The chess federations of 60 countries have come out in support of World Chess Federation (FIDE) President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s re-election bid. In the past week, Ilyumzhinov has received endorsements from the national chess federations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Andorra.
The FIDE presidential elections are to be held this September in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk. Each of the 161 member countries gets one vote in the election. With at least 60 of these votes already secured, Ilyumzhinov is approaching the majority he needs. In spite of this, his opponent, former world champion Anatoly Karpov, has attempted to derail Ilyumzhinov’s candidacy by contesting the four-term incumbent’s nomination by the Russian Chess Federation.
Both candidates were nominated for FIDE presidency by June 29 — Ilyumzhinov by Russia, and Karpov by France. During the nomination process, Karpov surprised several member nations, including Turkmenistan, by erroneously claiming their support. The Turkmen National Chess Federation challenged Karpov’s claims in a letter posted on Ilyumzhinov’s official campaign website. “In response to A. Karpov’s statement that the Turkmen Chess Federation endorses the candidacy of Alexander Karpov, our association wishes to make it known that as of June 12, 2010, we have chosen to support FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.”
In recent days, Karpov has taken legal action to challenge Ilyumzhinov’s nomination by the Russian Chess Federation, despite the fact that it was sent to FIDE formally in writing. It is currently unknown how many national chess federations endorse Karpov’s candidacy, and the former champion’s campaign website provides no official count.
Ilyumzhinov, who has spent much of his 15-year tenure as president promoting chess in schools, looked to the bright side of the Karpov scandal in a recent interview. “I’m pleased that the FIDE’s presidential election has drawn public attention to chess,” he said. “And I hope the game will attract even more fans in Russia and around the world.”
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