Report from Tromsø: A Historic Day for Thailand

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August 13, 2014

Despite losing to Japan 2.5-1.5, the Open Team did put up a good fight and ended up with the first ever FM title for Thailand at any Chess Olympiad tournament – Uaychai chalked up a nice come-back win, basing largely on his Thai chess skills end game. Very well done Uaychai! As you all well know, to get a FM title a player must have obtained the magic rating of 2300, which is not easy for any Thai player, considering that we do not have many rated tournaments with high-rating players in Thailand. A short-cut way to obtain the titles is of course through exceptions provided by FIDE in certain world tournaments.

We had intended to rest Poompong after 7 straight games, but due to a certain ‘technical glitch’, his name appeared as Board 3 player. He himself did not know this until 10.00 a.m. on the day of the tournament. With little time for preparations, he did his best but eventually lost. He now has an uphill task to get the FM title because he must get 1 point from the remaining 2 games.

Occupied at the General Assembly, I learnt of the results only after I came back at round 6 pm. As you all knew, the girls won 3-1 and Chitaporn earned her CM title for having reached the required points. Som lost again and it was probably because of lack of tournament games. She was much better than her opponent but fumbled somehow along the way. The rest had no troubles beating their weaker opponents.

About the Election, Kirsan and his team won yet again over the Kasparov Team by a fairly large margin of 110/61, with 4 invalid votes or abstentions. There were altogether 175 delegates, 25 of these were proxies given to Kirsan. With those in hands and whether or not they had been obtained properly or not (the Electoral Commission said it was proper based on documentations sent to them at the time), it was not difficult at all for his Ticket to win the Election. However, the votes obtained by Kasparov Team were way too low than expected. Rumours had it that some countries had betrayed the Kasparov Team and changed their minds. True or not I have no idea. In my opinion, Asia (51 votes) did not vote for Kasparov and he might have got some votes from certain Asian countries only. Same was the case of European and South American countries. African delegates clearly appeared divided and I believe that many had voted for Kasparov. Had Kasparov got 20 from Asia, 25 from Africa, he could have won easily. Maybe he was too careless about these votes and did not do enough for campaigning among these countries. I did not see any vote buying, but then again in modern day, this could be arranged via fund transfers and promises without risking getting caught or suspicions. Also, the Russian Government back-up of Kirsan did play an important role on the decisions made by many countries and their delegates.

At the GA Meeting, there were chaoses like we normally saw in many Parliaments. Protests, objections, boos, accusations, unclear answers, disruptions, etc. were rampant and it took quite some time before we could get to business of the election procedures. Before the election of FIDE presidency, the House must elect ‘scruteneers’ first – 3 in all. One of these was a Dutch woman, Carol Jarecki, who had been nominated by the Kasparov Team. The other two were clearly Kirsan’s men. Of course, Kasparov nominated 3 persons but only one survived. She got 73 votes, but Kirsan’s men got 102 and 111 respectively. This clearly showed that the House had already chosen Kirsan Team to run FIDE for the next four years.

What surprised me was that here in Europe, they had 3 different ways to tick in a box of who a delegate selected: X sign, V sign, and + sign. Other than these, the ballot would be rejected as ‘invalid’ vote. With Jarecki in charge of the election procedures, all could be assured of no foul play at all. Besides, each Team was entitled to send one representative to oversee the vote counting.

Roll call after lunch was required again by the House Speaker. The total number was originally 174, but one African delegate arrived late without credential and somehow he was allowed to get the ballot. This led to protests by the Kasparov Team. The guy apparently held one proxy too. In the end he got away with it. We still did not know if he was actually a delegate of any country. The Kasparov Team was prepared to lodge a complaint if the vote counting was close enough. The process of calling country by country to get the ballot and went into the voting booth took nearly 3 hours. And it took another 1.30 hours for vote counting.

Before the voting, each side was allowed 15 minutes for their last speech to the delegates. Kasparov promised to pay all outstanding debts for all chess federations, plus USD 10 million injection to FIDE tomorrow, if elected. Kirsan came out later and promised USD 20 million to FIDE today, not tomorrow. A good bluff which got Kasparov Team stunned. We of course would never find out if such a promise is kept. I videotaped the speeches of these two candidates and if anyone wants to view it, I would be more than pleased to show it all to you. It is too long to publish on FB.

As said above, Kirsan Team won comfortably. Kasparov Team seemed deeply disappointed – not for the loss, but for low turnout votes. It was really way too low from their estimates before the election. Eight years ago when I was in the Ticket with Bessel Kok Team, we got 56 votes and Kirsan had 78. After all these years, the Opposition to Kirsan only obtained 5 votes more? While Kirsan managed to have increased his stronghold by 38! Something not right going on somewhere. Does it mean that some European countries, and many Asian countries, have changed their stands? In 4 years time, we will have another election and it will be extremely hard for anyone who wants to challenge Kirsan. But I believe there will always be a candidate who wants to dethrone him.

We came back from the UiT University to Radisson Blu Hotel to elect Asian Chess Federation President. There were two candidates, Pichay from the Philippines and Sheik Khalifah from UAE, the incumbent. All 51 countries (proxies included) were present and the result came out 39-12 in favour of the Prince from UAE. This was no surprise of the result, but yet again the low turnout of Leong’s friends in Asia confirmed what I suggested above.

I did have some time to go to see our players for about half an hour. They finished their game analyses with Vladimir pretty quickly today because their games did not last too long.

The Open Team will play Sudan and the Women Team will play Zambia. These two teams are more or less about of the same strength as our players. Results therefore could go either way.

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