Furore as chess boss denies resigning

MOSCOW • International chess governing body Fide was plunged into controversy on Tuesday after announcing its long-time president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had resigned in a statement which he has dismissed as "fake".

Ilyumzhinov, a Russian businessman and former leader of Russia's Buddhist Kalmykia region, is known for claiming to have encountered aliens.

He was added to a US sanctions list in 2015 after Washington accused him of "materially assisting" the Syrian government.

Fide on Monday published a statement on its website, saying Ilyumzhinov had announced his resignation.

But he described the statement to AFP as "fake" and denied that he had quit the position he has held since 1995.

In a letter published on Tuesday on Fide's website, its executive director Nigel Freeman wrote that Ilyumzhinov had "several times threatened to resign" at a meeting on Sunday.

"At the end of the meeting, three times you repeated 'I resign' before leaving the room," Freeman wrote, adding that the board will hold an extraordinary meeting on April 10 to discuss the situation.

Ilyumzhinov meanwhile wrote in a separate letter published by Fide on Tuesday that he had not formally submitted his resignation and had no intention of doing so.

On Tuesday, he acknowledged to AFP that he had offered to stand down during an "emotional, unofficial" conversation with board members on Sunday.

"I said that I was ready to leave if everyone agrees and considers that I've done something bad to Fide," he said. He added that his presence on the US sanctions list was the "one grievance" of board members.

Ilyumzhinov hinted to AFP on Monday that Fide's announcement was an attempt to push him out. "Somebody really wants me to resign," he said.

Georgian grandmaster Zurab Azmaiparashvili, a member of Fide's presidential board, told AFP there was a "crisis" at the federation, but said its details were "confidential".

Azmaiparashvili said that Ilyumzhinov had in fact threatened to resign during the course of the meeting.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2017, with the headline 'Furore as chess boss denies resigning'. Print Edition | Subscribe