FIDE's response to the open letter of GMs A. Karpov, G. Kasparov and V. Kramnik

Lausanne, 20 April 2001

FIDE's attention has been drawn to the open letter signed by Grandmasters A. Karpov, G. Kasparov and V. Kramnik to the World chess community and published on the Clubkasparov site of 20 April 2001.

FIDE has always welcomed dialogue with members of the world chess fraternity in respect of all its decisions, which are often made with the interest of the game and its legions of players, after consultations with a cross-section of administrators, players and sponsors of our noble sport. It was in this same spirit that the Presidential Board of FIDE at its recent meeting in Cannes 24-25 March 2001 unanimously resolved to accept the compromise proffered by the FIDE President on the implementation of the new time control after noting the concerns of some European Chess Federations' Presidents on the issue. A further meeting is scheduled for the next FIDE Congress in Halkidiki, Greece, in September and all views will still be considered.

At the Cannes meeting, FIDE reiterated that it would always encourage independent sponsors of traditional tournaments by trying to ensure that the dates of its tournaments are not in conflict with these events. At the same time, the Board mandated both FIDE Commerce and Octagon Marketing to build bridges of cooperation with traditional Organisers with respect to their joint cooperation in the development of the Grand Prix.

Finally, on the issue of the World Chess Championship title, FIDE maintains that the facts of the Tehran Declaration represent well-documented historical facts as to how FIDE began the steady implementation of the qualification systems to the World Chess Championship titles as custodian of these titles since 1946. This process has seen the emergence of World Champions, namely, Botvinnik, Smysslov, Tal, Petrossian, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and Khalifman until the recent World Championship title won by GM Viswanathan Anand of India in Tehran in December 2000. A copy of the Tehran Declaration is attached.

Emmanuel Omuku
Executive Director


Considering the special history of the game of Chess and bearing in mind the need to safeguard the interest of millions of chess players and the will of its 159 national affiliates, and having noted further the historical fact that FIDE has consistently organised and supervised the chess activities around the world since it was founded in 1924, and the fact that it has consistently organised the World Chess Championships since 1947, carrying out the decisions of its General Assembly in strict accordance with the FIDE Statutes, and bearing in mind that the qualification process for the World Chess Championships had prior to 1947 been subject to abuse by some individual holders of the World Chess Championship title;

The Presidential Board of FIDE at its meeting in Tehran, 26 December 2000, hereby declares:

  1. As the sole authority recognised by the International Olympic Committee responsible for the game of Chess and its Championships, and buttressed with historical facts, FIDE hereby announces its clearly established role as the only custodian of the World Chess Championship titles.

  2. The World Chess Championship title shall be bestowed on any individual, who has participated and won an event solely organised by FIDE for this purpose and this shall include a qualification process, which is fair and democratic and not subject to abuse by any individual or group, but as approved by the will of the member Federations of FIDE, including the participation where necessary, in National Championships, Zonal tournaments or Continental Championships, through the FIDE rating system and such other events as approved by FIDE for this purpose.

  3. Any winner of the World Chess Championship title is under obligation to defend the title in the World Chess Championship event organised by FIDE and she/he is precluded from participating in any other event, which seeks to declare itself as a World Championship event. In addition, any reigning World Chess Champion, who for any reason including the grounds of health, fails, refuses or declines to defend the title in any designated World Championship event, organised by FIDE, or participates in any other event purporting to regard itself as a World Chess Championship event, not authorised by FIDE, shall be stripped of the title and be referred to as ex or former World Chess Champion.

  4. Members of the Press and the General Public are hereby advised and are to be guided accordingly.

You are welcome to express your views on the question of concern.

Editor's comment:  Omuku erroneously omits Spassky from his list of World Champions!  He is right that FIDE performed a valuable service to the chess world in arranging the events leading to the world champions between Botvinnik and Kasparov.  But that was a different FIDE; the organization has since gone astray.  Many tiny nations have been admitted which lack significant chess tradition, organization or Master strength players, and these, possibly as a result of bribes in some cases, have tended to vote with the FIDE leadership, and probably against the wishes of most chessplayers in the world. 

There is nothing wrong with spreading chess to all nations worldwide, but it is absurd for a small country whose best player is Expert or Class A strength to have a vote equal to Russia, Germany, or the United States.  The United Nations avoids a similar problem by having a Security Council as well as its General Assembly, allowing the most powerful nations a veto.  FIDE is in desperate need of something similar, but it's not likely to happen, because the tiny nations in the FIDE General Assembly would have to vote to give up some of their power.

USCF and other countries upset with recent FIDE decisions should introduce a proposal to give the major chess nations the power they deserve.  A UN-style veto is not necessary, but why not require that all decisions must be ratified by a vote of the major chess powers to take effect- for instance, the federations of the top ten finishers in the most recent Olympiad.  This may be as hard to pass as OMOV is in USCF- but that will be approved eventually, and so might FIDE reform, someday, if USCF and its friends are persistent. homepage