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Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Anand elected Fide vice-president, Arkady wins second term

The elections to the world chess body were held during the FIDE Congress which is being conducted here alongside the 44th Chess Olympiad.

Chess legend and 5 times Wolrd Champion Anand has been elected as the Vice President of FIDE. (File)

From being one of the finest players in the world, five-time world champion nonetheless, Viswanathan Anand would embark on his new role as Fide vice-president after Arkady Dvorkovich was re-elected as president for a second term. In the elections held here, Dvorkovich pipped Andrii Baryshpolets, a Ukrainian Grandmaster, by a landslide scoreline of 157-16 votes. A third candidate, French Bachar Kouatly, withdrew his candidature after giving his speech, before voting began.

Moments after the results came out, Anand tweeted: “For me, chess is a part of who I am. As a chess player, I have been fortunate to see the game transform from a niche game to a mass sport. I’m now happy to be part of the Dvorkovich team as we try to continue to make that positive change.”

Before he began his innings, Anand had detailed to The Indian Express his vision when he assumed the role. “I would like to expand our geographical footprint and continue to work to get more youngsters into the game – that’s crucial for the long-term growth of the game. We must continue to promote chess in India because it’s an important market and important country. Lots of people here play the game but it can expand much more. These are the areas I’ll focus on, but I think Fide is already in the right direction in this area, which is why it’ll be easy for me to fit in,” he had said.

The switch from chessboard to board politics means Anand’s playing days are literally over. The election was one of the reasons he didn’t play in the Olympiad. “Compared to three or four years back, I have cut down on my time as an active chess player. I have long aspired to come into chess administration and this opportunity as deputy president will be a huge learning curve for me,” Anand had said before the polls.

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Inconsistent statements

Whereas his candidature was non-controversial, that of Dvorkovich was not. As the war in Ukraine escalated, he continued to dilly-dally. To American magazine Mother Jones, he said: “Wars are the worst things one might face in life… including this war. My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians. Wars do not just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections,” he had said.

Then in an apparent U-turn, after threats and criticism from pro-Vladimir Putin officials, Dvorkovich changed his tune and was quoted in The Times as saying that “the war against Ukraine was a campaign against fascism.” I, like all post-war children, was brought up on patriotism… and hatred of Nazism. I am sincerely proud of the courage of our soldiers, who at all times defended their homeland and freedom,” he was quoted as saying.

However, Dvorkovich reiterated that he would continue to dispense his duties with integrity. “Yes, I am Russian, and I have served the people of my country, including the Russian chess community as Chairman of the Board of the Russian Chess Federation, but have been trying to do my job professionally and with the highest possible level of integrity,” he said during his speech before voting.

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The 50-year-old emphasised that he would continue to support Ukraine’s cause. “I took a strong position on the tragic events in Ukraine as well as supported Fide Council decisions regarding scaling down Russia’s involvement in Fide. Moreover, while abandoning Russian partners, we have been able to find new ones around the globe, organise this Chess Olympiad [in India] and ensure financial stability for Fide. It is far from easy for me personally, but I hope that chess can re-unite people again,” he said.

First published on: 07-08-2022 at 02:21:53 pm
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