Will the Arkady Gambit click in the FIDE elections?

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It will be interesting to know how the ‘Arkady Gambit’ plays out at the International Chess Federation’s (FIDE) Congress that will elect the office bearers this year.

It is learnt that the FIDE Congress will be held in Chennai and a formal announcement will be made in a couple of days.

The FIDE headed by former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has taken a series of actions following Russia’s military action against Ukraine.

The election for FIDE office bearers is due in 2022 and the deadline for the candidacy is expected to be next month.

Dvorkovich and his team were elected in Batumi, Georgia, in September 2018.

Condemning the Russian military action against Ukraine, the FIDE has taken a series of actions like shifting of the 44th Chess Olympiad from Moscow to Chennai and not holding any FIDE chess competitions in Russia and Belarus; not to display Russian and Belarusian national flags or play their anthem in its rated tournaments (but allowed usage of their national chess federation’s flag, official logo); simplification of players playing under the FIDE flag; termination of sponsorship agreements with Russian and Belarusian corporations.

The FIDE Council condemned public statements from any member of the chess community which supports unjustified military action and brought the case of chess grandmasters Sergey Karjakin and Sergey Shipov to the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission.

The FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess had established a fundraiser for Ukrainian chess players and their families affected by war.

The chess federation of Ukraine as per reports has called for ban of all Russian players and Russians from the FIDE elections.

Meanwhile, FIDE officials remained silent when IANS asked about the impact of the actions on the upcoming FIDE elections.

They also remained silent to the query whether it is a crime if Russian players support their country during a war. And is being patriotic a crime?

“When it comes to actions against the players more caution has to be taken as they depend on chess for livelihood. And no harsh actions should be taken against them. Further, several Russian players have voiced their views against the war which is a brave thing,” an International Chess Master told IANS preferring anonymity.

Be that as it may, the FIDE officials were tight-lipped when queried about the elections.

“Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Dvorkovich was in a comfortable position and was expected to get a second term without any opposition in sight,” a senior chess Grandmaster with a good international standing not wanting to be quoted told IANS.

In 2018, Dvorkovich had to fight it out against the then deputy president of FIDE Georgios Makropoulos.

“Who will be the likely contender and how the various national chess federations will act are unknown factors now,” a FIDE official not wanting to be quoted told IANS.

Given the geopolitical situation, Dvorkovich’s nationality and his past position in the Russian government, he and his team would prefer a neutral venue for holding the FIDE Congress.

And Chennai is an ideal location.

FIDE on Tuesday approved the bid offered by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) to host the mega biennial event that would see about 190 nations competing for medals.

At its meeting on February 27, the FIDE Council decided, “Regardless of the organisation of the Chess Olympiad 2022, FIDE organises the annual FIDE Congress during the previously planned dates — from 27.07.2022 till 02.08.2022 with the election date on 01.08.2022. The preference is to combine the FIDE Congress with the Chess Olympiad 2022.”

The FIDE Council also suggested consultations with the potential organisers of the Chess Olympiad 2022 and allows adjustment of the FIDE Congress dates if it does not imply a notable delay of elections. The FIDE Council had confirmed that the continental elections shall be organised within their constitutional terms.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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