Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Not especially of big concern for us

Here's some interesting archive footage I was passed by Jon Manley. I can't embed it here, as far as I can see, but click on the link and watch the video - it's only three minutes of your time. Three quite interesting minutes.

Here's a familiar face, for instance. Hello Kirsan!

Kirsan was hosting the 1998 Olympiad, something of a disaster for the England team which was seeded second, but finished eleventh, a long way out of the medals. Here's two more familiar faces, belonging to Matthew Sadler, who played on the team, and Chris Ward, who captained it.

And here's a somewhat less familiar face. It belonged to Larissa Yudina, who was killed in Elista three months before the footage was taken, in an assassination linked to the owner of the first face in our series.

And here's a very familiar face indeed, albeit topped with a less familiar hair colour. He's talking [2:01-2:19] about whether the death of the journalist pictured above should prevent chessplayers competing in the event organised by the chap suspected of having her killed.

What Nigel says:
If you want to look very hard, you can find problems, human rights issues, in many many countries, so, er, I think, um, this is not, er, especially, ah, a big concern for us.
Now it's fair to say that Nigel has since reversed this view, and hence the immediate purpose of this posting isn't particularly to point the finger at Nigel. (Nor am I suggesting that the issues involved in boycotting or not boycotting chess events were, or are, at all straightforward.) But if it has a purpose, other than to draw your attention to some footage of historical interest, it's simply to raise once more a point quite often made in connection with early enthusiasm for Kirsan and his pot of money for chess. Which is...

...when somebody pops up out of nowhere offering to throw load of cash at chess, wouldn't it be better to check out their credentials first and think about the money second, rather than take the money first and think about the ethics when the money has run out?

A point quite often made. But perhaps not made quite often enough.

[Nigel Short index]


Jonathan B said...

Also on this theme: While he had money to pay"

Anonymous said...

I imagine that it isn't that easy to be objective when you are a grandmaster. You want to progress, you want to succeed, but to do so you have to compete. To boycott events is a big step. When (well that us say if instead) you would effectively have to boycott all FIDE events because the organisation is financed by incredibly dirty money, it is obvious to see the scale of that decision and the impact it has. You are coming close to just ending your career. That's an easy thing to talk yourself out of doing.

Kirsan is also head of the IMSA, an umbrella body for mind sports. I found it hard to understand how it was that he came to be elected as head of that body.

I think that it should be more for the national organisations to take action against the corruption. Maybe we have to wait for the USA to step up and Blatter Kirsan?


Anonymous said...

I think Kirsan is head of IMSA because he is head of FIDE. If there was even a vote, it would only have been by the heads of other mind sports bodies.

The ECF along with some other chess Federations has consistently opposed the re-election of Kirsan. The problem is that voting at FIDE is on the basis of one country one vote, so the smaller countries where only a limited number of decision makers have to be influenced are the king makers.


Anonymous said...

IMSA is easy, it's an umbrella as you say (of 5 or 6 mind sports), so the prez is just one of the individual heads in practice. I think it was the bridge guy previously.
I don't think Kirsan's money is any dirtier than some others, in either chess or politics today. If you wait for the USA, has anyone investigated Sinquefield's money? Not to say anything, but if you promote due diligence, has anyone done it?

Anonymous said...

With regards to due diligence, it is not really the place of an organisation like the ECF to act as some kind of forensic accountant, but at the same time they ought not to act like the three wise monkeys. In the case where it is blatantly obvious that a sponsor is Evil then there is a moral duty to consider. Likewise if an organisation like FIDE is absolutely ridden with corruption, is it right to be part of it, or is it time to buy a new pram and place your rattles inside it?

It is surely simplistic to argue that the small countries are the kingmakers, are larger countries not bribing them in that scenario? If so, then simply changing the voting system might just lessen the cost of corruption.

The heads (or representatives) of the other 4 organisations in IMSA decided to vote for
Kirsan. Did they know what kind of man he was?

Anonymous said...

are larger countries not bribing them in that scenario?

Kirsan travelled the world holding meetings usually with the Russian Ambassador present. At the very least scholarships in Russia seemed on offer.

Like most Western chess federations, the ECF struggles to finance itself, without having spare resources for incentives.

If so, then simply changing the voting system might just lessen the cost of corruption.

Are the "small" chess Federations really going to vote to approve that?


EEP-2 said...

It's another point, that FIDE is organized by continent. The Americas president (Vega) always emphasizes block voting. Their delegates went missing after returning Kirsan in 2014, leading to quorum difficulties (largely ignored in practice by FIDE Central, but lawyers have probed the loopholes, particularly with cheating discipline lurching higher). Once reading FIDE Minutes, I saw Makro or Freeman saying that lots of FIDE distribution money went through the continental associations, so you can imagine how this goes. There's a lot of internal money to repay favorites, or punish the others. Shaun Press gave the story on how he was removed from committees (2014), simply because he couldn't promise the PNG vote ahead of time.

ejh said...

Kirsan travelled the world holding meetings usually with the Russian Ambassador present

Talking of which