Statement by the Executive Board of the US Chess Federation

The United States Chess Federation gives its support to Bessel Kok
Official United States Chess Federation Statement
February 4, 2006

The United States Chess Federation Executive Board is pleased and proud to announce that it has unanimously endorsed the candidacy of Mr. Bessel Kok for President of the World Chess Federation (Fédération International des Echecs).

Mr. Bessel Kok has been a long time supporter and sponsor of chess and chess events. He successfully united professional players when he brought them together to form the Grandmaster Association (GMA) and was personally responsible for the famous series of World Cup tournaments. Having recently retired from an illustrious business career, which included, co-founding the Society for World Wide Interbank Telecommunication – International Banking Network (SWIFT) where he became President and CEO; President of Belgacom, Belgium’s largest telephony company and President of Czechy Telecom, the largest telephony operator in the Czech Republic, Mr. Bessel Kok is now seeking the post of the FIDE Presidency. In his retirement years, Mr. Bessel Kok continues to serve as an advisor on several boards for some of the most important companies and funds in the world. He brings a wealth of experience to the post of the FIDE Presidency.

Contrast what Mr. Bessel Kok and his Deputy President, Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici of the Turkish Chess Federation can do for chess to that of what Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his team have failed to accomplish. Upon his election as FIDE President in 1995, Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov stated goals included ending the world championship schism and to increase the support of FIDE’s assistance to chess developing countries. Over ten years later, the results are woeful in the extreme. The world championship schism continues unabated and chess assistance to chess developing countries has not increased but rather has dramatically decreased.

It was Mr. Bessel Kok who hosted a conference in Prague in 2002, that brought together all of the protagonists to the World Championship schism where he forged an agreement signed by all the parties. Subsequently, FIDE took this golden opportunity and failed to abide by any of the promises it made in the Prague Agreement. Upon his election, Mr. Bessel Kok has pledged to host yet another conference, this time to definitively end the schism and reunite the chess world. Despite the many donations Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has made to the FIDE over the last ten years it has, at times, teetered on bankruptcy. In 1999, the FIDE wrote checks to the prize winners of the World Chess Championship held at Las Vegas. Many of which bounced. To knowingly write a check without sufficient funds is, in the United States, a crime. The only possible alternative is financial incompetence on the part of Ilyumzhinov’s led FIDE.

For over a decade, there has been worldwide dissatisfaction with the manner in which the FIDE operates. For example, the World Chess Championship held in Tripoli Libya 2004 barred Israeli and many Jewish players from competing. As a result, six qualified American players for the World Championship refused to participate in what was a tainted event. There has been a long list of complaints regarding the FIDE’s autocratic style of management and the FIDE has had to defend its actions in three separate arbitration cases in Swiss courtrooms.

Little wonder that the reputation of the FIDE is at the lowest level in its history. Today’s rank and file players no longer believe that FIDE is a trustworthy organization. The perception is that Ilyumzhinov’s led FIDE lacks both the competence and integrity necessary to develop chess. Commercial corporate sponsors have shunned the FIDE for over ten years. As a member federation of the FIDE the United States Chess Federation takes its responsibility most seriously and urges all the member nations of FIDE to join with it by voting for Mr. Bessel Kok for FIDE President.

In commenting on the USCF endorsement of Bessel Kok. United States Chess Federation President Bill Goichberg said: “I am proud that our leaders have unanimously joined together to fully support the candidacy of Mr. Bessel Kok. We have pledged to help in his quest to transform FIDE to a fully functional world-class organization. For over ten years the current administrators of the FIDE have been given their chance. It is definitely time for change.” Posted by Picasa

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