FIDE Election Campaign for 1990 Underway

by Ismail Sloan

The next election for FIDE President will not be held until 1990 but already the campaign has started, especially in view of the fact that current FIDE president Florencio Campomanes has indicated that he will not be running for reelection.

So far at least five potential candidates have emerged. These are Tudela of Venezuela, Toran of Spain, Jungwirth of Austria, Bessel Kok of Switzerland and Makropoulos of Greece.

All five of these potential candidates have a record of many years of long and excellent service to FIDE. Any one of them would in all likelihood make a good FIDE president. This already presents a different situation from that in 1986 when a complete non-entity in chess named Lincoln Lucena, who was regarded as a habitual chess cheater by the members of his own Brazilian delegation, deigned to run for president of FIDE.

Even though all FIDE potential candidates for FIDE president have excellent qualifications, they also all have particular assets and liabilities.

George Makropoulos of Greece is the principal organizer of the current Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki as well as the same event four years ago. He is also the President of the Greek Chess Federation and has many other credentials to his name. However, he suffers because of his close friendship and association with current president Campomanes.

Professor Jungwirth of Austria has held a leading role in FIDE for many years. However, he is said to be running primarily because he is bitter at being recently ignored by Campomanes. This is not generally regarded as a good reason for running for president and for that reason he is presently regarded as the weakest candidate. He also has an unfortunate namesake. A reporter for Der Spiegel also named Jungwirth is the man who swindled Karpov out several hundred thousand dollars in royalties from Novag Computers. That other Jungwirth is said to have been found guilty and sentenced to several years in prison by the Swiss courts.

Toran of Spain is a leading figure in chess whose name is known to every serious chess player around the world. He is the president of the Spanish Chess Federation and has been the principle organizer of many international tournaments held in Spain over the years. However, he is strongly opposed by International Master Calvo who, in turn, is a close friend of Kasparov. It is alleged that Toran is the man who was actually behind the resolution to have Calvo declared persona non grata at the Seville FIDE Congress in 1987.

Bessel Kok of Switzerland is the Chairman of the Association of Grandmasters, which is presently locked in a power struggle with FIDE. Kok has organized a major tournament in Belgrade in December which is said to be featuring more than 100 grandmasters and which has been set up for the express purpose of undermining the world championship of active chess to be held at exactly the same time in Mazatlan, Mexico, just after this olympiad. Kasparov and Karpov want the Mazatlan tournament to fail because they believe that an active chess world championship undermines their own world championship titles. Many other established grandmasters have also voiced similar objections. Whether Kok would be a suitable man to become the president of FIDE in view of the fact that he is presently working for the side which wants to overthrow FIDE is open to question.

Finally, there is Rafael Tudela of Venezuela, an oil millionaire said by some to be worth more than 50 million dollars. He is the only leading chess figure who is known or believed to maintain close personal contact with Bobby Fischer to this day and it is said that Fischer occasionally stays as a personal guest in his hotel. Tudela is also the President of the Venezuelan Chess Federation. Tudela has no known liabilities, except possibly for the fact that he was essentially appointed by Campomanes to be the Senior Deputy President of FIDE.

Fan Adams, who is with the American delegation is Thessaloniki, has nevertheless raised the question of whether a man such as Tudela, who obviously has his own business interests to attend to, should be allowed to become the president of FIDE, which should be a full time job. He notes that Campomanes has been a full time president, constantly jet setting around the world, and wonders if a part time man which Tudela would have to be should take his place.

Nevertheless, for the moment, the American delegation has indicated that it supports the candidacy of Tudela. Tudela has shown himself to be a capable administrator in the Venezuelan Chess Federation. He has also retained his independence from Campomanes in spite of being appointed by him. Tudela speaks excellent English and is well informed on chess issues.

Finally, Tudela states that he will run for president in 1990 regardless of whether Campomanes runs or not, whereas the candidacy of others may possibly depend upon whether Campomanes keeps his promise not to run.

In short, for the moment it appears that Tudela is the best candidate and the American delegation here has already indicated support for him. However, the election is two years away and obviously a lot can happen between now and then.

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