The 1986 FIDE Presidential Election

Edward Winter


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In the 1986 FIDE Presidential Election the incumbent, Florencio Campomanes, was challenged by a ticket comprising Lincoln Lucena and Raymond Keene. Voting was due to take place at the FIDE General Assembly’s session in Dubai in November 1986. Campomanes’s decision in February 1985 to terminate the world chess championship match between Karpov and Kasparov after 48 games had prompted much press criticism, but to what extent had it weakened him?

In July 1986 there appeared the first of a series of ten FIDE Facts sheets which played an important, and possibly decisive, role in the outcome of the election. They were distributed principally to national federations but also prompted some wider discussion. The full texts of all ten documents are given, without comment, in the present article.


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The full text of C.N. 1281 is given below. Published in the November-December 1986 issue of Chess Notes, it shows how a journalist (Bernard Cafferty, the then editor of the BCM) who refused to stand up to Raymond Keene was dragged down by him:



Now we are obliged to turn, without fear or favour, to the BCM.

With reference to the time when Mr Keene’s telex was sent to Moscow and Lucerne (C.N. 1245, first paragraph) we wrote a letter to the BCM Editor on 12 September. Its principal object was, of course, to highlight the contradiction over the timing:

‘Mr Keene now says that the telex was sent during the morning of 15 February on the basis of an inaccurate radio report, which he himself had not actually heard, that the match had already been terminated. But that is contradicted by his own words on page 139 of The Moscow Challenge: “At this point [i.e. after both Kasparov and Karpov had agreed to accept or abide by the termination decision] I telexed Moscow with a proposal in my capacity as President of the Commonwealth Chess Association.”’

Some of our letter is given in the November BCM (page 513). Astonishingly, the above key paragraph has been removed. The Editor then declares the correspondence closed, on the grounds that ‘it seems unlikely that the interested parties are going to give satisfaction to each other’. (!)

It will be recalled that paragraph c) of our 8 May letter to Mr Cafferty (which we published in full in C.N. 1222) pointed out another indisputable contradiction by Mr Keene (about return matches). That too was edited out (June BCM, page 257).

The BCM’s presentation of recent political matters has to be criticized. Instead of discussing issues and policies it has concentrated on facile anti-Campomanes jottings. Fundamental points have been passed over with alarming regularity; errors of judgement have been frequent. Criticism of Raymond Keene has never been initiated, and the news columns have reported other people’s complaints about him only in coded language subtle to the point of inscrutability. Some examples (all page references are to the 1986 BCM):

i) Page 176 refers to the ‘FIDE Pagination Affair’, and in the following issue so does Mr Keene (page 208). That is fine, but in that same (May) BCM the Editor reverts to the matter no fewer than three more times: page 177, page 189 and page 195.

ii) Page 225 refers to (and page 235 quotes) some ‘unparliamentary language’ by FIDE about Mr Keene. Yet the BCM had never mentioned or cited any of Mr Keene’s anti-FIDE vituperation (to which the Federation was reacting in the BCM reference). Nor has it done so since. (An opportunity came when the front page of the Guardian of 6 August 1986 was bedecked with some cursing by Mr Keene, in an argument with FIDE about London and Swiss Bank Accounts.) The false impression has thus been given that one side alone (the non-British, of course) has been guilty of verbal indignity.

iii) Here is a quote from the FIDE President’s Circular Letter of 28 April:

‘We expect that the election of President will take [sic – the word place is obviously missing] late November during the Dubai General Assembly, and not until then, when the new President is elected, does he nominate the General Secretary for election (a formal endorsement, actually) by the General Assembly.’

That is a perfectly accurate description of the procedure. Note, in particular, the use of the word ‘election’. But now let us see how the BCM summarized the Letter’s treatment of this matter, on page 235:

‘It points out that the post of FIDE General Secretary ... is a nominated (or endorsed) post, not a post subject to election.’

Au contraire! A bad mistake, but worse was to follow. David Anderton was in like a shot with a ‘correction’, on page 301. He quoted Paragraph 5 of the FIDE Electoral Regulations:

‘Nominations and elections for the offices of General Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor shall be made in the General Assembly after the elections of the President and Deputy Presidents.’

... to which the BCM Editor adds the comment: ‘This is at odds with the statement quoted from the FIDE President, page 235 last month.’ In reality, it is at odds only with the misquotation of the statement by the BCM. The magazine has yet to publish a correction.

iv) Page 309, ‘The Things They Say ...’: an example of triviality and bias.

v) Page 446 and the November issue’s Late News: The reaction to the American Friends of FIDE Sheets is certainly not hostile, but seems more concerned with speculating on who is behind them than with informing readers of their contents. Obscure code language is used, always to the advantage of the same Gentleman. The BCM reports that the Sheets ‘turned round Kasparov’s use of the word “Mafia” to point out the existence of a closely-knit group around the adversarial party’. To translate into normal English: Sheet 3 lists eight relatives, co-authors and associates of Mr Keene who have been making vigorous anti-FIDE statements in support of his campaign. Then the BCM writes: ‘Other matters ventilated are the position of the Commonwealth, mentioning the boycott by many countries of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, attitudes to South Africa, a Brazilian criticism of Lucena and so on.’ Translation: the Sheets contain an analysis of Mr Keene’s inconsistencies on these topics. Another example is when the Sheets give chapter and verse on Mr Keene’s irregularities in the Termination affair. This is how that comes out in the BCM: ‘the history of the cancellation of the first K-K match, reaction to it from various parties and many related matters leading on to the present election campaign Campomanes versus Lucena/Keene.’

vi) As mentioned in C.N. 1245, Private Eye has been making a series of detailed accusations against Mr Keene. But a reader of the BCM would never know that; page 455 mentions Private Eye, but only to correct its confusion over the difference between the BCM and the BCF (admittedly a topical subject).

vii) Page 508:

‘As noted in the cover Late News last month, the FIDE President issued a formal letter at the end of the London section of the world title match in which he complained about being vilified in the British press and broadcasting media. This seems surprising in one who completed his higher education in the USA and should therefore know the attention sometimes devoted to candidates for high office.’

Where on earth is the logic in that second sentence?

Truly this has been British chess journalism’s darkest hour.



The FIDE Facts sheets were written (solely) by Hugh Myers. On page 193 of his book A Chess Explorer (Davenport, 2002) he commented:

‘I do claim responsibility for the defeat of the Keene/Kasparov coalition. It could be reasonably argued that Campomanes was either a good guy or a bad guy, but I’m proud that discovering the truth and telling it proved that his opponents were worse. They haven’t looked any better as the years have gone by.’



Latest update: 24 October 2013.

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The Termination
Comic Relief
Cuttings


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