Kasparov Zeitnot: Two Years Off the Clock

Kasparov’s most formidable opponent NEVER took or offered a bribe.

This story was in the Russian press yesterday, for example, here  and here.  I found this English-language summary  of the story for the convenience of English readers.  Only, for the love of God, PLEASE don’t put these chess pieces in the “Sports” section any more.  (One of my pet peeves:  chess is a BOARD GAME, for Chrissake, not a sport!)

But I digress, the basics of the story, as one can read for oneself, but I like to retell these stories in chronological order, with the “lede” at the end:

FIDE’s motto is “Gens una sumus” – “We are one people”.

So, once upon a time (this happened last year), Russian Chess Master and former World Champion Garry Kasparov, decided to run for the post of President of the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) – in English “World Chess Federation”.  The competition was fierce, so Kasparov decided to improve his odds with a radical, some might even say a “Berserker Zwischenzug” gambit:  He paid a bribe of $500K to (then) FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong.   Leong is a chess impresario who runs some chess clubs in Singapore.  Kasparov’s bribe was meant to ensure the Singapore vote plus (10 plus one) votes of the Asian Chess Federation.  Not sure exactly what that means, but it’s what they write.

In any case, the bribe was just a down payment:  Kasparov promised Leong that, once elected President of FIDE, he would establish a new organization, Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia, which would then transfer $1 million to Leong’s private firm.  In other words, the total bribe was for $1,500,000 with a third fronted, and the rest to follow after the victory.

“So here’s the deal, I give you 500 big ones up front, and then later, after I win…..”

But it was all in vain:  The articles don’t say whether the Asians voted the way they were supposed to, but in the end Kasparov lost the Presidential race to Russian Federation citizen Kirsan Ilyumzhimov (Кирсан Николаевич Илюмжинов).  Ilyumzhimov’s bio proves him to be one of the biggest over-achievers on the planet:  Chess Master, businessman, former President of the Kalmyk Republic, the list goes on and on…. Compared to him, Kasparov comes off as a one-trick pony.

Returning to our story:

On 13 September 2015 the FIDE Ethics Commission investigating this incident, found the two men guilty.

The more recent follow-up is the punishment of the crime:  Both Leong and Kasparov have been expelled from FIDE, for a period of two years.  They cannot hold any offices or participate in any official FIDE events.

After two years, I suppose they can stroll back into the clubhouse, smelling like roses, and just punch in on the clock.

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13 Responses to Kasparov Zeitnot: Two Years Off the Clock

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “It’s only when in Russia citizen Kasparov calls to “stop stealing and lying” and protests against “crooks and thiefs”. And once he crosses the border – becomes an ordinary man”
    (c) Dmitriy “Goblin” Puchkov.

    I have only one question – where did shy and modest leader of opposition movemnet in This Coutry managed to earn as much as $500k to gib dem away on bribes?


  2. Cortes says:

    Knowing you’re a linguist, for info courtesy of Wikipedia (Spanish =jaque mate)

    The term checkmate is, according to the Barnhart Etymological Dictionary, an alteration of the Persian phrase “shāh māt” (شاه مات) which means, literally, “the King is helpless”.[7] Others maintain that it means “the King is dead”, as chess reached Europe via the Islamic world, and Arabic māta (مَاتَ) means “died” or “is dead”.[8][9] However, in the Pashto language (an Iranian language), the word māt (مات) still exists, meaning “destroyed, broken”.

    Moghadam traced the etymology of the word mate. It comes from a Persian verb mandan (ماندن), meaning “to remain”, which is cognate with the Latin word maneō and the Greek menō (μενω, which means “I remain”). It means “remained” in the sense of “abandoned” and the formal translation is “surprised”, in the military sense of “ambushed”.[10] “Shāh” (شاه) is the Persian word for the monarch. Players would announce “Shāh” when the king was in check. “Māt” (مات) is a Persian adjective for “at a loss”, “helpless”, or “defeated”. So the king is in mate when he is ambushed, at a loss, helpless, defeated, or abandoned to his fate.[11]

    In modern parlance, the term checkmate is a metaphor for an irrefutable and strategic victory.[12]


    • yalensis says:

      Very interesting! Thanks cortes, I love etymologies.

      I have seen another etymology of “shah-mat” whereby it means “The King is taken.”
      Persian being an Indo-European language actually quite closely related to proto-Balto-Slavic and Sanskrit.

      Anyhow, Russian has a fairly straightforward continuation of this etymology: The Russian word for “chess” is a direct borrowing from the Persian: шахматы (“shakh-maty”).

      I have been told that English “chess” is a bastardizations of “Shah”, and even “checkers” is the same word, in a slightly different form.


  3. marknesop says:

    Kasparov is a toad. He goes on and on about the foul rot of corruption in Russia until he could bring tears from a volcano. And in the end when he wants something really badly, he is just as willing to grease the skids with a bit of moola as anyone else. The essence of corruption is that you are using money or power or power bought with money to attain something that you believe you would not win in a fair competition or by simply asking for it. He is twice as corrupt who pretends to virtue.


    • yalensis says:

      “Kasparov is a toad.”

      This is true. But this toad happens to be very good at a particular board game, which is how he earned his initial stash. That, plus he took advantage of the Soviet system, which was extremely generous to those of its citizens who were thought to have some kind of intellectual skill.
      Ingrate that he is, Kasparov turned against the nation which nurtured him, transformed into an actual traitor, then tried to leverage his fame to earn even more fame and money. Even resorting to corruption, like you say. What a massive ego!

      I believe that Kasparov should abandon board games, in favor of something that machines cannot do twice as well.
      Like be a decent and loyal person. But I suppose that’s asking too much of him.


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