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8 Aug, 2022 12:08

Russian’s chess election win over Ukrainian rival proves point – official

Former Russian deputy PM Arkady Dvorkovich was re-elected to his FIDE position on Sunday
Russian’s chess election win over Ukrainian rival proves point – official

The president of the Chess Federation of Russia, Andrey Filatov, has said that the re-election of countryman Arkady Dvorkovich as head of international governing body FIDE proves that delegates voted “with their heads.”

Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dvorkovich won an overwhelming majority in FIDE’s election in the Indian city of Chennai on Sunday, capturing 157 votes in favor as opposed to 16 for his rival, Ukraine’s Andrey Baryshpolets.

Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand of India was chosen as the new FIDE deputy president, and was part of Dvorkovich’s ticket.

Dvorkovich, 50, will serve a second and final term as FIDE president at a time when Russian and Belarusian teams are banned from the organization’s competitions, although players from the two countries can compete individually as neutrals.

Russian chess chief Filatov welcomed Dvorkovich’s victory, suggesting it showed that his country was far from isolated – and describing the election as a serious undertaking and a far cry from the likes of the Eurovision Song Contest.

“It is clear that for the first time in a long time there was such an event where so many countries participated. And it was a kind of testing of the international situation at the moment,” Filatov told TASS.  

“Voting showed who really supports who in the world. Western European countries nominated a Ukrainian candidate, and only 16 countries supported it.”

Filatov also referenced past FIDE votes, citing the failed campaign on dissident Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov to head the organization.  

“The current elections can be compared with 2014, when Crimea returned to its native harbor, and Russia was in a similar situation in the world,” said the chess official.

“Then the Western countries nominated Garry Kasparov as a candidate, and he was considered the favorite, but in the end, the Russian representative Kirsan Ilyumzhinov won a triumphant victory. That here you can say: FIDE is not Eurovision, people vote with their heads.”

Ahead of his re-election, Dvorkovich had noted the delicate current situation surrounding Russia and Ukraine.

“Yes, I am Russian, and I have served the people of my country, including to Russian chess community, as Chairman of the Board of the Russian Chess Federation,” said Dvorkovich.

“I have been trying to do it professionally and with the highest possible level of integrity. And I took a strong position on the tragic events in Ukraine as well as supported FIDE Council decisions regarding scaling down Russia's involvement in FIDE.

“Moreover, while abandoning Russian partners, we have been able to find new ones around the globe, organize this Chess Olympiad [in India] and ensure financial stability for FIDE. It is far from easy for me personally, but I hope that chess can re-unite people again.”

The Chess Federation of Russia reported on Monday that a working group would be established to discuss the country’s potential reintegration into team events.

“The [FIDE] Congress decided to instruct the FIDE Council to return to this issue again in the near future, create a working group and find a new solution, taking into account the opinion of the congressmen and the latest recommendations of the IOC [International Olympic Committee],” a statement said.

The IOC recommended at the end of February that federations across all sports refuse to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Russians have continued to compete under neutral status at FIDE tournaments, with Russian grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi set to contest the world title for a second time next year, having won the prestigious FIDE Candidates Tournament last month.

Nepomniachtchi will not face five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen, however, after the Norwegian declined to defend his title, saying he lacked the motivation to prepare for the challenge.

Instead, Nepomniachtchi will meet China’s Ding Liren, who finished runner-up at the Candidates Tournament in Madrid.

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