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FIDE chief’s best soldier

K. Keerthivasan
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Jorge Vega.— Photo: R. Ragu
Jorge Vega.— Photo: R. Ragu

At 78 years of age, Jorge Vega may look quite frail, but he continues to be FIDE chief Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s ‘Man Friday’.

Anatoly Karpov once said of Vega: “He is Ilyumzhinov’s best soldier.”

In FIDE’s hierarchy he stands tall as the Continental President for the Americas overseeing 34 chess federations.

As the FIDE elections approach, this man from Mexico, who has seen four presidents before Iluyminzhov, will play a key role in the incumbent retaining his hold.

In fact, when The Hindu recently asked Ilyumzhinov about Vega, he said, “he supports me and I support him. (Even) at this age, he is active.”

Ilyumzhinov is on a strong wicket as he has the support of Asia, Africa and the Americas. Vega is also confident that Ilyumzhinov will win quite convincingly.

“At the best, I think, Kasparov (contesting for the FIDE president’s post) can get 60 votes,” said Vega.

Vega was all praise for the FIDE president. “When he took over, FIDE was bankrupt. He spent a lot of money to promote chess.

“He promoted not only major tournaments but also regional and junior tournaments. If you analyse FIDE’s history, (Ilyumzhinov) is the best,” said Vega, who has held different positions in FIDE since 1972.

When the infamous toilet controversy broke out in the 2006 World championship between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik in Elista, the original Appeals Committee resigned and a relatively fresh one was instituted.

Vega, who was a member of the first Appeals Committee, took over as chairman of the second.

“It was a volatile atmosphere then,” said Vega. “We had to dissipate it and the most important thing was the championship itself. I would think that we handled the controversy well.”

Vega, who has been an international arbiter since 1979, says being an arbiter is very hard, but something he has learnt to enjoy. “I have practically been all over Europe, eastern Russia, China, Azerbaijan and India.”

A contented man, Vega is keen to visit the temples in and around Chennai. His wife, too, has one big demand: ride an elephant!

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