It's D-Day for the 2 combatants (right, combatants) as they enter into the last leg of campaigning for the FIDE Presidency which will shape events globally for the chess scene over the next 4 years. Last time around, Garry Kasparov was cut off in mid-protest as he called out point of order in the proceedings only to be ignored. Today, I am sure he can no longer be ignored in Tromso.
What will a Garry Kasparov victory mean to the chess world, rather, to the local chess scene? Here are some of my views:
I am sure that those who follow the campaign trail will know the promises that Garry has proclaimed in the event that he wins. It will be a Herculean task to galvanise the chess world and make sweeping reforms to the current processes which hinder growth in chess popularity. Implementing the six winning moves will take time but I certainly hope it will trickle down to Singaporean chess players' interests. This will be the opportune time to rekindle interest in chess among the adults and near retirees. Much manpower will also be needed should Garry decide to embark on selling the Chess-in-Schools program to the Ministry of Education, as there will be demand for chess trainers and coaches to teach the game in schools.
SCF should seriously consider organising events for adults to play without having the participation of the juniors, especially team events held over 2 days during the July-August period (where hotel ballrooms are available due to the Seventh month lull). All it takes is a good sponsor for the venue and manpower and I'm sure the prizes need not be exorbitant. The key is to inject the fun element for such events which will bring back the missing hordes that used to frequent tournaments over the 15-20 years. With the return of the adults into the scene, more chess clubs can flourish and attendances grow with sufficient numbers availing themselves to run them.
IMPROVED PLAYER LOGISTICS
By this I mean lowering the rating fees, the admin fees all FIDE rated players had to pay. If Team Kasparov's promise to have a universal rating system for all games played holds, then the fee to maintain this rating should be low and affordable to every player here. How about charging this fee separate from the entry fee for each tournament (which used to work while SCF had its rating system then) and should a player play more than 5 tournaments, he need not pay the fee for the remaining tournaments played till end of the calendar year? Surely this will act as an incentive for more players to take up the game.
What currently ails our local scene is the meagre prizes offered for chess events. We used to see tournaments with $1000 first prize and more during the heydays of the Christmas Festival in the late 70s and Cairnhill tournaments in the mid 90s. With bigger cash prizes, most adults would be enticed to try their luck and polish their skills to make a comeback. Again, if Team Kasparov were to channel funds to run sizable events here, I am sure the local institutions like the Tourism Board or Sports Council will respond in collaborating to make it an international spectacle. Having the Anand - Carlsen match in Singapore, or the World Youth is a possibility which I believe will spark local media interest. These are exciting projects for the newly elected FIDE team to fulfil their program and what better place to do it in!
Everything hinges on the news over the next 12 hours as we await the fate of the FIDE Presidential Elections. Never since 1994 has the Elections been so hotly contested and so much is now at stake in the well-being of chess world. Will the world see a resurgence of chess interest or sink back to the doldrums, lets count the moments to the results...