Official Statement of Chess in School Chairman Print
Thursday, 10 November 2011 13:48

Dear Friends

I heard that Mr Herman Hamers, President of Zone 1.1, sent an email to all federations in the zone, in which he mentions that during the FIDE Congress in Krakow, when I spoke there, I declared that we will not cooperate with the Kasparov Chess Foundation

This is not the whole truth, but it is a very small part of the truth, and it is taken out of context (as you can clearly see from the Congress Minutes, for example Annex 27b, which was already circulated to all Delegates attending the Congress and has been published on the Chess in Schools web site It looks like Mr Hamers has chosen to quote me out of context and has clearly changed the exact meaning, even though he was present at the Commission meeting, as well as the full Congress session. I have now seen his email, and in it Mr Hamers said "Chess in Schools chairman Ali Yazici reported that his commission will not cooperate with the Chess in Schools campaign of Kasparow and Danailov."

First of all, let me explain our situation. During the past 12 months, worldwide chess activities have been focused on Chess in Schools - we are very proud as the FIDE Chess in Schools Commission, as FIDE management, together with President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, that there are so many Chess in School initiatives taken by different parties. Finally, everybody in the world, including Garry Kasparov, seems to understand that Chess in School is the future of chess in the world as a sport. This is very nice and we are ready to support any kind of initiative, personal, national, federation, continental, global, private or public - anything that is going to help the development of chess in schools. We clearly know that this is the future of chess, but what was said in Krakow was absolutely different from the impression given by Mr Hamers and I would like to explain the sequence of events as they happened, all of which I explained in both the Commission meeting and the Congress sessions in Krakow.

Mr Garry Kasparov, our great chess legend, came to Istanbul, on private business, for a software conference and he made a speech on 23 September at the SAP Forum, organized by software provider SAP. I heard that he would come. Three or four days before the SAP Forum speech, bypassing the Turkish Chess Federation, Mr Kasparov asked for an appointment with our new sports minister, and that request was accepted. The Minister cancelled the meeting just before the press conference scheduled for the meeting (9am 22 September), citing pressure of work; I do not know whether that was the real reason. I guess the main issue was probably that the request was not made through the Turkish Chess Federation [in Turkey it is normal protocol for such appointments with Ministers to be channeled through the relevant sport federation]. There was no contact from Kasparov's side to the Turkish Chess Federation to have any kind of talks. Then, on Friday 23 September, the software conference speech was made. The following day, a very good friend of GM Kasparov, GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili (of Georgia Chess Federation), called me and told me that Garry Kasparov wanted to talk to me and that he (GK) was in Dubai. I replied "of course, why not" and said that I am always available for Garry to call me. Zurab said that Mr Kasparov wanted to talk on Skype, so we exchanged Skype contact information and after this, on Tuesday 27 September, Mr Garry Kasparov called me on Skype, at 14:32 and our conversation lasted 8 min 32 seconds (according to the Skype record).

In our conversation, Mr Kasparov mentioned that when he was in Istanbul, he was very impressed with the situation of chess in schools in Turkey and he proposed a private business venture between the two of us, for chess in schools. The proposal was to me personally, not as President of the Turkish Chess Federation, not as FIDE Vice President, not as Chairman of the Chess in Schools Commission (of course these titles were important to him). He invited me to make some private business for Chess in Schools, I guess like what he is doing with Silvio Danailov (President of ECU); he wanted to do the same with me.  I said OK, I am not available to make private chess business, but we can talk about it - my idea was to conduct a public business through my federation. I told him that I appreciate what he is doing for Chess in Schools, suggested a face-to-face talk, and invited him to come to Ankara. He said that he didn't have time, but asked me to go to Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) on 6&7 October, because he would be making a speech in the Georgian Parliament to introduce chess into the school curriculum.

I told him that I would think about it. I thought a lot about this and, on 3 October, I sent him an email in which I explained that I appreciate what he is doing for Chess in Schools, that I like it, that his activities will be very valuable for the development of chess all over the world. He is a great chess legend, who has the right to conduct his own private business with anyone he wants, but I told him clearly that I could not, as FIDE Vice President, Chairman of the Chess in Schools Commission or TSF President, make any private business venture with anyone about chess in schools; this would be a conflict of interest for me, it is very clear. I also told him that I don't like the way that Mr Danailov and the ECU works together with the Kasparov Chess Foundation. Our main issue is that this is a private business. As elected officers, it is wrong for us to make such private business in relation to any kind of chess activity; it is a conflict of interest. So, I refused. I also told him that I would not travel to Georgia for the Parliamentary session, since he is not the host and I am not formally invited. Also, I don't want to legalize anything outside of FIDE by being present as FIDE Vice President and Commission Chairman. I never received an answer to that email.

The FIDE position is very clear. We respect anything that is done to promote Chess in Schools or chess in general, including the initiatives of private institutions and private persons. We respect this, we like such initiatives. On the other hand, our business is a public business; whatever we do, all accounts, all sponsorships, all transactions, everything should be transparent to the public, because it is FIDE.

You remember, my friends, when Karpov was running for the FIDE Presidency in 2010, he was accusing FIDE of corruption. Our accounts are clear, all transactions are clear, anybody in FIDE, even outsiders, can see our accounts - they are fully transparent, those accounts are audited by the great accountancy firm Ernst & Young, who check all our accounts. There is an elected internal Verification Commission and they check the accounts, as does the FIDE Auditor. We are a fully transparent organization.

Now, I don't know what is happening in Garry Kasparov's Chess Foundation. It's not my business.  Of course, he can do anything he wants, but we cannot go into business with such an institution under hidden accounts and that's the reason why we are not able to cooperate, but it does not mean that we won't cooperate. If Mr Garry Kasparov wants to make business with FIDE, in a professional way, we can sit down and talk, sign a contract and we can then cooperate fully together.

When Mr Hamers wrote his single sentence in his circular, omitting all the rest, it is clear to me that Mr Hamers, FIDE Zone President, is abusing our explanation of the situation that we gave in Krakow. He is giving the impression that we don't want to cooperate, but the reality is not like that. I thought it very important that everyone should know the real position.

Ali Nihat YAZICI
Chairman of Chess in School Commission
FIDE Vice President

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