22 November 2008

If No News Is Good News...

...then old news is gold news. Or something like that. While working on Interview with Makropoulos, I read the FIDE document 78th FIDE Congress Executive Board Minutes. The minutes are from the FIDE Congress that took place in Antalya, Turkey, 14-16 November 2007. Hence 'old news'.

The first point that caught my attention was a discussion of the role of David Kaplan, who was mentioned by Makropoulos as an indirect stakeholder in Global Chess.

1. Report of the President. President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov delivered his annual report. [...] In his trips and meetings with heads of various countries he had realized that there is a necessity to have chess centres and museums in all the capitals of FIDE member countries. So he proposes to introduce the project of construction of chess centres. This is a programme of creation of a global network of chess centres, to be achieved together with an international development company, Chess Lane. The centres will be built as multi-profile buildings including chess museums, hotel, office and commercial facilities, exhibition halls and conference halls for organization of international chess tournaments and other events. They will give more jobs to our international masters and international arbiters.

It is planned that the centres will be in the shape of a tower, similar to chess pieces, with separate entrances for differing functional sectors. Leading international architects, who were selected through a tender, participated in the creation of the chess centres concept. Soon the first variants of the concept are going to be finalized and presented for discussion. The construction of such chess centres will create new possibilities for national federation activities, and eventually will provide an added impetus for popularization and development of chess in the world.

Therefore he proposes to introduce a position of FIDE Development Director, which will not be financed from the FIDE budget. A major businessman, David Kaplan, is ready to invest his own money, provide his offices in London and help with the expansion of the FIDE office in Lausanne. Mr Kaplan will prepare a report for the Singapore Presidential Board meeting. He will analyse the situation and compare FIDE against successful sports Federations who have managed to reach multimillion and even billions of USD budgets. [...] Executive Board approved the creation of the Development Department and appointment of Mr. David Kaplan as CEO of the Development Department.

The mention of chess centers in the shape of a tower received some attention in the mainstream press when it first came to light. A Rook House for Bobby? Given the current global financial climate, I doubt this project is going anywhere in a hurry, except maybe to the bottom drawer of FIDE's filing cabinet. As for Global Chess (GlobalChess?), it was also on the agenda of the Executive Board.

4. FIDE Contract with GlobalChess. Annex 6 is contract between Global Chess and FIDE to be approved by Executive Board. Annex 6a is contract on website.

Mr. Makropoulos said that we have succeeded in reaching an agreement that helps Global Chess to start marketing and try to get sponsorship for our FIDE events by working on the plans which the President introduced to FIDE several months ago. We are not going to have big money in the first years, but Global Chess need our help to set up the right mechanism in order to get sponsors for FIDE. After the first 5 years we would expect that if they succeed, then FIDE will start having very important income.

Our cooperation has resulted in a new system for the WCC cycle. This system can be better for the sponsors, who would like to promote themselves through chess. Global chess is working in this direction and we are on the right track, but if Global Chess has no final approval from the Executive Board, they cannot start serious work.

It is proposed to approve this contract. Then we can open the bidding procedure for Grand Prix and Global Chess will start working on the contracts for FIDE event.


E. van Dijk said chess has a great chance at present with Mr. Ilyumzhinov and Mr Kok working together. He asked the extent of the partnership. Can a large company come directly to FIDE? Mr. Makropoulos said yes they can come directly to FIDE, but Global Chess will be brought to the discussion, as commercial partner of FIDE. They will have the professionals to deal with the promotion of sponsors, or production, they will have to satisfy the needs, but FIDE has the events. In our contract it is said that we can also find sponsors without Global Chess. However, Global Chess will be involved, but in this situation, the percentages are changed accordingly. Normally, the situation will be vice versa. Mr. Gelfer said this is an answer for many other questions regarding our relationship. Global Chess is our commercial department.


Mr. Vega wanted to know the difference between sponsor and organiser. Mr. Makropoulos said that the organisers are the business of FIDE. Currently, Global Chess is also looking for the organisers but this is because of the good relations between us. All of us, including the President, try to do this. Organisers will come through the FIDE bidding procedure.

Mr. Borg said the Grand Prix proposals are for 6 cities and the contribution to Global Chess is zero. FIDE will receive close to 250,000 euros. Any money Global Chess receives will come from sponsorship. The President is investing and he does not expect to get his money back, but when we have a system in place and good image and communication, we will find sponsors.

Executive Board approved the contract with Global Chess. The signing of the contract took place, On behalf of FIDE, Messrs Makropoulos and Freeman, on behalf of Global Chess, Mr. Borg. Mr. Makropoulos thanked Mr. Ilyumzhinov who is investing his money into Global Chess. It is his baby and he does the best that he can do for this organisation.

Going back a few months to a post titled The Cone of Silence, I wondered what was meant by 'the disastrous handling of the World Chess Tournament in Mexico City'. The topic was mentioned by the Executive Board.

34. World Championship Tournament 2007. Mr. Makropoulos said the President could not attend the event, following his doctor’s restriction on his travel. We held a Board meeting at the same time and several members of the Board stayed for the whole duration of the Championship. It was a good tournament, but due to the political problems, between Governor and the Mayor, there were financial problems. The players were happy, the hotel and the tournament hall were adequate. The weak point was the Internet. Geoffrey Borg did his best but we did not succeed to reach the point we planned. He referred to the contract with Global Chess which means the control of the Internet in all big events of FIDE will be under their direction.


Mr. Vega said there were serious problems in the government of Mexico as it changed 3 months before the start of the Championship. It negatively affected the financial side. He congratulated Mr. Makropoulos and the whole team for a great job in cooperating with the Organisers in this event.

Executive Board approved the report.

There were also a few details regarding the recent Anand - Kramnik match.

36. World Chess Championship Cycle 2007-2009. Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos informed the members that it is a cycle which includes 3 matches, namely Kramnik - Anand, Topalov with the World Cup winner 2007 and in 2009 there will be another match for the title between Kramnik - Anand match winner and the winner of the Topalov - World Cup match.


Also, Mr. Filipowicz asked if FIDE established dates for the matches. Mr. Makropoulos said we established the period, September, but Anand has obligations in September with the Grand Slam and he has signed his contract. The dates are announced and he is asking to move the dates to October. This is another point for the discussion. Mr. Makropoulos said the Organisers of top tournaments are actually aware that FIDE keeps September for the World Championship in our calendar. The organisers should see and maybe adjust. We will try to solve this problem.

The main idea is first to organise Kramnik - Anand and then the Topalov match. This is the preferred order in order to maximise publicity.

Lately, FIDE's track record of following through its schedule of events has not been impressive. The brouhaha surrounding the Topalov - Kamsky match has only settled down in the last few days, and there is a new furor building over the Doha Grand Prix. By all appearances this is business as usual.

37. Women’s World Chess Championship 2008. The event shall be held in San Luis, Argentina. Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos said the decision was made in Mexico at the Presidential Board meeting. We had two good proposals, from Argentina and Kazakhstan. The Argentinian offer was financially better. Berik Balgabaev had a difficult job to inform Kazakhstan but we will try to organise other events in Kazakhtsan. The most likely dates are in May. The contract is prepared. Our experience with San Luis is very positive, so we believe everything will be alright.


Mr. Makropoulos said that the contract will be signed with the Governor of San Luis Dr. Saa. Argentina has also won the bid for World Junior 2009. The Federation has several proposals and ideas about events. A meeting can be held to discuss all these proposals. [...] Mr. Quinteros said they are ready to sign the contract in the middle of December, around 10th December 2007. There is also an idea is to organise a World Chess Circuit in 2010, which is the bicentenary year for Argentina. The event will consist of six different tournaments and players will play open tournaments for all categories, from January to December. Each tournament will have ten rounds and it is proposed to have different venues in Argentina. They requested the patronage of FIDE, the prize fund is 150,000 USD for each tournament and 20% of the total amount shall be paid to FIDE. The top Grandmasters are not targeted, in order not to clash with the FIDE Grand Prix.

Executive Board granted the patronage of FIDE to the World Chess Circuit. Executive Board accepted the report of the Women’s World Championship.

I bet dollars to donuts that the World Chess Circuit doesn't see the light of day any faster than a 'Rook House for Bobby'.

In FIDE's defense, the Executive Board minutes show that FIDE insiders are aware of their shortcomings and know what the external chess world is saying about them. The minutes depict FIDE as an outdated amateur organization struggling to perform in a modern world where professionalism is expected. Could this also be true of the national chess federations, which, like FIDE, seem to have more than their fair share of organizational mishaps?

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