A meeting of the FIDE Presidential Board will take place in Morocco this weekend to consider a document entitled: "Memorandum on the Commercialization of FIDE" by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. This memorandum was first circulated only this past week.

I hope that everybody understands that if this proposal passes and is enforced, it will mean the end of FIDE as we know it and as it has existed since 1923.

The changes proposed by this memorandum are so sweeping that I find it difficult to believe that anybody could consider it seriously. For example, under this memorandum, FIDE Commerce PLC, which is directed by Artiom Tarasov of Russia, will have commercial control over every major chess tournament in the world.

The memorandum states that all commercial rights to exploit the tournaments organized by organizers in the federations for FIDE, involving players averaging more than 2500 in rating, will be given to Mr. Tarasov, meaning that the organizers cannot contact sponsors and will lose effective control over their own tournaments.

The memorandum speaks of "big corporate sponsors of FIDE, who are interested in investing millions of dollars into Chess on a global scale each year".

Ever since Kirsan Ilyumzhinov became president of FIDE, we have been told that he will bring in big corporate sponsors. So far, none of these big corporate sponsors have materialized. At the FIDE World Chess Championship (this name itself is to be banned under the memorandum) in Las Vegas, we were told that there were "other sponsors" to the World Championship. Later, when the checks started bouncing, we were told that "there was a problem with a check from one of the sponsors".

This was all obviously a lie. There were no other sponsors. The reason we know this is that if there had been any other sponsors, there would have been signs posted all around the World Chess Championship playing area prominently displaying the names of those sponsors.

Now, we are told in the memorandum that if only we give "total management and control of all activities related to chess" to Mr. Artiom Tarasov of Russia, he will bring "millions of dollars into Chess on a global scale each year".

Are we children? Are we expected to believe such an obviously ridiculous thing?

In reality, the memorandum makes it apparent that Mr. Tarasov plans to extort millions of dollars from us, the chess players and organizes, which he feels he will be able to do once he gains monopoly control over chess.

I spoke to Emmanuel Omuku, Executive Director of FIDE, twice for over an hour this past weekend about this. I told him that there would be massive opposition to this, especially from the Dutch, I said. Mr. Omuku replied that so far the responses had been quite positive and he had heard from the Dutch, who were in favor of this.

Mr. Omuku told me that it is so necessary for this memorandum to be implemented, that it will be passed this weekend by the Presidential Board, without waiting for the General Assembly meeting in Istanbul.

I have since received responses from several member nations of FIDE. Not only have they not supported this memorandum, but everybody I have heard from thus far is opposed.

Yet, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is not known as one who backs down. Furthermore, the FIDE Presidential Board consists of persons who were essentially appointed by Ilyumzhinov himself. Therefore, it is highly likely that the FIDE Presidential Board will rubber stamp and approve this proposal.

More than that, those who are likely to be opposed will not be attending the meeting in Morocco. Steve Doyle, the American representative, has written a letter saying he is opposed but cannot attend the meeting due to a death in his family.

Willy Iclicki says that he will be attending, but he is not a member of the board but just an invited guest.

I am not aware of anybody who will be there who will have a vote. Thus, the measure will likely pass, as Mr. Omuku assured me that it would.

FIDE is already in a weak position, especially because of the incidents involving bounced checks. I believe that if this proposal passes, it will be the end of FIDE as we know it. The German Chess Federation says "our federation will fight with all means against the proposal". In America, support for FIDE has always been weak, and if this memorandum passes, I see America immediately withdrawing from FIDE.

Representatives of smaller countries have told me that they cannot afford to pay the higher fees which FIDE is already charging.

I hope that all the major national chess organizations of the world will mobilize and agree on two points.

1. Every effort must be expended to stop this memorandum from passing.

2. If the Presidential Board passes it anyway, in the face of opposition which member nations have already expressed, including Germany, the USA, Canada and several other nations, then there should be meetings, conferences, etc. to establish an alternative World Chess Federation.

Sam Sloan

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