World Chess Federation
Fédération Internationale des Échecs
|Formation||July 20, 1924|
|195 national associations|
The International Chess Federation or World Chess Federation, commonly referred to by its French acronym FIDE (//, FEE-day (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), is an international organization based in Switzerland that connects the various national chess federations and acts as the governing body of international chess competition. FIDE was founded in Paris, France, on July 20, 1924. Its motto is Gens una sumus, Latin for "We are one people". In 1999, FIDE was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As of September 2020, there are 195 member federations of FIDE.
FIDE's most visible activity is organizing the World Chess Championship since 1948. FIDE also organizes world championships for women, juniors, seniors, and the disabled. Another flagship event is the Chess Olympiad, a biennial chess tournament organized since 1924, in which national teams compete. In alternate years, FIDE also organizes the World Team Championship, in which the best teams from the previous Olympiad compete.
As part of the World Chess Championship cycle, FIDE also organizes the Candidates Tournament, which determines who will challenge the reigning World Champion, and the qualifying tournaments for the Candidates, such as the Chess World Cup, the FIDE Grand Prix, and the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2019.
FIDE is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the supreme body responsible for the organization of chess and its championships at global and continental levels. Other tournaments are not overseen directly by FIDE, but they generally observe FIDE rules and regulations. Some national chess organizations such as the US Chess Federation use minor differences to FIDE rules.
FIDE defines the rules of chess, both for individual games (i.e. the board and moves) and for the conduct of international competitions. The international competition rules are the basis for local competitions, although local bodies are allowed to modify these rules to a certain extent. FIDE awards a number of organizational titles, including International Arbiter, which signifies that the recipient is competent and trusted to oversee top-class competitions.
Correspondence chess (chess played by post, email or on online servers) is regulated by the International Correspondence Chess Federation, an independent body that cooperates with FIDE where appropriate.
The FIDE budget for 2019 is 5.5 million euros. This income comes mostly from tournament registration, entry fees, and rights for the Olympiad and World Championship, but during the last year the amount received from corporate sponsorship has sharply increased from 5% to 15%, and the new FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich is aiming at reaching the 50% benchmark in the near future.
Foundation and early years (up to 1939)
In April 1914, an initiative was taken in St. Petersburg, Russia, to form an international chess federation.
Another attempt was made in July 1914 during the Mannheim International Chess Tournament, but further efforts temporarily came to an end as a result of the outbreak of World War I. In 1920, another attempt to organize an international federation was made at the Gothenburg Tournament.
Players also made the first attempt to produce rules for world championship matches—in 1922, world champion José Raúl Capablanca proposed the "London rules": the first player to win six games outright would win the match; playing sessions would be limited to five hours; the time limit would be 40 moves in 2.5 hours each; the champion would be obliged to defend his title within one year of receiving a challenge from a recognized master; the champion would decide the date of the match; the champion was not obliged to accept a challenge for a purse of less than $10,000; 20% of the purse was to be paid to the title holder, with the remainder being divided, 60 percent to the winner of the match, and 40% to the loser; the highest purse bid must be accepted. Alekhine, Bogoljubov, Maróczy, Réti, Rubinstein, Tartakower and Vidmar promptly signed them. The only match played under those rules was Capablanca vs Alekhine in 1927.
In 1922, the Russian master Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, while participating in an international tournament in London, announced that a tournament would be held during the 8th Sports Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 and would be hosted by the French Chess Federation. On July 20, 1924 the participants at the Paris tournament founded FIDE as a kind of players' union. In its early years, FIDE had little power, and was poorly financed.
FIDE's congresses in 1925 and 1926 expressed a desire to become involved in managing the world championship. FIDE was largely happy with the "London Rules", but claimed that the requirement for a purse of $10,000 was impracticable and called upon Capablanca to come to an agreement with the leading masters to revise the Rules.
FIDE's third congress, in Budapest in 1926, also decided to organize a Chess Olympiad. The invitations were, however, late in being sent, with the result that only four countries participated, and the competition was called the Little Olympiad. The winner was Hungary, followed by Yugoslavia, Romania, and Germany. In 1927, FIDE began organizing the First Chess Olympiad during its 4th Congress in London. The official title of the tournament was the "Tournament of Nations", or "World Team Championship", but "Chess Olympiad" became a more popular title. The event was won by Hungary, with 16 teams competing.
In 1928 FIDE recognized Bogoljubow as "Champion of FIDE" after he won a match against Max Euwe. Alekhine, the reigning world champion, attended part of the 1928 Congress and agreed to place future matches for the world title under the auspices of FIDE, although any match with Capablanca should be under the same conditions as in Buenos Aires, 1927, i.e. including the requirement for a purse of at least $10,000. FIDE accepted this and decided to form a commission to modify the London Rules for future matches, though this commission never met; by the time of the 1929 Congress, a world championship match between Alekhine and Bogoljubow was under way, held neither under the auspices of FIDE nor in accordance with the London Rules.
While negotiating his 1937 World Championship re-match with Alekhine, Euwe proposed that if he retained the title, FIDE should manage the nomination of future challengers and the conduct of championship matches. FIDE had been trying since 1935 to introduce rules on how to select challengers, and its various proposals favored selection by some sort of committee. While they were debating procedures in 1937 and Alekhine and Euwe were preparing for their re-match later that year, the Dutch Chess Federation proposed that a super-tournament (AVRO) of ex-champions and rising stars should be held to select the next challenger. FIDE rejected this proposal and at their second attempt nominated Salo Flohr as the official challenger. Euwe then declared that: if he retained his title against Alekhine he was prepared to meet Flohr in 1940 but he reserved the right to arrange a title match either in 1938 or 1939 with José Raúl Capablanca, who had lost the title to Alekhine in 1927; if Euwe lost his title to Capablanca then FIDE's decision should be followed and Capablanca would have to play Flohr in 1940. Most chess writers and players strongly supported the Dutch super-tournament proposal and opposed the committee processes favored by FIDE. While this confusion went unresolved: Euwe lost his title to Alekhine; the AVRO tournament in 1938 was won by Paul Keres under a tie-breaking rule, with Reuben Fine placed second and Capablanca and Flohr in the bottom places; and the outbreak of World War II in 1939 cut short the controversy. Although competitive chess continued in many countries, including some that were under Nazi occupation, there was no international competition and FIDE was inactive during the war.
1946 to 1993
Birth of the World Championship challenge cycle
From the time of Emanuel Lasker's defeat of Wilhelm Steinitz in 1894, until 1946, a new World Champion had won the title by defeating the former champion in a match. Alexander Alekhine's death created an interregnum that made the normal procedure impossible. The situation was confused, with many respected players and commentators offering different solutions. FIDE found it difficult to organize the early discussions on how to resolve the interregnum, because problems with money and travel in the aftermath of World War II prevented many countries from sending representatives, most notably the Soviet Union. The shortage of clear information resulted in otherwise responsible magazines publishing rumors and speculation, which only made the situation more confused. See Interregnum of World Chess Champions for more details.
This situation was exacerbated by the Soviet Union having long refused to join FIDE, and by this time it was clear that about half the credible contenders were Soviet citizens. The Soviet Union realized, however, it could not afford to be left out of the discussions regarding the vacant world championship, and in 1947 sent a telegram apologizing for the absence of Soviet representatives and requesting that the USSR be represented in future FIDE Committees.
The eventual solution was similar to FIDE's initial proposal and to a proposal put forward by the Soviet Union (authored by Mikhail Botvinnik). The 1938 AVRO tournament was used as the basis for the 1948 Championship Tournament. The AVRO tournament had brought together the eight players who were, by general acclamation, the best players in the world at the time. Two of the participants at AVRO—Alekhine and former world champion Capablanca—had since died; but FIDE decided that the other six participants at AVRO would play a quadruple round-robin tournament. These players were: Max Euwe (from The Netherlands); Botvinnik, Paul Keres and Salo Flohr (from the Soviet Union); and Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky (from the United States). FIDE soon accepted a Soviet request to substitute Vasily Smyslov for Flohr, and Fine withdrew in order to continue his degree studies in psychiatry, so five players competed, in a quintuple round robin. Botvinnik won, thus becoming world champion, ending the interregnum.
The proposals which led to the 1948 Championship Tournament also specified the procedure by which challengers for the World Championship would be selected in a three-year cycle: countries affiliated with FIDE would send players to Zonal tournaments (the number varied depending on the number of strong players each country had); the players who gained the top places in these would compete in an Interzonal tournament (later split into two, then three tournaments as the number of countries and eligible players increased); the highest-placed players from the Interzonal would compete in the Candidates Tournament, along with the loser of the previous title match and the runner-up in the previous Candidates Tournament; and the winner of the Candidates played a title match against the champion. From 1950 until 1962 inclusive, the Candidates Tournament was a multi-round round-robin—how and why it was changed are described below.
Bobby Fischer controversies
FIDE found itself embroiled in some controversies relating to the American player Bobby Fischer, the first of which took place when Fischer alleged that at the 1962 Candidates Tournament in Curaçao, the Soviet players Tigran Petrosian, Paul Keres and Efim Geller had pre-arranged draws in their games played amongst themselves, and that Viktor Korchnoi, another Soviet player, had been instructed to lose to them (Fischer had placed 4th, well behind Petrosian, Keres and Geller). Grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, a member of the Soviet delegation at the tournament, said in 2002 that Petrosian, Keres and Geller privately agreed to draw their games, and a statistical analysis in 2006 supported this conclusion. FIDE responded by changing the format of Candidates Tournaments from a multi-round round-robin to a series of elimination matches, initially 10–12 games in duration, though by the 1970s, the Candidates final would be as long as 24 games.
In 1969, Fischer refused to play in the U.S. Championship because of disagreements about the tournament's format and prize fund. Since that event was being treated as a Zonal tournament, Fischer forfeited his right to compete for the right to challenge World Champion Boris Spassky in 1972. Grandmaster Pal Benko agreed to relinquish his qualifying place at the Interzonal in Fischer's favor, and the other participants waived their right to claim the spot. FIDE president Max Euwe interpreted the rules very flexibly to allow Fischer to play in the 1970 Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca, which he won convincingly. Fischer then crushed Mark Taimanov, Bent Larsen (both 6–0) and Tigran Petrosian in the 1971 Candidates Tournament and won the title match with Spassky to become world champion.
After winning the world championship, Fischer criticized the existing championship match format (24 games; the champion retained the title if the match was tied) on the grounds that it encouraged whoever got an early lead to play for draws. While this dispute was going on, Anatoly Karpov won the right to challenge in 1975. Fischer refused to accept any match format other than the one he proposed. Among Fischer's demands was a requirement that the challenger must beat him by at least two games in order to take his title (Fischer proposed a match format in which the first player to win 10 games wins, with draws not counting, but if the result is 9–9 it is considered a tie). The FIDE argued that it was unfair for a challenger to be able to beat the world champion, yet not take his title. Fischer would not back down, and eventually FIDE awarded the title to Karpov by default. Some commentators have questioned whether FIDE president Max Euwe did as much as he could have to prevent Fischer from forfeiting his world title.
Other 1970s controversies
- The defection of grandmaster Gennadi Sosonko in 1972. The Soviets demanded that Sosonko be excluded from competitive chess, television or any other event that might publicize his defection. FIDE refused, and no Soviet players took part in the 1974 Wijk aan Zee tournament in The Netherlands because Sosonko was playing in it.
- In 1976 world championship contender Viktor Korchnoi sought political asylum in The Netherlands. In a discussion a few days earlier Euwe told Korchnoi, "...of course you will retain all your rights ..." and later opposed Soviet efforts to prevent Korchnoi from challenging for Anatoly Karpov's title in 1978.
- FIDE decided to hold the 1976 Chess Olympiad in Israel, which the Soviet Union did not recognize as a country.
Rapid expansion of membership
During his period as president of FIDE (1970–1978) Max Euwe strove to increase the number of member countries, and Florencio Campomanes (president 1982–1995) continued this policy, with each member nation receiving one vote. Former world champion Anatoly Karpov later said this was a mixed blessing, as the inclusion of so many small, poor countries led to a "leadership vacuum at the head of the world of chess......" Yuri Averbakh said the presence of so many weak countries made it easy to manipulate decisions.
World Championship, 1983–1985
The events leading to Garry Kasparov's winning the world championship involved FIDE in two controversies. While arranging the Candidates Tournament semi-final matches to be played in 1983, FIDE accepted bids to host Kasparov versus Victor Korchnoi in Pasadena, California. The Soviet Union refused to accept this, either because it feared Kasparov would defect or because it thought Kasparov was the greater threat to reigning champion Anatoly Karpov. Their refusal would have meant that Kasparov forfeited his chance of challenging for the title. FIDE president Florencio Campomanes negotiated with the Soviet Union, and the match was played in London.
In the 1984 world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov the winner was to be the first to win six games. In the first 27 games Karpov gained a 5–0 lead but by the end of the 48th Kasparov had reduced this to 5–3. At this point the match had lasted for 159 days (from September 1984 to February 1985), Karpov looked exhausted and many thought Kasparov was the favorite to win. After six days of talks, on February 15, FIDE president Campomanes announced that "the match is ended without decision", that a new one would begin in September 1985 with the score 0–0, and that it would consist of at most 24 games. Karpov entered the press conference rather late and said he wished to continue the existing match, with his version of the Mark Twain line: "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" Although nobody has revealed what had happened behind the scenes, there were ESPN cameras and reporters from Sports Illustrated in addition to American Grandmaster Max Dlugy. When the good cop–bad cop routine of Karpov and Campomanes caused a commotion an agitated Karpov stared at Campomanes, who was caught on film saying: "But Anatoly, I told them what you said!" Dlugy also reported this event in the US magazine Chess Life. Kasparov won the second match and became world champion.
1993 to 2018
World Championship divided, 1993–2006
This section may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (November 2020)
In 1992 Nigel Short surprised the world by winning the Candidates Tournament and thus becoming the official challenger for Kasparov's world title. FIDE very quickly accepted a bid from Manchester (England) to host the title match in 1993. But at that time Short was travelling to Greece and could not be consulted as FIDE's rules required. On learning of the situation Short contacted Kasparov, who had distrusted FIDE and its president, Florencio Campomanes ever since Campomanes had stopped his title match against Karpov in 1984. Kasparov and Short concluded that FIDE had failed to get them the best financial deal available and announced that they would "play under the auspices of a new body, the "Professional Chess Association" (PCA). FIDE stripped Kasparov of his FIDE title and dropped Kasparov and Short from the official rating list. It also announced a title match between Karpov and Jan Timman, whom Short had defeated in the semi-final and final stages of the Candidates Tournament. Kasparov and Karpov won their matches and there were now two players claiming to be world champion.
In 1994 Kasparov concluded that breaking away from FIDE had been a mistake, because both commercial sponsors and the majority of grandmasters disliked the split in the world championship. Kasparov started trying to improve relations with FIDE and supported Campomanes' bid for re-election as president of FIDE. But many FIDE delegates regarded Campomanes as corrupt and in 1995 he agreed to resign provided his successor was Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the Republic of Kalmykia.
In the next few years several attempts to re-unify the world championship failed for various reasons – notably inability to finance a match or Kasparov's opposition to any plan that required him to play in a qualifying series rather than go straight into a re-unification match. In 2000 Vladimir Kramnik defeated Kasparov in a match for what was now the Braingames World Chess Championship (the PCA had collapsed by this time). But Kramnik was also unwilling to play in a qualifying series, and objected strongly to FIDE's attempt to have the world championship decided by annual knock-out tournaments and to reduce the time limits for games, changes which FIDE hoped would make the game more interesting to outsiders.
But the split in the world-title had after-effects, as shown by FIDE's complicated regulations for the 2007–9 world championship cycle. Because Topalov was unable to compete in the 2007 World Chess Championship Tournament, FIDE decided he should have a "fast track" entry into the 2007–2009 cycle. And FIDE also decided that, if Kramnik did not win the 2007 championship tournament, he should play a championship match in 2008 against the winner—and this provision became applicable because Viswanathan Anand won the tournament and thus became world champion.
In 1999, FIDE was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Two years later, it introduced the IOC's anti-drugs rules to chess, as part of its campaign for chess to become part of the Olympic Games.
Commercial agreement with Agon
In 2012 FIDE entered into a commercial agreement, initially planned to last until 2021, with the company Agon Limited. This company was given rights to organize and commercially exploit the World Chess Championship and the associated events in the World Championship cycle. The first tournament it organized was the London FIDE Grand Prix event in September 2012, followed by the London Candidates Tournament in March 2013, and the Chennai World Chess Championship in November 2013.
Agon had been founded in 2012 in Jersey by Andrew Paulson as the sole shareholder. On February 20, 2012, an agreement between Agon and FIDE was made, subject to approval by the 2012 FIDE General Assembly. This approval was forthcoming in September 2012. In October 2014, Agon was sold to its current CEO Ilya Merenzon for the sum of one pound. At the September 2016 FIDE General Assembly, it was resolved that Agon should institute a corporate presence in a locale with more transparency. Merenzon said that they would register in the United Kingdom within a few months. As a result, a new company, World Chess Limited, was registered shortly after, replacing Agon as the rights holder in the agreement with FIDE.
FIDE and Agon/World Chess contract controversy
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was happy with the agreement on the basis that now FIDE itself did not have to expend resources to find organizers for its premier events. The issue of financial guarantees was also important, though as explained below, these have not always materialized. His estimation of 10–12 million euros to FIDE from the coming cycles has not yet come to fruition either.
The condition that Agon would be the sole organizer of Championship events was disputed originally by principally the Bulgarian Chess Federation, with respect to the Candidates matches for 2012. In early 2014, a purported agreement between Paulson and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was leaked, and then published by Chess.com (and others), which allegedly indicated that Paulson was simply a front man with Ilyumzhinov the ultimate benefactor of Agon. In that Chess.com article Malcolm Pein is quoted as having twice been told by Paulson that Ilyuzmhinov owned Agon, and in a New In Chess article Nigel Short asserted he had also been told this personally by Paulson. In response, FIDE's deputy vice president Georgios Makropoulos pointed out that the purported contract was a draft document. The FIDE Ethics Commission ruled in September 2015 that Ilyumzhinov did not violate the FIDE Code of Ethics.
2018 to present
The election of Arkady Dvorkovich and the end of the Ilyumzhinov era
In July 2018, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was ousted as FIDE President, after having been in office for 23 years, since 1995. Being subjected to US sanctions for his business dealings with the Syrian government, Ilyumzhinov was forced out and did not run for re-election in the 2018 FIDE elections. The Greek Georgios Makropoulos, who had been General Secretary since 1990 and number two in the organization under Kirsan's Presidency, was the first to announce his ticket. He was followed by the Englishman Nigel Short, a world title contender in the World Chess Championship 1993 against Garry Kasparov. The last to announce his candidacy was Arkady Dvorkovich, an economist who had served as Russian deputy prime minister and was also a member of the Supervisory Board of the Russian Chess Federation. Dvorkovich was also one of the chief organizers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Dvorkovich was placed in the US Treasury pre-sanctions list in 2018 as a top Russian government employee.
In the elections, held in Batumi (Georgia) in October 2018, Dvorkovich won by 103 votes to 78 against Makropoulos, after Nigel Short withdrew his candidacy at the last minute and expressed his support to the Russian candidate.
After the 2018 FIDE elections and the appointment of a new FIDE President, the new management took regaining control over the World Championship cycle as one of their top priorities. In January 2019, FIDE Director-General Emil Sutovsky announced that a new contract has been signed that continues a scaled-back relationship with World Chess (formerly known as AGON) through 2021. In virtue of this new agreement, FIDE reasserted control over the 2020 Candidates and the World Championship match, which from now on will undergo an open bidding procedure. Agon/World Chess only retained organizational and commercial rights over the FIDE Grand Prix Series, limited until 2021.
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- 1978–1982 Friðrik Ólafsson
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- 1995–2018 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
- 2018–present Arkady Dvorkovich
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