Wednesday, October 3, 2018

2018 FIDE (World Chess Federations) Elections Updates

8:15 am Georgian time

Greetings from Batumi!  This is a post to cover the goings on regarding the FIDE election, which I first posted about nearly three months ago (2018 World Chess Federation elections).  I hope to post updates through the election today but they may or may not be delayed a little by duties in connection with it, or issues with running my computer off its wayward battery.

Since my previous article, the attempt to impose greater strictness surrounding the tempting of delegates has fallen by the wayside (because it lacked statutory authority), but still the election has been austere compared to the cash-splash of 2014, especially on the Makropoulos side.  Unlike in 2014, a delegate is not bombarded with pamphlets at meetings for days before the election and there are few posters to be seen.  The Makropoulos and Dvorkovich camps have stalls at the Olympiad venue (and the Makropoulos camp accuses a member of the Dvorkovich camp of some scruffy behaviour related to this) while the Short camp has no physical presence beyond its various members.

The election is still a three-candidate race, but it has been obvious all along that Nigel Short has no chance of winning unless one of the other candidates withdraws, is disqualified or is abandoned by supporters en masse for some reason I could not possibly foresee.  The second boat sailed three days ago when an attempt by the Makropoulos camp to have the Dvorkovich ticket disqualified was knocked back by the Ethics Commission, but the judgement did disqualify one federation that supported Dvorkovich, namely Serbia. A few weeks ago Short announced a degree of alliance with Dvorkovich that was widely misinterpreted as a withdrawal.

The Dvorkovich camp has predictably had a bad rub of the green concerning various issues with delegates and recognition of federations - some of these come because they were late starters in the race but have been building support to at least some degree through it.  One Federation that (at this stage) failed to make the cut of those allowed to vote was Haiti - I have not followed this saga closely but understand that after its President died the federation somehow came to submit a form to be considered a new federation rather than to change its delegate, in circumstances that are in dispute.  Another is Bulgaria, a currently banned federation that was the subject of a split Electoral Commission ruling on how to deal with it, with the possibility that the existing federation could be expelled so a new one can be recognised.

Although there is widespread support for the abolition of the proxy-farming of votes that is a feature of these elections (with 19 of 185 Federations being represented by a proxy rather than their delegate) this has done little to stop it from happening.

Unlike in 2014 when it was pretty obvious that Kasparov was going to lose heavily, at this election there is not a clear expectation out there as to what will happen, and I haven't been asking federations who they are voting for.  Both the Makropoulos and Dvorkovich camps have been talking up their numbers, especially because there are some delegates who may want to vote for whoever will win for reasons of personal ambition or hope of favours for their country. Between them the three tickets have claimed to have over 300 votes, though some of these claims were not serious.

Some pro-Makropoulos forces have the jitters.  They are worried that if their man does not win an absolute majority in round one, votes will flow in a block from Short (whether he withdraws or not) to Dvorkovich in round two, plus the votes of any federation that only voted for Makropoulos because they expected him to win.  They have also only just discovered what this site reported months ago and what has been in the electoral regulations for at least 13 years - that the candidate in third is not required to withdraw prior to the second round.  (It is possible to imagine a scenario in which a compromise candidate who is third on the first round but stays in for the second round of voting might actually win, though it's not remotely likely in this case.)

To an Australian audience it might all seem a bit ho-hum.  Preferential election?  Nothing unusual here.  Your own party does a preference deal with another? Big deal, and you don't have to follow it if you don't want to.  But for countries that have never seen anything but first past the post, this three-way election may be quite confusing. And as a sign of the information levels out there, at a reception last night there was still vote-getting going on because one delegate had not realised they were allowed to vote.

I'm not convinced it will necessarily be close, but if it is, that will be interesting.  Perhaps we'll get an advance sign of how things are going from one of the preliminary motions.  Updates to follow.

2:15 pm: An inconclusive scrutineer election as a pointer to what might follow with one Makropoulos supported candidate being returned but two others not.  Election for President about to start, will probably take a few hours.

4:15: Short has now withdrawn and endorsed Dvorkovich, which he did somewhat dramatically and emotionally at the end of his candidate speech (which started with an anti-Kirsan zinger that if elected he would pay $40 million into the FIDE bank account yesterday). Makropoulos has been walking on eggshells in his chairing of the meeting (really, he just shouldn't be chair) especially dealing with a number of delegates from Africa who are annoyed about FIDE taking control of African continental finances following allegations against Continental President Lewis Ncube.  If the level of applause for speeches is any indicator one might suspect Dvorkovich is slightly ahead but we will see.  Dvorkovich's presentation was considerably better than Makropoulos' and Dvorkovich is a very engaging speaker - but if he wins can he bring the money to chess that he promises?  Significantly he promised to resign from all boards that may be currently drawing the ire of sanctioning bodies.  (It has been revealed FIDE generally, not just Ilyumzhinov, is on a Thomson Reuters sanctions list).

There have been a few process issues so far.  Firstly there was a grand stuffup where the voting cards given out to delegates for open votes proved to be the same as the cards already used as placeholders, meaning each delegate had three cards that could signify a vote.  This was rectified with minimal loss of time while the roll call was underway with a few stragglers being eventually chased down.  This is my 4th Congress and this hasn't happened before.

Secondly I thought delegates should have been given clear instructions on the range of marks within boxes that were accepted as formal votes.  This didn't really happen even when I asked for it twice.

The wifi in the General Assembly room is disastrous so I will not be able to report the result immediately when it occurs, but will try to put it up within ten minutes or so after.

6:20 DVORKOVICH WINS - A huge margin 103-78 (given that Makropoulos had a large advantage on proxies.)  This is the first changing of the guard at a FIDE election for a very long time and it will be fascinating to see what unfolds now!

Oct 4th 2:00

Minor elections are on.  Dvorkovich kept two of the existing appointed Vice-Presidents: Gulkiz Tulay (Turkey) and Junan Yang (China).  He also appointed Nigel Short, Lukasz Turlej (Poland - Short's campaign manager) and someone else whose name I missed.  Australia nominated Anastasia Sorokina (Belarus, ex-AUS) as an elected Vice-President and she won, together with Michael Khordarkovsky (USA), Martha Fierro Baquero (Ecuador) - these all on the first ballot. Second ballot: Olalekan Adeyami (Nigeria), Akaki Iashvili (Georgia). Khordarkovsky was not even elected in Tromso on the Kasparov ticket so this shows how much things have changed.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for the summary, Kevin. I look forward to seeing your updates.

  3. Hey youse chessgeeks have made the news - in the "sport" section of the Guardian no less!

  4. Wow! The road ahead should be interesting!

  5. Hi Kevin,

    I found this article interesting: