The World Chess Federation and the All India Chess Federation had evidently not expected their muted response to Garry Kasparov’s visit to Chennai as a “chess tourist” to snowball into a controversy requiring damage control.
There is a perception that FIDE and the All India Chess Federation had their own reasons to have played down Kasparov’s visit.
It is speculated that FIDE was wary of the possibility of Kasparov using this as a platform to pitch his candidacy for the post of Federation president; he goes up against the incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in next year’s election.
On the other hand, the AICF, it is believed, feared Kasparov would use the stage to openly criticise Anand, like he did after the sixth round of the 2012 World title match against Boris Gelfand in Moscow.
On Wednesday, FIDE’s deputy president Georgios Makropoulus chose to “clarify” the Federation’s position on the issue by primarily holding the media responsible for creating “some excitement after two dull draws in the World championship.”
“Firstly, neither FIDE nor the organising committee had official intimation of his visit here,” he said.
“Secondly, all of you will agree that you have to show respect to get respect. He did not get in touch with FIDE and express his desire to watch the game. On arriving here, he said, he was a ‘chess tourist’. We all understand that he is no chess tourist.
“Last night, I invited him to this press conference. Of course, FIDE would not have liked him to talk politics when such a great match is happening.”
Makropoulus said it was at the request of Team Anand that Kasparov was kept out of the first two rows of the invited guests when he came to watch game three on Tuesday.
He also denied that instructions were issued to the television/online commentators to keep Kasparov out.
“It is well known that Kasparov is supporting Carlsen. Is it right for a Presidential candidate to express his support for a player during the match?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Kasparov, who monitored the game at the Business Centre of the hotel, analysing the moves with GM M.R. Venkatesh, maintained a low profile, staying away from the media glare.
FIDE secretary Ignatious Leong, an open supporter of Kasparov, revealed why the Russian legend had refused to attend the press conference alongside Makropoulus.
“Kasparov was told that he could join the press conference and clarify that FIDE had, at no point, shown any disrespect to him during his stay in Chennai. Why was Kasparov expected to clarify his position? He was looking forward to addressing a press conference, but not in the company of any FIDE official. So, he politely declined,” Leong said.