfo2010@masschess.org; May 22, BCC Legends of Chess and May 23, BCC Scholastic. www.boylstonchessclub.org.