Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has just been re-elected as the next FIDE president again. He's so far beaten two World Chess Champions in the elections - Karpov and Kasparov, both by some absolutely big margins.

What is his claim to (chess) fame?" What do people like about him to give him so much power? He's the real king in chess, the most powerful chess personnel in the world and dominating the chess scene.

  • 7
    Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has a lot of powerful friends: Putin, Gaddafi, aliens...
    – Fate
    Aug 11 '14 at 23:35
  • 1
    You should consider rephrasing some of the language in this question--biased language tends to attract opinionated answers. Narrowing the question to "why do people vote for Ilyumzhinov" would make it more answerable. Aug 12 '14 at 0:53
  • A lot of people are sick of Kirsan being FIDE President, specifically because of the bureaucracy and shadiness that seems to emanate from his reign. His good deeds are outweighed by the negative facts/stories associated with him and the current FIDE. Ultimately, chess itself, deserves a fresh start with someone more transparent and less morally questionable. Who that person is, time will tell. As long as Kirsan has the $$$$ to stay in power though, any "bribed" delegate is willing to vote for him, regardless if it's the wrong vote for chess' future. Aug 13 '14 at 8:16
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    Just read interview on Chess-News.ru, where Kirsan has back-tracked on what he said about having "$20m available today, to give to fund chess activities." Turns out he meant that $20m has been spent on things like Chess for Schools initiatives, and other things during the year. In other words, that was old money which has been spent already, not new funds. This guy is a liar, manipulator and bad for chess' image. Hanging out with Assad, Gadaffi, Putin. Are you kidding me. Aug 13 '14 at 11:47
  • 1
    He's not so much popular in the general sense, but extremely influential and anointed by Putin.
    – prusswan
    Aug 27 '14 at 4:30

I thought that Nigel Short summed it up pretty well here: http://www.chess.com/news/breaking-ilyumzhinov-beats-kasparov-110-61-at-fide-presidential-elections-4528

"There's nothing wrong with chess players. If you ask in the playing hall, I'll bet 9 out of 10 will vote for Kasparov. The problem is: delegates. If the delegate has received an incentive to vote in a particular way, it doesn't matter whatever reason or logic is presented to him."

Basically, many delegates voting for Ilyumzhinov received some strong form of compensation to do so. He consistently wins because he has money (much of which he gained while ruling Kalmykia) and has zero moral compunctions about how he uses it.

  • 3
    That seems to be Mr. Short's personal theory, given without any evidence.
    – JiK
    Aug 12 '14 at 8:33
  • 1
    It is the most correct one. But I don't think that that will ever happen in FIDE
    – MikhailTal
    Aug 13 '14 at 13:37

To me personally, Kirsan is the lesser devil of the two. Kasparov, as great a player as he was(greatest in my opinion), is a very volatile person and he's fighting Putin which occupies a majority of his time. He doesn't have the administrative qualities to lead a world chess organization and personality doesn't necessarily get you the FIDE president-ship. That said, 19 years of Kirsan has been a lot to take and maybe the time was right for a change. Maybe someone apart from Garry. Kirsan did do some good things to Chess, advocating introducing chess at schools and as I understand he was extremely successful in the republic state he governed. Dude is highly eccentric, though, with the 'alleged' abduction by Aliens.

  • 2
    And Kirsan has shown his administrative qualities by systematically stealing from the poor people of Kalmykia. There is almost no greater devil than Ilyumzhinov.
    – Spork
    Aug 13 '14 at 19:35
  • Not to mention the method of silencing critics when he ruled Kalmykia.
    – Ben
    Aug 13 '14 at 20:51
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    I am starting to wish Karpov had won the election previously.
    – RingMaster
    Aug 13 '14 at 21:27

Without getting into the pros and cons of either candidate or, more to the point, the cons of the incumbant, there might still be some value in reading this account of the FIDE presidential election.

The author, Kevin Bonham, is the delegate of the Australian Chess Federation and he's quite open about the attempts to sway his vote through bribery. He took the gifts, but it changed nothing because the decision was made prior to his departing for Tromsø (the ACF backed the Kasparov campaign much earlier in the year; I believe the ACF vote was held shortly after Kasparov visited Australia in April). Anyway, Kevin is a psephologist so he spends his working life studying the conduct and outcome of elections, which adds a slightly different dimension to accounts of this type of election. He is quite right in his comparison of the FIDE elections to those of the UN, except at the UN the bribing is generally of whole countries or the leadership of those countries, rather than of the ambassadors those countries send to the UN.

  • So Kevin Bonham took the money from the FIDE president?
    – SmallChess
    Aug 13 '14 at 23:08
  • Not cash, more all the little gift bags and travel and the like. He lists the sort of stuff in the article.
    – Ben
    Aug 13 '14 at 23:48

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