Thursday, 24 July 2014

FIDE COMMISSIONS - Nominations Open

Over the past 2 months since the announcement of the Presidential Tickets for the FIDE Elections, I have received dozens of emails showing concern as to the work of the various commissions.

The establishment of the Central Board of Commissions was my idea – this is to get all chairmen of commissions to brainstorm and avoid duplication of functions as well as to agree on general principles and directions. I was ELECTED into the Qualification Commission in 1988; and had subsequently chaired the Development Commission, Events Commission and then the Qualification Commission. Since my maiden appearance in FIDE in 1984, I had taken a strong and active interest in the work of the commissions.

Therefore, should Team Kasparov be given a mandate for change there are many things we will do to improve the administration of FIDE - in our six winning moves we have stated that FIDE will be a transparent organisation which serves and supports national federations and where there will be an increase in communications and information shared between FIDE and the federations to make FIDE more effective and responsive.

FIDE Commissions have always played and will continue to play the most important role in our new FIDE. While our leadership will set policy and the FIDE Secretariat assist in and coordinate its implementation, I believe that FIDE Commissions should continue to be made up of experts representing all parts and aspects of the global chess community across all continents.

I recognise the expertise and hard work of many current FIDE Commission members and will also add to their numbers with others equally capable who have been side-lined for political reasons by the incumbent administrations; FIDE or Continents.

Our campaign to win FIDE has been fought cleanly and we are both disappointed and shocked that our opponents have chosen to go to the extreme with dirty tactics and we therefore reserve the right not to continue to include in FIDE those holding office and positions who have willingly given up their professionalism to join Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and friends in such behaviour. Those many good people on FIDE Commissions MUST be kept out of the politics.

I invite national federations to submit nominations for the various commissions BEFORE 10th August 2014. We hope to able to finalise the compositions of the various commissions before we leave Tromso.

Full information should be provided (Family/Surname; Given Name; FIDE ID; Title; Year of Birth; Gender; Experiences in related commission etc .. Please write to the undersigned at - only nominations by a federation president/delegate/secretary shall be accepted.

Ignatius Leong
General Secretary
Team Kasparov

Thursday, 3 July 2014


Desperate men do desperate things.

Without any doubt incumbent Asian Chess Federation (ACF) Sheikh Sultan Khalifah bin Al Nahayan has now become the Kirsan Ilyumzhinov of Asia! 

Only two months ago he insisted that he was neutral while his employees turned the World Youth Championship in Al Ain into a grand meeting cum holiday for the FIDE incumbent and FIDE funds were used to lavishly support both participation and also for officials from Federations all over the world to be told who to vote for. Yet for the people/players who were told at the last minute that their visas were not approved, there was no offer for compensation. 

But who can believe a person that has done nothing for chess and has the likes of the Philippines' Castro Abundo and Iran's Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh given high positions in the ACF while drawing a salary from him paid for by the Abu Dhabi authorities? In practically almost all Asian events, this duo will always be there; depriving other Asians the opportunities as technical officials. You think they worked for free? For them, it was more money on top of their generous salaries.

Everything that the ACF does is a joke and for show or to reward, it is never to promote Asian chess or to really help the many Asian Chess Federations. Their modus operandi is political expediency and nothing more than that. 

Sheikh Sultan may be a prince in Al Ain but he has nothing to do with the UAE Chess Federation and the Dubai Chess Club which have been involved in chess and organised long standing events for several decades now. 

Like in Kirsan's FIDE we have suddenly seen activity never before imagined by the ACF including a laughable inaugural Asian Chess Excellence Awards where recipients were either their own' gang" or those who were there only to be shown the rewards that could come with loyalty. No formulated guidelines were approved at any ACF General Assembly as to how clubs would be selected for the Asian Clubs Championship which concluded recently.

What I personally find nauseating with all this is the complete absence of chess anywhere in any of ACF's agendas.

Sheikh Sultan in all the time I have known him has never lifted a finger, only travelled to another country when he had no choice but to officiate at an official ACF event. In his eight years being ACF President, he had visited less than half of the Asian federations. Just as it is with the incumbent FIDE President, federations do not have direct telephone access to him if about chess.

But now he is doing exactly like Ilyumuzhinov, the UAE embassies are now calling National Chess Federations. He is meeting with his fellow "royalty' to change delegates. A case in point is his ACF Secretary Hisham Al-Taher from the UAE is taking the delegate position from Bahrain, not only hitting a member of the opposing Asian ticket but insulting a National Chess Federation making a mockery of a statehood and a nation’s right to self-determination.

These people forget they came promising to serve but well past their sell buy date they continue to cling on to power and in increasing desperate ways and in the process have destroyed whatever legacy hoped for and most certainly have permanently lost any goodwill.

It is bad enough that the ACF Constitution was rewritten to accommodate the incumbent, to allow both the President and General Secretary to come from the same Federation, rules that limit leadership participation from those in other National Chess Federations and more so when the Deputy President and Treasurer are his employees.

In his new ticket are new entries in Bharat Singh of India and Abigail Tian of China. Ultimately their first loyalty remains to their own national chess institutions where they are gainfully employed. Then, together with ACF employee Pahlevanzadeh, do you expect any of these “employees” to dare speak up for the rest of Asia?? “FIDE NOT FOR SALE?” - Think again.

Proof? Look at the list of delegates. Many don't even live in the countries they represent and are certainly not citizens. Now we see in less frequented places blatant removal of long serving Presidents and Delegates through administrative means, even replacement of an entire Federation, think for a start Afghanistan, Gabon and Papua New Guinea.

In Asia I am seeing the sudden appearance of Delegates who have not done anything in or for the countries they represent, Ilyumzhimov's assistant Berik Balgabaev from Russia now holding the vote of a great and active chess nation like Kazakhstan. Almost completely unknown in Asia, Sajanbayar Tserendorj now represents the Mongolian vote even if he lives in England and has not been home to Mongolia for at least a decade, of course there is a reason and could it be because he was Illyumzhinov's classmate? Rajaj Alsusi who lives in the UAE and has worked for the Sharjah Chess Club for almost 25 years now is Delegate for Palestine.

Arguably the Dubai Chess Olympiad of 1986 was the best ever organised. Many have fond memories of it. But alas, Sheikh Sultan has no shame and is embarrassing the UAE, has he not learned the lesson of Ilyumzhinov who was caught demanding in official FIDE letter to the Vietnamese government the removal of Dang Tat Thang as Delegate for Vietnam? (see Directed at no less than the founder of the Vietnam Chess Federation in 1988 and a man who has been their pioneering leader all these years. Instead of helping Dang further develop chess in his country, the Ilyumzhinov-Sheikh Sultan combo would rather disfranchise because they want to ensure the vote is with a delegate of their choice.

Previously during election time it was a fight over the legality of Federations and Delegates in the Americas but now this is a disease spread by the incumbents to Africa and especially into Asia.

My colleagues in National Chess Federations worldwide, stand up for your rights and that of our victimised colleagues. If we allow this to happen then no one's vote is safe and don't think that with this FIDE and ACF it cannot happen to you!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Letter of Demand to FIDE from Afghanistan National Olympic Council, Explanation asked from Executive Director by General Secretary

From: FIDE Secretariat []
Sent: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 1:43 PM
To: 'Ignatius Leong'
Cc: 'Nigel Freeman'
Subject: RE: Chess Federation President Changes on FIDE website

just a small note - we are not Nigel's staff or your staff, we are FIDE staff, dear friend Ignatius )))

From: Ignatius Leong []
Sent: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 9:35 AM
To: FIDE Secretariat; Directory Elista FIDE Office; PB Nigel Freeman
Cc: 'Santens, Ank'; GK gmail
Subject: FW: Chess Federation President Changes on FIDE website

Dear Nigel,

I demand an explanation as to how you and your staff took to making the amendments to the AFG directory. I expect an answer before the end of the working day.


From: Olympic President []
Sent: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 1:39 AM
Subject: Chess Federation President Changes on FIDE website

To whom it may concern, Please find attached a letter concerning illegal changes to the Afghanistan Chess Federation President on the FIDE website. 
We would highly appreciate your serious involvement in this regard, which may cause more government approaches to Olympic Federations in the future. 

Afghanistan NOC

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The FIDE Secretariat Works like Criminals for Kirsan's Campaign

One of the obvious tactics being employed by the Kirsan with "Makro & Friends", is to create the perception that they have an overwhelming majority and that the election is as good as won, yet their continuing dirty moves increasingly show how frightened and desperate they are.

Kirsan, through padded nominations is trying in influence those undecided and even with Team Kasparov that they should not be on the losing side and this is followed with threats and other intimidations reminding everyone how vindictive he can be post election should he win!

So far we have avoided a public expose, preferring instead to remind Kirsan and his FIDE to behave, and to focus our campaign in telling what we can do and doing it rather than make the empty promises we have been hearing for 19 years.

It is very unfortunate that the FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman and his staff in the FIDE Athens and FIDE Moscow Offices do not even bother to pretend neutrality and in fact have been knowing and willingly working with Kirsan with "Makro & Friends" to act in ways that raise serious ethical, if not criminal questions.

Even we are shocked that FIDE would go so far as to attempt to erase the records of an existing legitimate Federation and replace it with one they have created and then ignore the protests of the relevant authorities!   

The following emails and letters with supporting documents to FIDE from our legal counsel clearly state the facts and conclusively demonstrate bias on the part of the Executive Director and call into question his very integrity.

From: Santens, Ank
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2014 9:32 AM
To: 'GK gmail'; FIDE-office; NIGEL FREEMAN
Subject: RE: Gabon
Importance: High

I write in my capacity as legal adviser to Garry Kasparov and his ticket.  I write further to Garry’s email of last night regarding Gabon.  I have meanwhile received the attached email which you sent to Ignatius Leong  (Attachment A).

The positions in that email are wrong.

First, your statement that “[h]aving checked the Statutes regarding ADEG’s potential admission as a member as a replacement for AGE” is ironical indeed.  ADEG was at all times the valid association until you replaced it by AGE on the FIDE website without any prior notice and without any valid basis after Gabon supported the Kasparov ticket for the 2014 FIDE Presidential Elections.  See for instance attached a print-out of the FIDE Directory of 3 September 2013 listing ADEG as the valid representative of Gabon and Mr. Bongo Akanga NDJILA BARTHELEMY as its President (Attachment B).  You should instead have “checked the Statutes regarding AGE’s potential admission as a member as a replacement for AGED” before you replaced AGED by AGE.  Clearly you did not do that and you are now turning matters on their head.

Second, Gabon has already been admitted as a member of FIDE, so Article 2.2 of the FIDE Statutes does not apply.  The only decision to be made now is who is the valid representative of the Gabon chess federation for purposes of voting in the 2014 FIDE elections.  If in doubt, that decision must be made by the Electoral Commission, not the General Assembly.  See Article 3.5 of the provisions on the ELE in Chapter 8 of the Statutes: “The Commission shall verify who is entitled to vote at FIDE’s quadrennial Presidential elections in accordance with the Electoral Regulations.”

Third, there can be no such doubt here, as all relevant documents at all times point to AGED and its representatives as the valid representatives of the Gabon chess federation.  You place importance on the letter you wrote to Dr. Assele but you already have a letter from Dr. Assele firmly attesting to the validity of AGED and the lack of validity of AGE.  Unless you receive proof to the contrary, that letter controls.


From: Santens, Ank
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2014 1:05 PM

Cc: ''; Garry Kasparov (
Subject: RE: Afganistan - Urgent!

Dear Nigel,

This is not a response.  You as the Executive Director of FIDE and the FIDE Secretariat decided to make these changes.   You removed the person who has been listed as the President and Delegate for years without any notice or explanation.  You owe an explanation to Mr. Hanif and the Afghanistan Chess Federation.  Mr. Hanif has no idea whatsoeveras to why these changes were made.  You are not giving Mr. Hanif and the Afghanistan Chess Federation any due process.  You are the Executive Director of FIDE.  You are bringing shame to the office by acting the way you are.

Best regards,


Sent: Monday, June 16, 2014 12:17 PM
To: Santens, Ank

Subject: RE: Afganistan - Urgent!

Dear Ank

We will forward this to the Electoral Commission.

Best regards


From: Santens, Ank []
Sent: 16 June 2014 16:46
To: 'FIDE-office'; 'NIGEL FREEMAN'
Subject: RE: Afganistan - Urgent!
Importance: High

Dear Nigel,

I attach Afghanistan’s letter nominating the Kasparov ticket, signed by Mr. Hanif.  There can be no doubt that this is the reason for the recent inexplicable (and unexplained) changes on the FIDE website directory for Afghanistan.  The recent events regarding Gabon and Afghanistan put beyond any possible doubt that the FIDE Secretariat and you are biased and do not act with fairness, impartiality and transparency that is required of a sports governing body and its Executive Director.  We reserve all our rights.  



From: Santens, Ank []
Sent: 16 June 2014 16:46

Cc:; Garry Kasparov (
Subject: Afganistan - Urgent!
Importance: High

Dear Nigel,

We are informed that sometime in the last few days (between 9 June 2014 and 16 June 2014) the information for Afghanistan on the FIDE website has been changed: Mr. Mahmood Hanif, President & Delegate of the Afghan National Chess Federation (copied in this email), has been removed and replaced with “a “Mr. Haji Mohammad ALMAS ZAHID” as “President” and a “Mr. Zaheeruddeen Asefi” as “Delegate.”

Mr. Hanif has been the President & Delegate for Afghanistan for years.  Copies of the listing for Afghanistan on the FIDE website (attached) show that Mr. Hanif was listed the President & Delegate for Afghanistan as late as 3 September 2013 and 9 June 2014.  Now that Afghanistan and Mr. Hanif have nominated the Kasparov ticket (, this information has been changed.  We understand that Mr. Hanif did not receive any notice from FIDE or explanation as to why his information has been removed  so suddenly.
This is unacceptable.  The information on the FIDE website must be restored to its prior status and Mr. Hanif must be listed as the delegate for Afghanistan on the list of delegates to be published and sent by FIDE by 5 PM Athens time this evening.  If not, we will bring all necessary complaints and publicize this unacceptable behavior.



Friday, 13 June 2014


Since 1996 Kirsan started making his empty promises. I recall while working in Elista then that I was tasked to arrange several visits to Kenya, China, Myanmar etc. .. just one day before his departure, he instructed me to cancel all the meetings with the respective Heads of State and senior government officials. He did this the second time in late 1998 when at the last minute I could not arrange a meeting with the Sultan of Brunei - he sacrificed several trips all because of one.

When I ran against him in 2002, I agreed to a compromise and but was alleged to have sold out. After the 2006 Elections, I learnt that some people were "paid" to campaign for his votes. But the real game begun was the 2010 Elections when big monies were promised - much of which were undelivered. Some were paid off using FIDE funds last September. This was also a reason why he had to terminate me as an official signatory because I dared to challenge the Treasurer and Global Chess.

In 2010, he began using Russian embassies in certain countries. Today, he is maximising the muscles of the Russian connections in almost every part of the world. They are not just mere phone calls or meetings. He is using the political machinery of Russia to even change delegates to whom he pleases to - many of whom have no connections to chess.

His working trips include meetings with the Dalai Lama, Buddhist institutions, even a trip to outer space. Yet, most of these are published on the FIDE website. He is using religion to boost his image.

The use of official FIDE stationary, FIDE financial resources, FIDE website and FIDE staff for this 2014 Elections are all revealing one thing - he has lost his conscience.

Kirsan, don't you realise that you have done so much harm to FIDE in the recent months. Sit back for a moment and re-think. Had you just defended the campaign as a normal candidate, you would have won the admiration of many. In the last months, you have destroyed all the goodwill you had built before. I can certainly understand that those around you are too worried when you lose. You should not protect them but especially the rest of the entire chess community who wish to see change - if just for 4 years only.

You don't feel shameful after failing with FIDE Commerce, Global Chess, CNC, AGON???? You know deep in your heart that should you happen to win 2014, it is not because of Kirsan but because of the politics you adopt - by punishing all those chess delegates and replacing them with non-chess related personalities from your connections.

YOU Kirsan, are dividing the chess world. Please, don't shift the blame to others.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is clearly a very desperate man - but very sadly for chess - he is also now equally to be showing himself to be both immoral and unscrupulous.

The public has now only begun to see the depths Ilyumzhinov is prepared to go to to win the coming FIDE Election.

Instead of even pretending to answer the facts presented to him in my recent open letter (see, Ilyumzhinov responds with more lies and allegations, even going so far as to be boastful of filing a complaint to the government of my country of the very things he himself is doing and which his FIDE turns a blind eye too.

Ilymuzhinov is so very proud to publish his long awaited meeting with his ultimate master Vladimir Putin on his campaign website, something which happened when the Russian President visited the Belaya Ladya national chess tournament for school teams, and which he especially referred to "a separate conversation"! ( see

We are a tolerant and forgiving community, allowing ourselves to perhaps quickly forget the failures that were FIDE Commerce, Global Chess (Nederlands), CNC, etc., none of which were anything less than total failures and which expanded so much of the time of General Assemblies and Presidential Board Meetings for the past 14 years.

But do we also which to remember Agon and Global Chess (Dubai) in similar fashion?

At the bottom of this hatred directed at me all is the fact that Ilyumzhinov and his cohorts in FIDE were embarrassed by the disclosure by a whistleblower of a signed agreement between them and Agon, the latest commercial partner they had appointed, and which showed multiple conflicts of interest and compounded by their subsequent attempts to explain were absolutely laughable (see, so a distraction was needed and this was achieved by creating what is essentially a non-scandal - the unfounded and subsequently well refuted claims of bribery for votes on my part. 

The real scandal is Agon - with all the usual actors in Kirsan and "Makro and friends" together with Geoffrey Borg and Global Chess (Dubai) the main players.

In the words of Nigel Short in his excellent column in New in Chess Magazine: "It notably failed to explain why the President of FIDE signed the “draft” awarding himself 51% of the rights to the most important FIDE events - because signing is not what people generally do – unless they intend to adhere to the terms. Even if this draft were only valid for a day, it means that Paulson proposed, and Kirsan accepted, an unethical deal." and "How much money has FIDE earned by “selling” the commercial rights to Agon in 2012? The initial $500,000 has never been paid, which begs the question as to why FIDE has not terminated the contract".

The full article is below: Reprinted with the permission of "NEW IN CHESS" magazine.

Short Stories

In September 2012, in Istanbul, the FIDE General Assembly dutifully passed an agreement, selling the commercial rights of most of the main FIDE events, including the World Championship, to Agon – an off- shore company founded in January 2012, in Jersey, and ostensibly owned by the American fashion photographer Andrew Paulson.

The contract runs to 11 pages and requires considerable thought as to its implications – even assuming the reader is fluent in English, which, of course, many Delegates are not. Occupied as I had been with playing, I had no time to cast more than a cursory glance at the document. Instead, I asked Ank Santens, the Belgian lawyer from White & Case, who had largely drafted the new FIDE statutes, what she thought of it. In her view, it was simply awful: far too much was being given away, for too little, for too long (over a decade and with easy terms for renewal). In no way was this agreement in FIDE’s proper interest.

I posed a few questions from the floor, to Andrew Paulson, concerning the capitalisation of the company. These were deftly evaded – perhaps unsurprisingly given that the equity of Agon is a non-confidence-inspiring $2. Tomasz Sielicki, of Poland, made the important point that Agon was already in breach of the contract as it had failed to meet the deadline for the initial payment of $500,000. Anyway, it was clear from the mood of the house that this vigil, in defence of FIDE’s finances, was in vain: the agreement was going to pass willy-nilly, which it duly did.

Given that the official contract was so bad, there were suspicions, right from the beginning, that there might be a side agreement. In March 2013, I stayed with Raymond Keene during the London Candidates, which was organised by Paulson, and where I acted as a commentator. I asked Ray, over a delicious breakfast, whether he thought that Kirsan had a share in Agon. He answered phlegmatically ‘yes, of course’ and that Andrew had told him as much. Previously, over lunch at the Garrick Club, in London, Andrew Paulson had described the Agon-FIDE agreement to me as ‘asset-stripping’. A picture was beginning to emerge.

During the summer of 2013, Andrew Paulson decided to run for the Presidency of the English Chess Federation and was eager to solicit my support. You may look askance as to why an American, who has never even played a game of chess in the country, should be allowed to run for the federation’s most important post (my previous opponent for the position of ECF Delegate was a representative of Papua New Guinea. I do sometimes think we English take our liberality too far). Anyway, be that as it may, Andrew and I spoke by Skype in August. He was in India at the time whereas I was working as a commentator in Tromsø, Norway.

I asked him about Agon. He candidly admitted that he (A.P.) had initially proposed to take all the rights (plus some financial risk) but then Kirsan had entered, wanting his share of the pie. This had apparently caused Nigel Freeman, FIDE’s treasurer, a degree of consternation. Paulson explicitly stated that Kirsan (at the time our conversation was taking place, at least) was the majority shareholder. He also said that a Russian business associate of Kirsan’s was also involved in the deal – although no name was given.

I was shocked by this, to be honest, although by now nothing that the FIDE President does ought to surprise me anymore. Assuming what Paulson had told me was true, the deal was undoubtedly unethical and possibly illegal too. If a CEO gives away some of the principal assets of his company to a private offshore company, which he majority-owns, and fails to inform his shareholders of his own financial interest in the deal, he is guilty of fraud. People go to prison for that. To use a sporting analogy: it was as if Sepp Blatter had awarded himself the rights to the FIFA World Cup.

As I hadn’t recorded the conversation, I had no proof – only the knowledge of what I had heard. It was clear to me, however, that Paulson was totally unfit to be ECF President. Unfortunately, his opponent in the election was the thoroughly uninspiring incumbent Roger Edwards, who, when he previously ran unopposed, had barely defeated Mr. ‘none of the above’. His only known policy was to oppose the very successful membership scheme. In the words of Steve Giddins, it was a choice between a man who promised nothing and was guaranteed to deliver, and another man (Paulson) who promised the Earth. Few people believed everything Paulson said, but if he was successful with just some of his grand schemes, it was a no-brainer: he was elected convincingly.

A short while later I became aware of the existence of a secret, signed memorandum between Paulson and Ilyumzhinov. At first I heard only snip- pets of the terms, which confirmed what I already knew from the ECF President. There were some delightful additional details – Paulson was apparently a salaried employee of Ilyumzhinov’s, earning 240,000 euros per annum. FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos was to be paid 150,000 euros yearly in his capacity as consultant. Geoffrey Borg’s Global Chess also made an appearance as a beneficiary, which came as no surprise at all to those familiar with the workings of FIDE. Unfortunately, it took me some months to actually get my hands on a scanned copy of the document.

I informed the Sunday Times, who said they were very interested in running the story. In the process of their research, I learned a few things. Agon has the right to issue 10,000 shares but only two had been – both to Andrew Paulson.  Outwardly this would seem to provide conclusive proof that Paulson is the 100% owner of the company. However, under Jersey law, this does not preclude the possibility of a side-arrangement. Indeed, I was told by a senior figure at Deloitte that this is rather common. For such an arrangement to be legal, the only requirement is that the financial authority is informed.

Ilyumzhinov, Paulson, Makropoulos and Freeman (the latter two being the FIDE representatives of the ‘Interface’ – the only people with access to Agon accounts, according to the official agreement) were contacted by the Sunday Times on Thursday 16th January. Ilyumzhinov and Freeman declined to answer any questions. Paulson, who was in Berlin, said he would speak to the reporter, Tim Rayment, at length, on the following Tuesday. The suspicion was he was stalling for time but, being out of the country, he had a legitimate excuse. The newspaper decided to hold the story for a further week.

In the face of potentially devastating revelations, one could expect vigorous efforts would be made to deflect attention from the main story. Over the next 48 hours, the apparently non-existent ‘Bill Warth’ leaked a hacked draft contract between Garry Kasparov and Ignatius Leong, concerning campaign finance, which gave the impression of impropriety. Andrew Paulson then vigorously circulated Mr. Warth’s disclosure to numerous journalists. A major story would soon appear in the New York Times. Crucially, unlike the secret Agon Memorandum, this document was unsigned. Kasparov himself published the final contract at a press conference in Wijk aan Zee a few days later and called upon his opponents to be open and do the same. This quelled the uproar, but not without Kasparov suffering some reputational damage.  The pro-Kirsan forces had got their blow in first.

Paulson answered the Sunday Times’ initial questions through his lawyers. He also spoke to the ECF Board of issuing an injunction.  Nevertheless, he did meet the journalist, for three and a half hours, as promised. When the story eventually appeared, however, it was wishy-washy and lacking in all coherence. I expressed my disappointment to the author. He replied saying that he couldn’t bear to look at the printed version himself. I asked whether I could  infer that there had been late threats of  litigation. He didn’t reply – the only time this particularly diligent correspondent did not do so.

Thus far the signatories of the memorandum had escaped relatively unscathed. It wasn’t long, though, before the actual document appeared on the Internet, in a thoughtful, excoriating piece by Peter Doggers of ChessVibes. This provoked a how-dare-you-cast-aspersions response from the website, entitled ‘The Truth about the FIDE-Agon Contract’.

We were told, with considerable emphasis, that this was just one of several drafts submitted by Andrew Paulson. As you will recall, this fits in with what Paulson had told me, by Skype, in August 2013, about proposing to take all rights himself, before Kirsan came in wanting his share of the pie. It notably failed to explain why the President of FIDE signed the ‘draft’ awarding himself 51% of the rights to the most important FIDE events, because signing is not what people generally do, unless they intend to adhere to the terms. Even if this draft were only valid for a day, it means that Paulson proposed, and Kirsan accepted, an unethical deal.

We were then told that Mr Makropoulos himself rejected the terms of this ‘draft’ – presumably because he objected to being paid 150,000 euros a year, according to a secret contract that most likely no one would ever know about, for doing next-to-nothing. Mr Makropoulos is very well known in the chess world and I will let others draw their own conclusions about the plausibility of this claim. It is certainly not possible to disprove it without seeing the Agon accounts. Alas, only Makropoulos and Freeman have this access from the FIDE side – and neither has been particularly forthcoming.

How much money has FIDE earned by ‘selling’ the commercial rights to Agon in 2012? The initial $500,000 has never been paid, which begs the question as to why FIDE has not terminated the contract. At a Presidential Board meeting last year, the Board accepted Makropoulos’ proposal that Kirsan decide what to do about this money owed to FIDE.  If Kirsan did indeed own the majority of Agon, and therefore he himself owed the half million dollars to FIDE, the decision to do nothing (i.e. what happened) would, of course, be readily explicable. In the meantime, numerous high profile events – the six FIDE Grand Prix tournaments in London, Tashkent, Zug, Thessaloniki, Beijing and Paris; the London Candidates; the Tromsø World Cup and the Anand-Carlsen World Championship match – have all taken place. Money has been paid for commercial rights by the organisers of some, if not all, of these events. That’s a lot of funds. Where has it gone? Has FIDE made a single penny from giving away its crown jewels? Or is everything disappearing into the black hole of Agon? The chess world deserves some proper answers

Is the secret, signed Agon Memorandum an ephemeral, insignificant draft – just one of many – as FIDE asserts? If it were, it would be hard to understand why Paulson spent thousands of pounds in lawyers’ fees attempting to prevent its publication. The alternative hypothesis is that the agreement is, or was, at least until recently, valid and in operation. That would explain why such a poor official deal was negotiated originally and why that agreement has never been terminated by FIDE, despite Agon being in flagrant breach of the terms. This scenario also fits in precisely with what Paulson privately confided to not only Raymond Keene and myself, but also to Malcolm Pein, as recently as October 2013 – that Kirsan is the majority shareholder. Even if you are prepared to give the President of FIDE the benefit of the doubt, he still has plenty of explaining to do. His signature proves that either he does not understand, or does not care, what is a gross conflict of interest.

Before the discredited Paulson dropped out of sight, he had also gone on record as saying that Agon was being wound up and if true I don't understand if this is actually possible if monies are still owing to FIDE with contractual obligations apparently still in place.

Interestingly enough, Nigel Freeman in the period April till May 2013 was an unhappy man, saying to practically everyone he came across and including many members of FIDE Commissions and also top players: "Kirsan Ilyumzhinov should resign because he had not paid up the USD 500,000 to FIDE" but of course in recent months we can see and understand that he is no longer the same man.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Letter from Ignatius Leong to the Federations: Kirsan and His Promises

The 2014 FIDE Election Campaign of the 19-year incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is certainly the dirtiest we’ve ever seen. His mudslinging and cheap shots are the acts of a desperate man doing desperate things.
Why is Ilyumzhinov’s team playing so dirty? Garry Kasparov has them frightened by bringing fresh energy, more money, and new ideas to chess.
Kasparov represents needed change, removing a stale and corrupt regime consisting of Ilyumzhinov together with Georgios Makropoulos and others, or “Makro & friends.” The Ilyumzhinov team’s frantic personal attacks show they know how weak their support is this year and how many of their 2010 supporters have abandoned them in favor of Kasparov’s team.
I have long been disillusioned by Ilyumzhinov’s FIDE, yet because I love chess and never had the means to have a realistic chance to put together a winning ticket that would be devoted to serving chess, I agreed to join him many years ago. Now I have realised how naïve I was to believe that I could make a difference on the inside.
When I was approached by Kasparov to be a part of his team – professionals, sponsors, and real chess players, all who love our game passionately – I immediately jumped at the chance. This was clearly a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us to finally bring chess to its rightful place in the eyes of the world.
Kasparov warned me that when I openly declared to be with him that I would be vilified in ways I could not imagine possible. He knows how to read an opponent and he was 100 percent right!
By lobbing false accusations in an attempt to smear me, Ilyumzhinov insults both the members of our team and, more importantly, those who support us in our quest for change. For transparency and to allow me to have access to funds to bring development to my region (which FIDE has failed to do for decades, despite Ilyumzhinov’s promises), I asked for and was given a contract for the same through the Kasparov Chess Foundation.
We cannot be “buying” votes unless there are sellers and many of the Asian federations who are supporting us have even gone on record to say that they are insulted as they have not asked for nor received anything! My contract with Kasparov and KCF puts in writing that all the funds go to the promotion and development of chess, not to me, or anyone else, personally.
Kasparov’s agreements here and around the world offer guarantees with the money in place and a proven plan to grow chess in an atmosphere of transparency and mutual support. This is what federations need and what sponsors want – and exactly what Ilyumzhinov’s people are afraid of.
In contrast, Ilyumzhinov wants everything off the record and behind closed doors. His feats of corruption are epic. Case in point: his gross misuse of FIDE resources and US$10 million Ilyumzhinov claims to have put into Global Chess for his campaign. When faced with reelection, he is quick to dispense empty promises such as the US$500,000 he pledged to African nations when he visited earlier this year. It was a blatant copy-paste from his 2010 campaign, but the federations aren’t falling for this trick again now that they have a clearly superior alternative in Team Kasparov.
From its website, it is clear FIDE is being treated as nothing more but Ilyumzhinov’s private company. His correspondence is for election campaign visits. Even the requests for his nomination were done by FIDE management and FIDE employees in its Athens and Moscow offices. And suddenly, and never before seen, there is an abundance of FIDE seminars being held in all parts of the Earth. This money does not belong to Ilyumzhinov. FIDE does not belong to Ilyumzhinov. He is abusing the organization and the national federations he is supposed to serve.
Who is helping Ilyumzhinov swing into action after 19 years of stagnation? His campaign has had Russia’s help through its ambassadors and embassy staff in every country, and they openly go around offering university scholarships, academy buildings, federation offices, prize money for tournaments, etc. Not that these promises are likely to be fulfilled, of course. As with Ilyumzhinov’s own promises, they will evaporate as soon as the election is over even if he were to win.
Again in dramatic contrast, Garry Kasparov visits with top officials publicly with great media attention. Sports and Education ministers, Olympic Committee presidents, even many heads of state have embraced him and have pledged immediately to participate in his ambitious plans to grow chess as a sport and in education.
What is more, Kasparov brings sponsors to the table everywhere he goes and has the overwhelming support of the chess community. All this incredible public and financial support while Ilyumzhinov’s FIDE is claiming they cannot find sponsors because chess is a “bad product”!
One might believe that because I am so terrible that FIDE suddenly needed me to be removed as General Secretary, but the truth is simpler. Until Ilyumzhinov found another way, I was a signatory to FIDE’s spending as prepared by the elected Treasurer and approved by the employed Executive Director who, lo and behold, is the same person in Nigel Freeman!
With the spending that is going on in FIDE, it is not just my usual questions and objections (all of which are ignored), but the fact is that I was now on Kasparov’s ticket so it takes little imagination to imagine what I would be saying today!
For example, just before Tallinn Congress, FIDE was transferring funds to some federations in the Americas. Before I signed off, I asked the Treasurer-cum-Executive Director what that was for and the reply was that those were Ilyumzhinov’s 2010 election promises. The Treasurer-cum-Executive Director approved for to FIDE pay these for Ilyumzhinov saying that he would repay at a “later date.”
To be clear, Ilyumzhinov was spending FIDE money, federation money raised from dues and fees, to attempt to finally fulfill personal promises he never kept from four years ago!
Again, desperate men do desperate things. It is sad that the FIDE president is so primitive as to embarrass himself and damage FIDE in chess with such behaviour: his smear campaign; his corruption; his empty promises.
In May 2013, recognising a money-making opportunity with the coming elections, Ilyumzhinov’s inner circle came up with a plan to raise US$30 million where US$25 million would be distributed among a group of 20 “key” persons. The remaining US$5 million would be spent on the campaign to buy federation votes. It was promised my share would be as much as US$2 million but I did not want to be part of this immoral scheme.
I had put all this behind me and was already a member of Team Kasparov (and under attack daily from Ilyumzhinov and “Makro & friends”), so it was a surprise that last November in Chennai his intermediaries offered me US$1 million to leave Team Kasparov and to re-join Kirsan! It is they who are going around trying to buy support with direct cash payments to individuals.
Less than one month later, in the first week of December 2013, former Kirsan Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, now a Continental candidate for Europe, came to Singapore “to help his son’s family move house,” and made a final offer, doubling the money to US$2 million. The new wrinkle to the deal was that I had to take it and disappear from the chess world for one year, after which I would be “re-engaged” into the Ilyumzhinov family. When I again declined, Azmaiparashvili warned me: “This is the second and last chance, otherwise…”
Of course Ilyumzhinov must want to believe Kasparov’s deal with me is simply richer than his – that’s how a corrupt mind works. It assumes everyone else is just as corrupt.
In their FIDE and with that worldview, Ilyumzhinov and “Makro & friends” can never understand that I am with Kasparov out of my love for chess.
Ignatius Leong
FIDE General Secretary
May 25, 2014