Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Diplomat on Chess Politics

Australia's best monthly magazine on international relations, The Diplomat, features a tid bit on chess politics. We quote here in full.

In a struggle for control of the World Chess Federation (known by its French acronym FIDE) there have been more gambits, forks and pins than you could point a rook at. The head of the Federation since 1995 is Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, also president of the impoverised Russian republic of Kalmykia (the only Buddhist territory in Europe). The immaculately dressed former communist-turned-millionaire businessman uses an executive jet to further his global chess agenda and built a now-crumbling "Chess City" for the 1998 Chess Olympiad, held a few months after a leading Kalmyk journalist Larisa Yudina, who had accused him of corruption, was found dead. Two former Ilyumzhinov aides were convicted of her murder following Moscow's intervention.

ABC journalist Eric Campbell has an illuminating chapter about all this in his highly readable book Absurdistan. Australian grand master Ian Rogers, who refused on principle to play at the 1998 Olympiad, has been lobbying against Ilyumzhinov at the most recent Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy, ahead of a vote for the FIDE presidency. A Google search should produce the results, and plenty of charge and counter charge about alleged inducements and other dirty tactics.

For those interested in world politics and, especially, Australia's role within it - The Diplomat magazine is essental reading.

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