Seirawan Interviewed on Club Kasparov

Many have asked me what I think about the interview with Yasser Seirawan published on the Club Kasparov website at

Actually, I do not think much about it because everything Seirawan says is completely non-controversial. There is nothing in the interview that any reasonable person would disagree with. Seirawan has always been one to avoid controversy, frankly.
Yasser Seirawan
Yasser Seirawan

Of course, in a few places, Seirawan engages in a bit of hyperbole. For example, he says "They should take out all the [FIDE] chairmen, lash them to a pole and let them drown in the sea. I mean it's very simple right, I mean that's one appropriate form of punishment. There are others, but that one's certainly high on the list."

I do not think that Seirawan really means that absolutely all FIDE Chairmen should be lashed to a pole to drown in the sea. We understand his main point, which is that FIDE makes its decisions based on political considerations, and not on what is good for chess.

Regarding the FIDE Commerce Memorandum by His Excellency, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Seirawan says:

"There's nothing in the document that has any redeeming features whatsoever. The first part is to create a commercial enterprise where you transfer all the commercial rights from a not-for-profit international organization to a for-profit company of which you are the majority shareholder, and this is the biggest conflict of interest that there can possibly exist. It is a classic definition of a conflict of interest, and yet this is precisely what is happening. The second point is that when you're creating a for-profit company and you create investors or shareholders, which happen to be the delegates of the same international agency from which you are transferring the right, it is again, the biggest conflict of interest that there possibly can be."

Nothing controversial here. Everybody agrees with this.

Going further on this, Seirawan says:

"You read that document, there is no two-way relationship. It's a one-way, we are directing everything towards a centralized bureaucracy, centralized power that I own even if tomorrow I'm kicked out of the FIDE Presidency. I'm speaking from the point of view of Ilyumzhinov, of course. So the reality is, this is nothing more or less than a simple power grab A power grab that is meant to last beyond the simple transitory period of time of his Presidency today. It quite frankly won't stand, but of course he will get it passed. Of course he will bribe delegates. He will pay them - again, you see, I am pulling my punches (smiles) - and he will get the document approved."

Regarding the US position on this, Seirawan says:

"Well, unfortunately we had a very effective delegate, Fan Adams, who has passed away. He was a very close friend of mine and I miss him and his company tremendously. He was a great person; an extraordinarily talented and honest person. His presence will be sorely missed, and instead we have an utter bozo to take his place, Mr. Steve Doyle who is the worst of the worst. He's an absolutely awful person, who is FIDE delegate of the United States Chess Federation. This fellow as far as I know has earned all kinds of awards from FIDE since Ilyumzhinov came to power so I'll leave that, and let that speak for itself. So when you say if the world is looking towards Steve Doyle for leadership, we're in a whole lot of trouble, a whole, whole lot of trouble. Because this is just awful. Terrible."

However, here Seirawan is simply wrong. Steve Doyle is not the US Delegate to FIDE. Bill Kelleher is.

I have seen Bill Kelleher playing in chess tournaments and I know that he is a strong player, but I have never spoken to him, I do not know what his qualifications are or why he was made USCF delegate to FIDE.

The main point is that Steve Doyle is not the US delegate. Instead, Steve Doyle is an Ilyumzhinov appointee. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov appointed Steve Doyle as a FIDE vice-president. Therefore, it is only to be expected that Steve Doyle would follow the Kirsan party line.

Technically, Steve Doyle was elected vice-president by the FIDE Congress. However, the FIDE Congress always rubber-stamps the recommendations of the president, which it also elects.

Although the US is a major world power and a major chess playing country, it does not have the right to select a FIDE vice-president. I believe that Steve Doyle is the first American FIDE vice-president ever. During the cold war, neither an American nor a Russian could ever become a FIDE President or vice-president.

Don Schultz, during his far too many years as US Delegate to FIDE, was never a vice-president. He was a member of the FIDE Executive Council. However, this was not because he was the US representative. Instead, he obtained this position in 1986 as a reward for services rendered to FIDE.

The two services which Schultz performed which got him elected to the Executive Council was that he agreed with the plan of giving every woman chess player in the world except Zsuzsa Polgar 100 free rating points. The purpose of this was to knock down Zsuzsa Polgar, who was going to be number one woman in the world on the new rating list about to be released, to number three. The full 100 points was necessary because Zsuzsa's rating was going to be 2495, which was 65 points higher than the number two player in the world, who was a Soviet player. The Soviet Union was represented by Nikolay Krogius, a Staten Island Grandmaster. The extra 100 points insured that Krogius and the 13 proxies he controlled including Afghanistan would vote for Campomanes, thereby insuring another four years of sweetness and light in FIDE.

The other service Don Schultz performed was that, on the night before the FIDE election, he went to Lincoln Lucena, who was running against Campomanes for president, and convinced him to withdraw. Only Schultz could have done this, because the USCF Policy Board had ordered Schultz to vote for Lucena for President. Lucena was going to stand for election knowing that he was guaranteed the US vote. Schultz got Lucena to withdraw by promising that Lucena would be allowed to sit on the dais up there with the FIDE big shots plus Lucena would be given a position of prominence in FIDE.

Based on this deal, Lucena withdrew the following morning. Lucena was allowed to sit on the dais (I was there in the room when this happened) but the position of prominence promised to Lucena was forgotten about shortly thereafter.

Of course, it did not help that Lucena was a notorious chess cheater and those proposing him for FIDE President had neglected to do a background check on him prior to proposing him for president.

For performing these two good deeds, the 100 free points for everybody but Polgar plus getting Lucena to withdraw, Schultz was made a member of the FIDE Executive Council and this gave him a lot of free trips at USCF expense to exotic locations like Abu Dhabi, where the Executive Council was holding its meetings, and it gave Schultz further opportunities to perform other good deeds on behalf of FIDE, such as getting Quinteros and Calvo banned from chess.

The point is that Schultz was on the Executive Committee not because he was the USA Delegate but because he was a supporter of Campomanes. Similarly, in an even more extreme case, Mohammed Obaid Ghobash was a FIDE vice-president even though Ghobash was not even a member of the UAE Chess Federation and was persona non-grata in his own chess federation.

Yasser Seirawan in his interview also does not have entirely favorable things to say about Kasparov, thereby showing the commitment Club Kasparov has to freedom of speech. Seirawan says:

"And, I must say to Garry, as a chess player he is incredibly admirable; what a phenomenal, phenomenal talent he is. But why Garry would get into bed with Rentero is just asinine; somebody just needs to clip him on the back of the head and say "Think about what you are doing because nobody's going to follow you. You want to jump off the cliff like a lemming, why do you insist on taking the world of chess with you?"

Seirawan also says that he absolutely does not want to be involved in chess politics. One of the great tragedies of American Chess is that the USCF rejected Seirawan when he ran for USCF President in 1987. Seirawan was a magnificent candidate and would have been a magnificent president, the best president the USCF could ever hope to have.

Instead, the corrupt, incompetent, idiotic and just plain stupid USCF delegates elected Harold Winston, a nincompoop nobody, as president. The fact that a nobody like Winston could be elected over such a supremely qualified candidate as Seirawan shows how terrible the USCF governance system is.

What conclusion do we reach? Again, Seirawan reaches the same conclusion as I do. If the FIDE Commerce Memorandum passes, the USCF and many other national chess federations will withdraw from FIDE.

On this point, I wonder why Steve Doyle and Bill Kelleher have not made this clear. I have received several letters by private e-mail suggesting that Doyle has been bribed and that, if the FIDE Commerce Memorandum is passed, Doyle will receive a cut in the profits. I am sure that Doyle was offered this because even I was offered this. However, I am not so stupid as to believe that I would get any money out of this. I am just wondering if Doyle might possibly be that stupid.

I have just discovered a statement by the Dutch Chess Federation about this on their website at

I would like to see Doyle and Kelleher come out with a similar statement.

Here is what I think should be done:

1. The USCF should publicly announce that if the Memorandum on FIDE Commerce is passed, the USCF hereby immediately and forthwith withdraws from FIDE.

2. If the memorandum is passed anyway, as Seirawan predicts it will be, the USCF should immediately and forthwith walk out of the FIDE meeting in Istanbul, joined by the delegates from the other countries in agreement, which I believe will include Germany, England, Holland and Norway, and should immediately withdraw its teams from playing in the World Chess Olympiad, which will then be taking place, and should hold meetings on the spot about announcing the formation of a new World Chess Federation which shall not in any way involve Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

3. As an aside, the USCF should make preparations for organizing its own World Chess Olympiad to be held in Las Vegas (which is perhaps the only city in the US with the hotel facilities for such an event), not as a counter-Olympiad to the Istanbul Olympiad, but just in case the Istanbul Olympiad or a subsequent Olympiad cannot be held.

The problem with these proposals, with which I believe that the majority of the world chess community agrees, is that we have a candyass USCF Executive Board which is disinclined to do anything other than bail water to stop the ship from sinking. Where is the Major Edmundson who went to FIDE Congresses and pushed through radical measures which resulted in Bobby Fischer becoming World Chess Champion and who gave away hundreds of USCF Life Memberships free of charge to get chess moving in America?

I spoke with a member of the USCF Executive Board about these very points at the New York Open this past week. He replied that the USCF needs "imaginative and creative" proposals like mine. What is so imaginative and creative about this? I am just saying what almost every chess player in the world is saying. The problem is that the USCF is governed by the same old cronies who go back to the 1960s and 1970s, who never did anything good for chess back then and who are not likely to do anything good for chess now.

Sam Sloan

Here are links:
Sam Sloan's Chess Page

My Home Page

Contact address - please send e-mail to the following address: