Campaign for FIDE President Heats up Middle East
By GM Maxim Dlugy   
August 5, 2010
Anatoly Karpov and Sulaiman Al Fahim
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Today a major FIDE Presidential campaign event took place in the United Arab Emirates. Anatoly Karpov met with UAE chess federation president Dr. Sulaiman Al Fahim to discuss the future of chess in the region - and of course the FIDE presidential election at the end of September. You can read the official press release, so I will give the basic facts quickly: The UAE has pledged its support for Karpov; Sulaiman Al Fahim will have a VP position in the new FIDE; $80,000/yr in chess development funds will go to the region in Karpov's first term.

Things were made more interesting by the sudden arrival of incumbent FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who, despite frequently stating that the election is all but over in his favor, was clearly desperate to disrupt any agreement between the 12th world champion and the influential Arab nation. Dr. Sulaiman Al Fahim is a businessman and sports patron of great reputation and having him on Karpov's side is sure to be a huge asset, and not only in the Middle East and Asia.

Kirsan nearly swept the region in the last election, but his former supporters have gotten tired of his empty promises and here they left him holding the bag at his own press conference without the presence of UAE Federation. The UAE Federation offices are located just across the street from the Dubai Chess Club where Kirsan was planning to have his own press conference - to which he flew four days earlier than planned upon hearing the news of Karpov's pending UAE support. Dr. Suleiman Al Fahim did not think it necessary to tell Kirsan in person that he no longer supports him, as he had told him numerous times on the phone. Kirsan could not believe it and kept asking his assistant Berek to repeatedly call in a last-ditch effort to change the mind of the head of this prominent Arab Chess Federation. It did not work.

It looks like the remembrance of old promises is the best Kirsan has to dole out, as between election years hardly any of his promises have been kept. Bessel Kok received 54 votes four years ago based on a number of Federations desiring change. Four more years of wasted time and funds squandered on such efforts as Global Chess has given Karpov's campaign the needed momentum to bring FIDE into the hands of chess players. Today's shock for Kirsan is a victory for players that want to see real corporate sponsorship in the game of chess. I am happy to have witnessed it in person.

GM Maxim Dlugy
GM Max Dlugy is a former World Junior Champion and former president of the United States Chess Federation. He was in Dubai on behalf of the Karpov2010 campaign.

The USCF endorses Karpov for FIDE president.