15 December 2013

'Chess in School' Is Lucrative

Continuing with this series of 'Chess in School' (CIS) posts -- see CIS Is Multilevel and CIS Is Political for the preceding posts -- the subject played a key role a few months ago at the 84th FIDE Congress Executive Board (EB), Tallinn, Estonia. I've already quoted heavily from the EB meeting in my post on Ethics and Cheating (see that post for references), and this being my first look at CIS inside FIDE, I'm going to quote even more heavily in this post. The subject came up in the introduction to the annual kickoff report by FIDE President Ilyumzhinov.

1. Report of the President. President K. Ilyumzhinov presented his annual report. [...] We are in a country with rich chess traditions, where a chess player, great Paul Keres is featured on a five-krone banknote. [...] The Estonians despite difficult economic conditions, they [took] several steps to promote chess, including "Chess in School" in several places. For example, GM J. Ehlvest wrote a book which should reach the table of every primary school child, and become a part of a chess curriculum.

In recent years, Rosneft has been the main sponsor of the program, where 'more than a million USD was spent'.

Last year we signed a sponsorship agreement for Chess in Schools programme with the Rosneft, where several dozens of countries were involved. Events were held in London, Beijing, Manchester, Geneva, Al Ain etc. In Al Ain together with the first World Cities Championship they organized trainers’ seminar. I would like to thank Chess in School Commission, its Chairman Ali Yazici for their great work. More than a million USD was spent for this programme. Soon we will sign several agreements on this programme with other companies.

The Chess in Schools and chess as a school subject is a top priority in the agenda for all my visits. In Lithuania, in Vilnius, as a result of my meeting in the Ministry of Education, a memorandum was signed with the Ministry of Education and their National Chess Federation to support a legal initiative for the Chess in Schools project. In Kyrgyzstan, the largest parliament faction also came forward with an initiative to introduce chess into the school curriculum. We also discussed in Geneva, together with the Neva Foundation of Timchenko Family, to organize in February 2014 a European Youth Chess Festival with the participation of UN. Deputy Secretary General, Mr. K. Tokay, will kindly provide his premises in the UN offices in Geneva for this purpose. Some private sponsors of Geneva Canton as well as authorities are ready to sponsor chess events there.

In January in Armenia, Tsakhadzor, in the 2013 1st quarter PB meeting, chess in schools was an item of the Agenda and it was an honour for us as the President of Armenia H.E. S. Sargsian reported on this issue. As a result, we organized an international Ministers of Education conference in London, at the end of January. It was attended by 190 countries. The report of the Armenian Minister of Education was one of the top and most interesting in the event. You can download it from our website. I would also like to thank the Ukrainian CF and its President V. Kapustin for their contribution to Chess in Schools programme. In Ukraine the Parliament decided to celebrate an International Day of Chess. During my personal meeting with the President H.E. V. Yanukovich, I once again heard the governmental support for chess initiatives in Ukraine.

Ilyumzhinov took full credit for signing the Rosneft sponsorship.

There are two top priorities for us today and for the next year – this is Chess in Schools programme, its continuation and promotion of chess, my maximal contribution during my visits to all countries, [...] Our second priority is interaction and collaboration with the IOC. [...] FIDE Treasurer will report on financial situation later on the Agenda. But I would like to report on the exact amounts I and my partners brought to chess events this year:
Chess in Schools for this year – 750,000 USD
Russia – 500,000 USD (Rosneft sponsorship)

He used Kalmykia as the reference for success.

Kalmykia has become the first region in 1993 where chess was introduced into school curriculum and 100% kids play chess. And for the last three years the level of academic performance of Kalmykia has been one among 5 top in Russia. And my years of joint experience of being President of Kalmykia and President of FIDE give me a right to tell my colleagues that from my personal experience, kids who play chess are doing well in school. Therefore wherever I am, I will promote chess in schools in all countries and provide good advice and support.

Later he made a startling proposition.

I have never [been] desperate to keep my position as FIDE President. If it is necessary I can resign this very moment and give my office to another candidate. I will just save my money and my time. I do not want FIDE to go back as in the 90s and have again political struggles and fights, as during last period of Campomanes’ rule. I know that there are presidential candidates who had already created their offices and started financing their campaigns. I am against such way of handling this, we should not be spending the coming year in deciding who we will vote for, for me, for Mr. Jones etc. It will damage our stability in chess movement.

Therefore when I am asked whether I will remain or not in FIDE, as this Presidential campaign means a lot of expenses for trips and other expenses. I think that this money should be spent on chess movement, Chess Federations and chess in schools programmes. As a chess family, we are one family, we have to decide everything together, inside the family. This is the lesson taught to me by Florencio Campomanes.

I want money to be kept within FIDE and not spent for the crazy presidential campaigns. I am ready to give a cheque for 1 mln USD and give it to the Treasurer Mr. Freeman for school chess development. I challenge the other candidates to follow my example. If 1 mln USD will be collected by Mr. Freeman from each of the candidates, I can then increase and spend 5 mln USD. Therefore whoever gives the most amount for school and youth chess programmes, he should be a real presidential candidate. Then we will openly see who sincerely wants to develop and help chess.

The real cost to FIDE was given in the annexes to the financial report under the heading 'Chess in Schools': -

  • 2012 actual - 50,000 Euro
  • 2013 budget - 60,000
  • 2014 budget - 108,000

The difference between the figures given by Ilyumzhinov and given in the budget led to some concerned discussion.

2. Financial report. Treasurer, Mr. N. Freeman presented his report. [...]

Mr. T. Sielicki [Deputy President, European Chess Union] asked about the CIS budget, he said that the Chairman declared that all the money would go through FIDE and not through some private sponsor or company, and the figure in the budget is 108,000, and whether this is a final figure or not in the light of the expected amounts to come to FIDE thanks to the Presidential campaign.

Mr. N. Freeman said that again the people have misunderstood. He said that the amount of 108,000 is coming from FIDE budget. If the President or Mr. A. Yazici or whoever raise more money, again it depends on a sponsor, and again this will be paid through FIDE at the end of the day. He said that all the money that FIDE received from Rosneft, was paid through FIDE. They sent it to Global Chess first because they had an agreement and Global Chess sent it to FIDE. FIDE made the payments on the instructions of CIS Chairman. So if there is more money, and let’s hope Poland can raise more money for us, all this will be paid through FIDE. It is up to a sponsor, who they want to sign an agreement with, we cannot say No to a sponsor if they want to do it in a slightly different way.

Mr. A. Yazici said he fully agreed with Mr. T. Sielicki and hoped he got the Verification Commission report. He added by saying that there are various activities under the umbrella of the programme Chess in Schools with various sponsors and sometimes President gives money for such missions. But here we mean that whatever money is for the CIS FIDE Commission, it is spent through FIDE. Therefore the Commission cannot control any other accounts used for this purpose.

Note that the only mention in the minutes of Global Chess was in relation to the CIS program. Later in the minutes came the CIS report. There were two related annexes.

5.10. Chess in Schools Commission. Mr. A. Yazici presented his report (Annex 59). Annex 23 is Commission’s report.

Mr. A. Yazici thanked the FIDE President for his support, especially mentioned in his report. He said that 49 Federations were supported with the sponsorship from Rosneft and also, we increased the number with 5 this year.

He underlined that the Commission is something to give children the advantage of learning chess as other school disciplines. Therefore the training of the teachers is not the same as trainers’ education. We created a new title – School Instructor and also, in 2013, following the objection of the Trainers’ Commission, we revoked the title. Now the Trainers’ Commission reconsidered their position, and CIS is saying that they need this title. So they ask the Executive Board to approve this title again. [...]

Mr. G. Boxall [FIDE Auditor & Chairman, Verification Commission] congratulated the Commission for enormous amount of work of the Commission and said in the Verification Commission Minutes say that the amount of money spent by the Commission was examined by his Commission in details. He said it was not clear in the Commission meeting, was the priorities allocated by the Commission regarding the expenditure of the money. Therefore they recommended that the Commission produces a summary of the funds use in relation to 600, 000 USD.

Mr. A. Yazici said that he did not hear till 48 hours ago, but this had been produced and provided to Mr. G. Boxall. He said that he was not feeling very good as only his Commission was asked for this. He was ready to answer for any expenditure in his Commission. He said for the future, every Commission should produce such a summary.

Mr. T. Sielicki said his question was similar to the question of Mr. G. Boxall. He said the budget of CIS is not in the budget of FIDE. He said he realised that apart from the budgeted amount, the other amounts were channelled through other bodies, like Global Chess. He said the request from the Verification Commission means that they were unable to see how these funds were distributed. He said we should post factum request a pro forma accountability report from the Commission regarding 2013, some rules for 2014. We heard from the FIDE President that Chess in Schools is the most important thing, but he also underlined and we take it for granted from him, that transparency is paramount. He disagreed with Mr. A. Yazici and said that this Commission is not like others, it is the most important and this is where most money is being spent. He said that this had to be taken in a much better way, especially that the auditors could not account for this.

Mr. N. Freeman said that Mr. T. Sielicki was mixing years and he meant 2013, when said 2014. He said that the CIS budget for last year was raised by the FIDE President himself with Rosneft. It was money purely for CIS and it was reported back to the Rosneft, and Mr. Borg can confirm this. In the FIDE office we have all the payments, and we do not know which amount was for a manual, which was for seminars, we do not know this exactly. He underlined that the monies which were written off, are the monies spent by FIDE before the Rosneft money came in. It was agreed by the Presidential Board in Al Ain. These were two pilot projects, originally they were supposed to be three, with Sweden also included. Rosneft money has nothing to do with these projects, that is why FIDE had to write them off.

Mr. A. Yazici said the comments by Mr. T. Sielicki were not correct. He said the budget was not as he said, it was raised. The money came to FIDE. He said he never spent any money, except than FIDE money, except my pocket money, which I did not invoice to FIDE, all expenses were done from the FIDE account. He said for the next year, it was not 60,000 but 108,000. If President raises more money, it will go to the FIDE budget. The question here is not straight, if the items in the summary, one by one, listed by an accountant and Treasurer, should be grouped. He said it was not a good manner, to prepare this, in advance. It would have taken us 20 minutes to prepare this. We have nothing to hide. He said he would not understand why this question in the part of Verification Commission and Chess in Schools Commission, as this was their job and we could discuss that at the meeting.

Mr. S. Danailov asked the income from Slovakia is 273 euro and from Slovenia is 289 euro, and the loan to FIDE is more than 87,000. He said when I asked this question in Yerevan PB to the Chairman of CIS, the answer was I do not remember exactly, but it was about 30 or 40,000 euro. But there is a big difference between these figures.

Mr. A. Yazici said I did not remember at the time, as we had some premium members at that time. At the end the CIS material was spent in these countries. So this money was spent by Federations, it is maybe this money came to our account. He said I am very proud to spend money on our Federations.

Executive Board accepted the Commission’s report and noted that the summary of expenses will be published on the CIS website.

While preparing this post, I couldn't find that summary of expenses on the CIS website. The minutes of the EB meeting didn't mention that the Rosneft sponsorship was ended for 2013. That info is found in the 'Chess in Schools Commission Meeting', Annex 59.

2011-2012 Rosneft sponsorship was very important to us. Our 2012 Annual Report gives details of that sponsorship and the work that we carried out with 49 federations to the end of that year.

2013 Rosneft sponsorship could not continue but the President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is working and we are hoping for good news soon.

As for Annex 23, it lists the CIS accomplishments.

Report of Commission Chairman Ali Nihat Yazici; CHESS IN SCHOOL COMMISSION; The period since the last Congress in Istanbul has been marked by a lot of hard work and several landmark events. There have been four principal areas of activity
  • The multi-lingual web sites, launched in January 2012, to support both our chess in schools work and FIDE-CIS Student Membership (a synergistic part of the whole), are now available in two more languages, 11 in all;
  • the major sponsorship from Rosneft meant that we were able to do a great deal in 2012, carrying over into this year, albeit, with no renewal of that sponsorship, we are now seriously constrained in our budget;
  • we have now produced more than 70 magazines (almost 600 pages!) for our FIDE Student members;
  • fourthly, the major Chess in Schools projects – the CIS100 modules – are showing their worth, and not only those since several small federations have shown the way to develop Student membership.
[...] CIS100 Modules – the special projects Our first two project countries, Slovakia and Slovenia, are about to commence their third year of operations. Many others look forward to their second year. We hope that budgetary constraints will not put a stop to these developments.

The projects continue to evolve, especially as they are tailored to each participating country, but the basic outlines are there for all to see in our CIS Handbook. In 2012, 1000 top quality demonstration boards and 16,000 boards and sets were manufactured and most have now been delivered to the recipient countries.

The concern of the EB members as to the disposition of the CIS funds is fully understandable. It is telling that the EB discussion revolved around the control of the sponsorship funds rather than the CIS program itself. In his introductory speech Ilyumzhinov said,

All the years my activity was transparent and open for everyone. For all these years the Board members and delegates we have not had any single corruption scandal. If in any sports Federations we always read about such scandals because of mismanagement of funds, our budget is always open, you can find it in the Internet. I thank to all FIDE Treasurers, Messrs. W. Iclicki, D. Jarrett and N. Freeman.

He is right to be proud of this, and the same standards should apply to the flagship CIS program.

No comments: